The capital city of Indonesia and one of the world’s greatest megalopolises, Jakarta is a colourful city that is historically rich and culturally diverse. No wonder then that the bustling city is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and a favourite of us Malaysians to visit.
Well, if you think the city is just too mainstream now, then think again! Here are a few hidden gems within the great city of Jakarta that only the locals know about for you to explore and discover in full wonder.
1. Be awed by magnificent traditional Indonesian ships at Sunda Kelapa harbour
This harbour by the Ciliwung river holds huge significance in the history of the city as this is the original port which flourished and made Jakarta the megapolis it is now! Today the old port accommodates traditional wooden sailing ships serving inter-island freight service in the archipelago.
What to expect:
- These traditional two to three-masted sailing ships called pinisi are lined up neatly at Sunda Kelapa harbour with beautiful colours painted over their sides.
- The pinisi is the largest Indonesian traditional vessel after the disappearance of the Javanese giant djong last seen in the 17th century.
- Take pictures with the backdrop of the pinisi for that gorgeous Instagram shots to leave your friends in envy.
- There are also fishing boats docked at the harbour where you can pay around IDR50,000 to IDR 100,000 (approximately RM15 to RM30) for a ride throughout the river!
- Marvel at the gorgeous sunrise and sunset around the bay while you’re on the fishing boats.
2. Island-hop across Jakarta’s Pulau Seribu
Although when directly translated it literally means a thousand islands, this chain of islands situated north of Jakarta’s coast actually only consists of 342 islands stretching north into the Java Sea. Of the 342 islands, only 13 islands are fully developed with 11 of which are homes to resorts and the other 2 decreed as historic parks. The rest of the islands are either privately owned, uninhabited or support a fishing village.
The 11 islands that you can visit are:
- Pulau Ayer
- Pulau Bidadari
- Pulau Onrust
- Pulau Tidung
- Pulau Air
- Pulau Pari
- Pulau Pramuka
- Pulau Sepa
- Pulau Pelangi
- Pulau Macan
- Pulau Putri
All of these islands offer super gorgeous stays at their respective resorts with Pulau Ayer and Pulau Bidadari being the closest to Jakarta’s shores.
3. Experience the unique Betawi culture at Setu Babakan
A creole ethnic group, the Betawis can be traced its roots from a mixture of various parts of Indonesia and abroad, similar to our very own Serani people of Melaka. The culture and art of the Betawis will definitely pique your interest as you can see Portuguese and Chinese influences on their music but a mixture of Sundanese and Javanese in their dances.
Their language and clothing on the other hand closely resemble Malay culture which makes it all the more fascinating! Well, the Betawi village in Setu Babakan is the perfect place to experience their culture first hand.
What to expect:
- Located in South Jakarta, Setu Babakan is a natural lake and garden listed by the Indonesian government as a cultural heritage site for the preservation of Betawi culture.
- The lake itself is used by the Betawi people for fish farming whilst the garden surrounding the lake is cultivated by them with fruits such as bananas, guavas and coconuts.
- A variety of Betawi cultural arts performances are held on an outdoor stage every weekday such as Cokek dance, Topeng dance, Marawis, Lenong, Tanjidor and more.
- Every July, there will also be a special Betawi Cultural Festival held at Setu Babakan which includes traditional ceremonies such as circumcisions, seven-months’ pregnancy rituals and more!
- Try out Betawi dishes at the various food stalls such as Kerak Telor (thin omelette mixed with glutinous rice), Soto Betawi, Bir Pletok, Nasi Uduk and others.
4. Catch a local performance at Taman Ismail Marzuki
The hub for local Jakartan artists to develop and gain exposure, Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) is the go-to place if you want the best of what the local entertainment scene has to offer!
What to expect:
- An arts, cultural and science centre in Cikini, Jakarta, Taman Ismail Marzuki is more than just an entertainment hub as it also houses educational institutions as well.
- These include the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ), the HB Jassin Literary Documentation Center and Jakarta Planetarium.
- The compound also has modern theatres, a library, bookstores, exhibition areas and more so you can be sure that there’s always something going on for you to experience first hand!
5. Be amazed by the diverse Indonesian cultures at the annual Jakarnaval festival
An annual parade highlighting the amazing cultures of the great city, Jakarnaval is organised by the Jakarta Provincial Government. The upcoming festival will be held this 16th of June 2019 and would be the 20th time it is held in the city!
What to expect:
- From Javanese culture to the Batak, Minang and even the Papuas, you can practically see the whole of Indonesia’s diverse culture here!
- Jakarnaval is part of the many celebrations commemorating Jakarta’s 492nd anniversary.
- Join the locals on the streets of Jakarta and be part of the festivities and marvel at more than 50 decorated vehicles with unique arts and cultural themes each.
Super awesome weh! Make sure these hidden gems are part of your itinerary the next time you visit Jakarta especially the Jakarnaval festival that’s happening really soon.
For more information on the great city of Jakarta and other awe-inspiring destinations that Indonesia has to offer, click here.
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