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Friday, 27 May 2016

Indonesia: Exploring Kota Tua, Jakarta’s Old City


People say, "Old is Gold". This couldn't be more true in Kota Tua (literally "Old City" in Indonesian) in Jakarta, Indonesia. Located in the western part of Jakarta, it is home to the city’s only surviving old town area. And this is probably one of the reasons why I love Kota Tua the most out of my recommendations for Top Things to Do and See in Jakarta. Old colonial buildings & a historic bridge, museums, good food, a laid back & surprisingly photogenic old port, what more could I ask for?



A trip to Kota Tua would probably start at its centre point, with the imposing Fatahillah Museum (or more commonly known as Jakarta History Museum), converted from an old Batavia office building that overlooks the main square. A visit to the museum is a must but personally, I enjoyed the smaller Wayang Museum, which is located almost adjacent to it, better.



Wayang Museum showcases the history and variety of shadow plays and puppets, a tradition and culture that are shared throughout the region, including my own home country, Malaysia. There’s another museum located on the other side of Jakarta History Museum, Fine Art & Ceramic Museum, one can easily spend 2 to 3 hours, or even more, just checking them all out.



Once you’re done with the museums, the main square of Kota Tua can be a hive of activities as well, from street artists performing their tricks to tourists (and even locals) cycling around using colourful rented bicycles, perfect for those who would just like to hang around, do some people watching, and take a photo or two (or more, of course!) An abandoned building in the main square is also a heaven for photographers and Instagrammers. Apparently, a lot of newly-weds come here for their wedding photoshoot as well – you can readily see why once you’re there to see it for yourself. 



Feeling hungry? Fret not. There are plenty of options available in the area, from impressionable cafes like the ever popular Café Batavia to – if you’re feeling adventurous – food and hawker stalls that line up a backstreet just around the corner from the main square. Just choose whatever you fancy for a happy tummy and be ready to explore this beautiful old city further.



Jembatan Kota Intan drawbridge is about 10 minutes’ walk from the main square. This unique and one of a kind bridge has a long history, dating back from early 17th century, and kept getting a new name over the years before it was finally changed into its current name following Indonesia’s declaration of independence in 1945. The bridge is also a popular spot for some photography (and selfies too, of course! ;) )



Last but not least, do not forget to venture a bit further to Port of Sunda Kelapa, about 1 km away from Jembatan Kota Intan, or about 15 minutes’ walk. If you’re thinking why anyone would want to visit a port whilst on a trip, don’t worry, I thought of the same thing too, until I went there.

Port of Sunda Kelapa was the main port of Sunda Kingdom right back in the 13th to 16th centuries. Nowadays, it still remains as a port and is an integral part of Kota Tua. A visit here would transport you back to an era from the past. Perhaps not as old as 13th or even 16th century, but still old nevertheless.



There's just something charming about this old port, with docked wooden traditional ships forming a beautiful line up by the riverbank while waiting for their next journey to the open seas, and lorries lining up on the landside, picking up and delivering the cargoes… Port of Sunda Kelapa is definitely another heaven for photographers and Instagrammers.

If you have the time, do see if there’s any local relaxing or waiting on a sampan nearby, and ask if you could take a tour of the port and its surrounding area for a small fee. Watching the locals and exploring the area from the waterside could give an interesting perspective of the place too, a perfect way to end your tour of Kota Tua.





For more information:

Going to Jakarta, Indonesia and still looking for a place to stay at? Do check out Traveloka.com, Indonesia’s largest online travel site, you might just find the best hotels for your needs there.



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For other blog entries on Indonesia, click here.


21 comments:

Comments and feedback are always appreciated. So do leave one or two if you have the time. Thank you!

  1. I've never heard of Kota Tua, though I have a lot to learn about Indonesia in general! Hanging out in the main square - people watching, eating, and biking around - sounds right up my alley. We are potentially headed to Bali over our summer vacation with a night or two in Jakarta. I will take this itinerary into consideration if we go!

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    1. Ah-ha! I do think you should go here if you're having a stopover in Jakarta. 2 nights are definitely better than a night in the city. Unless if you're transiting in Kuala Lumpur instead of Jakarta, on the way to Bali, then you'd probably need a longer stopover.

      I'm biased, of course, haha! ;)

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  2. That abandoned building looks magical! Kota Tua sounds like my kind of place - museums, people watching, photography spots; I'd be in heaven! Thanks for sharing this beautiful place with us, it's been added to my bucket list! :)

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    1. I loved just sitting at the square watching people. There are some artists and dancers around too, some of whom would come and approach you to dance right in front of you for some change. I didn't mind it but some might find it annoying though, haha!

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  3. I love that you chose black and white for your photos. They look so elegant and timeless. Very beautiful!

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    1. Yes, I mostly took black & white photos when I was in the area. Somehow they just fit the place.

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  4. I really love these black and white photos. I'd also love to visit Indonesia one day. Thanks for sharing :)

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  5. Indeed 'Old is gold' for me. I love historic and unique architecture. The museums sound well worth visiting too. So many lovely reasons to visit beautiful Jakarta.

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    1. Indeed. I'd come back here to Kota Tua again and again if I were to visit Jakarta again in the future. Just love the place!

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  6. naek speda tak bang? hehe...gigih i naek speda tua...merentasi traffic kota tua...nk cover circuit neh.

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    1. Haha gigih betul! Saya tak naik pun sebab pergi dgn kawan yg tinggal di Jakarta jadi dia bawa motor utk ke sana sini.

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  7. I don't know much about Indonesia, but I've always wanted to go. It seems so exotic and I love their food! Thanks for the info

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    1. Indonesia is a huge country and each region can be vastly different from the one next to it. I'd love to explore more of the country too. But anyways, don't forget to stop by Malaysia too if you're heading to Indonesia! ;)

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  8. I've actually never heard of this place bfore but from what you have shown us here, it seems like a nice place to explore. Beautiful photos!

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely a nice place to explore, whether for half-a-day or a day trip from the city centre.

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  9. While I agree that 'old is gold", I do think they could do better with maintaining the place. When I visited the old town and harbour 2 years ago it I loved the old colonial buildings but you could see that the area was a bit run down and all the smelling litter laying around kind of put me off. With a little bit of love, this area could be so much more! I did love the harbour and the 'villages' surrounding the harbour though!

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    1. Yes, I totally agree with you on this and unfortunately, it seems to be a common problem almost throughout the region. It can certainly do and achieve more with a little more love and care.

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  10. Beautiful photography as always Raw! I can't wait to visit again and explore more as well as eat all of the peanut chicken satay! lol

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  11. I would love to visit. Even more so to Bali. The port looks cool, I am glad you decided to go.

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  12. wow great place to go! did you know Indonesia has a lot of beautiful places to visit check here Beautiful Indonesia to see more beautiful Indonesia :)

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