Visitor’s Edition # 2 : ajb’s General Guide for Visitors to Jakarta

Phinisi boats
Traditional sea vessels at Jakarta’s old port, Sunda Kelapa

How lovely it is to have people come and stay with us in Jakarta! To be able to share our lives here in the Big Durian with family and friends is so special and can bring the ‘home’ we left behind that bit closer. Of course, high on the list of priorities is to ensure our visitors have a great time. To help you achieve this, we have compiled our General Guide for Visitors to Jakarta.

No one would deny that Jakarta is an eclectic city, with its delights and its challenges. And as you would also know, there’s plenty to do here in JTown but sometimes just organising an itinerary can be a little overwhelming.

Today’s post is aimed at simplifying your planning. We have divided our suggested activities into categories so you can pick and choose to suit the interests of your Guest/s.

And as always, your feedback is of value to us. We would love to know which activities have been successful when your visitors have come to Town. Leave us a message in the Comments section below.

Happy Planning 🙂

Before you start planning your Jakarta itinerary, consider the following:

Jakarta footwear
Sturdy footwear is essential in the streets of Jakarta (by the way, this pic was not taken in the street.. but we wanted to show you our shoes!)

Are your Guest/s sure-footed? Footpaths (if they exist) can be uneven or broken. Make sure your Guest is stable on their feet and knows to keep an eye on the foot path, especially if the ground is wet. Ensure they pack well-fitting, sturdy footwear.

If journeying outside, be sure to have a sun hat, sun cream, mozzie repellent and a bottle of water.

Sunda Kelapa
Hats and sunnies on at Sunda Kelapa, accompanied by our friend @nitastrudwick and our tour guide Pak Yuda

Although it is likely that you have acclimatised, bear in mind that your Guest may find Jakarta’s climate hot and potentially uncomfortable. Encourage them to wear clothing that breathes easily e.g natural fibres like cotton, linen and silk.

Consider what life is like back home for you Guest –  If they’ve left behind a hectic schedule, or are elderly, be sure to include some rest time in your itinerary. This could include some time at a day spa, or afternoons spent at home. Simply having the time to read a book, an afternoon snooze or a swim in the pool are all simple luxuries!

Ok.. Let’s Start!


Suggested Activities for Your Guests to Jakarta

Food & Drinks

Food is an integral part of life in Jakarta. Indonesian cuisine is diverse and varied, reflecting the many different cultural groups and historic influences throughout the archipelago. The best way to experience a selection of this food is to head to a reputable Indonesian restaurant.

Of course, eating home-prepared Indonesian dishes is also a must – no need to fight the traffic and food prepared by yourself or your *Pembantu is likely to be very authentic and fresh.

One of our favourite local restaurants is 1953 in Panglima Polim, South Jakarta (Image by @nitastrudwickphotography)

Food – Dining Out
Our current restaurant suggestions include 1953, PlataranNusa Gastronomy, Seribu Rasa and in the Cipete neighbourhood the Balinese cuisine of Le Seminyak. The view of the city from Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill Restaurant is also impressive (when booking, be sure to ask for the Dining Room, if you have a larger group. This is where you get the best view).

The view from Salt Grill by Luke Mangan. Located in the heart of Jakarta, excellent views of Jakarta and beyond can be experienced
Restaurant 1953 has an excellent traditional beverage menu including Bir Pletok, Solanum Polim and Wedang Jahe

A must try in the traditional drinks department include Jamu (especially Jamu Kunyit Asam), Bir Pletok, Bir Jahe Merah, Es Kelapa Muda and Wedang Jahe. Keep an eye out for these drinks at any Indonesian restaurant.

Food – Eating In

Include some local dishes in your home menu. Some of our favourites include Nasi goreng, Gado Gado, Soto Ayam, Beef Rendang and Chicken Sate.

Nasi goreng
Indonesia’s National dish, Nasi Goreng

Start each day or cool off each afternoon with a tropical fruit platter filled with an assortment of local fruits. This is refreshing, healthy and also adds some vitamins and water to your diet!

tropical fruit platter
Each day we enjoy a fruit platter, featuring seasonal fruits. Your Guests will love this!

Local snacks are also a great way to introduce your visitors to the tastes of Indonesia. Check out our stories on Traditional Cakes & Sweets of Indonesia and Traditional Snacks of Indonesia. All the foods featured in these posts are readily available throughout Jakarta at pasars and supermarkets.

Indonesian cakes and sweets
An assortment of traditional Indonesian cakes and sweets
You must introduce your Guests to Emping. These delicious snacks come in three varieties: savoury, sweet and sweet & hot! They are seriously moorish (so buy two packs!)

Of course visit a *pasar too for the wet market. We really enjoy a stroll around Pasar Mayestik in South Jakarta or Pasar Modern in Bintaro. Buy some fruits and vegetables that you are less familiar with and ask your *Pembantu to help you prepare them.

pasar modern
Shopping at Bintaro’s Pasar Modern. The produce is fresh and varied and you will find the vendors friendly and approachable


Our number one recommendation is to head to Indonesia’s Grand Mosque, Istiqlal. You can visit any day but we feel that a Friday visit is particularly interesting as this is when the Muslim men head to the mosque for Friday Prayers. Go with a guide for the full experience. Allow a couple of hours to explore with your guide then head across the road with your Guide to Jakarta’s Catholic Cathedral.

Grand Domed Prayer Hall
Inside the Grand Domed Prayer Hall of Istiqlal
Friday prayer
Friday Prayers (Jumu’ah) at Istiqlal Mosque
Katedral Katolic, Jakarta
Directly across the road from Istiqlal Mosque is Katedral Katolic, Jakarta’s Catholic Cathedral


When it comes to an overview of Jakarta’s history, our top two recommendations are to head to Jakarta’s original harbour of ‘Sunda Kelapa’ and Jakarta’s Old Town, ‘Kota Tua’. Both locations offer an abundance of photo opportunities.
We would recommend arriving at Sunda Kelapa by 8.15am and pick up a guide just inside the Harbour gate. We have toured the harbour with Pak Yuda, however, there are many other guides that you can choose from (negotiate your price before you start).
Spend about 1 hour at Sunda Kelapa and be sure to have a sun hat and water bottle as there is no shade. Also wear sturdy shoes as you may be offered the opportunity to walk the gangplank to board one of the traditional wooden vessels – the beautiful Phinisi boats of South Sulawesi.

Phinisi South Sulawesi
Sunda Kelapa

Afterwards, hop back in your car and head to nearby Kota Tua. This is the original Old Town and was formerly known as Batavia. Take a stroll around Fatahillah Square and enjoy a cool drink and some Indonesian nibbles at Cafe Batavia. Make sure you sit upstairs, at a window table to maximise the experience.

Bike hire, Fatahillah Square
Bikes for hire at Fatahillah Square, Kota Tua
Cafe Batavia
A view to Fatahillah Square from upstairs in Cafe Batavia
Fatahillah Square
A stroll around Fatahillah Square is a lovely way to pass time (Cafe Batavia is in the top left corner of the Square)
Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics
Indonesia’s Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics, located at Kota Tua

We also recommend a visit of the Old Post Office (next to Cafe Batavia) as well as a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics.

The Museum Nasional Indonesia (also affectionately known as Museum Gajah – ‘Elephant Museum’), has recently undergone an extension and renovation. To get the most out of your visit, we recommend booking a guide through The Heritage Society.

A visit to the National Monument, MONAS is also worthwhile but be prepared to line up (unless you go mid-week and with a guide). To get the most out of this significant landmark, a tour guide is a must. We particularly like Ibu Maria (see below for her details). Plan to go early too, to avoid the heat of the day.


Rini 1958
The National Gallery of Indonesia hosts many significant exhibitions, including the relatively recent exhibition of works from the Presidential Palaces, which have never been seen before in public. Portrait of Rini by President Sukarno, 1958

Jakarta is loaded with art galleries and art spaces. Of course a visit to the National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta’s leafy central district of Menteng is the place to start as there are always new exhibitions. Check out their National Gallery Instagram for program details.

We love the smaller galleries too including Edwin Gallery, Ruci Artspace, Suar artspace, Catalyst Artspace and of course Dia.Lo.Gue.

Urban Toy Stage
Recent Urban Toy Stage event at Kuningan City, coordinated by Catalyst Arts


Of course it’s an absolute given that COFFEE is featured in our General Guide for Visitors to Jakarta! Indonesia is the World’s 4th largest producer of coffee, so a few cups of an Indonesian brew is surely a must!
Where to go for your coffee…? Well, there are so many options! Here are a few of our current favourites – and note, they all do pretty good food too:

Mister Sunday
Coffee at Mister Sunday, Jl. Cikajang South Jakarta

1/15 Coffee
But First Coffee
Filosofi Kopi
Gentle Ben
Goni Coffee
Kopi Kalyan
Mr Sunday
Saudagar Kopi
Woodpecker Cafe

Shop Haus, Menteng
A bird’s eye view at Shop Haus, Menteng

Pigeonhole at Shop Haus – This is a great option for the whole family – under one roof you’ll find a gelato bar, a patisserie, great coffee, smoothie bowls and more..!

Beau – If you’re looking for a quality French-inspired bakery, then look no further than Beau. Their pastries and bread is fabulous and they make gluten-free bread also. We particularly like their bakery/cafe in Jl. Cikajang.

Bakery goods by Beau, Jakarta
Delicious bakery goods from Beau

Relaxation and Day Spa Services

Everyone needs a little rest, relaxation and pampering now and then. In Jakarta being able to indulge in these services is so affordable, it would be crazy to not include some treatments in your Guest’s itinerary.

Puri Santi
Ibu Kartini of Puri Santi, House of Relaxation

Your first decision is whether you indulge in your spa services at home or at the venue itself. From pedicures to manicures; from massage to reflexology; from facials to waxing, all of these services can be done in the convenience and privacy of your own home, should you wish.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

For quality massage at a very good price, head to Nano Healthy Family

For a more personal experience, we really love Rumah Yoga Studio/Spa

For a more traditional experience we recommend Jamu or Puri Santi

For relaxation in your own home you can try Spalosophy , Salonbyhouzcall or Sense by Jari Jari

Of course a lot of the high end hotels offer very exclusive day spa experiences too, but we believe that you don’t have to pay a fortune to have a wonderful spa experience in Jakarta.


Our first recommendation? Head to the cinema! – A trip to the cinema in Jakarta won’t cost you a bomb and unless the movies are produced in Indonesia, most are in English.

Buy your ticket then grab some popcorn and a cold drink (we love our drinks with extra jelly!) – All this for less than the cost of a single ticket back home. And in Jakarta we have 3 movie experiences: Regular Class, Premiere Class and Velvet Class. Regular is always clean and comfy and a first rate experience. Premiere is the equivalent to Gold Class back home (for an absolute fraction of the price) and Velvet Class allows you to relax on a bed – yes, you read right, on a comfy bed with a blanket and a pillow –  and like Premiere Class, you can have your food and drinks delivered while you watch the movie.

So irrespective of which option you choose, you will definitely have a good time at the movies..

Our only recommendation? Bring some ear plugs – In Jakarta, it appears the louder the better!

Our second truly Jakarta experience is to *’Naik Bajaj!’. You will see these three wheeled motor taxis around the streets of Jakarta. Until quite recently, they were (mostly) all orange and ran on petrol, however, almost all of these have now been replaced with blue bajajs which are fuelled by natural gas, hence better for the environment.

Orange Bajaj of Jakarta
Naik Bajaj!

Pick up a bajaj in your neighbourhood and head to a coffee shop close by or maybe a green space (Taman Suropati is a good choice!). There’s no need to do a long trip – 10 – 15 mins tops is enough to have the bajaj experience without filling your lungs with too many emissions! It really is a fun thing to do and will put a smile on everyone’s faces.

Note: Negotiate your price with your bajaj driver before you hop in. Want more info on the humble bajaj? Check out our post, ‘Hail the Bajaj – Jakarta’s Three Wheeled Taxi’.

Or a third suggestion – Why not stay really local and have a stroll around your own neighbourhood? I live in South Jakarta and whenever we have Guests to stay, we always enjoy a stroll around the streets, looking at the gardens and the architecture. The many and varied street vendors are a truly Jakarta sight, so take the time to engage with your neighbourhood.

After this, we always head to the local coffee shop for a rest before we peruse the many flower shops. Usually at this stage, I need to head to the supermarket which in itself is also an experience! My Father-in Law absolutely loves to check out the fruit and vegetable section of our local supermarket (and my friend Fiona enjoyed checking out all the different products on the shelves.. and pushing my trolley too!)..

Pak Mur
Pak Mur, who normally controls the traffic in my neighbourhood also loves a chat when buying our flowers
Fiona in Hero
My friend Fiona came to visit quite recently. It was so much fun sharing our Jakarta life with her. She even delighted in pushing the trolley in our local supermarket (she’s a bit goinga!)

Fashion and Homewares

Getting creative and having things made for you is an affordable luxury here in Jakarta. If your Guest is interested in having any garments made, suggest they bring with them any items of clothing that they want copied, or pictures of garments that they would like made.
Next stop? Visit one of Jakarta’s many fabric shops. We particularly like Alta Moda and De Mode in Jl. Fatmawati.The sales people in these stores can advise you on the type of fabric and the quantity that you will need. Then, with your fabric in hand, head to your tailor or dressmaker to make your concept become a reality. We recommend Ibu Yana or Pak Nana (see below for details).

If you are looking for more traditional fabrics including Batik and Ikat, you cannot go past Pasar Mayestik. Buy a length or two and take it to Pak Hasan of Hanidas Collection. Pak will promptly turn your batik fabric into beautiful bedding – an attractive and functional souvenir to take home (see below for details).

Heading out of Town

Depending on how much time your visitors are with you, you may wish to organise a trip out of town. For day trips, we have 2 recommended destinations (both weather-dependent):

Anak Krakatau
Anak Krakatau from the boat

Anak Krakatau – To date, my family and I have done this trip twice – the first time with my Dad (who had his first experience of snorkelling at the age of 71 years.. the expression on his face when he saw all the fish was priceless!), and the second time with my friend Fiona. On both occasions, the trip was a huge success.

Be aware that this definitely requires a full day (start at 0500 and home after 8pm) but we can assure you that it will be a trip that will be remembered for a lifetime.
To climb a live volcano (the ‘child’ of the original Krakatoa) and enjoy a day of snorkelling contact :

Krakatau Tours

Web: Krakatau Tours
Emai: Krakatau Tours

Ph: +62 813 86668811(Pak Roman)

Anak Krakatau
Circumnavigating Anak Krakatau, looking for a second snorkelling spot

Note: The boat trip out to the volcano is lengthy (more than 1.5 hours), so this trip is not recommended if your Guest suffers seasickness. Secondly, wear old shoes when climbing the volcano (eg: old runners). It’s likely you will throw them out afterwards!

Thousand Islands – Closer to Jakarta, a trip to The Thousand Islands will have you feeling like you are a world away.  A 1 – 1.5 hour boat ride off Ancol marina in North Jakarta and you will be sailing through increasingly clean waters to your destination tropical island.  We visited Pulau Sepa, one of the outermost islands. There we hired snorkelling equipment and a paddle board. We were set for the day. Our entire trip was organised through Sealeader Tours. Overall, we were extremely happy with the service and quality of our experience.

Sealander Tours

Sea Leader Marine
Kantor Pemasaran Kepulauan Seribu
Jl. Lodan Timur No. 7
Dermaga 17
Marina Ancol
North Jakarta

HP: 0857 1906 2677 (Ibu Widya)
Ph: 021 – 6450181

Pulau Sepa - Pulau Seribu
Pulau Sepa
Pulau Sepa
A little bit of paradise so close to Jakarta

A couple of other day trip suggestions which are not weather-dependent include a walk through the rice paddies at Sentul or a stroll through the Botanical Gardens of Bogor.

Sentul, West Java

Got a little bit more time to spare? Then why not head to Bali! Keep an eye on mid-week flights. You can find some seriously cheap ones if you’re on the ball. Here’s a suggested itinerary which has been tried and tested (twice) by my family:

Day 1:
Arrive and settle into accommodation.
A sunset seafood dinner on the beach at Jimbaran Bay (our pick is Lia Cafe). The sunset is lovely.

Sunset at Bali
Day 2:
AM: After a leisurely breakfast (we love Sea Circus), hire a car with driver (around Rp 700,000 for 10 hour day) and head up the east coast of Bali (about 1.5 hours north of Seminyak) to Blue Lagoon Beach.

Hire snorkelling equipment (rp25,000 per set), have a beach massage (rp50,000 for 30 mins of bliss!) and eat from the local warung.

Blue Lagoon Bay
Blue Lagoon Beach, Bali

PM: Head to the nearby village of Candidasa and treat yourself to a delicious meal at Vincent’s  The food is always fresh, tasty and beautifully presented and surprisingly easy on the hip pocket. It’s been there since 2004 so it’s definitely a good bet!

Note: If you want to eat in their lovely garden, be sure to book. This place is popular!

Alternatively, you may like to head to Yogyakarta in Central Java and visit the World Heritage listed Buddhist temple of Candi Borobudur at sunrise (be prepared to get up very early for this.. but you will be rewarded!). Whilst there also visit Prambanan Hindu temple.

Sunrise at Borobudur
Sunrise at Borobudur, Central Java

Lia Cafe
Jl. Pemelisan Agung
Jimbaran Kuta Selatan
Ph: 0361709002

Jl. Raya Candidasa
Ph: +62 0363 4168

Web: Vincents

Well, that brings us to the end of today’s post. Of course, these suggestions are not exhaustive.. merely the tip of the iceberg of Things to See and Do in Jakarta.  And as we said earlier, we would love you to share your own ideas with us below. Where have you taken your Visitors to Jakarta? What was successful? and what would you recommend? 

Do you have a family with young children coming to stay? Then check out Liz’ post – Visitor Edition #1

Guide Details
Ibu Maria (for MONAS, Kota Tua, Sunda Kelapa, Istiqlal Mosque and Catholic Cathedral)
Ph: +62813 108 74 374

Pak Yuda (for Sunda Kelapa)
SMS: +62 812 810 88277

Dressmakers and Tailors
Ibu Yana
Ph: +62 858 1199 9267/
+62 815 878 7910

Pak Nana
Finenovan Tailor and Modeste
Jl. Terogong Raya No. 36
Cilandak Barat
(Opposite JIS main gates)

Whatsapp: +62 0859 2504 2236 (Pak Nana speaks a little English)

Hanidas Collection (for bedding, cushion covers)
Pak Hasan
Jl. Pelita Abdul Majid
No. 5B
Cilandak Barat (near ‘Excellent Car Wash’)

Ph: +62 853 1103 1352 (SMS or Whatsapp)

*Pembantu: Helper (ofter refers to Housekeeper)
*Pasar: market
*Naik Bajaj : Go/travel by bajaj

Words: Jo  Photography: a journey bespoke


  1. Fiona says

    I just want to come back after reading this Jo! I had such a wonderful time and there are quite a few things I’d like to experience there. Can’t believe you posted me with the trolley! I don’think it adequately demonstrated how spoilt and relaxed I was. It’s a great piece though.

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hello Fiona (you are now a celebrity on our blog). Yes, please come back! Jakarta will always welcome you with open arms:) I couldn’t post the pics of you at your multiple spa destinations – you looked delirious with relaxation! I needed to keep it more real, hence the picture of the trolley.. and even then, you still look unusually thrilled at pushing it! Glad you liked the piece. Come back soon and we can write Chapter 2 of Fiona’s adventures! 🙂

  2. Helen Dalla Fontana says

    Very comprehensive coverage of what to do.Hopefully I will get another chance one day!Love your comments to Fiona!

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hello Helen! You will definitely get another chance to visit – and we can’t wait for that day! Take care 🙂

  3. barbarawoodfrazer says

    Thanks for your great article. I just wondered if I can please get the email address or phone number for Sealeader tours. When I click on the link it doesn’t seem to be working. I have tried googling them but can not find them! Thank you. Barbara

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Dear Barbara, hopefully the link in the blog post is now correct. But incase you still have troubles, the email that I have used is Best wishes, ps: I worked with a lady by the name of Ibu Widya. Her number at Sealeader is 021-6450181

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Dear Ellen, so lovely to hear that you enjoy our blog. Let us know if there’s anything you would like us to ‘investigate’ further. 🙂

  4. says

    Great article! Many things I haven’t been able to try yet, among them Pulau Sepa. We have two kids, 2 and 4, would you recommend it? I am most concerned about the boat (was if a modern speed boat?) and the sun (are there shaded areas on the island where the kids could play when the sun is strongest?). Did you have to swim far away from the island to see any marine life? Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hi there! So lovely to see you here at our blog.. Welcome! Liz and I are both glad you found our article of interest 🙂 I definitely think that Pulau Sepa would be suitable for your children. I have 3 children (quite a bit older than yours: 10, 12 and 15 years), however, when they were younger, a day trip with a bit of an adventure, such as this, would have gone down a treat. The boat ride across to Pulau Sepa was smooth sailing on the day we visited. The seats were all under cover and although the boat is shared with other guests, there was a really lovely friendly vibe amongst all of us – I guess we were all planning on having a lovely day in the sun. The boat itself was modern with twin outboard motors. The crew were efficient and professional. There are many shaded options on the island – there’s a simple playground too. The dining area is all under cover so this provides additional play space when food is not being served. We were able to snorkel directly off the beach and see marine life immediately. The sea urchins have extremely long spines – so be warned! However, they are so deep, it’s unlikely you would treat on one. We set up camp on a couple of timber sun lounges to the left of the jetty as you disembark. I brought snacks and some drinks with us but our lunch was provided and there’s a little shop on the Island too. I hope this helps! Best wishes 🙂 From Jo.

  5. Chris and Clara H says

    We are so looking forward to our trip in June and catching up with you all. Thanks for a great blog!

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Dear Clara and Chris, How lovely to see you here at our blog! We are also looking forward to your visit in June. Maybe some of the ideas in this blog story are of interest to you? We can’t wait to prepare your bespoke itinerary. Take care and Happy Volcano climbing! Jo 🙂

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hey there! Glad you are finding our blog, ‘a journey bespoke’ to be so useful! That’s exactly what we like to hear. Of course, we are also open to suggestions on blog post ideas, so if there’s something you would like us to investigate, just let us know! Best wishes,

  6. Elizabeth says

    Hi, thank you for your lovely (and very helpful!) blog posts! My family is visiting Jakarta in December, and I’m planning to take them to Krakatau! However, the prices I’ve been quoted are astronomical…. 2 Million IDR per person for a day trip! Is this normal?

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hi there Elizabeth, how lovely that your family is coming to visit. The few times I’ve been to Krakatau, we have been quoted a fixed price as opposed to price per individual. Of course had our party been smaller, this would have made it more expensive, however on each occasion we had at least 5 persons in our group. Also, as we used our own vehicle and driver, this reduced the price even further. I hope this helps. Best wishes 🙂

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