Many people know Jakarta, Indonesia as a big metropolitan city, but perhaps not too many know that Jakarta is also a province containing other cities. Besides Jakarta City, the province also includes Bogor, which is only about a less than one hour drive from Jakarta City.
Bogor has cool climate due to its elevation of 190 to 330 meters (623 to 1082 feet) above sea level. Although it’s a much smaller city compared to Jakarta, it’s a crowded and hectic city that is prone to traffic jams during rush hours. However, there is a place in the heart of Bogor that is away from all of this and will clean your lungs!
Visit the Bogor Botanical Gardens, a huge garden where not only will you get some refreshment and relaxation, but you will also get to learn types of tropical plants that grow in the area.
About Bogor Botanical Gardens
Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya Bogor in Indonesian) is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Asia. It is a lush and large tropical garden that is adjacent to the Presidential Palace, a mansion functioning as a country retreat for the Indonesian president. This botanical garden has more than 10,000 different types of vegetation and there is a big lily pond and a river flowing through the garden. The garden covers an area of 87 hectares (214.98 acres) and it has long been a destination for both botanists and local and international tourists.
This magnificent garden has a long history; dating back to 1744, when a Dutch governor named ‘Baron van Imhoff’ built a mansion in Bogor as his vacation home. Then in 1817, the botanical garden was constructed around the mansion by another Dutch governor named Baron van der Bapellen and the Dutch East Indies’ (the former name of Indonesia) head of agriculture, arts and science named Reindwardt. They collected seeds from many different species from other parts of Indonesia to add to the garden.
If this garden has so many types of different vegetation, then you may wonder how you can recognize all of the flora. Well, in the Bogor Botanical Gardens you will find that all types of plant are named, and you’ll even find some plaques with detailed facts (e.g., their classification and where they originated from) written on the signs, so you can learn more about a particular type of plant.
This garden has several different sections. I love their Mexican Garden (written in Indonesian as ‘Taman Meksiko’), which has collections of dry succulent plants like agave (a native root plant from Central America) and cactus. I also like the Medicinal Garden (Taman Obat in Indonesian), which contains more than 100 types of medicinal plants.
Be sure to see their orchid collections, where you can witness more than 500 collections of orchids in greenhouses! Many of these orchid species come from different places in Indonesia.
Come in the morning
The botanical garden is also a good place to relax or take a walk in the cooler climate amongst the beautiful vegetation. It is also a great place to practice photography. You will notice that some trees are really old, tall and huge. Some of them are more than 200 years old and have a diameter of more than 5 meters (16.40 feet) and a height of more than 10 meters (32.81 feet) with vines covering the trunks.
It’s only 25,000 IDR (1.89 USD) for entrance to the gardens. If you and your family feel the need to do some morning workout or if you stay in one of the hotels in Bogor, come early in the morning (it’s open at 7.30 am) to jog or ride a bike. You won’t be alone as there are also many locals who workout inside the area.
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Feed some deer at the Presidential Palace
The Presidential Palace is closed to public and you can only see the palace only from afar. If you look inside the compound (you cannot go into the compound), you will get to see many deer wandering around. Amazingly, deer were brought here around 2 centuries ago and they continue to thrive on this land. You can actually feed the deer with carrots or kale (you can buy them from one of the hawkers in the area for 2,000 IDR, or 0.15 USD, a bunch) from outside of the fence. When these deer see you offering carrots, believe me, they will come to you for the carrots.
Eat Bogor’s delicacy
Hungry? There are some food stalls in several spots selling snacks and beverages in the garden area. For your lunch, you can bring your own picnic supplies and equipment, and find a shady spot under a big tree. Alternatively you can also eat in one of the restaurants in the central area of the garden.
If you’d like to go for a nice local food, go to Café De Daunan, open from 1 pm to 10 pm on Sundays to Fridays and 10 am to 11 pm on Saturdays. Order Bogor’s delicacy named nasi bakar (literally translated as grilled rice), which comes with many different flavorful side dishes like fried dumplings, krupuk (prawn crackers), a salad, fried chicken (Indonesian style, which is rich with spices) and fried tempeh (fermented soy).
More ways to explore the garden
There is also a zoological museum (simply named Museum Zoology Bogor) inside the Bogor Botanical Gardens. It contains thousands of fossils and preserved animals. It costs an additional fee of 10,000 IDR (0.76 USD) to enter the museum.
When you come during the monsoon season, be aware that the weather is so unpredictable. Even when it seems to be a clear sunny day, it can rain heavily in a matter of 1 or 2 hours, so don’t forget an umbrella.
Can I get around without getting lost? Well, all signs are very clear, so you will find your way easily. However, if you want to explore the whole garden on foot, you may need many hours to do that. If you don’t have much time, you can take a guided bus tour (for 10,000 IDR, or 0.76 USD per person), or alternatively, you can rent a mountain bike to explore the garden for 15,000 IDR (1.14 USD) per hour.
The bus will make several stops, including to the Presidential Palace and a restaurant of your choice, and the guide will explain about the history of the garden and various types of plants.
If you look for serenity, it’s better if you can come on weekdays, as on weekends the place is packed with tourists, especially those coming from the city of Jakarta. Moreover, on a weekday, if you bring a car, you are allowed to enter and explore the garden in your own car! So, when is your next visit to Jakarta? Be sure to put Bogor Botanical Gardens on your list of places to visit!
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