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.
Are you on Pinterest? If you are, use this photo to bookmark and/or share this blog post ;)
For other blog entries on Indonesia, click here.