botanische tuin bogor

botanische tuin BogorBogor

Bogor is a big city (around one million inhabitants) located close to Jakarta. Bogor is on the route from Jakarta to Bandung and is best known for its botanical gardens. Due to its location, 300 meters above sea level, Bogor is on average cooler than for example, Jakarta.

Botanical gardens


Bogor station

In 1744, Governor General Baron van Imhoff had his country house built in Bogor (then called Buitenzorg). At the beginning of the 19th century, Governor Thomas Stanford Raffles, who briefly controlled the Dutch Indies on behalf of the English government, designed and planted an English-style botanical garden behind this country house. The wife of Raffles died in Bogor in 1814 and in her memory a monument was erected in the gardens. The botanical garden was opened in 1817. The old country retreat is now one of the five presidential palaces and is called Istana Bogor.
Deer in the gardens surrounding the palace descend from six deer that were transferred from Europe 200 years ago. More than 15,000 plant species can be found in the botanical gardens of Bogor. The gardens are visited by many local tourists, especially in the weekend.


Local guide

The gardens are large and the signes to show you the way are not always clear. Hiring a local guide is therefore advisable. Also to ensure you do not miss the stories that make the gardens interesting.

botanische tuin Bogor


There are too many beautiful and special places to discover.

Two large trees, both planted in 1866, are called “happy couple trees”. They have been standing side by side for over 150 years, their roots connected to each other. This created the myth that when two lovers sit under these trees, their love will last forever.
Not all myths have such a happy end: If you come to the Botanical Gardens with your partner, make sure that you do not cross the most Southern bridge together. This bridge is called “the broken heart bridge”. According to the myth, relationships do not survive if you walk this bridge together.

At the bamboo gardens you will find an old Dutch cemetery, with the oldest grave originating from 1784. The orchid garden is beautiful, various orchid species from all over Indonesia are brought together. The pond with the enormous water lilies is also impressive. The floating leaves of the water lily can get a diameter of up to 3 meters and the flowers can reach a height of 40 cm. The first day the lilies bloom, they are white, the next day pink.

Gamelang Foundry

Bogor botanical tuin

If you have the time, this gamelan workshop is definitely worth a short stop. Here you see real craftsmen at work. The family you visit have been a gong and gamelan makers for six generations (more than 370 years). In the heat the metal (iron, brass and copper) is processed into beautiful gongs and gamelans. There is no obligation or pressure to buy anything, they are proud to show you their craftsmanship. A voluntary tip will be appreciated.

Wayang workshop

If you like Wayang dolls and beautiful stories, this workshop is highly recommended. The current owner learned the trade from his grandfather and since 1976 he has also been making the most beautiful Wayang dolls himself. His son learned the craft an  now is also an experienced Wayang maker. In Indonesia there are different types of Wayang dolls. The typical West Javanese dolls are made in this workshop (in the shape of real dolls). Father and son are working on one doll for a few days. The doll is cut out of light white wood by hand. The dolls’ clothing is in beautiful traditional style. Father and son can tell fascinating stories about their work. The workshop is located in a residential area, which makes the visit extra special.

Puncak Pass

When you leave Bogor and head for Bandung, the road climbes in the mountains to the Puncak pass at an altitude of around 1500 meters. Especially on the weekends it is very busy with local tourists looking for fresh air in the mountains, which can lead to traffic jams. At the highest point you have a beautiful view, although this is more and more hindered by the construction of new shops and eateries along the road.


From the Puncak pass you can take a short walk to the volcanic lake Telaga Warna. This lake is known because of the book “Oeroeg” by Hella S. Haasse. In the book this little lake is called “Telaga Hideung”.  The father of Oeroeg drowns in this lake when he gets entangled in the water plants. In reality, according to many, the real lake is less impressive than the way Hella Haase describes it in her book.

Bogor gardenGardens of Cibodas

After the Puncak, the road descends again. There are many tea fields in this area. You will pass another botanical garden. The garden of Cibodas. These gardens are less known and are even higher up hill than the gardens of Bogor and are therefore even cooler (on average 18-20 degrees). These gardens were established in 1852 as an annex to the gardens in Bogor. You can also enjoy hiking here. Along the way with a little luck you will see some monkeys

lelies Bogor



Paris on Java

Bandung used to be known as “Paris on Java” because of the beautiful lanes, the art-deco architecture and many shops and galleries.

Jalan Braga BandungBandung is also a big city. It is the third city in Indonesia with around 2.5 million inhabitants. The city, which is surrounded by tea plantations and mountains, originates from the begin of the 19th century when Gouvernor Daendels built the “Groote Postweg” (Great PostRoad). After the construction of the railroad in 1880, the city was truly developed. There were even plans to make Bandung the nation’s capital. For this reason, many buildings were built around 1920in the typical art-deco style.. Many of these colonial buildings have been preserved (although sometimes a little searching must be done among all new buildings).The climate is cooler than in other Java because the city is located at an altitude of 750 meters.

This makes Bandung a popular city to visit.

Bandung’s environment is also beautiful. In the mountains there are many viewpoints, vulcano’s and hiking opportunities.

Art-deco architecture

Homann hotel BandungJalan Braga (formerly called Bragaweg also called Karreweg and Pedatiweg) was a side street of the Grote Postweg and in the colonial period was a luxury shopping street where the elite, who became rich because of their tea plantations, liked to shop. Many old buildings can still be found on this street. There are still many who shop here. People especially come for cheap designer clothes.
Hotel Grand Hotel Preanger and Savoy Homann are two colonial buildings built in the art-deco style. They are in the old Postweg (now Asia-Africa Road). Hotel Preanger has a small museum. In 1929, Sukarno, then an architecture student, helped renovate the hotel.
These hotels are also very suitable for lunch in a colonial atmosphere.

Bandung Bank IndonesiaThe Savoy Homann hotel is famous since 1871 and was especially known for the delicious rice table Mrs. Homann liked to make. People came from afar to eat and spend the night here. In 1939 the hotel was completely replaced by a (for that time) very modern building, designed by architect Albert Aalbers. The outside of the building has not changed since 1939 and the authentic elements (Art Deco floor tiles and stained glass windows) are also still present at  the inside of the hotel.
Several famous people have slept in the hotel: Charlie Chaplin, Soekarno, Ho Chi Minh, and Willem-Alexander. The writer F. Springer wrote his book Bandoeng-Bandung here.

Back in the days Gedung Merdeka used to be the building of the colonial society “Concordia”. In 1955 the famous international “Bandung Conference” between Asian and African countries took place. Now it is a museum, dedicated to this conference.

The building “Gedung saté” was built in 1920 and housed the local colonial government. Now it is the office of the governor of West Java. It is called “Satay” building because the center piece is said to resemble a satay skewer. The building also houses a museum that tells more about the history of the city. Before “gedung saté” was built on this place,  Andries de Wilde’s coffee warehouse could be found here, a large landowner who had a close relationship with Governor Raffles.

Next to “Gedung Satay” is the post office. A museum about the history of the post is housed in this building.


soekarno voor de landraad Sukarno studied as a student in Bandung and in this time he already spoke out for an independent Indonesia. Because of these ideas, he was jailed in 1927. The prison where he was imprisoned was called “Banceuy Prison”. The prison is no longer present. A shopping center was built on this place in the early 1980s. During the construction of the shopping center, the cell where Sukarno lived and the watchtower have been preserved and moved. A statue of Soekarno scan be found at the current location.

The courthouse where Sukarno had to defend himself against accusations has also been preserved. This building is called “Gedung Menggugat Landraad”. The original courtroom can still be visited as well as a small exhibition with photos and articles.


City tour with local guide

Discovering the city by yourself is fun, but a tour with a local guides will be even better. Through stories and explanations the past will be revived.

City walking tour in Bandung

Music school

Saung Angklung Udjo Cultural Center was founded in 1966 by Udjo Nalagena and his wife. Their goal is to maintain the Sundanese culture. They make musical instruments and teach children how to play Angklung, a traditional bamboo musical instrument.

Music school students give performances every day. This program is filled with short performances in the form of traditional dances and music. You will enjoy the show and you will get a good introduction to Sundanese culture. You are more than welcome.

Volcanoes and hot springs

Near Bandung you can visit volcanoes:

  • South of the city the mountain Patuha with the crater lake “Kawah Putih” (also with hot springs) and
  • North of the city you will find Tangkuban Perahu (with hot springs)

South of the city:

Kawih Putih

South of Bandung is the “Kawah Putih”, which literally means “White Crater”. Compared to the Tangkuban Perahu and the Ciater hot springs North of Bandung, the Kawah Putih volcano and the hot springs of Kawah Rengganis are less visited by tourists. Kawah Putih is a sulfur lake in one of the two craters of the Patuha volcano. Patuha stands for “pak tua” which means “old man”. In the villages around the Patuha the people believed that Patuha is the oldest mountain and that the spirits of the ancestors gather here.

The colors of the landscape are unreal: the water is azure/turquoise and the sand is yellow. Because the lake is located at a high altitude, the atmosphere is cool. You can walk into the lake on the wooden platform.

Because of the high content sulphurous in the air, you cannot stay close to the lake for too long. The water contains so much sulfur that it is poisonous. Sulfur used to be mined here. Remains of the factory can still be found.
It is possible to climb the crater to get a great view over the lake and surroundings. If you don’t feel like walking,  it is (often) possible to get a ride on the back of a motorbike (for a small fee). You can also make beautiful walks in the mountains.

Rengganis Crater hot springs

Near Kawah Putih are the Kawah Rengganis hot springs, in which you can swim. You can also swim in the river, complete with waterfalls. The hot springs are half an hour walking away from the main road, hidden in the forest. If you don’t like to walk you (often) can get a ride on the back of a motorcycle (for a small fee).

There are also artificial baths, with different temperatures. Some baths have bamboo pipes for bathing. You can also take a mud bath as a treatment, which will be good for your skin. You usually don’t see many tourists here. Unlike the Ciater spring, there no tourist park is built around the baths. This place is managed by the people from the surrounding villages. The view is beautiful.

Lake Situ Patengan

(or Situ Patenggang)

Situ Patengan is a fairly large lake located between forests and tea plantations. It is beautiful to take a boat trip here.
In the middle of the lake is a small island: Batu Cinta (Love stone). The name of the lake “Patenggang” is derived from the Sundanese word “Pateang-teangan”, which means: “keep looking to find it”.

Situ Patenggang lake

Once upon a time there was a prince (Ki Santang) who fell in love with a simple village girl (Dewi Rengganis). Because of their descent, they were forbidden to marry and they couldnt be together. War broke out and they lost contact. Out of their deep love for each other, they kept looking for each other. After a long time they met again at a rock.
Here Dewi asked Ki Santang to make a lake for her so that they could sail together.
To this day, in the lake made by Ki Santang, you can still see the rock where they met again… the proof of a real… but impossible love.

Whoever now sails together around the rock will love each other forever.

So remember: you have to keep looking to find it!

Tea plantation

theeplantage Java IndonesieAround Bandung are beautiful tea and strawberry fields. Here you can visit (or even stay overnight) at a tea plantation or tea factory.

The Tea Lords 

The Malabar Tea Estate is at a two-hour drive South of Bandung. Here you can walk through the tea terraces and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The book “The Tea Lords” of Hella Haasse is based on this tea plantation.
This tea plantation was established by the Bosscha family. Ru Boscha is buried here and his grave can still be visited, just like the old tea plantation and the old plantation house. It is possible to spend the night on this tea plantation in a chalet at the plantation. Breakfast is served in the planter’s house.
You can also have lunch here.

Bosscha came from a family of scientists. After studying in Delft he left for the Dutch Indies. From 1896 until his death in 1928 he was in charge of the Malabar plantation South of Bandung. He was also co-founder of the Bosscha Observatory in Lembang  North of Bandung. (The observatory can only be visited on Saturdays for individual visitors). Bosscha spoke Malay, Javanese and Sundanese. He founded a school (for free) for the children of his employees, which was very special at that time. A small museum is located in the part of this school, that still exists today.

North of Bandung

Tangkuban Perahu “The Capsized Boat”

This volcano is about 2000 meters high. The name of the Tangkuban Perahu volcano in Sundanese means “capsized boat”.

Tangkuban Perahu volcanoThe story goes that a long time ago the beautiful Dayang Sumbi lived here. She sent her son Sangkuriang away because he was not obedient. The gods took pity on her and gave her eternal youth.

After many years, her son decided to return. He met his mother, but did not recognize her (because of her youthful appearance). They fell in love and even started to make wedding plans. Then Dayang Sumbi recognizes her son by a scar. She tried to end the marriage and therefore asked her son, who still didn’t not know that Dayang was his mother, to complete what she considered an impossible task. She asked him to pick her up on the wedding day at her house, in a boat.
Since her house is on a hill, Sangkuriang had to build a dam in the river to make the water to rise from the river to Dayang’s house. He also had to build a big boat before the sun was rising.

Sangkuriang was so eager to get married that he begged for mythical powers to help him. He cut down a large tree and made a beautiful wedding boat. (The stump of this tree can still be seen. This is Mount Bukit Tunggul). His hard work progressed quickly and Dayang Sumbi, fearful that her son would succeed in fulfilling his mission, aid a red carpet in the East, giving the impression that the sun had risen. Her son, who indeed thought that the sun had already risen and that he had failed, kicked the dam away out of frustration and a major flood left the boat upside down.

The boat can still be seen: the boat is upside down, on top of the volcano. And if you look down over the rim of the crater, you can still see the wedding fire glowing.

Tangkuban Parahu The volcano has three different craters. Kawah Ratu is easy to reach. You can drive to the top by car.

Domas Crater is further down, after about an hour of walking you will reach this crater. You can do this walk (until 2 pm) with a local guide. This crater has a sulfur smell. With this guide you can approach the crater and even boil eggs in hot water.

Upas Crater is the oldest crater. Toxic gas comes from this crater and can therefore not be visited.

The Tangkuban Perahu volcano is popular and can be visited between 7 am and 5 pm. In the morning the view is best and it is still relatively quiet. You’ll also find many salesmen and self-proclaimed “guides” walking along unsolicited. It is good to know this in advance, so you can calmly ignore it..

Ciater hot springs

(near Tangkuban Perahu, “Upside down boat”)

Sari Ater Hot Spring Resort is located on the slopes of the Tangkuban Perahu, in the middle of the tea plantations. At this local tourist spot with restaurants, playgrounds and pools you can swim and bathe in the healing waters from the springs. You can also get a massage near the water. The temperature of the water from the springs can reach 42 degrees. You can walk here with a guide from the Tangkuban Perahu or drive there by car.

Lembang floating market

Don’t expect the floating market to be authentic traditional. This is a beautiful park that was created a few years ago on a lake, which primarily aims for local tourists. You can eat delicious Indonesian snacks and buy nice souvenirs here. You can also get on the water by boat or paddle boat, and there is a kind of zoo and flower garden.



Visit Garut

Garut is located in a beautiful rural area. The climate is relatively cool and the pace of life is relaxed. Citrus fruits, apples, tobacco, and tea grow well in this area. Farmers often use small plots of land on the slope of the mountains, and often still plow their land with the help of their buffalo. During the colonial period Garut was known as “Swiss on Java”, because it is located between the mountains.

Many people love to visit Garut. Charlie Chaplin was said to be one of them.

Cipanas springs and spa

Cipanas is located near Garut and is known for its springs and mineral water, that have a healing effect. The village has several resorts where you can spend the night close to the water. Some resorts provide a great experience for children and have, for example, a water park. Other resorts have a more romantic style with waterfront huts.

Talaga Bodas

Talaga Bodas is a sulfur lake near a crater. It is a simple and peaceful place. There are several pools heated by natural hot springs in which you can bathe. The water is said to have healing effect.

Mount Papandayan

Mt Papandayan
Mt Papandayan garut

Mount Papandayan is a volcano in pristine surroundings in which you can take great hikes. To climb the mountain is a not too difficult hike that will take several hours. The climb will take you through a kind of lunar landscape, between bursting geysers, bubbling mud pools and quicksand pools.

A volcano is made up of different plains. Due to the colour of the sulfur deposits, the largest crater is also called the “Golden Crater”. After tpassing the mysterious moon landscape, you will be rewarded on the top of the volcano by fields with Edelweiss, a symbol of love, long life and happiness.

Kamojang Crater

At the Kamojang Crater energy is extracted from the heat of the earth (geothermil energy).

The crater has the nicknam “Kawah Kereta Api” because the sound and smoke are like the sound and smoke emitted by a steam train.

The use of geothermal energy began here in 1918. In 1964, the power plant was put back into operation and various companies and universities worked together to further develop this form of energy production.

Cangkuang Temple

Cangkuang used to be an island. Now it’s a peninsula. Still, it’s nice to to visit Cangkuang with a bamboo raft. The small Cangkuang Temple is located in the middle of the island. It is one of the few Hindu temples ever found in West Java. The temple was built in the eighth century. There is a small  statue of Shiva in the temple.

The temple was described in 1893 by Mr. Vorderman of the Batavian Society. Based on this description, a research team went looking for the temple in 1966 and the temple was found and restored.

Eyang Arif Muhammad’s grave is also located on the island. Arif Muhammad was a soldier from the Mataram Kingdom who fought against the VOC in Batavia in the 17th century. After the fight Eyang Arif Muhammad settled in Cangkuang, in the village of Pulo where he converted the local population to Islam.

The descendants of these converts are still living in Pulo village. Only six families are allowed to live in the village. These families are Muslim but also maintain a tradition rooted in Hinduism. There are also rules specifically introduced by Arif Muhammad. For example, there are no four-legged animals kept in the village. Wednesday is a day of rest and on this day no gong or gamelan is played.

Kampung Naga

Kampung Naga (“dragon village”) is an authentic village consisting of 111 traditional houses on a river surrounded by rice fields. In this traditional village, people still live without electricity, internet or motorized vehicles. About 400 inhabitants live as their ancestors who always lived in harmony with nature.

The village has a wooden mosque. The call for prayer is not done through loudspeakers but through traditional drums. Home building materials come from nature. The houses must face North or South and should not be painted. The houses are built on stilts and the chickens that roam under the house are fed through a hole in the kitchen floor.

Kampung Naga is an independent village. The villagers can meet their own needs. There are fish ponds, they raise goats, sheep and chickens and they grow rice.

Souvenirs are sold by the villagers and tourists are only allowed to be guided through the village by the villagers.



The Green Canyon is magicalPangandaran is located on a peninsula on the South coast of Java. The village is traditionally a fishing village and you can enjoy fresh fish in one of the fish restaurants. Pangandaran is located directly on the beach where almost every day you can see a beautiful sunset. Just before sunset flying dogs (big bats) fly over to look for a place to sleep in the jungle.

Close to this friendly village you can enjoy many activities in the beautiful nature. In the national park on the peninsula you can find century old jungle with many different animal species.

Green Canyon (Cukang Taneuh)

The Green Canyon is magic.  You sail in a traditional boat on the turquoise water between the beautiful green jungle and rocks. The rocks are getting narrower and you feel one with nature. The beautiful green surroundings at the edges of the gorge, waterfalls and many different birds and animals will keep on surprising you. At the end of the canyon there is the opportunity to swim in the cave and climb the rocks. A trip you will remember for the rest of your life.

Green Valley (Citumang)

In the Green Valley you can body raft through a cave, jump from rocks and take a shower under a waterfall. Let yourself be carried away by the current in a life jacket. In the meantime, enjoy tropical atmosphere and experience the beauty of the rainforest in a unique way.

Santirah river tubing

Pananjung National Park and Green CanyonThe Santirah river is a great place for body rafting as well. This place is more upstream and located deeper in the jungle than the Green Valley and therefore a good alternative if the water level in the Green Valley is too high.

Float quietly through the jungle in a life jacket and enjoy the sounds of the jungle.

National Park

In the national park you can take a hike through the forest and can spot many different animals like macaques, monkeys, deer, iguanas, toucans. There are even caves with porcupines and bats. You will also find various plants you might know because you keep them  yourself indoor, or are used to make your furniture such as rattan, ficcus, hibiscus, teak trees, etc.

In the forest there are still some traces of history.  Dont be surprised if you find an old Japanese bunker from the Second World War or a temple from an old Sundanese kingdom. The forest ends in a beautiful white beach.


Go with a guide through the national park and take a real jungle tour. Be surprised by the many different plants and animals that still live and grow here in peace.


Batu Karas (Surfing)

Batu Karas is about 30 km from Pangandaran and is a wonderful place to learn how to surf. Batu Karas isn’t as touristic as Bali yet. Here you can enjoy delicious food at the local eateries, chat with the fishermen and get taste the old authentic atmosphere.
Surfboards are available for rent.


Kraton Cirebon

Becak tour CirebonCirebon

Cirebon is an old city on the northern coast of Java. According to an old manuscript, Cirebon started as a small fishing village in the 15th century. More and more foreign traders came to trade their goods in the harbour and Cirebon became the centre of the region. Chinese and Arab traders settled in the city already long ago.

It is said that “Cirebon” derives from the Javanese word, caruban, which means “mixed”, because the city is influenced by Sundanese, Javanese, Chinese, European and Arabic culture.

An other explanation is that the name derived from the Sundanese words “ci” (water) and “rebon” (shrimp), which is also logical because the main source of income in the city used to be fishing.

Cakrabuana and Gunung Jati

gateway kratonCakrabuana is the founder of the city. He was born in 1423 and descended from the powerful Sundanese Padjadjaran king. When he and his sister converted to Islam, they were expelled from the palace.

Cakrabuana took his sister on one of his trips to Mecca to visit the tomb of the Prophet. In Mecca, the princess received a proposal from the monarch Bani Israil. The princess agreed to become his wife, but only if the monarch would allow their son to travel to Java to tell the people of Java about Islam. The monarch agreed, and when a son was born in 1448, he left for Java, when he was old enough. He settled in Gunung Jati, near Cheribon. He gained more and more followers who called him “Sunan Gunung Jati”. He made Cirebon great and prosperous and enjoyed a lot of respect because of his origin, wisdom and knowledge. He is one of the Wali Songo, one of the nine propagators of Islam in Java.

Gunung Jati married the daughter of the Chines emperor, Princess Ong Tien, while visiting China. The descendants of Sunan Gunung Jati therefore represent the Sundanese, Javanese, Arabic and Chinese culture. The gifts the Chinese princess received from her father (ceramics) were kept for a long time at the tombs of the sultans. Later the ceramics were transferred to the museums of the kraton about 90 years ago. The motifs used to decorate the ceramics were inspiration for batik patterns.

Pilgrimage site

The tomb of Sunan Gunung Jati is located on top of Pasirdjati Hill in Astana kampong, six kilometers from Cheribon.

The tombs are walled and divided into sections. The tomb of the Sunan is in the ninth square, at the very top of the hill. In the other sections are the cemeteries of his descendants. Tiles, plates, and other porcelain ornaments are bricked into the walls.
A gate in the wall gives access to a mosque and from here you can see the roof of the tomb of Soenan Djati.

Gunung Jati’s tomb is still an important pilgrimage site.


Fatahillah, the man who defeated the Portuguese at Sunda Kelapa in 1527 and made Sunda Kelapa Jayakarta was the general and successor of Gunung Jati. He is buried next to Gunung Jati.

Four palaces (kraton)

macam aliIn 1677, the Sultanate of Cirebon was split between four different decendents of the royal family, each with their own palace (kraton). The four kraton are respected by everyone but no longer have a political function. The four kratons are named Keraton Kasepuhan, Kanoman, Kacirebonan en Kaprabonan.

The symbol of the kraton is Ali’s panther (Macam Ali). It is a combination of the Hindu background (the panther) and the Arabic background (the Arabic calligraphy)

Keraton Kasepuhan

Kraton Kasepuhan CheribonKraton Kasepuhan has a beautiful royal carriage in the shape of the “Singa Barong”. The Singa Barong is a mix between the Singa, the lion, the king of all beasts and the Barong, a mythical creature and the king of the spirit world.

The Singa Barong has the body of a lion, the wings of the Buraq (Islamic element), the trunk of an elephant (Hindu element) and the tongue of a dragon (the Chinese element).

Close to the Kasepuhan kraton is the old Great Mosque ‘Sang Cipta Rasa’.

Keraton Kanoman

carrage Cirebon kratonThe Kanoman’s kraton has a royal carriage in the form of the Paksi Naga Liman. This is a creature that consists of the garuda, the dragon and the elephant. The Garuda (Paksi) is also seen as Buraq and represents the Islamic element. The dragon (Naga) represents the Chinese element and the elephant (Liman) represents the Hindu background of the kraton.

These mythical creatures Macan Ali, Singa Barong, and Paksi Naga Liman can also be found in the batik from this region.

Taman Wisata Goa Sunyaragi

Cirebon rondreisThe Water Palace of the Cirebon kraton was built in 1703 in Chinese style by order of Sunan Gunung Jati’s great-grandson, the sultan Kasepuhan.

The Sultan liked to come here to meditate. Here were beautiful caves and gardens with ponds and waterfalls. Influences from different cultures can also be found here.

The story goes that the Chinese master builder was killed by the Sultan after the construction was completed to prevent him from building such a beautiful palace for others.

Others say this story was derived from the history of the Chinese master builder who helped the Dutch with the restoration of the Water Palace in the 19th century and was accused of having passed on the secrets of the caves and corridors to the Dutch. Which he paid for with his life.

Goa Sunyaragi consists of the words Goa (cave) Sunya (alone, lonely) and Ragi (body) and refers to the purpose of this Water Palace: meditation.

The Water Palace can still be visited and is best visited early in the morning.

In front of the entrance to Peteng Cave is a statue of a Sunti virgin. According to local legend, anyone who touches the statue will remain single for life.

mega mendung


Cirebon is known for beautiful batik patterns, which are influenced by Chinese, Arabic and Javanese culture.

The most famous motif from this region is originally blue and depicts a cloudy sky: the Mega Mendung motif. You also have the Wadasan motif (also called Cadasan) and the Taman Arum motif.
All these motives were originally reserved for the sultanate of Cirebon. Only the sultan and the sultan’s family were seen as spiritually powerful enough to wear this motif.

The Mega Mendung pattern depicts clouds and was designed by the founder of the city of Cirebon, Cakrabuana  One day while standing by a calm river, he saw the reflection of the clouds in the water. At that moment, this pattern came to his mind.

The Taman Arum motif depicts the Arum Sunyaragi park, the old water palace of the sultan.

Colonial buildings

City Hall

The town hall of Cirebon was built in 1926 in the beautiful Art Deco style of the Amsterdam school. The building is decorated with shrimps by Anthon Maas.

British American Tobacco

BAT Cirebon

The BAT building was built in 1924 and was designed by architectural firm Eduard Cuypers & Hulswit in Art Deco style. This large cigarette factory had a production capacity of 17.5 million cigarettes per day, but was closed in 2010. Now the BAT building is empty.

Bank Indonesia

The office of Bank Indonesia Cirebon is so beautiful that the building even appeared on the Rp 500 banknote issued in 1988.


The Escompto company was a commercial bank that mainly provided credit to trade and industrial companies. As in many other cities, they were also located in Cirebon in a beautiful building.

Gedung Negara

At first glance, this building resembles the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, only smaller. This building was designed by Van De Berg, a Dutch architect in 1865. South of the building is a field where dozens of spotted deer are kept, just like at the palace in Bogor.

Cirebon station

The station was built in 1912 when the track was extended to Cirebon.


Jakarta with a private driver

Book your private driver now or ask for a quote >>>

Jakarta is a metropolis with many contrasts. It is the capital of Indonesia and also the most densely populated city in Indonesia. About 40% of the city is below sea level and these areas are frequently flooded during the rainy season. The traffic is busy and Jakarta is known for traffic jams. Public transportation is not a good alternative.
For many tourists Jakarta is not a city they like to stay for a long time. It is not the best place for a first introduction to Indonesia.  Often visiters choose to start their round trip on Java an Bali  in Bogor, Bandung or Yogyakarta and skip Jakarta.

Yet Jakarta also has a number of beautiful places that are definitely worth a visit and that you should not miss:

Jakarta old town

The old city and old port

Sometimes it takes a while, but remains of old Batavia can certainly still be found in Jakarta. Old canals and drawbridges can still clearly be recognized in the old town.
Visit the old harbor for a short cruise and stroll around the old town square and imagine yourself back in old Batavia. The museums are interesting to visit and to breathe the old atmosphere.

Most museums are closed on Mondays.

Jakarta old harbour

Sunda Kelapa, the old harbour

The Old Port is located in the north of Jakarta. The old harbor is called “Sunda Kelapa” and is the name of the original village from which Jayakarta, Batavia and later Jakarta originated.

The wooden Pinisi schooners (traditional sailing boats) from ancient times can still be found in the harbor and are still in use. In this part of the harbor it seems as if time stood still. The sailing ships are handmade in Sulawesi. Also loading and unloading is still done by hand.

Near the harbor are the remains of an old fortress built by Jan Pieterszoon in 1617. The maritime museum (Bahari museum) is now located in the old warehouses of the VOC. Next to this museum you will find a last piece of the old city wall of Batavia.

Old observation tower

observation tower harbour Jakarta

The old watchtower “de Uytkijk” was built in 1839 and still overlooks the harbor. This tower used to be the tallest building in Batavia and was used to monitor all ships entering and leaving.

After climbing the 77 steps, you can enjoy the view over the harbour and imagine life a 150 years ago. Prisoners were locked up in the basement of the tower. An old tunnel connects the tower with the old city (to the historical museum on Fatahillah Square) and it is said that this tunnel even continues all the way to the former Fort Frederik Hendrik (the site of the current Istiqlal mosque). Unfortunately, the tunnel is no longer safe and therefore closed.

Walking towards the old town, we pass an old drawbridge from 1628.


Visit the old town with a guide. Don’t waste time searching for the right directions. With a local guide you won’t  miss anything. You will hear the most beautiful stories and you will easily get to know the real Jakarta.

Kota tua, the old town

Visit kota Tua Jakarta  Near the old harbor the old town (Kota Tua) is located. (about 15 minutes to walk). The old town used to be completely surrounded by walls. The center of the old town is the Fatahillah square. Around the Fatahillah square are many monumental buildings which were built in the Dutch era. Some buildings, such as the post office, are still in use.
Several museums can be found in the old monumental buildings on this square.

Museum Sejarah (in the old town hall of Batavia)

The Museum Sejarah (the historical museum) of Jakarta is located in the old city hall. In the basement are still the dungeons in which Prince Diponegoro (the leader of the revolt against the Dutch around 1825) was imprisoned.

An old Portuguese cannon stands in front of the old town hall. According to an old story women who sit on the canon will get pregnant soon. Whether this is true remains a mystery; it is no longer allowed to sit on the cannon.

Wayang museum

The Wayang museum is located on the site of an old church. Here you can admire old wayang puppets. The commemorative plaque of the grave of Jan Pieterszoon Coen is also located in this museum.

Old town centre Jakarta private driver

Art and Ceramics Museum (in the old courthouse)

The former courthouse now houses an art and ceramics museum (Balai Seni Rupa).

Museum Bank (in the old Javanese bank)

Just next to Fatahillah Square is the “Museum Bank”. The bank museum is located in the building of the old Javanese bank. Here you can see the history of trade, money and finance. Because it is an old bank building, you can also take a look at the old safe where the rich of the city used to keep their valuables.

In café Batavia, also on Fatahillahplein, you can take a break and drink a cup of coffee in colonial atmospheres.

Monas monument

Monas monument private driver JakartaThe Monumen Nasional (Monas for short) was built as the symbol of Indonesia’s independence. The monument is located in the middle of the city on the square Medan Merdeka and is 137 meters high. At the top of the monument is a bronze flame covered with 35 kg of gold. When Indonesia celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1995, more gold was added (to 50 kg). The monument stands for a mortar and pestle and for Yoni and Lingga (concepts for masculine and feminine energy from the Kamasutra) as symbols of balance, fertility and eternal life.

From the monument you have a great view (if the weather and the smog are not causing nuisance). The construction took almost 14 years (from 1961 to 1975). In the monument a museum will provide you with information about the struggle for independence. The monument can be visited every day and also in the evenings. It can be busy and sometimes you have to wait in line to take the elevator to the top of the monument.

Istiqlal Mosque and the Catholic Cathedral

great mosque Istiqlal jakarta

The Istiqlal mosque is impressively large. Everyone can enter with appropriate clothing.

It is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and was built between 1961 and 1978. The mosque faces the Catholic cathedral. This cathedral was built between 1891 and 1901 and is also definitely worth a visit.

Glodok – the Chinese quarter

Glodok is the Chinese quarter of Jakarta. In November 1740, the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company) designated Glodok as a residence for the Chinese inhabitants of Jakarta. The inhabitants of Jakarta have their origin in many continents. This background can be recognised in the local language of Jakarta, Betawi (Batavian). Words from Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic and Chinese can be found in this local language.

The word Glodok probably originates from the Sundanese word “Golodog” which means entrance. It is also said that Glodok is the sound of the water as it comes out of the water fountain in front of the Old Town Hall (“grojok, grojok”). In the Chinese quarter you will find a traditional market and of course good food. You can visit a Chinese Buddhist temple.

National Archives Museum

Jakarta national museum

This museum is located in the restored residence of the 18th-century Governor General Reinier de Klerk, built in 1760. The national archive can no longer be found here. The archive has moved to more modern premises elsewhere in Jakarta.

Reinier de Klerk was married to a wealthy woman and had his residence built himself. He had more than 100 slaves. In 1997 the building was completely renovated with money raised as a gift for the 50th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence, from Dutch companies.

National Museum

The National Museum is located near the Monument Nasional and gives a good impression of the rich history and culture of Indonesia. It excists since 1778. The building is also called “Elephant Building”, after the statue of an elephant that stands in front of the building and was once donated by the King of Siam.


Taman mini Indonesia

If you stay a little longer in Jakarta and have children, the “Taman mini Indonesia” is also a great place to visit. The culture and traditions of the many different ethnic groups in Indonesia can be found in this large park. Here you will find architecture, clothing, dance and other traditions from all provinces of Indonesia. The different parts of Indonesia are presented at different pavilions.

The traditional buildings from the 33 provinces are built around a lake in the shape of the Indonesian archipelago. There is also a cinema and play facilities for children.

Ancol Dreamland

Ancol Dreamland is a huge amusement park on the north side of Jakarta. The park has a large number of attractions, including an IMAX cinema. Ancol Seaworld with a large saltwater aquarium is nearby. One day is not enough to visit all the attractions.

Street food or local markets

Jakarta is a melting pot of many cultures and has many different cuisines. Food you can eat with your hands and many more different flavors. To find the best food, discover the best spots only the locals will know with a local guide. This is the best and most relaxed way to get to know Jakarta’s best street food. This food tour is suitable for everyone (children, vegetarians) and is ideal at the end of the day and the beginning of the evening. Contact us and we will arrange the best guide for you.

Do you always like to visit your local market at home? Then you will certainly enjoy a visit to the different markets that Jakarta has to offer. Watch your eyes out, taste what you want and buy nice gifts for those left behind. With a guide you will see much more and discover the best markets without stress. We can arrange a tour for you along the different markets, with an experienced guide. Send us a message and we’ll arrange it for you.

Tips and advice for your stay in Jakarta

Jakarta is a nice place to stay, but be prepared for a busy metropolis. Jakarta is sometimes compared to a durian; a strong-smelling fruit that you either love or hate, but that is certainly special and that you will not soon forget.


Plan your visit to Jakarta in advance. If you are only in Jakarta for a short time, it is wise to plan your visit in advance to avoid disappointement. Let us know what you like and we will help you with your planning. Because we receive direct feedback from our guests on a daily base, we are very well informed.
We know the best local guides, restaurants and places to visit and are happy to assist you.

Contact us without any obligation for advice about all the possibilities >>>

Old city hall jakarta private tour