Laying over in Jakarta
May 8, 2010 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Jakarta is always thrown out as a major Asian city which elicits excitement along with Shanghai, Tokyo, Bangkok... but exactly what is there to look to do? What to do to with a layover or extended weekend in Jakarta?

I have a long layover in Jakarta and was thinking of extending of staying for the weekend for 2 days with a colleague of mine. I've looked online but can't really find any must see sites, nor what I read online makes it seem a place that's really open to tourism with the occasional hotel bombing attacks and metal detectors and inspections of cars and individuals.

- Any suggestions on what to do in Jakarta? Not necessarily an amusement park, but more like areas to walk around to soak in the culture, standard must-see sites?

- Anything I should avoid or do to stay safe? Am I being super American by being unnecessarily paranoid?

We will be staying at the Ritz Carlton; both female and in our mid 20s if that matters. Between the two of us there's fluency in English, Mandarin, and French
posted by peachtree to Travel & Transportation around Jakarta Capital Region, Indonesia (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
as an american living in indonesia, i don't think you've got much to worry about - people are very friendly, and there wasn't much anti-american sentiment even at the hight of the bush years. there's even less now, as obama lived in jakarta for a while, so he's sort of a hometown hero in a way. beyond your standard it's-a-big-city-so-don't-be-a-complete-idiot caveat, i really can't think of anywhere in the city it wouldn't be safe to go.

that said, jakarta has to be one of the least-touristy cities in all of asia. i'm hoping someone else will pipe in with some good suggestions - lord knows i'm always at a loss as to what to do when i'm there! i hate to ask, but what would you be giving up 2 days of to extend your stay in jakarta? i'd choose an extra 2 days in bangkok, hanoi, bali, singapore, or just about anywhere else rather than spend an them in jakarta!

that said, i imagine a weekend in jakarta would be better than going home 2 days early. so, as not to be a complete gloomy gus, i can at least suggest this:

the yuz museum has some amazing contemporary chinese art last time i visited - i was totally blown away with the quality of the collection.

try some padang food, it's delicious. local food is less likely to upset your stomach than western food kept in sub-par refrigeration.

ummmm.... jeeze, i'm really drawing a blank here! someone chime in with a more positive take on this question! erm, you could always take the money you were gonna spend on the ritz-carlton buy take a one-hour round trip ticket from jkt to wonderful gorgeous scenic interesting bali instead ;)
posted by messiahwannabe at 8:29 AM on May 8, 2010

There's nothing to see or do in the traditional touristy sense in Jakarta. No cool places of worship, no monuments of note. I believe there is a museum but I can't speak to its quality. You are much better off going to Jogjakarta if you want to see cool sites, or Bali or Lombok if you want to relax and take in traditional culture.
posted by sid at 9:30 AM on May 8, 2010

to give you a flavour for what they're saying above, here's my pix from March of Jakarta but keep in mind I like low income neighbourhoods and informal businesses...

otoh, shopping for handicrafts, batik, woodwork, curios, taking a day trip out to a kampong (village) to see local life, all that might be fun...
posted by infini at 11:40 AM on May 8, 2010

Response by poster: I won't be giving up 2 days anywhere really- otherwise we'd pick a layover in Singapore but we've been there countless amount of times already and wanted to try somewhere different. If we don't decide to stay in Jakarta, we'd just end up in Singapore (no other option) which is fine, albeit rather sterile.

We're not really interested in having to take a flight to another area such as Bali; already been there plus just looking to really get a feel for Jakarta even though that sounds like it's going to be a bit tough.

Sounds like the key thing is to see some markets, which is totally fine and appealing to us.
posted by peachtree at 5:13 PM on May 8, 2010

Bandung is an hour and a half (on the tollway) or 3 hours (on a relatively nice train from Gambir station in central Jakarta) away, and has some very cool tropical Art Deco architecture (on some streets, it's what you'd imagine Babar's Celesteville would look like!) and a much cooler climate than Jakarta thanks to its elevation. The Dutch wanted to make it the capital. The fashion industry is huge there as well - both factory outlets and independent designers flourish and by western standards, clothes cost next to nothing - Jakartans head up there in droves on weekends! :)

A long day trip for sure, but perhaps worth it if Jakarta is too hot/crowded/insane the days you're there - there's a lot less traffic and life is a bit more local and more relaxed, though still urban and lively. You can also get there directly from Singapore on Indonesia Air Asia. (Send me a MeMail if you decide to go there - I lived there for a year!)
posted by mdonley at 3:45 AM on May 9, 2010

« Older Website for making a 'pic a day' slideshow?   |   Mystery meat Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.