We recently had our first visitors to Jakarta who weren’t just interested in wining and dining, but maybe a bit of the day-time culture too. As such a huge, hot and spaced out city, Jakarta isn’t really that tourist-friendly and mapping an itinerary that would show them the best of what our new home has to offer required some careful consideration. To help others who might be at a loss with what to do with fly-in, fly-out tourists (in this case, it was the in-laws), I’ve decided to blog together a brief itinerary of Jakarta and its surrounds in three short days.
After a late night arrival at the night before, we begin our day with a laid-back breakfast. Based in the Kuningan, we headed over to Loewy, famous for it fresh-off-the-griddle waffles, served with a dollop of fresh cream. They also do some delicious truffle-dusted toast with soft boiled eggs, and a great range of freshly squeezed juices. Come after Ramadan, and you can even sit out in the sunlight, the street obscured by a mini potted hedge.
Post-breakfast, and it was time for a bit of Jakarta sight seeing. We cabbed it up to National Monument, where we spent an hour walking around the ridiculously large grounds (try not to get dropped at the entrance directly opposite the towers’ entrance), and finally making our way up to the top, where it was an unusually smog-free day and the city stretched out all the way to Ancol. Although it could definitely use with a spruce up (it’s now coming on 40 years old), National Monument is still pretty good in terms of gauging the sheer size and space of Jakarta, and not a bad photo op, either.
Across the road from National Monument is the National Museum, where we popped in to get a fill of culture and the arts. I hadn’t heard many good things, but I found it interesting enough, with a collection of statues, ceramics, artefacts, maps and replicas. Of course it’s nothing compared to some of the more naturally-found wonders of Indonesia, such as Borobodur, but if you haven’t got time for a side trip then it gives you a pretty good overview of the variation this archipelago has to offer.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Jakarta without making our way up to Jakarta Kota, where we stopped for lunch at the famed Cafe Batavia. Overlooking the cobblestone square, it’s an historical insight into the city that is unique to the northern areas, and definitely worth a visit. We also stopped to check out the Modern Art exhibit at the old Post Office next door, which gives a nice contrast against Jakarta new and old.
Heading back down into the city centre, we made our way up to the 56th floor of the BCA building, pulling out the big guns with a cocktail at SKYE as the sun went down. It truly is one of the most impressive views of the city, and we were even lucky enough to catch a lightening storm crackle over the city and we sipped on Lychee Martinis. We then headed a few buildings up to sample the menu at Salt Grill, another view-orientated restaurant that has a menu to match. We finished our day with some absolutely delicious dishes before making our way back home.
Our second day dawned bright and very early, as we cabbed our way up to Pier 6 in Ancol Marina for a day trip to Tiger Island. This had been on my radar for a long time, but it wasn’t until the in-laws’ whirlwind tour that I finally locked it in. The speedboat departed promptly at 8am, and we spent the next 90 minutes pushing through gradually clearing waters until reaching our crystal-blue destination. We idled the early afternoon away swimming, boarding, eating and exploring until making the return trip back for a 4pm arrival.
Eager to navigate through peak hour traffic as intelligently as possible (which I now concede is practically impossible), we stopped over at Awan Lounge to enjoy the leafy breeze and laid-back surrounds. Cocktails, garlic nuts and a giant thunderstorm ensued, during which we were forced to sink back more beers until we moved on for dinner. Hailing an Ancok, we drifted 600 metres up the street for some delicious Italian food, courtesy of Ocha & Bella.
I’ll admit that by this stage we were all pretty exhausted, and itineraries should of course be tailored to reflect the energy levels of participants. As I walk only to the pace of my own power-walk however, I forced the others along for the ride. Breakfast this morning was at the famous Giyanti in Mentang, brewers of some truly delicious Indonesian coffee, and also perfectly situated along a prime knick-knack shopping strip. Andrew’s mother bartered til her heart’s content on small statues, musical instruments and wooden carvings, before retiring to the cafe for a latte and pastry.
It was then onto the Cikini train station, where we took the Commuter to Bogor, about an hour out of the city. I’ve been advised not to take this trip during peak hour traffic, and even at 11am there were not many seats left when we jumped on board. The trip itself is pleasant enough, however, with air conditioning and a good view of the city, and then country, as it passes by.
Arriving in Bogor at around midday to discover a complete lack of taxis was a minor setback, before chartering a metro-mini (a small, public transport mini-bus) to drop us at the Botanic Gardens (or as a result of miscommunication the Botanic mall, from which we had to walk). Luckily, our entrance led us directly to the Botanic Gardens Cafe, were we sat and had freshly squeezed juices to build up the energy to explore.
The gardens themselves are truly beautiful, a delightful treat from Jakarta living and plenty to explore. The orchid gardens were my favourite, as well as a pond with lilly-pads so big you could charter them to the other side. The grounds are also diverse, ranging from lush green grasses to cacti city, awash with butterflies, deer and of course, motorbikes. We spent a couple of hours admiring before, spotting looming rain clouds, jumping on a metro-mini back to the train station, just in time to get thoroughly drenched.
Back in Jakarta about an hour and a half later, and we stopped for a low key dinner at our favourite Vietnamese hang out, Do An. We’re obsessed with the big bowls of fresh bean sprouts, cucumber, carrot and rice noodles, served with springs and sate chicken sticks and doused in sweet chilli sauce. With an extremely early start the next day to fly to Kalimantan for some Orangutan spotting, we gladly bid an early goodnight and headed off to bed.