If you happen to be in Indonesia, and more specifically Jakarta, and you do not have the time to explore the rest of the country, you could opt to plan a visit Miniature Indonesia. This park, which is known as Taman Mini (or TMII, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah), dates back to 1975, and is located in the eastern part of Jakarta. Taman Mini is built around an artificial lake that houses a mini version of Indonesia (hence the name). Basically, it is a collection of various popular Indonesian cultures.
Taman Mini is split up in sections. Each area displays a different culture and ethnic group found in Indonesia. For example, in Disneyland you have Frontier Land, Fantasy Land, and Tomorrowland. In Taman Mini they have pavilions and areas dedicated to the cultures and people from each Indonesian province (Bali, Jawa Timur, Kalimanantan Barat, Sumatra Utara, etc.). Each area displays their uniquely styled houses, designs and patterns, costumes and clothing, food, and music, and more. You could say it is like a cultural themed park.
I remember visiting this place with my family when I was a little boy back in the early ‘90s. We were on a tour through Indonesia and this place was one of the locations I still had some memories of. So, a few months ago, on a boring weekend, we packed our bags, grabbed our gear and set off to explore this park in Jakarta.
Little did we know what was ahead of us…
After about an hour drive from the center of Jakarta we arrived at the park. Entrance to the park is very cheap. I believe the fee was only IDR 10,000 for a car and also IDR 10,000 per person. Once we bought our tickets we arrived in the park. But as this was a weekend, the park was immensely crowded. People, cars, and bikes were everywhere. It was crazy. Macet gila (or crazy traffic jams, which is a popular expression in Indonesia). We decided to leave our car behind and just walk on foot, which seemed the more sensible option at the time, but still, walking was not as easy as cars and motorbikes were parked on the streets and in every little available space.
Our initial idea of having a fun and relaxing day was slowly slipping away. We did not anticipate these crowds and traffic. People were having a picnic and hanging out everywhere. And, to be honest, after visiting a few of these cultural pavilions, we were not very impressed. Trash was littered on the ground everywhere, there was little signage available, it was crowded, it was hot, and the pavilions did not offer very much information on these cultures. We traversed a few of these pavilions before giving up. One after another just disappointed.
While the layout and design of the park could work really well, it is just a wasted opportunity in its current state. Firstly, it would be so much better if the park was car-free. Sometimes it’s just hard to walk around and enjoy yourself with cars and motorbikes passing you by at high speed. Secondly, some of the buildings could use more maintenance, and a lot of facilities and buildings feel dated. They could use some more preservation. Thirdly, management should provide a lot more trashcans and thrash removal services. There was trash everywhere. It’s just a real shame, because the place could become so much more. But then again, that is a feeling with so many places in Indonesia. The immense potential is there, but the execution is lacking.
The park itself is huge. I think we missed over half of it, including the famous cable car ride. I’m in no rush to go back though, as the crowdedness and lack of real care somewhat put me off. I need a break before trying to go there again.
Overall, I would say Taman Mini is worth a visit if you plan ahead well. You will not be able to visit all the sights within one day. Therefore, to maximize your enjoyment, plan your trip ahead of time and know what you want to see and do. Even though I was a little bit critical about the place, there were some cool places in Taman Mini, such as Taman Burung (Bird Park), which I will write about in a separate post.
• Go early.
• Bring comfortable walking shoes.
• Bring your own food and drinks, because everything is CFC (California Fried Chicken…)
• Bring sunglasses and sunscreen.
• Map out in advance what you want to see and do, because Taman Mini is huge and you will have not enough time to see everything.
• Spend too much time in each of the little cultural pavilion, go straight to the museums and other attractions.
• Go in the park by car. Park nearby and walk.
• Throw your trash on the ground, use the bins.