The old city around Kota offers a clutch of museum and sights. However, sometimes it is just the best to accept Jakarta for what it is, and explore the restaurants, bars, clubs and shopping malls that the city does the best.
Getting into town
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is 35 km northwest of the city. It is about an hour away via a toll road (up to two hours during rush hour). There is a damri bus service (Rp 15000) every 30 minutes from 3am to 7pm between the airport and Gambir station.
Alternatively, a metered taxy cost about Rp 130.000, including the airport service charge and toll road charges. These should be organized through the official booths in the arrival terminal. Avoid the freelance drivers outside for safety reasons.
Activities and sights
Kota is Jakarta crumbling historic heart. It brings us back to the Dutch capital of Batavia. There are some spots to visit in Kota. First, Taman Fatahillah. It’s the old town square, some fine colonial buildings and some ho-hum museums. From Jl Jaksa take the train to Kota station from Gondangdia station or by bus a northbound koridor 1 service from Sarinah busway on Jl Thamrin. The fines way to enjoy the colonial experience is to take a drink in the magnificient Cafe Batavia and then explore Kota’s quirkier sights on foot.
Nearby, Gereja Sion is the oldest remaining church in Jakarta. It was built in 1965 for the ‘Black Portuguese’ brougt to Batavia as slaves and given their freedom if they joined the dutch reformed church. Then, there is Toko Merah, formerly the home of Governor General Van Inhoff. It also has fine Dutch architecture. Further north, the last remaining Dutch drawbridge, the chicken Market Bridge spans the canal.
To the south of Kota, Glodok is a run-down chinese district of traditional markets and infamous nightclub. These days, most Jakartans favour air-conditioned shopping malls, so it will be more comfortable for shopping. Importantly, avoid dark side streets at night in this zone.