Three days in Jakarta gives you plenty of options to explore not only this southeast Asian megacity but West Java as well. See the city’s signature sights, including the historic center; discover the rich variety of Indonesian food; explore the colonial hill town Bogor; and choose a day trip of theme parks or volcanoes. Here’s how to get the most out of your stay.
Day 1: Capital Culture
Spend your first day in Jakarta seeing the city’s signature sights and getting an overview of Indonesian food, history, and culture. Begin with a tour of Jakarta’s three historic districts: Jakarta Old Town (Kota Tua), with its canals and colonial buildings; Pelabuhan Sunda Kelapa, where sailing ships still visit the old harbor; and Jakarta Chinatown (Glodok). After a lunch of Chinese Indonesian favorites, such as noodles with wonton ( mie pangsit ), discover the center of the modern city. Visit MONAS (the National Monument of Indonesia), check off Jakarta Cathedral and Istiqlal Mosque, then immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the archipelago at the National Museum. Spend the evening like a local, grazing on street food from simple stands and stalls. Savor Indonesian favorites such as nasi goreng (fried rice) and bakso (meatball soup) alongside Javan specialties such as coconut satay and jackfruit curry.
Day 2: Colonial Country
On your second day, begin your exploration of West Java’s lush volcanic highlands in Bogor, a hill town that served as a hot-season retreat during the Dutch colonial period. Start at the Bogor Botanical Gardens, a historic research center that sprawls over 215 acres (87 hectares) of hillside, complete with over 15,000 species of plants including orchids, palms, and lotuses. Travelers with children won’t want to miss Taman Safari Bogor, a wildlife attraction that’s home to Komodo dragons, orangutans, elephants, and more. If time permits, discover the beauty of Indonesia’s tea plantations and taste traditional Javanese tea at a farm in the Puncak area. Return to the city in time for a rijstaffel (rice table) dinner, a colonial Dutch feast of multiple dishes that’s served with ritual and theater at the city’s grand hotels.
Day 3: Contemporary Culture
If Jakarta is your only stop in Indonesia, you might choose to spend your last day exploring one of the nation’s 100-odd active volcanoes, depending which are safe to visit: Krakatau and Tangkuban Perahu are viable day-trip options from Jakarta. Alternatively, make like a local and spend the day relaxing at one of the city’s theme parks or water parks: Waterbom will satisfy both children and your inner child, while Fantasy Land in Ancol is another popular choice. Yet another option is Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a cultural park with fascinating exhibits on the archipelago’s diverse islands and people; it makes great preparation for wider Indonesian exploration. Wrap up your stay with a journey into this cosmopolitan megacity’s contemporary side. Dine on modern Indonesian cuisine at a stylish restaurant, then sip cocktails at a rooftop bar with skyline views.