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Puncak

Everything you Need to Know about Puncak

Puncak, a mountain resort area about 100 kilometres south of Jakarta, is a cool retreat offering fresh air and spectacular views. Located in West Java between Bandung and Bogor, Puncak is a popular weekend escape for relaxing in its resorts and campgrounds, hiking through lush jungle, joining an exotic animal safari, and sampling tea from the region's plantations.

Puncak is a place to slow down, reconnect with nature and rekindle romance -- an easy drive yet a world away from the sweltering, hectic streets of Jakarta. Though it can get busy with tourists on weekends and holidays, Puncak remains a relaxing destination with nature and agricultural vistas its primary attractions. Flower and botanical gardens compete with the local fruit and vegetable markets in showcasing the eye-catching colour and variety of the plant life from Puncak and beyond.

Staying in the Puncak tropical highlands, a good range of accommodation is to be found to suit every budget and taste from basic campgrounds to family-run guesthouses to full-service resorts with spas and swimming pools. The road between Bogor and Puncak is lined with shops and hotels trying to attract some of the weekend holidaymakers escaping the heat of the city.

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Puncak Attractions

Gunung Mas Tea Plantation offers visitors the chance to see first-hand the careful process of tea making, from the plantation to the factory to the tea shop, where steaming-hot, freshly-made samples may be enjoyed. There are also pony rides on offer. Those who wonder about the milk served with their tea will need to visit Cimory Resto, a dairy farm that offers tours of its facilities and a chance to sample its fresh products at its restaurant.

Taman Safari park, in the town of Cisarua, features day and night safari tours, a large zoo and wildlife conservation centre, bird park, theme park rides and animal exhibits including a white tiger pavilion. Nusantara Flower Garden and the Cibodas Botanical Garden have thousands of varieties of flora to see ... and smell. Families come to enjoy strolls and picnics in pleasant, natural surrounds.

Kota Bunga is a colourful, rather eccentric place to explore, where different areas are built to resemble well-known towns and cities from around the world, including Oxford and Nottingham. At the centre is the Little Venice recreational centre with theme park rides for the kids. The Presidential Palace in Cipanas is closed to visitors but many enjoy coming to see its gorgeous grounds and colonial style architecture.

Puncak Restaurants & Dining

Puncak may not be a top cuisine centre but food lovers will find a good range of Sundanese, Indonesian and international dishes to enjoy. Those seeking a special dining experience will not want to miss trying the restaurants at the Puncak Pass resort, with great views to take in while dining in the hotel's Dutch colonial style setting. Specialties include Poffertjes (batter ball sweets) and hot ginger tea. Raffles Restaurant is a spacious, family-friendly place with a large menu and playground to keep the little ones entertained. Rindu Alam boasts some of the best views in the area over terraced tea plantations, featuring good value Indonesian fare including Sundanese dishes. A popular spot for locals.

Pondok Daun is a family-run restaurant in Cibodas offering inexpensive Indonesian cuisine in a garden setting. For seafood, try Ikan Bakar Cianjur, and for those craving skewers of lamb, rabbit or chicken, one of the three branches of Sate Shinta makes for a tasty choice. Several warung (restaurant huts) serve up basic but tasty rice and noodle dishes. Among some of the favourite meals in Puncak are ikan mas (goldfish) and gurame freshwater fish.

Puncak Nightlife

Common for an area that is this outdoorsy and family oriented, Puncak nightlife is far from sizzling, with only a sprinkling of low-key bars to visit in the evening hours. The larger hotels have cocktail bars, some with live music, while around town are some small watering holes. Along the main roads there are some karaoke bars that unfortunately set their music volume controls to the max. The nearby Bogor city has a wider range of drinking places, but overall it's a calm nightlife scene there as well. For exciting nightclubs, hot DJ music and dancing the night away, a trip back to Jakarta is recommended.

Puncak Shopping

Puncak has a decent range of shops offering the usual tourist fare of textiles and handicrafts, though unlike larger centres in West Java it lacks a big, sparkling modern mall -- for those looking for a more local shopping experience, this is probably a good thing. The road leading up to the area is chock full of shops selling souvenirs, batiks, clothing, fruit and vegetables. There are also a few factory outlet shops where great bargains on clothing may be found, including the Brasco Village outlet and dse. For a greater range of clothing, it's best to make the 70-kilometre trip to the West Java capital city Bandung, a major factory outlet centre.

The nearby Cipanas is a thriving market town with supermarkets, electronics shops and a row of nurseries where you can browse and bargain for a colourful range of plants and flowers. The Cipanas Market is a short walk away from the Presidential Palace.

At Cisarua in the foothills (where the Taman Safari park is located), local products sold include brass and glass lamps, basketry, and bamboo and rattan items.

Puncak Activities

Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park, next to the Cibodas Botanical Garden, is a pristine forested area criss-crossed with hiking trails, some of which lead to waterfalls and hot springs. Among the more spectacular hikes is up Mount Gede, where trekkers can marvel at the volcano's caldera after making the ten-hour journey to the summit. Bird-watching is another popular activity, with the park home to more than half of Java's 450 bird species including the endangered Javan hawk eagle. Other rare creatures that roam the forest include the leopard cat, ebony leaf monkey, barking deer and Southeast Asian porcupine. Caves here are considered sacred places and local people can sometimes be seen performing rituals in honour of the spirits believed to protect the mountain from erupting.

Throughout the Puncak highlands are recreational areas offering a range of outdoor sports and activities, including Telaga Warna lake. Horse riding is available at the Gunung Mas tea plantation, as well as hang-gliding sessions for the more adventurous. Other activities that may be arranged with local guides include paragliding, motocross and mountain biking.

Cipanas is the place to indulge in a spa bath in its natural thermal springs, but the public baths can get very crowded.

Puncak Information

The nearest airport to Puncak is Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International (Soetta) Airport. Economy and air-conditioned buses to Bandung depart regularly from the Kampung Rambutan bus station in Jakarta, reaching Puncak within two to three hours via the Jagorawi Highway toll road. There is also regular bus service from Bogor, a trip that takes about an hour. Note that buses are not allowed to stop along the Puncak Pass on Sundays to maintain traffic flow, so taxi service or car hire will be needed if planning to arrive on a Sunday. Cars with or without drivers may be hired in Jakarta or Bogor.

Bemo buses frequently ply the area, connecting all the towns at lower elevations (Cipanas, Cisarua, Cianjur) to the Puncak Pass. To catch one, simply stay on a main road and flag it down.

To avoid the crowds and heavy inbound traffic from Jakarta, Puncak is best visited on weekdays.

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