If one is willing to go beyond the prickly surface and find the sweetness within, there is plenty to see and do in the 'Big Durian'. Jakarta is a great city for people looking to explore cultural and natural wonders, and expats moving to the city will be spoilt for choice.
Recommended attractions in Jakarta
Monas is short for Monumen Nasional and is popular with locals who like to fly kites, ride bikes, stroll and picnic on the grounds. It was built in remembrance of the local struggle to fight colonial domination. The impressive monument, which might look small from afar but is astoundingly large up close, is gorgeously clad in marble and topped with a bronze flame that is lit up at night. There is a museum at the base, and for a few dollars more, one can ascend to the top and get a 360-degree panoramic view.
National Museum of Indonesia
The National Museum is near the Monas and houses the most comprehensive collection of cultural artefacts in the entire archipelago. Allocate at least half a day to wander around and learn about the fascinating and rich Indonesian history.
Located in the centre of Jakarta Old Town is Fatahillah Square. The Jakarta History Museum, the Fine Art and Ceramics Museum and the Wayang Museum, which showcases traditional puppets, are all located in the area. The square itself is dotted with locals hanging about and vendors selling their wares/services.
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Taman Mini hosts a number of gardens that show the lives of local people in different provinces throughout Indonesia's history. In the middle is a lake with miniature islands in the shape of the archipelago, complete with volcanoes. There are also museums and rides for children to enjoy.
Bogor Botanical Gardens
This is a popular spot with the locals for picnicking. Drive in with a car to explore the vast grounds and see gigantic trees that are hundreds of years old and amazing to behold. An alternative to picnicking is lunching at the cafe, where diners can enjoy a breathtaking hilltop view of the gardens and a tranquil pond with giant lotus lilies.