Fodor's Expert Review National Monument (Monas)
Surrounded by a grassy park in bustling Central Jakarta, the towering National Monument (Monument Nasional, or Monas) was begun by founding president Sukarno to celebrate Indonesia's independence in 1961 and remains the capital city's signature landmark. Beat the crowds to visit the observation desk nearly 400 feet high for a close up of the gold flame spiraling into the clouds. The National History Museum at the base of the marble-clad obelisk lays political propaganda on thick in its 51 dioramas. The park, officially Lapangan Merdeka (Independence Square), offers a random sociological study of the capital, especially on Sundays when it's packed with fitness warriors and various wandering "therapists" offering traditional massage.