Jakarta, Indonesia’s massive capital, sits on the northwest coast of the island of Java. A historic mix of cultures – Javanese, Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and European – has influenced its architecture, language and cuisine. The old town, Kota Tua, is home to Dutch colonial buildings, Glodok (Jakarta’s Chinatown) and the old port of Sunda Kelapa, where traditional wooden schooners dock.
Central Medan Merdeka square is the site of the National Monument, or “Monas,” a marble obelisk with an observation deck, and the enormous Istiqlal Mosque. The National Museum traces Indonesian history through archaeological relics, statues, ceramics and jewelry. The city has numerous modern malls, and specialist shopping areas such as the antique market, Jalan Surabaya. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah cultural village re-creates traditional houses, stages performances and has several museums. Offshore are the “Thousand Islands,” some with beach resorts, some uninhabited, all part of a marine national park.