Jakarta (ANTARA) - Garut District, located in West Java Province, is an area known by its various nicknames, such as the City of Diamonds or the City of Dodol, a sweet toffee-like confection made from sugar palm.

It has also been recorded in the history of Europeans, who visited the district and called it "Swiss van Java."

It is no exaggeration if Garut, which borders Bandung, Cianjur, Tasikmalaya, and Sumedang regencies, gets various special nicknames from the impression it leaves on visitors, who are enthralled by the natural beauty and uniqueness of the regency.

Undoubtedly, there are several differences in tourism in Garut in the past and now. The regency has now started to improve to provide the best service, so that anyone who visits it can have a pleasant and memorable experience.

The district offers various interesting tourist attractions, ranging from man-made to natural tourism, as well as cultural and religious tourism. Everything about Garut is presented in full and can be accessed fairly easily by the public.

Access to explore leading tourist attractions in Garut has been significantly improved, and it is now in good condition. Moreover, all types of two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles and also buses can now pass roads safely from various directions from neighboring areas.

Tourists, who use the Bandung-Garut main route via the Kadungora Sub-district, can enjoy the beauty of the natural scenery and cool air blowing between the cliffs before entering the sub-district.

In Kadungora, tourists can start exploring the top tourist attractions, namely the Cikembulan Animal Park, which is a small zoo with enclosures for big cats, crocodiles, and birds, as well as kids' play areas and picnic spots.

Apart from witnessing the uniqueness of the animals, visitors to the animal park can also enjoy other facilities, such as a playground, interact with tame animals, and witness the feeding activities of lions and tigers.

Not far from the animal park, still on the Bandung-Garut main route, tourists can also enjoy the beauty of the Situ Cangkuang tourist attraction that presents the beauty of a natural lake, where they can take a raft to cross the lake to an island.

The island is home to the Cangkuang Temple, a historic temple relic of ancient Hindus located in Cangkuang Village, Leles Sub-district.

Taking into account this cultural tourism potential, the local government has developed Situ Cangkuang as a cultural tourism area that has commercial value to attract both domestic and foreign tourists.

Visitors to the island and the temple can explore those attractions at an affordable and reasonable tariff. Adults are charged an entrance fee of Rp10,000 (US$0.67), while children are charged Rp5,000 (US$0.33), and the raft boat transportation fee per person is Rp5,000.

"We can visit Situ Cangkuang, with only Rp15,000 fee per person. You can enjoy a raft going back and forth, visiting temples and playing arenas," said Wawan Kulnaedin, Head of the Cangkuang Situ Technical Implementation Unit at the Garut office of Tourism and Culture.

In addition to Situ Cangkuang, Garut has several other lake tourism areas, such as the famous Situ Bagendit located in Banyuresmi Sub-district.

To visit the tourism area of Situ Bagendit, tourists can use the Bandung-Garut main route passing through the Tarogong Sub-district area, with fairly good road conditions that can be passed by buses.

Visitors can explore the natural beauty of the lake at Situ Bagendit and also enjoy the surrounding view from along the lakeside road that is made specifically for pedestrians. They can also enjoy splendid views right from the middle of the lake by using the services of a raft boat or water bicycle.

Another tourism object, which is interesting to visit and easy to access from the main road of Garut, is the natural hot spring tourist area located at the foot of Mount Guntur that is also Garut's top tourist attraction.

The tourism area in Garut also has several choices of attractive and comfortable lodgings and hotels for tourists. In fact, the district has been a typical tourist destination for vacation and enjoyment of natural hot springs facilities.

Furthermore, tourists seeking some adventure while enjoying the natural beauty of mountains can visit the Guntur Mountain tourist attraction located not far from the hot springs facilities in Cipanas Sub-district in Cianjur, which is a district close to Garut.

Another mountain tourism destination that is popular among tourists in Garut is the Mount Papandayan Nature Park located in Cisurupan Sub-district.

The mountain tourism area, managed by a private company, offers some interesting attractions for those keen on conducting adventure activities and camping, such as enjoying views of the craters of former volcanic eruptions, exploring the Edelweiss flower park, and enjoying natural warm springs and camping grounds that have also been popular tourist destinations in Garut.

Other tourist attractions that are no less interesting to explore in Garut are Lake Talaga Bodas and the hiking and camping area on Mount Sagara, which can be reached by motor vehicle in around an hour.

Apart from cultural tourism, hot springs, lakes, and mountains, Garut also offers the scenery of beaches stretching from its border with Cianjur District to its border with Tasikmalaya District.

Tourists, who are typical beachgoers, can explore Rancabuaya Beach, located in Caringin Sub-district, at the western end of Garut's border with Cianjur District.

From the border area of the two districts, tourists can explore several other beach attractions, one of which is the Puncak Guha Beach, which offers scenic views of the Indian Ocean from a plateau.

Furthermore, another famous beach tourist location in the district is Sayang Heulang, which has been revitalized by the West Java Provincial Government, so that it offers several facilities and scenic photo spots for visitors to capture memorable moments.

Several other beach attractions in Garut are the Karang Parenje Beach, Karang Papak Beach, and Cijeruk Beach in Cibalong Sub-district, which borders Tasikmalaya District.

All these beach attractions can be visited at an affordable entry fee, such as the entrance fee for other tourist objects managed by the local government, which is around Rp10,000 (US$0.67) per person.

Beach tourism areas in Garut are quite eminent, as they are always thronged by tourists, especially on weekends and holidays, such as during the New Year and Eid al-Fitr.

To improve the quality of tourism in the district, the local government is currently repairing several access roads to the region for the convenience of tourists coming to Garut. The West Java provincial government is currently also repairing several main roads to access Garut.

In addition, the Garut district government is coordinating with the Garut resort police in an effort to maintain the safety of visitors at tourist attractions.

Ensuring safety and comfort for tourists and visitors is a must in an effort to offer a good impression of tourism in Garut that can draw people to come back.

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Editor: Anton Santoso
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