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Mekarsari Fruit Park: Bogor, West Java

Mekarsari Fruit Park in Bogor is striving to restore its image as a recreational site, not just a place where visitors can pick and feast on fruits of their choice. “Most people seem to think they can get fruit out of season anytime they come here. It’s not exactly right. We are a fruit conservatory, not a fruit farm,” park public relations officer Catherina W. Day.

The 264-hectare park, operated by PT Mekar Unggul Sari, includes an 80-hectare fruit conservatory with 1,400 varieties of fruit plants, a 27.5-hectare pond and a 150-hectare recreational area.

The park has mini go-karts for children, a family garden for gatherings, a deer park and a plantation laboratory.

Thirty-something couple Didi and Elsie from Bekasi, who visited Mekarsari twice this year, said the garden ambiance suited families.

“We always bring our parents and our 16-month-old son here,” Elsie said.

“The entrance fee is also affordable,” Didi said, referring to the Rp 10,000 ticket for both adults and children above two years. After the Idul Fitri holiday week, tickets for children between 2 and 6 years old will return to the normal price of Rp 9,000.

Catherina said the park, located in Bogor, has begun to attract more visitors from further away.

“Previously we only had regular visitors from nearby areas like Bogor or Cibubur, but in the last two years more visitors have come from other areas of Greater Jakarta.”

In the low season Mekarsari welcomes between 10,000 and 12,000 visitors per month, while in high season, including Idul Fitri, up to 16,000 visitors crowd the garden.

To get around Mekarsari Park, visitors can choose from several options including trams costing from Rp 10,000 to Rp 40,000 for a round trip, tuk tuk (a kind of golf buggy) and tandem bicycles costing Rp 20,000 for a 15-minute trip.

Catherina said starting this month the garden operator also offered rental bicycles for individuals. “We realized that traveling by foot around the 264-hectare parkland can be really painful.”

Mekarsari plans to build three more villas (currently there is one), to cater for visitors who wish to stay overnight at the gardens.

The villas can accommodate up to five people.

Catherina said Mekarsari also offered activities including fishing, team building, biking and barbecuing.

“We aren’t just a venue, we are an events organizer.”

Despite efforts to transform its image into a recreational garden, Mekarsari still welcomes visitors to pick fruits like melons and salak (thorny palm), provided they come during the right season.

A grandmother of three, Ros, 67, on visiting Mekarsari for the first time, said, “I thought I could pick all kinds of fruit here, but I could only get melons today. I’m still happy to be here because it’s so refreshing.”

When asked whether she hoped to see the same fruits available in other stores, she said, “Definitely not. These fruits better stay here because they are Mekarsari’s speciality.”

Mekarsari opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Agnes Winarti