Jakarta covers approximately 740.3 kilometer of land and in 2014 its total population has reached 12.7 million people during the day and 9.9 million people during the night. Inevitably, the population growth has created an environment that does not support a good quality of life.
With the endless sprouting of new shopping malls – by 2014 there were 173 malls in Jakarta alone – you can’t really blame its residents for seeking refuge from the heat and polluted outdoor in the comfort of an air conditioned climate, depriving themselves of a healthy interaction with nature.
Enter Kebun Raya Bogor, a 198-year-old botanical garden in Bogor, West Java, the ultimate opposite of the walled urban malls. Sprawling across 87ha area, it is home to 20,827 specimens of tropical plants. Compared to Bandung, that other favorite playground for Jakarta dwellers, Kebun Raya Bogor is a short drive away from the capital at 54km distance.
But if you’re not too sure what to do there, here are 10 things you can do to enjoy your visit to Kebun Raya Bogor:
1. Have a picnic
With so much of our activities taking place indoor, a picnic lunch is a great alternative to a meal in a restaurant. Pack in some mouth-watering food and delight in the beautiful and relaxing atmosphere. And Bogor being a favorite place for culinary excursion, you can savor those yummy homemade cookies or kue cubit and other treats at these great picnic spots:
- Teisjmann Park
- Reindwardt Monument (overlooks the Bogor Presidential Palace)
- In front of the Grand Garden Cafe area
- Sudjasana Kassan Garden
You probably couldn’t find a greener space to run than Kebun Raya Bogor. And it’s spacious too! If you go early (8 a.m.) or a little later in the afternoon (3 p.m.), you won’t feel the sweat with the breeze keeping you cool. You’ll forget about pollution outside the garden’s perimeter. A good run following the easy track will get your 5K run with light inclines and lots of opportunities to do trail runs.
3. Bike around
Not a fan of running or too lazy to walk around? Not to worry, Kebun Raya Bogor offers rented bikes from Rp 15,000 to Rp 25,000/hour. Better yet, BYOB or bring your own bike (entrance fee Rp 5,000)! Ride around and visit each corner of Kebun Raya Bogor. Learning about plants has never been more fun, and healthier.
4. Yoga at the park
Yoga is a practice that harmonizes the body and the mind, so where’s a better place to learn than outside where you can be nourished by nature?
These are some recommended spots to practice yoga:
- In front of the Grand Garden Cafe area (for a group practice)
- In front of the Treub Laboratory/Nusa Indah Guest House (both for personal and group practice)
- In front of the Orchid House/Orchidarium (both for personal and group practice)
5. Have a cup of java and pisang goreng at Grand Garden Cafe
Located near Gate 3 of Kebun Raya Bogor, it has the majestic feel on top of a hilly patch overlooking the garden. As you sip your coffee and munch on the banana fritter, you will be treated with the sight of a beautiful fountain and full-grown plants from Madagascar. If you happen to be there around sunset, the lights that illuminate the evening give a romantic and enchanting feeling. The café opens at 8AM and closes at 9PM.
6. Look at cacti at the Mexican Garden (Taman Mexico)
Did you know that you could find of bunch of cactis on this lush terrain of West Java? Taman Mexico is home to plants that originated from America and Asia. There are 100 varieties of cacti, agave, yucca, and succulent in different shapes, colors and sizes of stems, and with unique flowers, and thorns. Take some photos with your sombrero on (the margarita can follow after).
7. Visit the Orchids Greenhouse (Griya Anggrek)
Indonesia has the most diverse orchid population in the world. There are more than 5,000 orchid species in the country’s tropical forests. The Orchid Collection Unit of Kebun Raya Bogor have collected 500 species of lowland native orchids of Indonesia to protect them from the threat of extinction, due to the loss of natural habitats. You can also learn about hybrid orchids here. (08:00PM - 3:30PM)
8. Learn about endangered plants
Love to learn more? Visit the Aquatic Plant Collection, Orchidarium and Medicinal Plants garden (there’s a reflexology pathway alongside medicinal plants), and come see the Amorphophallus or Bunga Bangkai (Corpse Flower). For more comprehensive studies, visit Kebun Raya Bogor's library (08:00AM – 3:30PM) and Museum of Zoology (08:00AM- 4PM).
9. Take a bunch of selfies, err, pictures
You can go simply with nature background or you can go thematic. Selfie or wefie aside, Kebun Raya Bogor makes for a perfect location for family or photos pre-wedding photos,.
10. Hold a party
Whether for birthday, wedding or anniversary, why not take your posse to Kebun Raya? The best places to have a party are in front of the Grand Garden Cafe area, in front of the Treub Laboratory, or in front of the Nusa Indah Guest House.
Opening hours: daily 7.30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Adults and Children over 4 years old Rp 14,000
- Foreign Visitors Rp 25,000
- Car (Note: Not applicable on Sundays) Rp 30,000
- Rented Bicycles Rp 5,000
- Motorcycle (parking only) Rp 5,000
- Tour Car for getting around the park (Rp 10,000/person)
Take a brochure at the Information Center (Gate 1) or Gate 3
How to get there:
- When you use the Commuter Line, get off at the Bogor Station. Then continue by riding public transport Angkutan Umum or Angkot number 02 (red) Sukasari-Merdeka and down in Simpang Suryakancana. Or if you come on Sundays/public holidays, you can walk from the station and enter the Kebun Raya Bogor through Gate 2
- If you come by bus, get off at Terminal Baranangsiang. Go down the road from Terminal Baranangsiang Padjadjaran until Tugu Kujang and turn into Otista road to the main gate. Alternatively, you can go across from the Tugu Kujang and enter through Gate 4 (east side).
- If you’re riding a motorbike, you can park in the building next to the main gate (Rp 5,000 per motorbike). You can also park at the Plaza Bogor or Bogor market.
- If you’re driving your car, you can park on Jl. Juanda across from the Tax Office Pratama Bogor. You can also park in the buildings around the Kebun Raya Bogor that provide parking areas. Better yet, park at the Grand Garden Cafe (Gate 3).
- Main Gate/ Gate One at Otto Iskandar Dinata Street
- Gate Two at Juanda Street (Open on Sunday and Public Holiday)
- Gate Three is to the Grand Garden Cafe
- Gate Four at Padjadjaran Street across from Bogor Agricultural University Campus (Open on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday)
*Looking for something closer? Try these five urban parks.
Ira Guntur was a banker in her previous life but prefers to be in media, NGO and anything related to yoga. She loves books and travelling equally and is currently spending too much time doing home improvement. She returns to professional life working for a local environment NGO.
Nurjanah Putri studied International Relationships and was hoping to be a diplomat but fell in love with the social industry. While her professional life is in the local environment NGO, her passion is doing illustration. She hopes to have her first exhibition before the end of the year.