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Jakarta, Indonesia’s sprawling, chaotic capital, is home to some 18 million people and serves as the entry point into the island of Java. For many travelers, Jakarta is merely a stop en route to another Indonesian destination, but if you take the time, you’ll find an energetic city with a lot to offer.

With a history dating back more than 1,500 years when it was a part of the Sudanese Tarumanagara kingdom, Jakarta has managed to preserve a healthy dose of the old to contrast the dizzying new development. For a taste of Jakarta’s ancient roots, take a walk through old downtown Kota, where you’ll find the National Museum -- one of the best archeological museums in Southeast Asia.

To put your finger on the pulse of the city, visit the National Monument (Monas) in the middle of Independence Square on a weekend, when the sense of national pride is palpable, or press through the crowds of the Jalan Surabaya Antique and Flea Market, where it seems you can find anything under the sun.

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