On a visit to Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, there are so many cultural relics, fascinating architecture, world-class museums and, quite frankly, just darned odd stuff, it’s impossible to see everything. That’s why you should see these top five must see places in Jakarta first, then branch out from there.
Sunda Kelapa Harbor – It’s not every day you see a 400 year old harbor complete with schooners and a working fish market but thus is the splendor of Sunda Kelapa Harbor. Also known as Pasar Ikan, the Sunda Kelapa Harbor and fish market is a perfect place to visit early in the morning, when the fish market auction begins. See the professionals bidding for their daily fish and seafood, then head out to the street leading to the market, where you’ll find all kinds of little shops selling dried fish, shells, turtles and lots more.
National Museum – I’m fascinated by the National Museum in Jakarta as its Indonesian name (Gedung Gaja) is named after a bronze elephant statue that was given to the museum by King Chulalongkorn of Thailand, the country where I live.
The National Museum is a must visit place as it’s a repository for just about everything on Indonesia. From the Stone Age on, you’ll find exhibits about archaeology, architecture, culture, relics and artifacts, religion, colonial times and more. The precious stones and gold exhibits are phenomenal, the Asian pottery area superb, and don’t miss the Treasure Room.
Shadow Puppet Museum – The Shadow Puppet Museum has one of the largest collections of shadow puppets in Asia, including puppets not only from Indonesia but China, Thailand and Vietnam too.
Shadow puppets, which are called ‘wayang’ in Indonesia, are large puppets that are made from buffalo hide and then mounted on large sticks, which are used to move the puppets in front of a light, so their shadow is cast onto a sheet or piece of fabric.
At the Shadow Puppet Museum, you’ll see just about every style of shadow puppet available. Just be aware, the guides following you around are actually trying to sell you puppets at the end of your tour and they are pricey.
Indonesia Miniature Park – A massive cultural park, the Indonesia Miniature Park (Taman Mini Indonesia ) is situated on several acres of land and consists of miniature models of famous Indonesian buildings. Don’t let the word ‘miniature’ confuse you though. Many of these buildings are large and can be walked around.
The park features buildings from all 27 Indonesian provinces, with every building located precisely where it would be in the real-life version. You’ll also get to see cultural shows, learn how Indonesian handicrafts are made, do some wonderful shopping and sample great food.
Bogor Botanical Gardens – Another must see close to Jakarta is the Bogor Botanical Gardens. Just a 45 minute drive away, the Bogor Botanical Gardens are well worth seeing as they’re more than 80 hectares in size and have been open for almost 200 years.
There’s more than 15,000 species of plants and trees, as well as lakes, lotus ponds, orchid houses, and some of the gardens and landscaping were even designed by the famous Sir Stamford Raffles himself
Sunda Kelapa Harbor
Shadow Puppet Museum
Indonesia Miniature Park
Bogor Botanical Gardens