The Old Town of Kota is perhaps the best place to start, sitting close to the port, and retaining the appeal of old Jakarta, before it rushed to join the global business heavyweights. Explore the leafy boulevards, bustling cafes and Kali Besar wooden bridge – which spans the canal, as you experience a living, breathing reminder of the city's Dutch colonial past. Travel to the heart of modern Jakarta, with a call at one of the biggest city plazas in the world - Merdeka Square. Over a kilometre squared in size, the towering National Monument stands a defiant 132 metres tall, and memorialises the quest for Indonesian independence. Rise to the top to experience the thrilling view from the observation deck. You can see as far as Mount Salak to the south on a clear day.
The gigantic Istiqlal Mosque is an extraordinary sight, with symmetry rippling throughout it, while Jakarta's neo-gothic cathedral also rises close by, and is just as effective at drowning out the city's chaos. Wander the nave, below huge, arcing wooden roof beams. The wares along Surabaya Street glitter in the sunlight, and this street is the place to pick up aged souvenirs and fragrant spices of vanilla and cinnamon. Try foods like squid satay, dished up in the grip of gigantic seashells. If the thrum of the city gets too much, the peace of the Thousand Islands lies close by.