10 Weekend Things To Do in Jakarta Outside Shopping Mall

I might be taking on a mammoth here but my friends and I found less and less things to do on the weekend that does not revolve around hanging out inside one of the many shopping malls. As we tend to miss the freedom of the outdoor world that we may have experienced during our travels (even to Bali!) and living abroad, it figures we can’t be the only ones experiencing it.

So here comes the list. Though it’s probably impractical to do what’s written on the list every single week, hopefully you can also add on with your own excursions to the list. If you’re in Jakarta for the first time, this wikitravel site would be a good place to start with.

1. Be a Tourist in Your Own Town – Walk around Kota Tua

Free museums. Allow Rp. 10.000 for street snacks and ~Rp.50.000 for coffee at Café Batavia.

The Old Town or Kota Tua area is quite a trip back to the past offering plenty of educational entertainment all around. To the many Jakartans who’s been to museums in Singapore but never set foot in Bank Indonesia museum, three words for you. “Shame on you!” The museum is free and it’s very well thought out. You could easily spend a couple hours there absorbing the little information tidbits about money that you probably have not thought of as of late. There are also a number of other noteworthy museums around to easily spend a whole weekend in, such as Museum Wayang and Fatahillah. The last two I’ve never been myself since I always manage to end up there when they’re closed for the day. And when you’ve had enough of the heat, go to the second floor of the nostalgic Cafe Batavia right by the square and pick a table by the windowsill. It would be completely understandable to think that you’re transported back in the simpler time save for the sight of camera touting tourists crisscrossing the square.

2. Pulau Seribu

Island trips start from Rp. 300,000 incl. one night modest stay at local dwellings and boat trips. Some islands that only have resort will run close to triple the tag price.

A short 2 hours ride on the boat will get you to the island living that you thought of when you think of the country of many islands. The type of places that families would go, the Jakartans would often prefer to travel to farther and more exotic islands such as Bali or even Phi Phi Island. But the islands are making a comeback as the no-frill destination for some simple living of salty breeze, clear warm water, white sandy beach, generous sun and plenty of bridge/boat jumping. Invest in a pair of good snorkels and fins and off you go wishing you’d never have to see Monday again.

3. Theaters/Plays/ Foreign Movies Plays

Erratic prices.

There are a few well known places to go see performances and if you don’t look hard enough, the word of mouth tend to get the job done well after the shows are over. Often times you’d be kicking your head that you missed yet another good show for lack of information. If there’s such a portal that collects comprehensive lists of shows and plays, I am not in the know of. However, here are some good places to start your search. Invest a couple hours a month to search or sign up to their newsletters to ensure that you are in the know.

Teater Koma – Plays, plays, plays and more plays.

Jakarta Broadway Team – mostly musicals. Recently a shopping mall hired them during Ramadhan for a whole month. Seems like you just can’t avoid the malls sometimes. :-S

Taman Ismail Marzuki – very confusing site.

Komunitas Salihara (Festival coming up end of Sept with plenty events to tantalize all your buds!)

The language centers listed below would also have plays and movie nights.

4. Learn a new language.

Price varies.

Mandarin seems to be the latest craze. I’m signed up myself to some good ol’ conversation coaching. We’ll see how far that would take my already butchered pronunciation. Apart from that there are French, German, Italian, Japanese cultural centers to learn at just to name a few. It is harder to find those language courses beyond the official cultural centers for some reason. Most of them would have four hours blocks of lessons during the weekend to get you sorted.

If you have crazy internet connection and would rather interact with random native speakers, check out Live Mocha. They have pretty good features as far as free online lesson goes and you can get your ‘new friends’ to grade your work and give feedback.

5. HHH – Hash House Harrier

Cost varies from chapter to chapter. Rp.50,000 per run should cover you good.

An international organization, the club is getting more popular in Jakarta. There are so far  different chapters  listed in Jakarta alone and they do a weekly event that reminds you of those Saturdays spent boy/girl scouting around Jakarta, or was that only me? So the idea is for some members of the chapter to leave traces on a trail and let the rest of the members track it later in the evening. Always ending up at a joint where there will be drinks and snacks waiting, so I heard. There are different routes for different length of tracks. Mostly done with routes traversing in and out of the village in the outskirt of Jakarta, it surely beats getting cooped up in a shopping mall hunting for the next 50% bargain. You can have a closer look here.

edit: The next day after I wrote this post, I had the fortunate chance to go to one of the chapters’s event. I must say I have mixed feelings about it. The cross-country ambling up and down the hills at the outskirt of Jakarta was good. Two hours of full work out for me. The white paper pieces scattered for the trail signs…. not so good. As we were  friend of a daughter of a friend of member, we were welcomed with open hands. Though at some point there were definite efforts by one of the members to track down who exactly brought us into the club made me wonder if the club is actually open for public walk ins or not. The chapter exudes a certain exclusivity aura that would quick diminish once you get into the flow of their rituals. If you like singing, drinking and trampling down the countryside, you might just have found yourself a new family. Other than that, give the phone numbers listed on the site a call and check out for yourself. It is an experience on its own right. 

6. Get Active with Rock/Wall Climbing, Muay Thai, Boot Camp, Parkour.

Rock Climbing – Rp.80,000 per climb session, Muay Thai – Rp.50-60,ooo per session

Apart from the typical basketball, volleyball, tennis that takes a bit more planning and preparation to do, there are now even more activities that requires even more of your sweat with much less planning coordination. You tend to just show up at one of these predesignated places at a certain time, pay a minimal fee and get your adrenaline pumped like a rock star!

Wall/Rock climbing would find you visiting some real rocks at the outskirt of Jakarta once you get the hang of it as the club tend to do a bit of outdoor trip. (get it?) Doing Parkour would also get you out and about, though mostly in a safe area first and most likely outdoor. Boot camp would also find you huffing and panting your weekend away under the strict instruction of a trainer. And Muay thai will find you in a smelly sweaty gym that would only further fuel your need to punch that bag harder than you’ve ever done in your life. Thought someone just told me that if we could find an open space with banana tree, he’d teach us muaythai for free. That’s as outdoor as muaythai could get I’d say.

Here are the links to get you started. But always look around to find the one that suits your personality the most as these are the ones that I have my eyes on.

Wall/Rock Climbing in Jakarta – The link will take you to Mas Pandji, a climbing athlete, who will make sure you climb your heart out in the 2 hours or so. It’s Rp. 70,000 per session (all you can climb, really. But my legs gave out around the 4th climb). Location is in Pasar Festival, Kuningan. You’ll notice the wall. I used to go on Saturdays morning and have Bakmi GM right after! Perfect start for the weekend. Before long you’d be going to real rocks with your new found friends!

Muay Thai in Jakarta – This club attach itself to a neighborhood gym. Hence, A+ for convenience.  Sports Mall/Mahaka Square, Kelapa Gading at Rp.50,000 per visit. Saturday classes run from 3pm to 5pm. Another great weekend filler especially noting Kelapa Gading provides countless options to recharge your energy back after the class.

Boot Camp in Jakarta – This I’ve yet to try. But basically you do what the master tells you to do. end of story. Heard a lot about it from Twitter. The 6am Saturday session looks sick! In a medicine makes you sick kinda way. Will give it a go once I can sleep before 3am. Runs at Rp.100,000 per session.

Parkour in Jakarta – This is also on my list. I’ve been keeping an eye out for this since I saw that French movie of a bunch of kids doing parkour. This one’s free save for the Rp.5000 park entrance fee, which is a bargain I’d say. More like a community that one teaches another, it is expected that whoever joins keep learning on their own at home and start sharing what they know. Well, that’s what I thought would make sense anyway. 8.30 ams on Sundays, this one will be another one that requires waking up earlier than my normal schedule.

And yes. It might sounds odd to be listing sports as one of the Things-to-do in Jakarta…. Should be doing sports regardless the day, no? Alas, it is still an option for you to consider.

7. Indonesia Berkebun – Jakarta Berkebun!

There’s a gardening movement in Jakarta and I think it’s grrrreeeeeat! The community Indonesia Berkebun meets up to discuss gardening and they’d keep a plot in the city somewhere to collectively plant vegetables and other plants on it. I am not too keen on gardening I must say, though I enjoy the odd herbal window-sill plants for my salad. However I still hope the community would in time flourish as Jakarta need more gardeners, and gardens, for sure. A dream restaurant would be the one where you could plant “your own patch” in the morning and have lunch by harvesting and then come back in a few months to do the same. So on and so forth. Wouldn’t that be nice?

8. Volunteer

I wish there’s a collective site to just see who needs help where such as this. Alas, the rhythm seems to flow a bit differently in Jakarta. Most people I know volunteer through religious groups that they are attached with and they tend to be either a regular ongoing program or a one off event. Apart from the religious route, there are a number of social movements that I’d hear through the Twitter-vine now and then trying to do something good for the society. And then there’s the random “Oh I hear so and so is doing so and so to so and so” Highly serendipitous I must say.  I can’t help to think that there are many more organization who’d love the odd hand to help out every once in a while.

It is one of my wishes to see Jakarta has this portal that could make it much easier for anyone so inclined to give up their time or money for others. One huge bigportal full choke of information.

edit: Found this great site by Jakarta Globe. Haven’t tried but looks promising.

9. Join Couchsurfing

And go to their events. I’ve seen activities ranging from the odd karaoke, all you can eat, all of the above trips to playing kasti/gebok in a field. There’s always someone who’s up for something to do and if there’s no thread of anything going on, you could always start your own event and surely you’ll find that you’re not really alone in this quest of trying to stay away from the shopping malls during the weekends.

10. Massage / Facial/ Creambath

Rp.40,000 / 1.5 hours for feet reflexiology and Rp. 110,000 /1,5 hours for body massage at my round the corner place. Price varies. 

I just love massage I have to include this in. You’re in JAKARTA! It’s THE (second best) place to indulge yourself in a biweekly ritual of body massage or self-pamper while still keeping your financial health intact. The first one would be Bali as even a modest sixty thousands rupiah place would give you good and proper Balinese massage with no fuss. Most of the cheaper places in Jakarta could be found outside the shopping malls and the more you feel like a herring packed in a can, the cheaper it would be. I once went to Nano in Pluit area and their efficiency in managing 100 reclining seats along with a masseuse and a customer on each would bring envy to any Toyota factories.

Well, that’s my list thus far. A bit tougher than I thought but I bet you all have your own ideas.

How do YOU spend your weekends?

Spotted in Kota Tua

Updated – 7 October 2012 -

11. Taman Suropati Chamber – free to watch and donation to practice

Found out about this recently. Still haven’t checked it out but sounds like a great way to spend Sunday out in the open! So every Sunday for the last few years, a number of people would bring their musical instruments and play together in this park. It’s now a pretty organized shebang going on every Sunday and you can either come to watch or join the finger twisting fun.

Here’s a link from one who’s been there: Welovejakarta.com

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About inifeli

Sketch a lot, write a lot, read a lot. Live a lot.

7 comments

  1. GEOCACHING this what should be another activities for Jakartan. I assured this is fun, creatives, healthier yet challenging. You’ll gonna be hooked. What you need is only eagerness to walk thats it. Since all the smartphones has GPS (global positioning system) in it, much more easier to do GEOCACHING. You can easily browse what is GEOCACHING and have a go.

  2. Ian Turner

    Zealot Muay Thai is now also @ Elite Club Episentrum, Komplek Rasuna (South Jakarta) on Sundays, 3-5pm contact Jerry 089606761670

  3. Meta

    Hi, I have a house with a beautiful garden. I’m planning to plant organics herbs and vegs., but don’t know how to start. I am Indonesian but have been living overseas for a very long time but is now returning gradually to Jakarta from Milan, Italy. Would love to meet like-minded ladies.
    Thanks.

  4. Hi Meta, Sorry for the super late reply.
    I don’t actually live in Jakarta anymore but you can contact the friendly people at http://indonesiaberkebun.org/ and they could probably hook you up with what you are after!

    All the best! Hoped your garden blooms beautifully!

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