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Cheap flights to Jakarta

Jakarta, the sprawling, smoggy capital of Indonesia, will frustrate, entice, aggravate and beguile - few places in this part of Asia are as challenging or rewarding. But Jakarta is the beating heart of Indonesia, the archipelago in a nutshell. For those visitors prepared to peel away the city’s urban layers of irritation, rich rewards lay waiting.

The historic old town of Batavia (Kota) is like a time warp and brings to life the city’s colonial roots, while a clutch of excellent museums help with interpretation of this rich history.

Jakarta is the ultimate city of contrasts. An intoxicating Asian destination where on one side of the city old sailing schooners trade spices in a scene that has not changed for centuries. Just streets away gleaming new glass and steel skyscrapers reach for the heavens in a skyline that has been transformed beyond recognition.

Jakarta is where the greater Indonesian identity has been created, forged by the ceaseless interaction of peoples and cultures from all over the archipelago. Freed from the yolk of colonialism, this bold, brash and bustling city buzzes along and after a few days it is hard not to get caught up in its palpable energy.


Things to see in Jakarta


Tourist information: 

Jakarta Visitor Information Center
Jakarta Theatre Building, Jalan MH Thamrin 9, Jakarta
Tel: (021) 314 2067.
Website: www.jakarta-tourism.go.id
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1630.

The tourist information branch at Jakarta Theatre is the best bet for maps, leaflets and dependable information and it can also help with booking tours.

Kota

The centre of old Batavia, the Kota district, is the tourist hub of Jakarta. The heart of the action is on historic Taman Fatahillah, a cobbled time warp of a square that still somehow survives in modern Jakarta. Sunda Kelapa is the old port area and many of the scenes there today are unchanged since the likes of Joseph Conrad evocatively described the sailing schooners striding around the high seas and then tying up at the quayside here to trade exotic spices.

Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Old Batavia, Jakarta, Indonesia
Maritime Museum

What was once a warehouse as far back as the 19th century for the Dutch down in Sunda Kelapa is now fittingly home to a museum that tells the story of Jakarta's rich maritime history. Model boats and faded sepia photos depicting various adventures at sea and in and around the Batavia waterfront are the highlights. The old watchtower offers good views out over the area.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0900-1500.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Jalan Pasar Ikan 1, Jakarta, Indonesia
Telephone: (021) 669 3406.
National Monument

This literally unmissable column rises over 130m (426.5ft) into the heavens above Independence Square. It is a potent symbol to many people in many ways. For some it is a celebration of Indonesia's successful drive to escape from the claws of the European colonial powers, while others see it as a fittingly vacuous legacy of the man who commissioned its construction, Soeharto, the former dictator still beloved of some Indonesians but reviled by many others. At a time when much of the country lived in poverty, its grand gold leaf topping said enough for many critics.

Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Merdeka Square, Jakarta, Indonesia
National Museum

Jakarta’s most impressive museum really delves into the history both of the capital city and the rest of Indonesia. The 19th-century building is suitably dramatic and its highlights include early Chinese ceramics, pieces culled from Java's myriad temples and a bronze elephant that was gifted to the museum by the King of Thailand. The museum is also home to a number of eclectic temporary exhibitions.

Opening Times: Tues-Fri 0800-1600, Sat-Sun 0800-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat 12, Jakarta, Indonesia
Telephone: (021) 386 8172.
Puppet Museum

Housed in an early 20th-century colonial legacy, the building that stands on the site of an old Dutch church is in itself part of the attraction. Those interested in traditional wayang kulit and wayang golek Indonesian puppets will be in heaven in this illuminating museum. As well as thousands of puppets from all over Indonesia, there are also exhibits from elsewhere around Southeast Asia. The museum also hosts regular puppet shows.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0900-1500.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Jalan Pintu Besar Barat 27, Jakarta, Indonesia
Telephone: (021) 6292 9560.
Ragunan Zoo

For those who don't have time to head east to Komodo National Park itself, this is a great place to see the famous dragons in the flesh. Another highlight is the equally fearsome Java tigers. Opened as long ago as 1864, the zoo also has a great primate collection, including gorillas.

Opening Times: Daily 0700-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Jalan RM Harsono 1, Ragunan, Jakarta, Indonesia
Telephone: (021) 780 5280.
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

The ‘Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park', as it rather nattily translates, is an interesting and unusual diversion in Jakarta. Opened in 1975, this sprawling 100-hectare (247-acre) park has a series of cable cars and shuttle buses to help those that don't come with their own cars get around. There is a pavilion for each of Indonesia's provinces with the highlight Java's mini-Borobudur. There are also regular cultural performances on site. The park is perhaps the most enjoyable of Soeharto's grand projects.

Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Jalan Raya Pondok Gede, Jakarta, Indonesia
Telephone: (021) 840 9214.