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Let’s have cultural holidays in Jakarta by learning Betawi Culture !

enjoy the lake at southern Jakarta
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Tranquil lake in busy Jakarta ?

What will you see while you are in Jakarta? Skyscrapers? Magnificent malls in the city center? Jakarta is indeed not a famous tourist destination in Indonesia. Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and also a business center. Many tourists just transit in Jakarta before heading to several famous tourist destinations such as Bali, Lombok, Raja Ampat, Komodo island and others. But don’t worry. this article  will give recommendation for you who like history and culture. We have  recommended destination for cultural holidays in Jakarta!


Ondel-ondel (traditional doll)

What can be done when you stay for 2 days in Jakarta? You can explore  old Jakarta as the capital city of an arechipelago country in the equator. If you look at its history, Jakarta is a city with a lot of cultural mixes that eventually form a unique culture. Jakarta was once known as Sunda Kelapa in the era of the Sundanese empire, Jayakarta in the era of the Sultanate of Banten, Batavia in the Dutch colonial era and then Jakarta in the era of Japanese colonialism. Cultural holidays in Jakarta with your family is an interesting thing you have to try!

Let’s Get in touch with Betawi Culture !

Did you know, the indigenous people of Jakarta are known as the Betawi Tribe. This tribe is a descendant of people who settled in Batavia from the seventeenth century. The Betawi tribe itself is a mixture of various ethnics who have already lived in Jakarta, such as Sundanese, Malays, Javanese, Arabs, Balinese, Bugis, Makassarese, Ambonese, Chinese, and Indians. If you want to get to know more about Betawi people and their culture, there are interesting destinations for cultural holidays in Jakarta that you must visit.

I had the opportunity to visit this place when I felt bored with all the touristic destinations I ever visited in Jakarta. A friend of mine then recommended me to come to this cultural holiday destination. The place is Setu Babakan.

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Welcome to Setu Babakan

Setu’ comes from Situ which means Lake. Setu Babakan actually is an artificial lake. The Jakarta city government established Betawi Culture village in the southern area of Jakarta in 2000. Setu Babakan is a lake with an area of 30 hectares (79 acres) with its depth of 1-5 meters where the water comes from the Ciliwung River and is currently used as an alternative tourist spot, for residents and visitors. The function of Setu is not only to preserve the Betawi culture which is increasingly forgiven by the times, but also used as an alternative recreational place located in the southern Jakarta. Besides its main function as a reservoir of absorption water to the south of Jakarta,

cultural holidays in Jakarta

A resident cross the lake

What  you can do at Setu Babakan

1. Visit Betawi Museum

In this Betawi cultural village there is Betawi Museum. This museum collection contains paintings, antiques, and other Betawi culture . The faces of Betawi legend, a film actor Benyamin Sueb, composer Ismail Marzuki, and several other prominent Betawi figures were displayed in the museum. Antique objects on display include heirlooms, Betawi classical musical instruments, Betawi batik, and antique bikes.

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Benyamin Sueb, Betawi actor

2. Learn Betawi art and culture

As the destination for cultural holidays, you can learn Betawi martial arts, Betawi dances and other types of Betawi art at Setu Babakan.

Especially for Saturday and Sunday they provide workshop and Betawi art performances from 09.00 to 17.00. In the morning the theater area is used for the Betawi Silat practice. Music art performances continued during the day such as Gambang Kromong, Samrah, Gambus, Qasidah, Hadrah, Keroncong Betawi, and Tanjidor.  Then continue with performances of traditional dances and typical Betawi theather such as Lenong, Renggong Dance, Ondelondel, Betawi leather puppets and Betawi masks which held from afternoon to evening

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Gambang Kromong, traditional Betawi Music

If you are lucky, while going around the village, visitors can also watch a number of Betawi traditional processions that are still run by the majority of the residents who live in this village. Among the processions are Betawi Wedding party, circumcision, moving house, etc.

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Children learning to dance

3. Indulge yourself with exotic Betawi culinary

Doing cultural holidays in Jakarta without try the culinary is not complete. Since the Betawi tribe is a mixture of various tribes who have lived in Jakarta since the Dutch colonial era, therefore there is a mixture of many cultures such as China, Arabic, Portuguese and Malay. This cultural mixture is not only seen in their traditional music, dance and clothing, but also in their culinary. In Setu Babakan, we can buy various kinds of Betawi specialties. The famous Betawi culinary which usually only sold in Jakarta Anniversary is Kerak Telor (egg crust). Kerak Telor is made from fried eggs mixed with white sticky rice, dried shrimp, roasted coconut, ginger, pepper, and red chili. With IDR 15,000 or 1 USD, you can enjoy delicious Kerak Telor.

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Kerak telor (Eggs Crust) a famous traditional culinary of Betawi

The other Betawi culinary is ‘Tauge Goreng’ (fried bean sprouts). Tauge Goreng’s ingredients are rice cake, tofu, yellow noodles, tempeh oncom sauce, and boiled bean sprouts. Other traditional Betawi food are laksa, Soto tangkar, Gado-gado, dodol, and asinan betawi.

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Tauge Goreng, another Betawi Culinary

Your cultural holiday in Jakarta is not complete if you have not try ‘Bir Pletok’. Bir derives from Beer.  But even though it’s called beer this special beverage doesn’t contain alcohol. Pletok beer is a traditional Betawi drink made from spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and flowers. This beverage was made since the Dutch colonial era to warm the body. Is this

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Bir Pletok, the traditional Betawi Beverage

4. Seeing native Betawi houses

Because Setu Babakan is a cultural heritage area, of course you can still see Betawi native huses here. There are several houses with original Betawi style here, complete with distinctive door leaves and spacious terraces. Betawi style furniture is of course also different from other houses. There are also houses that are used as the area management office. It’s really a different atmosphere when entering this area.

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Small Mosque influenced with Betawi Architecture

cultural holidays in Jakarta

traditional house in Setu Babakan

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Betawi’s verandah

5. Do Agro Tourism

Setu Babakan not only the right destination for your cultural holidays in Jakarta. But you also get a bonus, enjoying Agro Tourism in this village. In Setu Babakan, visitors can see plantations, and farms belonging to residents. Visitors also can see typical Betawi plants in the courtyard of the residents’ houses Some types of fruit here are starfruit, rambutan, kemuning, buni, guava, dukuh, menteng, gandaria, mengkudu, nam-nam, kecapi, durian. If you want to pick and try the fruits, you can ask and buy from the owner.

cultural holidays in Jakarta

Fruits in Setu Babakan

To make the trip more exciting, you can step your feet into the suspension bridge. This suspension bridge connects villages with artificial islands in the center of the lake. So you can enjoy the scenery better from there. This is good also as testing your adrenaline too.

6. Have fun by doing Water tourism

Visiting a lake with out enjoy the lake ? No way! If you want to relax around the lake, you can rent a boat. There are two boats that you can rent, a small boat for two and a big boat if you want to be with the group.

cultural holidays in Jakarta

enjoying the lake with the boat

So that’s all my recommendation for your cultural holidays in Jakarta. Is it really interesting right ? Let’s go and pack !

Tips while you are doing your cultural holidays in Jakarta

  1. It is recommended to visit this Betawi Village in weekend. Why? Because Setu Babakan always organize performing arts in stage only at weekend.
  2. If you plan to visit Setu Babakan in a group, you can ask for a tourist guide. Usually tour groups will get a package to study Betawi native culture. You can learn traditional Betawi dance like a mask dance which is displayed by children who take part in a cultural studio in Setu Babakan. Besides seeing the dances, you can also see how to make Betawi snack, named ‘dodol’. Not just looking they make dodol, you can also try to make Betawi dodol, then bring it to hotel as souvenirs.
  3. Consider the traffic, it is recommended to stay at nearby hotel or leave you hotel at morning

Tentang penulis

Sari Musdar

Sari Musdar

I'm a Contributor to YOEXPLORE Magazine. Moreover, I am a Google Certified Trainer for Digital Marketing, HR practitioner & trainer, and an author of best-selling books such as "Cinderella In Paris", "Panduan Hemat Keliling Amsterdam, Brussel, Paris, Luxemburg, & Trier", and "Travelove".

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