Things to Do in West Java
The town of Ciater in West Java is a highland area that’s well-known for its tea plantations and natural hot springs. The Ciater Hot Springs are set within a resort that uses nature's own resources to soothe body and mind amid tranquil surroundings. The streams and pools here are fed by mineral springs created from the heat of nearby volcanoes.
Visitors can take a swim in the warm sulfurous pools, which are said to have healing properties for a wide range of ailments, from skin problems to tender joints and muscles. The resort also offers a number of other leisure and relaxation facilities for guests, including tennis courts and restaurants.
The National Monument sits in the center of Jakarta’s Merdeka Square and was built to commemorate Indonesia's struggle for independence. The tower’s construction began in 1961 under President Soekarno, and the monument – also known as Monas – was finally opened to the public in July 1971. The tower stands at more than 130 meters tall and is topped with a burning flame, symbolizing that the spirit of the Indonesian people will never be extinguished. The flame is made from bronze metal and coated with gold foil, while the main structure symbolizes a rice pestle and mortar, thereby representing Indonesia’s agricultural history. These objects are also said to symbolize fertility by representing the male and the female. A lift on the southern side of the monument takes visitors up to the viewing platform at 115 meters above ground level. The National Monument is surrounded by a well-kept park, often used for sports and recreational activities.
Situated about 35 miles (60 kilometers) south of Jakarta at the foothills of Mount Salak, the 215-acre Bogor Botanical Gardens provide a natural haven right in the center of the bustling city of Bogor. Officially opened in 1817, these are the oldest botanical gardens in Southeast Asia, having thrived over the years under the leadership of a number of renowned botanists and serving as a major center for botanical research.
A scenic place to visit, the gardens feature streams and ponds interspersed along meandering avenues and pristine landscaped lawns. The gardens are also fronted by the regal Bogor Presidential Palace, with the mighty Mount Salak as the backdrop, which only adds to the aesthetic appeal.
Located in the Taman Sari neighborhood of the city, Jakarta’s Chinatown is in an area known as Glodok. It lays claim to being the largest Chinatown in Indonesia, and one of the largest in the world. Dating back to the Dutch colonial era, Glodok is best known for its markets, architecture, and temples, as well as being one of the biggest centers for electronics in Jakarta.
Amid the traditional houses and such impressive temples as Da Shi Miao and Vihara Dharma Bhakti, shopping and food are at the heart of Glodok. Visitors can take a stroll through the streets, passing historic buildings and ancient temples, while visiting shops selling modern-day electronics next to those touting traditional Chinese medicines.
The National Museum in Jakarta sits on the western side of Merdeka Square. After various incarnations under a number of different names, the National Museum was opened in 1868. Often referred to as the ‘Elephant Building’ due to the bronze elephant statue at its entrance, this impressive museum houses a huge collection, providing an in-depth insight into Indonesia’s fascinating cultural heritage. The National Museum essentially takes visitors on a journey through Indonesia’s history, from prehistoric times right up to the present day. There are almost 150,000 artifacts on display here, with prehistoric, archaeological, ceramic, ethnographic, numismatic/heraldic, geographic, and colonial collections to explore. A new wing was added to the museum in 2007, with four levels dedicated to the neo-classical colonial era and the origins of mankind in Indonesia, including a model of the Flores ‘hobbit’.
Kawah Putih (or White Crater in English) is a natural phenomenon situated near the market town of Ciwidey, 50 kilometers south of the city of Bandung. This unique lake crater is one of two created by the dormant volcano, Mount Patuha.
Kawah Putih has a striking, almost surreal, appearance to it; the lake transforms from a bright white to a light green or turquoise color, depending on the amount of sunlight present, while the soil surrounding it is completely drained of color due to the water’s high sulfur content. In addition, on cloudy days, the entire crater can often be found shrouded in a cloak of mist. The altitude here (around 2500 meters) brings with it low temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius, making it a pleasant respite from the heat and humidity of the cities from which most visitors travel.
Fatahillah Square (or Taman Fatahillah) is located in Kota in North Jakarta. It was the town square for the Dutch settlement of Batavia, and as such features some well-preserved buildings from that era. Today, this cobblestone square is a bustling hive of activity, particularly at the weekends. Locals come to socialize and visitors come to marvel at the colonial buildings and tour the museums. In the evenings and weekends, the square comes alive with street vendors, artisans, jugglers, and international tourists. Three of the city’s best museums can be found at Fatahillah Square. Wayang Museum, with its huge collection of Javanese puppetry, sits on the west side of the square. The old Jakarta History Museum is located on the north side, while the Fine Art and Ceramic Museum sits to the east of the square.
More Things to Do in West Java
Jalan Surabaya Flea Market is tucked away in the affluent suburb of Menteng in Jakarta. Established in the 1970’s, the market was initially only open on the weekends, when vendors would walk among the locals with their wares, selling mainly household items. At some point in the 1980s, one of the stallholders began to sell antiques, and seeing its popularity, the other vendors soon followed suit!
This half-kilometer stretch of shops and stalls now offers everything from old gramophones and vinyl records to art, woodcarvings, furniture, and textiles, along with a whole range of antiques (both of the genuine and slightly more dubious variety). Haggling is expected, of course, with good-natured vendors starting transactions with high prices in the expectation that buyers will drive a hard bargain.
Formerly known as the Pejaten Mall, Pejaten Village is a shopping and entertainment center located in South Jakarta. While not the largest shopping mall by Southeast Asian standards, Pejaten Village nonetheless features a wide range of leisure, retail, and eating options. It’s also a pleasant, often uncrowded, place to visit.
Pejaten Village offers al fresco dining, a children's playground, a fitness center, and a cinema, along with a wide range of restaurants, department stores and smaller retail outlets. The large Hypermarket here is popular for grocery shopping among locals, with plenty of fresh vegetables, meats, and fish sold at reasonable prices.
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