Located 300m above sea level and just an hour’s train journey south of Jakarta, Bogor is home to the famously lush Kebun Raya Bogor or Botanical Gardens, founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1811. Worth a day-trip from Jakarta, the magnificent gardens offer wonderful respite from the congested streets of Bogor, and it is a delight to wander the shady pathways between towering bamboo stands, climbing bougainvillea, tropical rainforest and ponds full of water lilies and fountains. Perhaps the garden’s best-known occupants are the giant rafflesia and bungu bangkai, two of the world’s largest (and smelliest) flowers. Near the gardens’ main entrance is the Zoological Museum, which houses some 30,000 specimens, including a complete skeleton of a blue whale, a stuffed Javan rhino and, most impressively, the remains of a huge coconut crab. Bogor is also an ideal base for hiking in Mount Halimun Salak National Park, as well as whitewater rafting and visiting hot springs, waterfalls and some of Java’s most picturesque terraced rice paddies.

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