The name Jakarta means “great victory,” and it’s a fitting description of Indonesia’s fascinating capital city. Though it’s been influenced by so many cultures over the centuries from Asia and Europe, modern Jakarta has a personality all its own. This city is home to a lot of people, and that leads to heavy traffic and substantial pollution. But when visitors adjust to the fast-paced, gritty way of life here, it’s easy to discover Jakarta’s charm.

There is great architecture to bee seen here, like the famous Istiqlal Mosque, the Jakarta Cathedral, and the towering National Monument at the heart of the city. Outside of the city, hop on an easy-going ferry or a flashy speedboat and visit a few of the Thousand Islands, just off the coast in the South Pacific for a day of diving or wind-surfing. No matter how you spend time here, be sure to sample the local food. Try some Soto Betawi, a stew made from chunks of beef in spicy coconut milk, or gado-gado, a fresh salad in authentic Indonesian peanut sauce.

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