December, 27 2013
Five Recommended Urban Parks in Jakarta

Staying in town this holiday season? Try these five Jakarta parks.

by Devi Asmarani and Hera Diani
Lifestyle // Travel and Leisure
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When the popular duo Joko Widodo and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama took over the helm of Jakarta Administration in 2012, they vowed to make the capital a more humane city, among others, by building and revitalizing more parks to increase its green belt.
 
Over a century of urbanization, rampant industrialization and unchecked development has eaten up the city’s green area, leaving its residents deprived of clean air and some areas prone to flooding. Jakarta's spatial planning mandates that by 2030, 30 percent of the capital must be covered by green areas, a huge climb from about 10 percent currently.
 
There are supposed to be about 1,000 parks in the city, but only a few stick out and are worth visiting. Here are our recommended urban parks that you might visit this holiday season.
 
Taman Tebet Honda
East of Jl. Tebet Barat and west of Jl. Tebet Timur
South Jakarta



 
Why we like it
A collaborative effort between Jakarta administration and automotive producer PT Honda Prospect Motor (hence the name) the park was built in 2010, but was recently rejuvenated.
 
Occupying a 2.8-hectare land inside a housing area, it has a jogging track, a playground and a mini soccer field, as well as a pebble stone path to get your foot massaged. It’s a perfect place to have a picnic on the grass. It’s clean (the cleaning man is always ready), the trees are lush, and you won’t likely get ants and insects attacks here.
 
Food vendors are kept outside the fence, but there are several women who carry food containers around selling a variety of grubs from cakes to lasagna. Parking spots are plenty.
 
What we’re not so crazy about
The small river running through the park can be smelly at times and potentially ruining your picnic.
 
Taman Suropati
Jl. Taman Suropati
Central Jakarta
 

Why we like it
It’s probably one of the oldest parks in the city, established in the Dutch colonial period. Shaped in circle in an area of about 16,000 square meters, it’s also one of the most accessible parks situated in Central Jakarta.
 
The park is paved, and has water fountain and stony path for foot massage (a hit among Indonesians). Old big trees keep the park shaded. On weekends, it is swarmed with people doing various activities that you can join, from free yoga class, tai chi session, to violin practice. You can also run along the track surrounding the park.  
 
What we’re not so crazy about
What kind of public park prohibits visitors to step on the grass? Everyone is squeezed on the pavement. Between kids running around or on their bikes, vendors (food or toys), couples and people doing sports, it can get a bit claustrophobic.
 
Parking is a luxury, so if possible take a cab, get on a public transport, or, even better, ride your bike here.
 
Taman Ayodya
Jl. Mahakam Raya, South Jakarta
 

Why we like it
Formerly the site of small flower shops and ornamental fish vendors, the area was converted into a park in 2009. About 7,500 square meters big, the open park is circular with a water fountain at the center with some kitsch art fixtures (a mixture of octopus and UFO) over the water.
 
It is modeled after a big amphitheater with tiered seats facing the pond and the fountain, very convenient if you’re averse to sitting on the grass. The park is also the start of a bike path that stretches a few kilometers down south.
 
Ayodya is supposed to be the only park that facilitates people with disabilities with a special track and a special toilet for disabled. In the afternoon, employees from surrounding offices and shops descend on the park to congregate or have rendezvous.
 
There are a lot of food hawkers at the park entrances and some good restaurants nearby, so you won’t likely get hungry here.
 
What we’re not so crazy about
It’s not very leafy, so avoid this park when the sun is high. It’s also located at a very busy junction and main street, so don’t expect a quiet zen moment here.
 
You might have to park at nearby establishments, but instead of driving, why not take a Trans-Jakarta bus to its final stop at the Blok M bus station, and take the 15-minute walk to this park.  
 
Lapangan Banteng
Central Jakarta
 
Why we like it
Lapangan Banteng or Banteng Square was built in the early 19th century by Lieutenant Governor General Daendels, when the capital moved from Old Town to the Weltevreden area. It has gone through various incarnations and names under the Dutch and Japanese occupations before Indonesia’s independence in 1945, when founding President Soekarno changed its name to Banteng Square.
 
If history doesn’t move you, however, consider this: it was the filming location of a Michael Mann’s movie earlier this year.
 
Today, Lapangan Banteng consists of a soccer field on one side and a pocket of greenery on the other. If you like space, grass and vegetation, you would enjoy this park. Take a leisurely walk around the area and get a sweeping view of some historical buildings, including the Cathedral, the Post Office Building, the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Finance.
 
The West Irian Liberation monument is nice to capture in the morning mist, and the Banteng Square Garden is the location of the annual Flora and Fauna Exhibition.
What we're not so crazy about
At night this park has a reputation for being a place to find male prostitutes.
 
Taman Waduk Pluit
Pluit Water Catchment, North Jakarta 
 

Why we like it
This was formerly a slum area, and relocating its thousands of residents, who were illegal squatters on government’s greenbelt, was initially a controversial move.
But today it is home to a sprawling waterfront park, with a track for runners and cyclists, a small amphitheater, and a futsal field currently in construction. Parking space is abound here, and if you’re feeling kind of romantic, sit with your loved one on one of the ubiquitous “Jokowi’s benches”. It is not completely done, so we think it’s quite promising as a park.
 
What we’re not so crazy about
There’s not enough green. Although there are various types of trees here, it’ll be a while before they provide some shade adequately. As they say, there are three suns in North Jakarta, so avoid this park like a plague on sunny days.
 
Also, we find it slightly depressing to be at such a manicured park and have a full view across the reservoir of a shantytown (the occupants of which have not been fully relocated).