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What to do in Jakarta: best weekend itinerary for solo travellers

Hop on a short flight to Jakarta, Indonesia’s dynamic capital, for your weekend solo getaway and explore the cobbled streets of Kota Tua, see traditional performances at the Wayang Museum and Taman Mini Indonesia and learn more about this incredibly diverse nation on a tour of the National Museum. Make new friends on a culinary bus tour or a dawn yoga class before getting beautiful city views from the top of Monas. The capital is the perfect getaway destination for the adventurous traveller so join Skyscanner for the best weekend itinerary for solo travellers to Jakarta.

Cheap flights to Jakarta

When is the best time to visit Jakarta?

From June to September – this is the driest time of the year, which is the best time to visit Jakarta for your solo getaway. The rainiest months of the year are December to February, and travel to the city should be avoided during this period as many parts of the city are prone to severe flooding.

How to get into Jakarta from the airport:

The international airport, Soekarno-Hatta, is 20kms west of the city centre and depending on traffic, the journey to and from the airport can take between 45 minutes and 2 hours so factor this into your holiday plans.

Taxi: The safest and quickest way into town is by taxi. The most reliable operators are Blue Bird, Silver Bird and Ekspress and each has a counter just outside the departure hall. The ride into town costs from RM36 to RM62 (IDR120,000-IDR200,000). Make sure your driver uses the meter and ensure you get a coupon from the counter before getting into the taxi.

DAMRI Bus: Travellers on a budget should head for the DAMRI bus counter. DAMRI runs comfortable air-conditioned buses into town every 15-30 minutes from 0300 until 2130. Tickets to Gambir, in the heart of Jakarta, cost RM11 (IDR35,000) and the journey takes around an hour.

How to get around Jakarta:

Taxi: The most convenient way of travelling around Jakarta is by taxi. You can find them outside malls, hotels and lined up alongside the street. The safest and most reliable companies are Blue Bird, Silver Bird and Ekspress as drivers will use meters as a matter of course (be sure to check). Fares for drives in town vary between RM8 (IDR25,000) to RM30 (IDR100,000) depending on traffic conditions and distance.

Bus: The Transjakarta Busway is a cheap and efficient means of travelling around the city. Fares are a flat RM1 (IDR3500)

Transjakarta Bus Route Map: Map

Bajaj: Bajaj, like an Indian autorickshaw, chug and splutter their way around the city, weaving dextrously in and out of traffic. Because of this, they can be faster than taxis and much cheaper with fares at around RM3 (IDR10,000) for a drive of a few blocks.

View from the window of a bajaj

Hop in a Bajaj and weave through Jakarta’s notorious traffic. Photo credit: Cazz / Flickr

Where to stay in Jakarta:

Flat06 Tendean

Stay at Flat06 Tendean for minimalist comfort in the calm south of the city. The hotel is a short distance to Jalan Sudirman and the city centre. The standard single rooms are excellent value and perfect for solo travellers at 11 metre square and have fast Wi-Fi, spotless parquet flooring and a high-quality mattress in every room.

Prices: Rooms start at RM107

Address: Jl. Abdul Majid No.6, Cipete Utara, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, 12150, Indonesia

How to get there: Take a taxi from Gambir for around RM7 (IDR25,000)

Visit their website: Flat06 Tendean

Book Flat 06 Tendean

Pro-tip: For solo ladies, it’s best to dress modestly. Jakarta is more conservative than Singapore or Bangkok. If you plan on going for a dip in a public space, it’s quite normal for women to put a t-shirt on over their swimming costume.

Read more: How to maximise 3 days in Jakarta

What to do in Jakarta?

Day 1:

1a. Get your bearings from the top of Monas (Monument Nasional)

It’s always good to get a bird’s eye view of a city when you arrive somewhere new, so take an early morning stroll through the Lapangan Merdeka, a large open field with an area of food stalls for breakfast and wandering vendors selling ice creams, maps and postcards. The Monas, standing in the middle of this open area, was built to commemorate Indonesia’s struggle for independence and is designed to resemble a phallic lingga and also a lessung rice mortar and an alu rice pestle, two implements used daily in Indonesian life. It was completed in 1975 and features exhibition in the basement with dioramas describing the independence struggle. Take the lift to the observation deck, 132 metres up, where you can stand next to the golden flame of independence and enjoy fresh breezes and sweeping views of the city.

Entrance fee: RM3 (IDR10,000)

Address: Silang Monas, Lapangan Merdeka

How to get there: Alight at Monas on Transjakarta Koridor 1

Monas with flags waving

Get to know the lay of the land from the top of the Monas. Photo credit: sbamueller / Flickr

1b. Go on a trip through Indonesia at the Museum Nasional

Built in 1862, this is the best museum in the country with a collection of over 65,000 artefacts from across Indonesia and is considered to have one of the finest collections in Southeast Asia. There are beautiful Buddhist and Hindu sculptures and statues, ikat from the eastern islands and Chinese and Asian ceramics alongside Dutch colonial artefacts. The Treasure Rooms are stuffed with bling from sacred Balinese kris to golden crowns and has a wide range of beautiful ritualistic objects from Papua to Sumatra, so if you want to get acquainted with Indonesian culture in one place, this is the venue to do it. If all that history sounds overwhelming, time your visit to coincide with the free English language tours led by the Indonesian Heritage Society every Tuesday at 1030, Thursday at 1030 and 1330 and every other Saturday at 1030. These tours are a great way for solo travellers to meet like-minded souls.

Entrance fee: RM3 (IDR10,000)

Address: Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat No.12

How to get there: Take Transjakarta Busway Koridor 1 and alight at Monas

Visit their website: Museum Nasional

More about the Indonesian Heritage Society & other tours in Jakarta: Indonesian Heritage Society

Hindu relief

Check out the amazing displays at the Museum Nasional. Photo credit: Vasenka Photography

1c. Explore Kota Tua – the heart of old Jakarta

Taman Fatahillah, in the heart of Kota, is a good place to start your exploration of the old part of town, Kota Tua. The cobbled square is surrounded by Dutch buildings dating back to the 18th century which now house a number of Museums including the Wayang Museum and the Jakarta History Museum, both of which charge RM1.50 (IDR5000) and are worth visiting (there are free wayang performances on Sundays at the Wayang Museum). If you see any women straddling the Portuguese canon, known as Si Jagur, it is because the inscribed fig symbol on the canon is believed to symbolise fertility and can help women get pregnant. You can rent bikes here for RM10.50 (IDR50,000), the price includes a short tour of the area and, big bonus, you get a hat to match your bike. Be sure to pop into Café Batavia when you’re here. The café is housed in the second oldest building in the city is filled with Art Deco style and vintage photographs and a menu of Indonesian classics and delicious sandwiches and burgers.

How to get to Taman Fatahillah: Transjakarta busway Koridor 1 to Kota then walk.

Bicycle wheels lined up

Rent a Gold Bird bike for your Kota exploration. Photo credit: Jaka Santana / Flickr

1d. Join the free Art and Culinary Bus Tour

If you’re a foodie, leap at the chance to take advantage of Transjakarta’s recently launched Art and Culinary Bus Tour every Saturday night. The company has four buses doing a circuit of the cities most celebrated makan and culture spots around the centre of town and best of all, the buses are free and so you can get on and get off as many times as you like. This is a great way for solo travellers to connect with other tourists and make friends with locals who can guide you towards the best makan delights. Make sure your stomach is empty as you head for the food stalls at Lenggang Jakarta (alight at Monas 2 stop), where you can try local favourites such as pempek, ayam taliwang and sate and then jump back on again and get off BNI-46 and enjoy the lively café scene in Kota Tua. A great place to try here is Kedai Seni Djakarte, serving up amazing desserts in a café packed with antiques and retro décor.

Transjakarta free Art and Culinary bus tour

Time: Every Saturday night from 5pm – 11pm

Route: Monas 2 – Balai Kota – Harmoni – Gedung Arsip – Museum Bank Indonesia – BNI 46 – Sawah Besar – Pecenongan – Monas 2

Kedai Seni Djakarte

Address: Jl. Pintu Besar Utara No. 17

How to get there: BNI-46 stop on the Transjakarta Art and Culinary bus tour.

Exterior of café in old colonial building

Make sure you pop into Kedai Seni Djakarte for a dessert on your evening makan tour. Photo credit: Jaka Santana / Flickr

1e. Be single and mingle at the Skye Bar

Just because you’re flying solo doesn’t mean you have to be a recluse! Treat yourself to a sky-high cocktail or two at trendy Skye Bar on the 56th floor of the Menara BCA. Expect high prices, high glam and easily the most spectacular night view of the city. Saturdays nights see DJs, dancing and a whole lot of nocturnal delights.

If you still want the view, but aren’t much of a night owl, Skye Bar throws open its doors at 6am on some Sunday mornings for sociable 90-minutes Pilates or Yoga sessions, which include a delicious healthy breakfast, an unforgettable morning view (session costs RM107 / IDR350,000) and a chance to get in touch with resident early birds. Find out more here.

Address: Menara BCA, 56th Floor, Jalan M.H Thamrin 1

How to get there: Transjakarta Busway Koridor 1 and alight at Bundaran HI

Visit their website: Skye Bar

View of Jakarta skyline from Skye bar

Top views for a Saturday drink at Skye Bar. Photo credit: Facebook

Read more: 5 places to take your family from Jakarta

Day 2:

2a. See a different side to Jakarta on Car Free Sunday

Providing you didn’t imbibe too many boozy libations the night before, get up bright and early for Jakarta’s Car-free Sunday. The usually crowded city centre takes on a festive atmosphere with locals cruising the streets on their bicycles, browsing stalls, listening to live music and showing their best skating moves. Don’t expect to be walking along the streets of an apocalypse-themed movie as over 100,000 people are estimated to throng the streets from the roundabout by Hotel Indonesia to the Lapangan Merdeka every Sunday. Jakartans have fallen in love with this morning and you will too; it’s an uplifting way to kick off your Sunday.

How to get there: Take a cab to as close to Bundaran HI as possible and then follow the crowds.

Visit Sewa Sepeda Jakarta to find out more about renting a bicycle in Jakarta.

Man in pink selling street fare

Feel the positive vibes on Car Free Sunday. Photo credit: Seika / Flickr

2b. Browse the curio at Jalan Surabaya Antique and Flea Market

This 500-metre long stretch of the weird and wonderful along Jalan Surabaya is well worth a few hours of your time. If you’re a vinyl collector, you’ll be in your element; browse 70s records by the Eagles and Hendrix alongside Indonesian dangdut compilations. There are a number of shops selling antiques from Chinese porcelain and old Dutch gramophones to heavily lacquered bright Javanese carvings of ancient Hindu gods to carvings from the crocodile infested shores of New Guinea. It might not all be genuine and if they see you’re a foreigner, prices jump, so get your Indonesian numbers down to a tee and bargain with a smile and you might come away with something truly unique. Even if you don’t buy, a trip here is a visual feast.

How to get there: Take a Bajaj from anywhere in the city centre for around RM5 (IDR15,000)

Man in Indonesian antique shop

Spend a few hours browsing the curio on Jalan Surabaya. Photo credit: Seika / Flickr

2c. Get stuck into some authentic nasi Padang

Yes, Nasi Padang can be found in Malaysia, but, as any Indonesian expat will testify, it just doesn’t taste as intense and flavoursome as in their own country. Nasi Padang is the food of the Minangkabau people from West Sumatra. Due to their cultural tradition of migrating (merantau), the Minangkabau people have settled all over the country and brought their food with them. Consequently, Rumah Makan Nasi Padang can be found in even the most remote parts of the country. There are two ways of ordering this; the first is pesan when you queue up by the window and point out the dishes that you want and these are then added to your rice, and the second more elaborate method is to hiding, when all the dishes are lined up in front of you on a table and you pay for what you eat. Make sure you try beautiful nangka (jackfruit), chocolatey, rich spicy beef rendang, paru (cow’s lung) and terong belado (spicy aubergine) or just follow what your eyes tell you. Chilli fans will rejoice in the heat of the sambal hijau, and don’t forget to wash your meal down with a glass of sweet black tea.

Meals cost around: RM12 (IDR40,000)

Try this at: Rumah Makan Garuda, Jalan H. Agus Salim / Sabang No. 59

How to get there: Take Transjakarta Bus Koridor 1 and alight at Sarinah and walk from there.

Nasi padang dishes on a table

Nasi Padang is the ultimate Indonesian feast. Photo credit: Gabriel Sai / Flickr

2d. Catch a cultural performance and visit the traditional houses at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

Taman Mini is a vast park on the southern outskirts of the city home to a collection of traditional houses from each of the provinces of Indonesia. Each house contains cultural artefacts and information on the different traditions and clothes of the people in the different provinces and on Sundays you can catch live musical and cultural performances in the different houses. The park also contains an IMAX cinema, known as the Keong Mas (Golden Snail) where you can enjoy air conditioned bliss and watch wildlife or Indonesia-themed movies. There is also a water park, eco park and lots of other attractions to keep you busy for hours.

Entrance fee: RM3 (IDR10,000) plus entrance fees for cinema RM9 (IDR30,000) and different parks.

Address: Kompleks Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

How to get there: A taxi from central Jakarta will cost around RM45 (IDR150,000)

Visit their website: Taman Mini

Traditional dancers on stage

Watch a cultural performance at TMII. Photo credit: Arian Zweggers / Flickr

2e. Spend an evening in Kemang, Jakarta’s Little Bali

Kemang is an expat hotspot in the south of the city and is a relaxed place to spend an evening browsing little boutiques and investigating the cafes and bars that can be found in the area. A good place for a little shopping is Dia.lo.gue Artspace, which sells cool locally made jewellery, clothing and houseware. There’s a small café attached and an art gallery. Aksara Store has a wide range of goods from cool decorative wrapping paper to beautiful notebooks and novels and is a great place for a potter. Head to Cayenne for innovative home furnishings and once you have suitably damaged your credit card, find a cosy corner in Kommunal 88 and spend some quality ‘me’ time with their excellent coffee, amazing menu of innovative dishes including fig risotto with crispy bacon, dori tempura and cakes and tarts that are out of this world.

How to get to Kemang: Take a taxi from the city centre for around RM21 (IDR70,000)

Find out more about Kemang, Jakarta’s Little Bali: Kemang, Dia.lo.gue Artspace, Aksara Store, Cayenne

Kommunal 88

Address: Jl. Ampera Raya No. 5-6, Pasar Minggu, Jakarta Selatan

Dishes start at around: RM25 (IDR80,000)

Visit their website: Kommunal 88

Read more: 10 cheapest long weekend getaways that stretch your ringgit

Day 3:

3a. Find a bit of bliss in Pulau Seribu

Paradise beaches, blue seas and Jakarta are not words that are normally seen together, but you can get your slice of paradise at the Pulau Seribu National Park. Pulau Seribu means a thousand islands, and though there are actually 110, if you search hard enough you should be able to find a nice piece of beach and do some snorkelling. Some of the islands, such as Pulau Bidadari, are quite close to shore and as a result are quite polluted. As a general rule, the further out you get, the more beautiful the experience will be. A good bet is Pulau Tidung, a 5km long and 200-metre wide island a short 1.5 hr speedboat ride from Ancol Marina. Reefs here are generally in good condition and the island has a laid back atmosphere without any major hotels. If you want to stay the night, there are a number of homestays on the island. The best option for those who want to stay a little longer is to book an all-inclusive package on gorgeous Pulau Mactan, which has excellent accommodation options, a modern kitchen serving innovative dishes and snorkelling and diving on offer.

More about staying at Pulau Macan here.

How to get to Pulau Seribu: Speedboats leave from Pier 17 of Ancol Marina

Book trips & packages to Pulau Macan and other islands in the park: Thousand Island

To book a day trip to Pulau Tiding, visit the Pulau Seribu Tour – Day trip packages start at RM215 (IDR700,000)

View of sea with beach lounger

A surprising slice of paradise at Pulau Seribu. Photo credit: Brianna Laugher / Flickr

3b. Get a sugar high with a martabak manis at Mr Martabak

Martabak (also spelt murtabak) in Malaysia and Singapore can be a spicy, greasy guilt-ridden affair leaving one bloated and regretful. Indonesia has an alternative version of the martabak, known as martabak manis. This soft spongy crumpet-like cake is sold on street stalls across the country, especially after dark as a late night treat. The martabak is cooked in two separate halves and filled with an intriguing mixture of cheese, butter, peanuts, chocolate sauce and drizzled with condensed milk. It sounds freaky, but it works on every level and though one martabak is meant for 2-3 people, it’s easy to gobble a whole one in a sinful blowout. Martabak Boss in Menteng has taken the dish to a new level and incorporated Toblerone, peanut butter, peanut butter and pandan. If you’re flying home, buy a couple to slip in your carry-on luggage and share with your family back home.

Try this at: Martabak Boss, Jalan Yusuf Adinawata 33, Menteng

Prices start at: RM19 (IDR60,000)

How to get there: Take a cab from the city centre RM7 (IDR25,000)

Martabak with chocolate filling

Chocolate, peanut and cheese martabak is a guaranteed winner for the palate. Photo credit: Maurina Rara / Flickr

Read more: 20 cheapest beach holidays for Malaysians

Cheap flights to Jakarta

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Published July 2016. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability