No matter your budget, anyone can have fun in the lively, dynamic metropolis of Jakarta. From sightseeing to appreciating art, discover the best things to do for free in Jakarta.
Explore the Jakarta Old Town (Kota Tua)
The Old Town holds remnants from the city’s past as an important sea port town during the Dutch colonial era. Many of the city’s oldest and most historic buildings are located in this neighborhood, including the Fatahillah Museum, which was a city hall built by the Dutch, and other repurposed government buildings. Tourists exploring the Old Town can expect to see a line of classic European-style buildings that are architecturally brilliant and culturally significant. The area also includes the historic Sunda Kelapa sea port, full of colorful traditional boats.
Ride the TransJakarta bus
OK, riding the bus is not free but at less than 30 cents, a ticket costs a mere pittance, and it can take you virtually anywhere in the city. Riding the spacious, air-conditioned bus is a convenient way to sightsee around the city in the sticky tropical weather. Be sure to try Line 1, that will take you from the Old Town of Jakarta through the presidential palace complex and the National Monument and through the dynamic business district, with its tall offices and mega-malls. The TransJakarta bus is also the best option for beating Jakarta’s nasty traffic.
Visit Suropati Park
Tucked in the middle of Jakarta’s concrete jungle is a lush, neatly landscaped green area surrounded by tall shady trees and occasionally touched by a fresh breeze. Suropati Park has a mix of nature, urban liveliness, and an artistic vibe. Six ASEAN monuments are on display, and you can occasionally find groups or individuals practicing their musical instruments under the shade of the trees.
Visit the National Gallery
Despite housing many of the nation’s most monumental and prestigious artworks, tourists can enter the National Gallery of Indonesia free of charge. As one of the most prominent art and culture spaces in Jakarta, the gallery has more than 1,700 items in its collection, from legendary artists like Raden Saleh and Affandi to emerging contemporary artists. The gallery also hosts various temporary exhibitions in addition to the permanent collection.
Explore Jakarta’s Chinatown
Home to a large portion of Jakarta’s Chinese-Indonesian population, this particular part of town has an oriental atmosphere, from the architecture to the culinary scene. Walking through the neighborhood you can find temples and shrines scattered around, as well as all kinds of stores selling affordable goods from clothes to electronics. Chinatown is home to many of the nation’s oldest vendors, from restaurants to barbershops.
Visit historical houses of worship
A true testament to the nation’s diversity, the Gambir area of Jakarta houses historical houses of worship from different religions, including a mosque, cathedral, church, and Buddhist temple. Touring the majestic and symbol-rich Istiqlal Mosque costs less than $0.40; a five-minute walk will take you to the mighty Neo-Gothic cathedral, that is free to enter. Around the corner is an old Protestant church, built by the Dutch.
Tour the Pasar Baru market
Exploring a market can be fun even if you don’t have money to burn—especially if the market doubles as a cultural and historical attraction. Also known as Jakarta’s Little India, many of this market’s vendors are of Indian descent, and still keep their traditions and customs, which have mixed with the local culture. The market is packed with stores, restaurants and food stalls.