The National Monument is a towering 137-meter obelisk crowned with 50 kilos of gold shaped like a flame. It is arguably Indonesia’s most famous modern landmark. Commissioned in 1961, it was completed only in 1975, after President Sukarno, who had ordered it, had passed away. The building at its base houses a collection of memorabilia from the independence struggle of Indonesia.
National Monument, Central Jakarta, Indonesia, +62 21 3822255
The National Museum has a collection of Hindu sculptures and artifacts from across the country, as well as an impressive collection of gold items kept in a separate treasure room. The collection spans pre-history, the Hindu kingdoms, the advent of the Dutch colonialism and modern history, along with the declaration of independence. Please note that foreigners pay a higher fee for entrance.
Though originally built as the private residence of a Dutch businessman in 1796, this one subsequently became the seat of government. Currently, the palace is not open for visitors, though you can admire it from the outside. Just check out those gorgeous whitewashed colonnades and don’t forget to look for the country’s VIPs and dignitaries sweeping in in blacked out cars.
Istiqlal Mosque is reportedly the largest mosque in Southeast Asia. It is unique in the fact that it was designed by a Christian architect. A beautiful monument, it reflects the teachings of the Islamic religion meticulously and really is just as big as they say.
Grand Indonesia Mall
The largest mall in the city and replete with exclusive brands, Grand International is considered the premium mall in Jakarta. It includes mostly foreign brands and a few select premium Indonesian brands. The dancing fountain and the cultural performances are among its other attractions. It is known locally as the GI mall.
This was the first mall in Indonesia. Slightly outdated now, the mall runs mostly mid-range stores. With good bargaining skills, you will be able to pick up good quality batik print textiles, arts, and crafts. It is also a good place to check out for food options, due to the number of restaurants. There’s also something of a more earthy, local vibe to this one, adding to the overall ambiance and experience.
This is a famous flea market known throughout Asia. Handicrafts, traditional products, and textiles are available here at good discounts, if you know how to bargain. However, watch out for pickpockets, and be prepared for one overwhelming array of people, sights, smells, and sounds.
An open market for clothing, shoes, garments and other similar goods, this market has been around since 1820. It is a great hunting ground for numismatists (coin collectors) and lies at the heart of the Indian settlements in Jakarta. If you do visit here, be sure to have lunch in nearby Little India.
Pasar Tanah Abang
This is a huge hawkers’ market covering over 20,000 stalls where a variety of goods are sold, from dry spices to t-shirts and plenty, plenty more. The place can be confusing due to the sheer size of it, spread across a huge area. Be prepared to walk a few hundred meters in the crowd, but remember that the place will more than likely be packed to the brim.
After shopping, it’s time to grab a bite to eat. Pondok Laguna is a seafood restaurant that is both economical and popular. The restaurant’s grilled fish is famous and is a hit with locals. Try it with the fried tofu and shrimp, and round off the meal with a glass of refreshing cucumber juice.
By Sameer Ghurye