Jakarta Travel Guide
Jakarta is the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia. It is a special territory enjoying the status of a province and consists of Greater Jakarta. It covers an area of 637.44 square kilometer. Geographically, it is located on the northern coast of West Java.
Because it is the capital of the country it is the center of the government, commerce and industry. Needless to say because of such importance Jakarta also is privileged to have an extensive communications network with the rest of the country and the outside world.
Jakarta is a city that has some history associated with it. No discussion on the city would be complete without mentioning this history. It would be interesting to note here that the city’s official birthday which is celebrated each year on June 22 is related to a skirmish won on that date in 1527 by a conquering prince named Fatahillah. After becoming victorious he renamed the settlement “Jayakarta”, which means “City Of Glorious Victory”.
But this name lasted for only about 92 years. A Dutch armada overwhelmed the small outpost in 1619 and renamed the city as “Batavia”. The town they built was the capital of their Dutch East Indies Colony. The Dutch control over Jakarta finally ended during the early years of World War II. The Japanese were successful in driving out the Dutch. Once the Japanese gained control over the city, they once again renamed it “Jakarta”. And finally, when Indonesia got its independence it decided to retain the name.
Jakarta is a densely-populated metropolis with a population of over 10 million people. It is like any modern city with nice roads, buildings, parks and museums.
Although Jakarta itself doesn’t have many “sights” to offer, it is still, nevertheless, the lively commercial centre of Java. Many tourists therefore find Jakarta to be city worth of visit.
The hub of the city is the Golden Triangle, formed by Jalan Jendral Sudirman (extending north into Jalan Thamrin), Jalan Gatot Subroto & Jalan Rasuna Said (often referred to as Kuningan). Thanks to the cab drivers, the name Jalan Jendral Sudirman is often shortened to “Sudirman”. For some reason, the word “Jalan” which means road, is dropped by the cab drivers!
The fountain in front of the historic Hotel Indonesia marks the city’s centre, where the main hotel and financial districts lie. Unfortunately, the financial districts are cut by a polluted river called Ciliwung.
Jalan Thamrin is the main north-south street of the new city and this wide boulevard is home to most of Jakarta’s big hotels and banks, as well as the Sarinah department store.
At the top of Jalan Thamrin is the National Monument, surrounded by a cluster of government offices, Gambir Train Station and the Presidential Palace. Further down, about a couple of blocks along Jalan Kebon Sirih, is Jalan Jaksa. This is the place where tourists can find cheap accommodation.
North of Jakarta Pusat (Central Jakarta) is Old Jakarta. Glodok which is the Chinatown area can be found here. Kota (literally meaning ‘city’!) which is further north is the home of the city’s best colonial architecture, particularly at Taman Fatahillah on Jalan Pintu Besar. Further north still is Ancol Amusement Park, with Sea World for the kids.
In contrast to the north, the southern part of Jakarta is more modern. The modern part of Jakarta starts from the National monument. South Jakarta is a leafy, wealthy residential area, including Blok M with its massive shopping complex and the trendy Kemang area, with lots of restaurants and bars.
The eastern and the western part of Jakarta are pretty much crowded by slums and lacks places of tourist interest. Tourists should avoid these parts unless they are interested in seeing extreme poverty and have some knowledge of Indonesian.
Although Jakarta is not packed with discotheques and clubs one can still find a few good ones in the city. They are ideal for spending the late hours of the evening.
One may also find many hotels with good acomodations. Jakarta is a wonderful city with beautiful, friendly and warm people. It is truly a wonderful mixture of beauty and chaos that most tourists either love or hate but can’t ignore.
For many tourists, Jakarta is the starting or the ending point of a trip. If you are planning a visit to Southeast Asia then you shouldn’t miss this wonderful city at any cost.
However, just remember that the best time to visit Jakarta is June through September, when the weather is at its best!