best things to do in jakarta

How to Spend a Day In Jakarta – Indonesia’s Capital City

Our final stop in Indonesia is Jakarta, where friends have warned us of horrific traffic and smog, so we arrived by train, found a hotel close to the Gambir train station (there are several stations) and left (albeit by airport transfer bus) from the same place. Here in Jakarta, there were just a few places on our list.



Jakarta Indonesia

Take a Guided Tour of Jakarta

In this one day tour of Jakarta you’ll explore the National Monument, the Istiqlal Mosque and Church as well as seeing the area of Old Batavia and the Sunda Kelapa old harbor.

What to do in Jakarta

Visit Monas in Jakarta

First the National Monument – MONAS – quite pretty during the day, but stunning at night.

MONAS in Merdeka Square at Night

This 132m high National Monument (Monumen Nasional in Indonesian) – or MONAS is in the center of Merdeka Square – near Gambir Station. It commemorates the Indonesian struggle and fight for independence.

We navigated around a demonstration – and while we think it was a demonstration of teachers demonstrating about salaries and education, it might also have been a demonstration of police and local law enforcement might. Either way, it’s a regular occurrence here in Jakarta, and those in the know get regular updates on which roads will be closed and when disruption will be rife.

Visit the National Museum in Jakarta

Then, there was the National Museum, a thoroughly confusing and definitely hot and sweaty couple of new and old buildings across from MONAS, where we wiled away a couple of hours.

National Museum in Jakarta

Then we headed to the old Jakarta – destination, Jarkarta’s number one thing to do – the Banking Museum. I’m a veteran of many money and banking museums worldwide, so finding this was the number one attraction in Jakarta was exciting (even if you do find that strange..).

Sadly it was a huge disappointment. Sure there are lots of display items and dioramas.

I also wrote about the banking museums in Kuala Lumpur (check it out here)

There are lots of flashing lights, flat screens, and random videos, but there is little cohesive story (the storyboards jump from 1880 to the Japanese occupation in the 1940s…).

It’s all flash and little substance – it fails to track the history of banking and money in Indonesia, which would seem to be a basic of this type of museum, historic items – like the old offices which give annoyingly little detail of the age, the date of the equipment and furniture or when and why it was used.

Old Office in Banking museum Jakarta

It’s also no longer free – albeit cheap, it’s now 5,000 IDR. Luckily we’d arrived just after 13:30, so the audio guide was no longer available if the storyboards and videos were anything to go by, we’d swerved a bullet.

Gold Ingot display at Banking museum Jakarta

Visit the Mandir Banking Museum in Jakarta

We saved our audio tour money to visit the next-door Mandir Banking Museum.

Mandir Banking Museum Jakarta

Yes, gluttons for punishment here were two banking “museums” right next door to each other.

It felt somewhat surreal – my previous work in Financial Services has seen us visiting banking museums throughout Asia and writing about Financial Services worldwide. Now we had the opportunity to visit two competing museums.

The Mandir Banking museum is a glorious old building.

And that’s about it.

There’s no signage in English, and virtually none in Indonesian, but there is a lot of dust and many random objects though, which make for an interesting poke around for an hour or so.

Displays at Mandir Banking Museum

You can almost imagine the splendor of the old banking hall, and the lower level safety deposit boxes are interesting to see.

Old safe at Mandir Banking Museum

The mannequins will likely give you nightmares, most of them are missing vital items. Like hands. But are posed in “horror movie comes to life” stances, looking like they’ve been through a car accident or attack.

Mannequin at Mandir Banking Museum

The collection of old IT and computer equipment is interesting and sad together. One hopes that the disks have been removed or wiped, but at least they can be used as door stops now.

Old Floppy disks on display at Mandir Banking Museum

So there was another 5,000 IDR that we’ll never get back – now a little luxury in the Cafe Batavia, where we wiled away an hour in front of a portable Air Con unit slurping tea and listening to 1940’s music while sitting on an old leather sofa. Bliss.   The upstairs “Churchill’s Bar” was once named as a top bar in the world by Newsweek.

We dined that night with friends we’d met on the trip to Komodo island and then took the scariest taxi we’ve taken for a long time back to our Hotel .  . Sure he didn’t know where we going and didn’t speak any English, that’s why we brought the business card for the hotel. Only he couldn’t see the card. Or it appeared the road signs, other vehicles, or pedestrians. We navigated home by google maps and by yelling  “go, go. stop, stop” with left and right-hand signals and thanked our lucky stars that no one was killed in the making of this blog.

Where to Stay in Jakarta

There are a host of places to stay in Jakarta – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Jakarta, mid-range places to stay in Jakarta, and budget accommodation in Jakarta.

Mercure Jakarta Batavia, Jakarta, Indonesia: The Mercure Jakarta Batavia is a luxury hotel conveniently located in the Mangga Dua area of Jakarta. All of the rooms at this luxury hotel in Jakarta offer air conditioning and complimentary internet, as well as free toiletries, hairdryers, and luxury towels. Each room has a phone and satellite channels on the TV too.  Some rooms have separate living rooms, balconies, and terraces at this Jakarta luxury hotel.  There’s an onsite coffee shop, swimming pool, and fitness center here as well as a massage center and spa too.  There are several dining options in this top hotel in Jakarta too.   Check availability here.

Bobobox Pods Kota Tua, Jakarta, Indonesia: The Bobobox Pods Kota Tua is a mid-range hotel situated in the Mangga Dua part of Jakarta, close to all the attractions you’ll want to see in Jakarta. All of the rooms at this Jakarta hotel have air conditioning and complimentary internet access, as well as WiFi in all public areas.  You’ll enjoy shared bathrooms, free toiletries, and towels at this Jakarta hostel, which gets exceptional reviews for facilities and cleanliness Rooms at the Bobobox Pods Kota Tua are popular, so book early.

Wonderloft Hostel, Jakarta, Indonesia: The Wonderloft Hostel is a budget hostel conveniently situated in the Mangga Dua part of Jakarta. All of the rooms in this exceptional budget hostel in Jakarta have internet access. You’ll find a great common area at this Jakarta hostel and there is air conditioning in all public areas. There’s a new breakfast menu here, as well as BBQ facilities, a kitchen, and a restaurant. This Jakarta hostel gets superb reviews too. Want more information on the Wonderloft Hostel?

Travel Tips for Exploring Indonesia

Final Words on What to See in Jakarta

And, that was Indonesia. Our Damri bus from Gambir Station to the airport was easy.   In fact each trip we took in Jakarta, (three taxi rides and this bus ride) was uncomplicated (barring the death defying taxi ride on our last night), the traffic was light, the people friendly and it was a good end of this our 19th country.

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