Indonesia is a country made up of thousands of islands but the majority of the population live on Java, the main island where you’ll find the capital of Jakarta. If you’ve never visited Indonesia before, this is the best part of the country to visit because it will give you a good sense of the region and you’ll get to experience a cross section of all of the different cultures in the country. If you ever return, you can go to some of the smaller islands and get a unique Indonesian experience but on a first trip, it’s best to head to Java.
If you haven’t been before and you don’t know where to start with planning your trip, here is everything that you need to know about visiting Java in Indonesia.
The majority of people will fly into the capital city of Jakarta when they first arrive in Java. It’s the easiest place to reach because a large portion of the island outside of the capital is still quite rural. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be confined to Jakarta once you arrive. The public transport links around the island are fairly good and even though the buses and trains are a little old, they’re still quite efficient. A lot of the transport links are geared towards locals but you should get along fine if you just ask somebody if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are some tourist trails around the island as well so if you feel a little intimidated by using the local public transport, you could look into that instead.
Where To Stay
There are plenty of great hotels that you can stay in while you’re in Jakarta but it all depends on how much you want to spend. If you’re trying to do the trip on a tight budget then hotels might not be your best option. There are a lot of great hostels around that you could stay in instead. They aren’t quite as luxurious and you’ll have limited facilities but if you want to save a lot of money on your trip, it’s the best way to go.
You could also consider getting an apartment because they’re quite cheap, especially in places like East Java if you’re considering travelling outside of Jakarta while you’re there. If you do a search for cheap housing or perumahan murah, you should be able to find plenty of affordable places to stay. This is ideal for families or bigger groups because you get more space and it’s a lot cheaper than a hotel, but you’ll get a much better room than you would if you were in a hostel.
Jakarta is a bit of an acquired taste and some people simply don’t like it. A lot of tourists use it as an entry and exit point into the rest of Indonesia and don’t stop to spend much time there at all, but if you’ve never been before, it’s worth experiencing. It’s a very hectic city but you’ll see a good mix of the different cultures that Indonesia has to offer and it’s also a good place to learn a bit more about the history of the country.
It’s worth paying a visit to the Monas Tower, the most famous monument in Jakarta. This impressive structure was built as a monument to the country’s independence after 1945 and it has a great observation deck at the top where you’ll get a brilliant view of the entire city. There is also an accompanying museum and gallery where you can learn a bit more about the history of Indonesia.
The Istiqlal Mosque is another very popular tourist attraction and it’s located very close to the Monas Tower so you can easily visit both in one day. It’s the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and it holds up to 120,000 worshippers at one time. Inside, you’ll find some beautiful decoration around the mosque and anybody is welcome outside of prayer times, just make sure that you dress modestly.
When you first step off the plane and see Jakarta in all its glory, you probably won’t expect to find any beautiful beaches there, but you can. Ancol Beach is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach with some swimming pools and there’s even a water park and a Sea World as well. It’s a public beach so it’s free, but you will have to pay if you want a sunbed or you want to use the swimming pools.
These are just a few of the great things to do in Jakarta but if you can handle the fast pace of life there, it’s worth exploring for a few more days.
If Jakarta is a bit much for you and you want a more relaxing experience, you should head out to Bogor. It’s not far from Jakarta at all so you can easily take a day trip there, but it’s a world away from the busy capital city. It isn’t hugely popular with tourists but those that do go always fall in love with the relaxed pace of life and the beautiful scenery. If you want to get some great photographs, this is the place to do it.
Highlights include the Pasar Baru market where you’ll find colorful stalls filled with local produce, arts and crafts, and even clothes. If you’re looking for some good souvenirs, this is a great place to get them. You’re only around the corner from the botanical gardens as well so if you want to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta, this is where to do it.
Yogyakarta is another very popular destination in Java, often referred to as the cultural soul of Indonesia. There is a lot to see there but most people go there to visit two main attractions. The first is Borobudur, an incredible Buddhist temple complex dating back to the ninth century. The second is Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. It was constructed around the same time, and possibly in response to Borobudur. If you want to experience the cultural heritage of Indonesia, Yogyakarta is the place to go.
Indonesia is a very rich and varied country made up of so many tiny islands. You could visit a thousand times and see something different every time, but on your first trip, you should go to Java and experience these things.