For a lot of wanderlusters, the chance to experience Jakarta with your own feet and eyes and ears and smile would come about if you were hopping around the globe, picking your destinations in alphabetical order and had covered the alphabet three times already. That’s not because Jakarta is staggeringly beautiful or because people have never heard of it, but because wanderlusters seem to have so many questions.

Is it worth going to Jakarta? Is there much to do there? How hectic and chaotic is it? Is a week long enough to see it properly?

Now we’re not going to try and answer all these questions, not directly. But we are going to say your senses will be blown away by this incredible city whether you are there for a day, a week, a month or even longer. It is a goldmine of eye-pleasers, from the popular tourist hotspots to the little-hidden gems dotted around the backstreets.

To sum it up, Jakarta is a rare thing, a breath-taking megalopolis, that bursts with stunning juxtapositions everywhere you look, which is why we urge you to think about booking out a large chunk of time and giving this wonderland the time it deserves. Seriously. Now we’re not saying you need to pop onto and buy yourself an apartment (although it would be a fantastic investment right now), but you should do all you can to see Jakarta from the eyes of a local. You should give every corner of this dynamic and daunting city your attention.

If, however, that’s not possible, then these are the bits you should absolutely see:

Sunday’s in Sunda Kelapa

There are plenty of reasons you should pop to this beautiful old port to the north of the city, but none is more powerful than the sea of stunning Makassar schooners you will see. It is like stepping back in time and no matter how many times you see one of these majestic traditional schooners leave port at full sail you will feel your heart flutter. What makes this port extra special, however, is the fact it has barely change. Not for centuries. And that’s what you will notice. You will notice porters carrying cargo on and off ships and you will s trolleys being pushed about. Just don’t go swimming in the water here, not that you will want to.

The Magic Of Maderka Square

If you want to go somewhere bursting with history, cultural importance and a place that plays a massive part of everyday local life, then you need to spend some quality time in the figurative centre of Jakarta; the Maderka Square which, at one square kilometer, is wonderfully huge and one wonder that exceeds expectation. One of the reasons why it is so important to the locals is, as they like to say, “it’s somewhere we can come to breathe”. Unfortunately, there is one downside to this amazing square and that is the ginormous iron fences around it, something that can kind of hinder your access. The reason for this fence was to do with large-scale protests often gathering here. But don’t let that take away from the shine that this place pours out. The trees provide amazing walks, kids kicking around a football makes for fascinating and heartwarming sights and there is even space for deer to roam.

What More Than A Museum National

More often than not, those suffering from the impossible to itch wanderlust, need to step foot inside museums and that’s because nothing celebrates a place more than a museum and the national museum is, quite simply, the best of its kind in all of Indonesia. Just the building itself, which dates back to 1862, is a beauty to behold. However, it is the sights inside that really take this place to new heights, such as the stone image of a Bhairawa King and the Dayak puppets and wooden statues. It is all staggering. It doesn’t matter what you are into, per se, you will no doubt find it within this four-floor museum. Our personal favourite (we don’t know why!) was the treasure section: the gold, the glittering necklaces and the priceless bowls with beautiful depictions on them.

Never Miss Out On Nusa

You can’t hope to experience a place in all its glory without delving into the local cuisine, and nowhere is better than Nusa. Everything about it is so magical, from the old colonial house it sits inside to the menu that changes on a daily basis depending on what locally sourced foods the chef can get his hands on that day. No matter what day you go on, though, you can be sure to see innovation take place on your plate and flavours to burst like fireworks in your mouth. Of course, it is worth saying that this place doesn’t serve alcohol (it’s halal, after all). Oh, and if you do get a chance to choose where to sit, then try and get a table that overlooks the back garden; it will make your elegant food seem even more so.

Clubbing In A Colosseum

Just like with food, you can’t hope to know what a city is truly like without staying up all night and enjoying the twinkly lights of faraway windows and the sounds of music vanishing into the air. Now, like most major cities, the choice of nightlife is huge in Jakarta, but none is going to make your jaw drop as much as the Colosseum Club. The venue itself is massive, the dance floor is, well, colossal and the cherry on top is a roof that boasts one of the world’s best lighting systems. What makes it such a hit, though, is the fact it leans more toward the uptown side of things. That said, anywhere that still sprays foam around comes with a caveat of some sleaze.

As we said, Jakarta is a breath-taking megalopolis, and so the more time you can spend enjoying this place the better you will get to know it.

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