Photo: Bogor's famous gardens.


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In the hills about 50 kilometres south of Indonesia’s stifling capital, Jakarta, the urban sprawl merges into the city of Bogor, famed for its grand botanical gardens which form the centrepiece of the town.

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The greater Jakarta metropolitan region is known as Jabodetabek—an abbreviation of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi—forming one of the world’s most densely populated areas, but Bogor also has connections to prehistoric times and later, as the centre of an ancient Hindu kingdom. Later again, Bogor was transformed into a thriving city during the Dutch colonial period when it was utilised as a hill retreat by the colonial government, then known as Buitenzorg, Dutch for “carefree”.

The Gardens and well and truly worth a wander. Photo taken in or around Bogor, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

The Gardens and well and truly worth a wander. Photo: Sally Arnold

During the mid-18th century a residence was built for the Dutch governor-general, and it is now known as the Istana Bogor (presidential palace). Located at the northern end of the botanical gardens (Kebun Raya Bogor) which were established in 1817, the gardens serve as a centre for research into botanical specimens from across the Indonesian archipelago. To this day, research continues within the impressive grounds of the 87-hectare gardens and a number of buildings dedicated to this research are visible when strolling through. The gardens are the primary reason many tourists visit Bogor.

Bogor suffers from both heavy traffic congestion and heavy pollution problems but to a lesser extent than hectic Jakarta (lets set the bar low shall we?!) and is much more walkable than its big brother. The air is cooler, and a high average rainfall has given the city the nickname Kota Hujan, the rainy city—don’t forget your umbrella!

Explore the waterfalls of Gunung Halimun Salak National Park. Photo taken in or around Bogor, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Explore the waterfalls of Gunung Halimun Salak National Park. Photo: Sally Arnold

Bogor can be reached from central Jakarta via a little over an hour’s train journey and it is feasible to visit on a day trip from the capital, but we’d strongly recommend an overnight stay which would offer a greater opportunity to explore not only the gardens but also outside the city. Start with Gunung Halimun Salak National Park which incorporates the imposing Gunung Salak, an active volcano (last eruption 1938) which towers 2,221 metres above sea level and is visible from many parts of Bogor.

Other sites around town include a handful of traditional cottage industries where you can visit puppet and gong workshops and for folk interested in ancient history, Prasasti Batutilus, an engraved stone tablet dating from the 16th century and credited with magical powers is housed in a small shrine about 2.5 kilometres south of the gardens. Colonial buildings, including museums and churches also dot the cityscape.

Learn a little about Wayang Golek. Photo taken in or around Bogor, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Learn a little about Wayang Golek. Photo: Sally Arnold

Bogor is part of West Java province and the majority of inhabitants are ethnically Sundanese, with Bahasa Sunda the main spoken language. As you wander the streets, you are likely to encounter barefoot and somewhat shy Baduy people, a traditional sub-ethnic (of Sundanese) group who are known to preserve their ancient way of life. They can sometimes be seen selling jungle honey or beautiful traditional woven bags.

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The layout of Bogor is easily navigated, with the centre of the city being the massive Bogor Botanical Gardens. Around the gardens is a road which allows traffic to travel (albeit slowly) in a clockwise direction, serviced by a profusion of bemo-style minibuses that are both frequent and inexpensive.

The train station is located to the west of the gardens and the bus station to the south, with a good selection of cafes, restaurants and accommodation within walking distance of the gardens, the longest walk being about three kilometres.

Bogor is reliable when it comes to rain and traffic. Photo taken in or around Bogor, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Bogor is reliable when it comes to rain and traffic. Photo: Sally Arnold

Given Bogor’s city status, all the usual facilities are readily available such as shops, ATMs and internet access.

The tourist information centre is located near the train station on Jalan Dewi Sartika, but is unfortunately more interested in selling tours than providing good information for independent travellers.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Bogor.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Bogor.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Bogor.
 Read up on how to get to Bogor.
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