How To Make The Most Of A Short Trip To Jakarta

A weekend in Jakarta is simply not enough. The capital of Indonesia has a lot to offer for foodies, history buffs, party goers and shopaholics. So, needless to say, you could easily spend a week discovering Jakarta and its outskirts.

However, if you happen to have just a short stay in Jakarta, you simply need to make the most of it. How? Follow this guide.

Get the best of both the worlds

I would suggest spending one day exploring the city’s various attractions and the next day, venturing out to one of the many surrounding islands. This itinerary will give you a good taste of nature as well as the big city life. A visit to Jakarta is incomplete without experiencing both these aspects. So, ensure that even if you just have two days, utilize them in this manner.

Un-Missable Things to Do in Jakarta

A short stay does not necessarily mean you have to miss out. If you can manage to squeeze these top things to do in Jakarta in a short time into your itinerary, then you are pretty much golden.

Get a History Lesson at Museum Nasional
National Museum or Museum Nasional in Jakarta, Indonesia
National Museum. PC: Jyotsna Ramani

National Museum aka Museum Nasional is a must visit while you are in the capital of Indonesia. Highlighting a 4.5m stone statue of Bhairawa king, amidst other awe-inspiring pieces, this museum is flocked by students, tourists, locals and curious history buffs.

Other must-see sections include a varied eye-popping display of gold treasures; a towering bronze elephant statue; fossiled skeletons from the stone age and much more.

Statues inside the National Museum of Jakarta, Indonesia
PC: Jyotsna Ramani
Cycle around Kota Tua 

Kota Tua is the popular downtown area of Jakarta. With museums and places of worship alongside eateries and roadside shops, all in one square; Kota Tua attracts locals as well as tourists.

You can easily spend an entire day cycling around in colourful bikes or taking selfies with local kids. Choose to eat at a fancy restaurant or try one of the many street food options. With several souvenir shops scattered around Kota Tua, this makes for the perfect place to bring back memories.

Colourful bicycles in Kota Tua, Jakarta
PC: Jyotsna Ramani
Bask in Natural beauty at Macan Island

As suggested, keeping a day to chill amidst nature, away from big city madness will surely do you some good. 1000 islands are just a two-hour boat ride from Jakarta and one of the prettiest islands there is Pulau Macan (Tiger Island).

It can be quite surprising and refreshing to find a pristine beach in such close proximity to a bustling metropolis. Hence, a visit to Macan island is simply indispensable.

Pulau Macan consists of two pristine beaches – One with the Village and eco-resort and the other with just a small beach. You can literally swim/walk in the shallow waters or take a short boat ride from one island to the other.

Macan island has so much to offer to visitors. You can have the best day trip from Jakarta here. If you have more than a weekend, I would recommend spending at least one of two nights for complete rejuvenation.

With wonderful food, excellent viewpoints, natural beauty, flora and fauna, exotic underwater life and clear blue-green waters – Tiger island should be on top of your Jakarta bucket list.

Woman sitting on a deck in Tiger Island (Pulau Macan) Jakarta, Indonesia

Woman relaxing on a bed on Tiger Island (Pulau Macan), Jakarta, Indonesia

Woman sitting on a pier facing the waters of Tiger Island (Pulau Macan), Jakarta, Indonesia

Because one photo isn’t enough to capture the beauty of Palau Macan 🙂

Visit the bars for a taste of Jakarta’s nightlife

Jakarta is renowned for its maddening party scene. From expat bars to local hangouts, upscale nightclubs to roadside drinking holes, underground clubs to Irish pubs – Jakarta has something for all sorts of party goers.

Since you are on a time crunch I would recommend visiting either Eastern promise or Camden bar if you are looking for a fun and relaxed night out with friends. These are just ‘sit down and gulp beer’ pubs.

However, if you plan on having a wild party night, I would recommend heading to one of these clubs – DragonFly, Colosseum, Jenja or Blowfish.

Note: All clubs have an entry fee and strict door policy so ladies pack those high heels and little black dresses.

Shop till you Drop  
Clothes on display for shopping in Thamrin City, Jakarta
Thamrin City.  PC: Jyotsna Ramani

Jakarta being an upscale metropolis has shopaholics from all over the country flocking for the best deals and newest styles. Head to Thamrin city for a local shopping experience. If you are looking for trinkets to bring back home or ethnic gifts, this is your place.

If you are a fashionista and seek latest trends head to Pondok Indah Mall, Grand Indonesia, Mal Taman Anggrek or Pacific Place mall.

Try the Local Coffee

White Koffee is one of the best coffee in the world. You can try it in one of the many “Old Town White Coffee” outlets or simply buy cheap pre-mixed packs from any Indomart, Alfamart, Minimart or Circle K.

Where to Stay in Jakarta?

Stay at a hotel with a city view to ensure to wake up and go to bed with a stunning view. Manhattan hotel is one such place which is centrally located and if you happen to get a corner room in one of the top floors, even the view from your bathroom would be mesmerizing.

Where to Eat in Jakarta?

Indonesians truly enjoy going out for makan (food) so trying the ‘Eat out’ culture in Jakarta is an absolute must. Here are a few hand-picked places to try while you are in the city –

Batavia restaurant – Located in Kota Tua, this very modern and classic restaurant offers a wide variety of mid-priced local cuisine. With grand decor and lavish interiors, add this to your visit to Kota Tua to save time.

Social house – This lovely restaurant and bar is very popular amidst the upscale millennia crowd. Needless to say, you need to grab a few drinks and try some tantalizing global cuisine here.

Jimbaran resto – Set with the awesome backdrop of Ancol bay, dining on a beach is ticked off your list at Jimbaran. Combine this with your visit to Macan island as you will be getting the boat from Ancol and the bay is not exactly in the city centre. So you can save time by grabbing a late dinner here on your way back from the island.

Now with so much to see and do, you might think a weekend is simply not enough but if I can cram all of these things in two days, so can you! Go make the most of your short stay in Jakarta and don’t miss out on what this capital has to offer.

Read more first-hand experiences of the Jakarta trip. 

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