Bogor Raya is a region in Western Java in Indonesia. This travel guide covers the regencies and cities of Bogor, Sukabumi, and Cianjur. While this area is part of the province of West Java, there are proposals to create a separate province Bogor Raya.
- Bogor — the 'city of rain', known for its spectacular botanical gardens.
- Cianjur — economic centre in a region of rice production.
- Pelabuhan Ratu — fishing port and beach town, known for the legend of the 'Queen of the Indian Ocean'.
- Sukabumi — city at the foot of the Gede volcano, with extensive tea plantations.
- Cimaja — surfers' village at the Indian Ocean coast.
- Mount Gede Pangrango National Park — twin volcanoes flanked by tea plantations.
- Mount Halimun Salak National Park — national park with volcanoes, rainforest, and waterfalls.
- Puncak — mountain pass between Bogor and Cianjur, popular weekend getaway for people from Jakarta.
- Ujung Genteng — fishing village in the far southwest of the region, with a turtle sanctuary.
Most of the Bogor Raya region has been part of the Sunda Kingdom for almost 1000 years, from the 7th to the 16th century. The centre of power this kingdom was Pakuan Pajajaran, which was near the location of present-day Bogor. In the 16th century, a period of many changes started, with parts of the region being invaded by the Sultanate of Banten, and other parts by the Mataram Sultanate from Central Java. In addition, the European colonial powers became involved, and the region became part of the Dutch East Indies.
During the colonial time, large parts of the region were cultivated, and large plantations were established on the fertile hillsides of the volcanoes, with especially the area around Sukabumi famous for the coffee and rubber plantations. When the Great Post Road was constructed in the early 19th century, access was made easier to Bogor and Cianjur as a road over the Puncak mountain pass was built. Extensive tea plantations have been built in the area, and the well-to-do colonial families of Batavia (Jakarta) started to see the area as a holiday destination, for its landscape but mainly also for its cooler climate.
During the colonial time, the city of Bogor (Dutch: Buitenzorg) was the capital of the 'residency' of Buitenzorg, and also the summer residence of the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies (the palace is now one of the six presidential palaces of Indonesia). The area consists now of three regencies (Bogor, Sukabumi, and Cianjur), as well as two independent cities (Bogor and Sukabumi), and is part of the province of West Java. There have been proposals to separate the region, which has a population of almost 12 million, from West Java again and create the Bogor Raya province.
There are no airports with scheduled flights in the region. The nearest major airport is Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, with direct buses available from the airport to Bogor. Other options are Halim Airport in East Jakarta, and the airport of Bandung, which is especially a good option when travelling to the east of the region (Cianjur).
The key road into the region is the Jagorawi toll road that connects Jakarta to Bogor. To get to the east of the region, you can also get in via the trunk road from Bandung and Cimahi to Cianjur. There is also a road into the region from the west, along the southern coast, to Pelabuhan Ratu. However, this is only useful if you want to get in from Ujung Kulon National Park or Sawarna beach in the south of Banten.
The bus terminal of Bogor has the most intercity bus connections, with especially very frequent buses from Greater Jakarta including the airport, but also from other destinations in Western Java such as the port of Merak. The bus terminals of Cianjur and Sukabumi also see buses from Bandung. For most other places in the region you would need to transfer at one of these cities, with most towns having at least a bus connection to Bogor.
There is only one railway into the region operational. You can take a commuter train from several stations in Jakarta via Depok to Bogor. In Bogor you can change to another train to Sukabumi, and from there another train is available to Cianjur.
The larger towns and cities are interconnected by a network of buses, and especially in Bogor and its surroundings it is easy to get around using a dense network of angkot (public minivans). To and within more remote areas of the region, public transport is more limited. To get to the far south of the region (such as Ujung Kulon beach), you need to keep in mind that the journey may take many hours. In the northern part of the region (especially Bogor and the Puncak Pass), on the other hand, traffic congestion is common.
In Bogor and its surroundings, taxis are widely available. Taxi company Blue Bird Group is known to be reliable (using the taxi meter). In the other parts of the region, taxis are more limited. However, in all towns and villages you can rent an ojek (motorcycle taxi), which are usually available at all major street corners.
There are two world class botanical gardens in the region. The most famous one is the one in Bogor, which is a park of 87 hectares right in the city centre, adjoined by the palace compound of Bogor Palace, built in the 18th century by the Dutch and now one of the six presidential palaces of Indonesia. Another presidential palace is in the Puncak Pass area at Cipanas. Not far from there is also the second botanical garden of Cibodas, which has different types of flora than the garden in Bogor, considering its high altitude (1,300 metres above sea level, as compared to 260 metres for Bogor).
The south of the region is along the Indian Ocean coast, and therefore there are many beaches. The largest beach town is Pelabuhan Ratu, which has several hotels and a fishing port. The town is known for the legend of the 'Queen of the South Sea', and one of the hotels even has a room dedicated to this legendary spirit. The village of Cimaja is known as a surfers' destination that is relatively easy to reach from the Greater Jakarta area. Further to the south is the beach village of Ujung Genteng. One of the attractions there is a turtle sanctuary.
With two large national parks in the region, trekking is a popular activity. From the Puncak Pass area, you can easily get to one of the entry points of the Mount Gede Pangrango National Park at Cibodas. Entering the national park from the other side, at Sukabumi, is also possible, and there you can also simply visit the recreation area at the foot of the mountain with a lake and tea plantations. The other national park, Mount Halimun Salak National Park, is also centred around a volcano.
Especially in the Puncak area, there are also many recreational facilities that do not involve trekking up the mountain. A very popular attraction is Taman Safari Indonesia, where you can watch wild animals from your own car, or a tourist bus. Other parks in the area include a water theme park, and an 'agricultural theme park' where you can visit a tea factory and go horse-riding in the tea plantation.
In Bogor there are several golf courses, which are in wonderful settings among tea plantations and rice fields. Most famous is the Jagorawi Golf & Country Club which offers 45 holes of championship golf
The Bogor Raya region shares the tradition of Sundanese cuisine with the other parts of Western Java. The food is characterised by fresh (often raw) vegetables, sambal terasi (chili sauce with shrimp paste), and fried tofu and tempeh. As most of the cities and regions in Indonesia, the various parts of Bogor Raya also have some typical dishes.
Famous dishes from Bogor include asinan Bogor (a pickled fruit dish with a hot and sour vinegar and chili sauce, sprinkled with peanuts), laksa Bogor (coconut milk-based soup with oncom, fermented soy beans, and often with chicken and prawns), and soto mie Bogor (Bogor-style noodle soup). Both Cianjur and Sukabumi are known for specific styles of bubur ayam (chicken rice congee). Of course, along the Indian Ocean coast fish and seafood are popular ingredients.
In the touristic mountain areas such as Puncak there are many restaurants and food stalls many all types of Indonesian food. Very common along the mountain pass road is to eat roasted corn, and drink bandrek with this. Bandrek is hot, sweet and spicy beverage with ginger, palm sugar, and cinnamon, used to warm up in the cool mountain air.
Alcoholic drinks are not widely available in cafés and restaurants, but can usually be found in upscale restaurants and bars as well as hotels and resorts.
Be aware that there are several active volcanoes in the area. Make sure you register at a national park office when you want to climb a volcano.
Keep also in mind that traffic is very busy and chaotic. If you are not used to driving in Indonesia, it is better to use public transport or to hire a car with a driver rather than attempting to drive by yourself.