Jakarta to Yogyakarta

A visit to the points of interest of Jakarta including National Monument (and view of the city), Merdeka Square, Merdeka Palace, Istiqlal Mosque, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Jakarta, Jakarta History Museum, National Museum of Indonesia, Wayang Museum Taman, Mini Indonesia Indah before taking the bus to Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;

  • National Monument (and view of the city)
  • Merdeka Square and Palace
  • Istiqlal Mosque
  • St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Jakarta
  • Jakarta History Museum and Fatahillah Square, Jakarta Old City
  • National Museum of Indonesia
  • Wayang Museum
  • Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

Hotels in Jakarta are very good value and you can find luxury hotels for low prices.  Just be careful which area you choose as Jakarta is huge and the traffic is terrible.

National Monument, Jakarta

National Monument, Jakarta

Located in the center of Merdeka Square is The National Monument (above).  The monument is 132 meters tall and it’s possible to take a small lift to the top for a view of Merdeka Square and the city.  The monument is quite small as is the lift to the top but because Jakarta has few tourists this is not a problem.  You probably won’t need to queue to take the lift to the top.  From the top of the monument it’s possible to see many of Jakarta’s top sites including Merdeka Square, Merdeka Palace, Istiqlal Mosque, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral as well as a panoramic of the huge city.

Merdeka Square, Jakarta

Merdeka Square, Jakarta

Merdeka Square is huge and the National Monument is located in the center of it.  Merdeka is the Indonesian word for freedom and the square was named Freedom Square in 1945 after Indonesia gained independence from The Netherlands.  Before independence the square used to be called Kings Square (Koningsplein), referring to the King of The Netherlands.  Before freedom in 1945, Indonesia was called the Dutch East Indies and Jakarta was called Batavia.  Merdeka Square is over 1 square kilometer in size and is one of the largest city squares in the world.

Istiqlal Mosque and St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Jakarta

Istiqlal Mosque and St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Jakarta

The Istiqlal Mosque translated into English means the Independence Mosque.  The Istiqal Mosque is the largest mosque in Indonesia and South East Asia.  In the dimensions of the mosque there is a 17, an 8 and a 45 to represent the date of Indonesian independence from the Dutch on 17th August, 1945.  The capital city of Indonesia was Yogyakarta under Dutch rule but after independence it was moved to Jakarta and the Istiqlal Mosque was built as a symbol of independence.  As it is so huge and during that period Indonesia did not have the funds to build it, it was built in 3 stages over a period of years.  The Istiqlal Mosque was finally completed in 1975 and is now open to the public.

The mosque was constructed next to the existing St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral to show peace between the different religions.

Jakarta History Museum

Jakarta History Museum

Jakarta History Museum is located in Dutch Square and surrounded by Dutch colonial buildings.  The historic building (above) used to be the City Hall (stadhuis) of Batavia (present day Jakarta) when the Dutch ruled this part of the world.

The area around the Jakarta History museum, Fatahillah Square and Jakarta Old City is full of 18th century Dutch colonial buildings.  When I visited a lot of the houses were in bad shape but the whole area is undergoing renovations.  In the future this area could become a UNESCO world heritage site and it has already been nominated.  Under Dutch rule in the Dutch East East Indies Jakarta Old City was known as Old Batavia.

Jakarta Aquarium

Jakarta Aquarium

North Jakarta is an interesting part of the city.  In the northern part of the city you’ll find many attractions including Ancol Sea World.  I photographed a stingray (above) and yes I did get a selfie with him afterwards.  If you are visiting Jakarta with kids this would be the best area to visit.  There are lots of amusement parks, adventure parks and water parks.  There is wooden walkway with views of the Java Sea to the north as well as lots of restaurants.

Jakarta - Traffic

Jakarta – Traffic

I discovered when I arrived in Jakarta by bus from Medan that the traffic in Jakarta is terrible and the roads in Indonesia are undeveloped.  You are guaranteed to be stuck in traffic in Jakarta and throughout the country so I would recommend taking the train to Yogyakarta.  The train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta takes around 8 hours and you can buy your ticket online.  The trains leave from Jakarta Gambir station and arrive at Yogyakarta Tugu, an executive class ticket will cost around $25.  I took an early morning train which meant I was traveling to the train station before the roads got busy in Jakarta and the train arrived late afternoon in Yogyakarta.


2017-07-29T05:00:29+00:00July 20th, 2017|Asia, Indonesia|45 Comments


  1. David Meldrum July 21, 2017 at 7:43 am - Reply

    I love hearing history about places in article I read! I love the history behind the Merdeka Square! Great symbol to remind the people of Indonesia that they not controlled by a different country!

  2. Raghav July 21, 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

    I always love your photos James, there is a certain uniqueness to them in terms of the colour and contrast and that really makes the most normal of scenes special. Indonesia is always a special place because I went to Bali for my honeymoon, but my visit to the country has been limited to that only. Someday I hope to return and travel through the rest of this amazing place and shall be using all this information for sure.

  3. Sara Essop July 21, 2017 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Jakarta looks so beautiful and green. I’d love to visit there someday. The Dutch influence is interesting and similar to South Africa, where there is a huge Dutch influence too.

  4. Lisa July 21, 2017 at 11:53 am - Reply

    It’s so good to hear another traveller’s story about the awful traffic in Jakarta. It’s such a shame, because it really stopped me wanting to see anything more because it really is that bad. I’m glad you made it to the Jakarta Museum and the Old City. Both were on my list during my short stay there, but my patience got the better of me! Another great post James.

  5. Aditi Shukla July 21, 2017 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    I love the points listed in this article. I am heading to Jogja by the end of next week. Hope to have a fabulous time there. I have heard horror stories of the traffic in Jakarta, thus decided against it. Hopefully Jogja is going to be a better bet. Cheers!!

  6. yukti July 21, 2017 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    I always admire your posts as you cover them in depth with stunning photography. The view of Merdeka Square and whole city is beautiful. While booking hotels, keeping Jakarta’s traffic in mind is a great tip. As I have lived in Mumbai many years, I can handle this traffic.

  7. Rachelle Gordon July 21, 2017 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    I love that they were able to rename the square and places after Indonesia gained independence. It just makes me happy. I think it’s a major statement to build a mosque next to another religion’s church/cathedral. Nothing really needs to be said – it’s a quiet demonstration that can be a symbol of hope and peace.

  8. Nadine Smith July 22, 2017 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Jakarta is a place I would love to visit one day! I heard about the terrible traffic but I’m sure it’s still worth going to. Your photos are amazing! You captured the city so beautifully. It’s also interesting to learn more about the history of the establishments you went to like the Independence Mosque, National Monument and Merdeka Palace. Wish you posted your selfie with the sting ray! 🙂

  9. Manjulika Pramod July 22, 2017 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    It was good to read about the history around Jakarta. I like the bird’s eye views and I think I will love the view of Merdeka Square and the city. Yes, I had heard about the terrible traffic in Jakarta and that’s why I decided to skip it when I was in Bali. Next time, I will go.

  10. Maggie July 22, 2017 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I’ve heard of the awful traffic there, sounds like Bangkok and Manila! I agree that train is definitely the way to go on Java Island. I love all your photos, such great detail. The area around Merdeka Square looks the place to visit in Jakarta with the palace and Independence mosque.

  11. Dany July 22, 2017 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    You had me at “luxury hotels at low prices”. I’m in!!! Seriously, I had no idea Jakarta was this packed of things to see and do! I’m showing your post to hubby to discuss about Jakarta! The Independence Mosque is a stunning building, I’d love to visit Merdeka Square.

  12. Indrani July 23, 2017 at 4:58 am - Reply

    Jakarta is interesting with such a lot of wonderful sights. I wasn’t aware the city used to be called Batavia and the country the Dutch East Indies. I didn’t realize it was a sting ray at Sea World until you mentioned it. I will check out the good value luxury hotels when I get to Jakarta some day.

  13. Carol Colborn July 23, 2017 at 10:05 am - Reply

    I have been to Jakarta several times but all on business. So I have not seen the beauty of it, as you have presented it here. Thanks!

  14. Kevin Wagar July 23, 2017 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to get to Indonesia, and these tips about Jakarta are invaluable. Especially about the traffic as it sucks being trapped in a place where it takes forever to get anywhere. The Dutch history is very interesting, I didn’t know it used to be called Batavia.

  15. Archana Singh July 24, 2017 at 4:19 am - Reply

    I had been to Jakarta before but my memorable (unfortunate) has been its maddening traffic. But you make Jakarta look so beautiful and lush. I haven’t been to Yogyakarta but I really wanna see it, it seems the train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta is very good value.

  16. Oana July 24, 2017 at 6:12 am - Reply

    Jakarta is definitely a place on my list and hope to cross it off soon. i didn’t knew the traffic is that bad here, good to know if I want to book accommodation. Love your pictures, they are colourful as always.

  17. Flo July 24, 2017 at 6:47 am - Reply

    I haven’t been to Jakarta since I was young, but I still remember the horrible traffic! Regardless, the culture and heritage looks incredible, I wonder if it will receive World Heritage Site status!

  18. My Travelogue by Bhushavali July 24, 2017 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    The National Monument looks splendid. Indeed very instagrammable if the sky is clear and blue!!! SE Asia’s largest mosque? I’d like to see that. But are women allowed inside? Whoa! They got their independence 2 days shy of 2 years before us!!!

  19. Natalie July 24, 2017 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Indonesia is a place that is high on our list to visit. We love traveling as a family and exploring the world together. Jakarta looks like a must see!

  20. Nicole Anderson July 25, 2017 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Most of the promotion for tourists travelling to Indonesia that I see is centered around Bali as the resort area. It was really good to read this post about the capital and to understand a bit of Dutch history to it. I have also heard how incredibly bad the traffic is but I understand that they are also currently building a new metro rail to help ease the congestion somewhat.

  21. Jane July 25, 2017 at 5:59 am - Reply

    Jakarta looks like such a buzzing city. I am sure along with culture and food, shopping here would be awesome too 🙂 South East Asia’s largest mosque is a must see, it looks beautiful and I hope to get to Jakarta soon!

  22. Brooke July 25, 2017 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Have never been to Jakarta-and I’m not sure it’s appealing enough for me to make my way there but it’s good to get a travelers’ honest scoop. I can’t believe you got there without flying!

  23. Danik July 25, 2017 at 7:23 am - Reply

    I dont know too much on Jakarta but after reading this, the city looks like a place to explore. The mosque I would love to see but the food draws me in.

  24. carlinn meyer July 25, 2017 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Wow cool, I didnt realise there was so much to do and see in Jakarta! Good tip about realizing its huge with loads of traffic. I have made that mistake before somewhere else and spent my time mostly traveling! The history of independence is very interesting, I didn’t know the city used to be called Batavia or the country Dutch East Indies.

  25. Joaquim Miro July 25, 2017 at 11:07 am - Reply

    That’s one weird stingray!! Anyways did you find the Jakarta was becoming much more radical? That’s what I’ve been hearing from many different people lately.

  26. Marlies July 25, 2017 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    This is a train ride I would have loved to do on my last trip! Jakarta seems like a really interesting city and quite different from Yogya. The Dutch colonial buildings would be on my list (being Dutch).

  27. Clara July 26, 2017 at 5:24 am - Reply

    Jakarta is on my bucket list after looking at your photos. I hope to visit this city as soon as possible as I love Dutch history and colonial buildings.

  28. Kim July 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    The view from the National Monument is gorgeous! I love how there’s greenery in the foreground and the rest of the city in the back. Would love to visit Jakarta one day, seems like a great budget friendly destination. Luxury hotels at a low price? I’m there!

  29. Jean July 27, 2017 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Oh great tip about the traffic. It’s so intense I’ve never experienced anything like it before! So crazy. Seemed like a fairly reasonable train ticket from Jakarta to Yogyakarta -$35 for 8 hours!

  30. Parnashree Devi July 27, 2017 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    I love the history behind the Merdeka Square. It’s always great to hear the history of any place. I heard a lot about the traffic of Jakarta, it’s probably the worst in the world. Quite an informative post.

  31. kathy July 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    I haven’t heard of that much to do in Jakarta therefore haven’t really seen it as a place to visit. However you have put it on my map. I love how the Mosque is next to the Cathedral to show respect and understanding between religions. I wish it was more like this throughout the world. I would love to see your selfie with the stingray at Jakarta Aquarium!!

  32. Lolo July 28, 2017 at 7:45 am - Reply

    So frustrating to go somewhere where the roads are undeveloped and the traffic is terrible! You loose such valuable time, but it’s an experience you have to have!

  33. Kelly July 28, 2017 at 11:17 am - Reply

    I have been many places in Indonesia but Jakarta and Yogyakarta are two I want to visit that I have not made it to yet. Your post has made me all the more eager to see Jakarta.

  34. Carmen Baguio July 28, 2017 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Wow! That square is huge! Joe’s mom and dad immigrated to the US from the Philippines so we would love do a big SE Asia loop, including Indonesia. We have some friends who are were Christian missionaries in Jakarta but had to leave due to religious persecution. Did you see any issues with that there?

  35. Baia Dzagnidze July 28, 2017 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I have seen and read many blogs about Indonesia but I think it’s the first one I read about the capital city, Jakarta. Really nice post and full of interesting things to do, the Dutch history and Merdeka Square sound amazing. I never knew the city used to be called Batavia or the country Dutch East Indies.

  36. Kate July 30, 2017 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    It seems like you will never get bored in Jakarta! Its always interesting to see countries that have Dutch influence because it becomes so obvious in the architecture. Great photos!

  37. One Tech Traveller July 30, 2017 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this I haven’t been to Jakarta before but it looks lovely. I definitely want to see the National Monument and Merdeka Monument when I go.

  38. Shona @ paraphernalia.co July 31, 2017 at 9:32 am - Reply

    I hear you re the traffic. I used to think Bangkok’s traffic was bad, but Jakarta changed my mind. In another life, our company accommodation was the Borobudur Hotel where the monuments you’ve listed can be seen from a lounge bar at the top for a bird’s eye view.

  39. Karen Akpan July 31, 2017 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Looks like there is so much to do in Jakarta. And traffic, that seems to be normal. That’s why I love taking trains. Also you had me at luxury hotels lol. I had to go take a look at a few.

  40. Travel Lexx July 31, 2017 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Looks like there is more to Jakarta than meets the eye – I have read a lot about how it’s not really worth spending any time in but sounds like there is plenty to see and do! Definitely somewhere I would love to visit – it is the capital after all! What would be the ideal length of visit?

    • James Smith August 1, 2017 at 6:52 am - Reply

      I think you’d see enough in 2-3 days, you should spend more time in Yogyakarta though, enjoy!

  41. Stephanie August 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Great information on Jakarta. A place I have yet to visit but hopefully on my next trip to Indonesia. Wonderful history of this fascinating city. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Paul and Carole August 2, 2017 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Jakarta looks a mad but interesting place to visit. Plenty to do if you can face the traffic. Love the photo of the Stingray!

  43. Carla Durham August 6, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Sounds like there’s a lot to see and do in Jakarta. Too bad there aren’t more people visiting it. Hopefully as interest grows, the infrastructure will improve.

  44. Tonkin-Travel Vietnam June 16, 2018 at 4:37 am - Reply

    I still think Jakarta is not different from other developing mega cities in Southeast Asia like Bangkok, Manila or Saigon. Thanks to your post, I’ve changed my mind and perspectives about this city.

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