Saturday, 3 September 2011

Days out Jakarta

So you arrive in Jakarta decide you will stay a while and then think where can I go from here using my hotel as a base. Well straight away the choices seem limited but here is a list of places you could get to and back in a day from Jakarta.
West Java is vast and there is a lot of nothing out there to see but looking past that and you will find some treasures I am sure.
So day trips away without a plane or boat will involve all directions except north which is the sea. There are tolls roads to Bandung, Bogor and Merak. A decent rail service to Bogor and Bandung and countless buses everywhere else. Your enemy will be traffic so be prepared for a long ole day.

1. Bandung - Take the early train and head into the Paris of Java. Get into the city and see the sites, shop or rush up to the volcanoes around the city to see sulphur, steam,  mud pools and hot springs.
Museums a plenty and there is plenty to see and it has a good vibe and is pretty laid back. Lots of older colonial buildings still. The traffic is dreadful at times but it is a break out from Jakarta.
2-3 hours by car, 4 hours by train.

2. Bogor. Small city on the verge of being swallowed up by the ever spreading Jakarta. Cooler and expect rain but there is lots to do in the city.
Visit the botanical gardens, see the presidents palace. Wander around the streets looking at vendors selling all sorts. The market outside the railway station is great.
There is a puppet factory in the city and also a gamelan and gong factory to visit.
Some amazing cafes with views of the volcanoes and moutains and city from high up. I recommend the gardens and to find the museum and the old dutch graveyard.
1 hour by train, 1 - 2 hours by car

3. Tamam Safari. Up in the hills (Puncak) around Bogor is Taman Safari. Full of all things animal and worth a visit to see penguins, tigers, orang utans etc. The Zoo is highly involved in conservation and it is a huge place. Once you have driven through the animals then you can get up close and personal with all kinds of things there.

4. Still in Puncak, you can go Para gliding, gliding etc

5. Tea walks in Puncak are popular. Wander about a tea plantation in the early morning air to feel fresh and enjoy the beauty of tea trees before enjoying a cuppa.

6. Rafting. Travel another hour and you can be in Suka Bumi where you can go rafting towards the sea or even off roading. The rafting takes about 3 - 4 hours and it is not that dangerous but it is lovely to watch the world go by.

7. At the end of the day you could ignore all that and get to Pelabuhan Ratu, a coastal town and lovely views of the ocean. Big Waves for surfing and a decent beach is worth seeing. If any time then head off either direction along the coast and enjoy the southern coastal cliffs and ocean.

8. Volcanoes and Mountains are always fun and in West Java there are a fair few. Gede is one which is next to Bogor and you can climb it for the sunrise but you need a guide and it takes 2 days. But you can still find the waterfalls and there is another botanical garden to be explored. It is cooler and fresher. Monkeys and snakes are also worth looking out for.

9.  For a break from the now, you can go and visit the Badui Villages (pay to enter of course) and see some communities who have ignored all technology and modern ways.

10. Moving more west and the hills and mountains remain impressive. Keep heading west and you will hit the coast and the gateway to Sumatra at Merak. Not much going on in Merak but it is a coastal town and full of traffic and chaos and ferries.

11. Little south of Merak and you will come across the coastal resorts of Carita, Labuan and Anyer. All 3 lie on the flat sea and volcanic sands. On a good day you can see Krakatau smoking away in the sea. You can visit it but it is best you get a very early start as it is a few hours into the ocean. And Anyer is at least 3 hours from Jakarta. Beach sports and water sports are available here. You can see the bats at night and visit waterfalls etc up in hills. There is still evidence of the tsunami following the big eruption of Krakatau in the early 19th Century.

12. Depending which way you go to Anyer you will either go past the vast and huge Krakatau steel works and the decay and industry it brings with it or you can take the more scenic and mountains route via the hard to pronounce but well preserved and looked after Rangkasbitung. A small town in the hills. A nice square and very tidy.
Sadly you wont have time to go further south to Ujung Kulon national park as the roads and distance make it too far to travel and you need a few days there at least.

13. Before Merak is a the historically interesting Banten. It used to be the main port of Java and it still has industry and shipping there. There is some old dutch ruins and some tombs of famous moslems to see. Also you can walk out to the bird islands depending on tides and see lots of different sea birds. On the bus its about 2-3 hours.

14. Somewhere a little closer is the area between Banten and West Jakarta. Head off out of the city via Dann Mogot and through Kalideres into Tangerang and then out of there and once you pass the other enterance to the Airport then you are into the country side and lots of fields and flat country to see. The mud flats and salt flats from the Java sea get closer and closer and by just turning right into small roads might take you into small fishing villages. Keep going and the roads become smaller and the people friendlier and the views of the ocean get better.

Now these trips still need organising and thinking through as even a day trip here can be arduous. I have visited most of these places in a day or overnight but all are possible to do if you get up early enough (i.e. leave before 6am) and are prepared for a lot of car time. The train trip to Bandung is stunning as the train winds its way through the mountains. The road trips is not as good but it gets you there quickly.
Buses go fast and once away from the city they dont slow down even though the roads get smaller and maybe less flat.
West Java can be accessed relatively easily and if you decide to stop over for the night then the amount you can get done will double and good times will be had.

In Jakarta you can hire cars and drivers by the day and this is an excellence way to get to these places as the drivers know where to go and how to drive there safely and quickly. Fill a car up with people and the cost per person reduces. Car hire prices vary but lets say 400k for the day for a car plus driver. Fuel, tolls and food for the driver maybe 200k and then a tip could be 50k each person. So with a car carrying 4 people thats 800k or 200k each. And that is not a bad price.

Some links

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