With a population exceeding 10 million, the city once known as Batavia by the Dutch is one of the largest cities in South East Asia. It also has the second largest urban population, behind Tokyo, with 28 million.
Jakarta is a crushing metropolis and like most other major cities has severe traffic issues. To help out with this, the city has implemented a busway system which works quite effectively, except at highway U-turn zones where it can bottleneck. And, as everywhere in Indonesia, there are millions of scooters.
It’s can be difficult to see into the distance in the city as there’s often a hazy and dense cover of smog. Yet hidden away in the thin back streets are little gems just waiting to be discovered, such as this Buddhist temple.
But beyond having an avid nightlife like most major cities, there’s little for a tourist to see in and around the central city. With vast distances to cross just to get to some of the attractions, we stayed around the Northern Jakarta suburbs to see what we could find.
Kota Tua Jakarta
Jakarta Old Town is the old Batavian city centre and is situated in the northern region of Jakarta near the port. The area has many prominent buildings in the dutch architectural style although most were sacked during the War of Independence, leaving only their shells.
Some buildings survived the sacking intact, while others have been rebuilt or are in the process of being rebuilt. This old building, now the Jakarta History Museum, is in the process of being rebuilt. It currently has a very large sheet hanging over to make it look finished.
Old Jakarta is now dominated by museums and eating houses, with a stretch of small markets between.
Medan Merdeka – Independence Square
Jakarta has the second largest city square in the world, measuring a square kilometre in area. At the very centre is Monas, the National Monument.
At 132m tall, Monas is a huge obelisk with a golden torch at its top. Inside the base there are two halls, the lower is used by the National History Museum to display reliefs of periods in the nation’s history. The upper is the Hall of Independence. Above the halls is the lower observation deck, 17 metres above the ground. Then, just beneath the golden flame at 115 metres, is the upper observation deck.
Because of the heat and the great line of people waiting to get in, we decided against the wait.
Bogor Botanical Gardens
Bogor is a city 90 minutes south of Jakarta at the most southerly point of the commuter rail line. For 10,000 rupiah we caught the train to the city which is known for its botanical gardens. The Botanical Gardens contain some 15,000 different species of plants and trees, and 400 types of palms.
The gardens are more of a grand park with many ponds across its 80 hectares.
Some showcasing metre wide Lily Pads.
The gardens are in Bogor’s city centre and are adjoined with the Istana Bogor, the presidential palace.
We spent a couple of hours wandering around the cooler grounds of the gardens before heading back to Jakarta.
Next and for our final stop in Indonesia, the Island of Sumatra and the city of Padang, popular with surfers.
The Trail Wanderers