My Java itinerary started in the big and chaotic Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Here I traveled as quickly as possible onward by train to Bandung. Bandung is smaller and less chaotic than Jakarta, but nevertheless a very large city with many buildings and traffic. I didn’t think the city itself was that special, but the surroundings, on the other hand, are. Bandung is located at an altitude of 770 meters above sea level and therefore has a cooler climate.
Many consequences of the Dutch colonization are still visible in Bandung. There are old colonial buildings scattered throughout the city, some locals speak Dutch and you will find real Dutch delicacies in some restaurants. Think about poffertjes and bitterballen, but you will also find speculoos in the shops!
Check out this article for a complete Indonesia itinerary for 2 months.
8 things to do in Bandung
As I mentioned, the city itself isn’t very special. It’s the surroundings that makes it worth to visit Bandung. You can easily explore the surroundings of Bandung by scooter, but also taking a tour is highly recommended.
In my hostel I met some backpackers who were going on a tour the next day with Fanji, a local from Bandung and decided to come along.
1. Kawah Putih
We were picked up from the hostel early in the morning by Fanji and his colleague. First we visited the rice fields and then drove to the large white crater lake Kawah Putih. Kawah Putih has a high acidity and changes color depending on the sulfur concentration. This ranges from bluish to whitish green or brown. The landscape directly around the lake is colored white and yellowish. Because the lake is at an altitude of 2430 meters, it’s quite chilly.
Despite the beauty of the lake and its surroundings, it seemed that we Westerners were still the biggest attraction. Many locals looked at us with interest and many wanted to take a picture with us. Normally I’m always in for photos, but once you start here, you will be standing there till tomorrow morning!
2. Tea plantations
From the crater lake we hiked for about half an hour to the tea plantations. We had a great view over the miles of green plantations on the rolling hills. It is nice to walk through the plantations.
Another place in Southeast Asia where you can also enjoy gigantic tea plantations is in Malaysia, such as in Cameron Highlands.
Our next destination was a nice relaxing change after hiking, namely the Cibuni Rengganis Crater Hotsprings. In some places boiling water comes out of the ground which is mixed with cold water, resulting in a lovely warm bath. The smell is just a little less pleasant, because it smells of sulfur (a bit like rotten eggs). But hey, at least you’re able to relax, right? By the way, don’t wear silver jewelry here, because they will turn black!
It’s also appreciated by the locals if you wear appropriate clothing while bathing. This comes down to wearing a t-shirt and shorts over your swimwear.
It is certainly not an obvious activity in Bandung, but it is something I will never forget! During the drying up, Fanji told us that we were invited to a Javanese wedding. Of course you don’t do that every day, so we unanimously said yes! We were not properly dressed at all, but he said that didn’t matter at all. The fact that we were Western was reason enough to be welcome.
The wedding location was beautifully situated between the tea plantations. We heard the loud music from a distance and were obviously stared at by everyone when we walked up. The family welcomed us warmly and we congratulated the bridal couple before taking a seat on some chairs. We were immediately handed plates and were allowed to take from the buffet. What a hospitality!
During dinner several family members came to us who were eager to have their picture taken with us. The 2-meter-tall Englishman and the red-haired Dutchman were especially popular. But I also have a lot of photos because of my white skin and blonde hair. After a few hundred snapshots we were asked to take the stage and of course you cannot say no to that. So we all climbed onto the stage where we showed our dance skills.
Before we left, we all had a picture with the newlyweds and the family.
5. Strawberry farms
The slightly cooler climate in Bandung is excellent for growing strawberries. For this reason you will find several strawberry farms in the vicinity of Bandung where you can pick the fruit and drink delicious smoothies. Entrance fees are around IDR 25,000 for the various strawberry farms.
As I said, you will find many colonial art-deco buildings in Bandung. Most of these buildings are located on the Bragaroad in the center. This road was the most important shopping street in what was then the Dutch East Indies. At the time, the Dutch wanted to give the street a European character when there were plans to make Bandung the new capital. In the street you will also find some “Dutch restaurants” with Dutch dishes and snacks on the menu.
7. Taman Hutan Raya
This 590 hectare protected nature reserve is located in the north of Bandung. The area is ideal for a walk and to enjoy the surroundings. There are caves, including a Dutch and Japanese cave, but also waterfalls (Curug Omas Maribaya and Air terjun Marbella) and a viewpoint (Tebing Keraton). Entrance tickets cost IDR 55,000 per person.
8. Saung Angklung Udjo
A completely different type of attraction in Bandung is the performance Saung Angklung Udjo. During this performance you will get acquainted with traditional Javanese dance and music with the main instrument Angklung. This Indonesian instrument is made from bamboo tubes that are located in a holder. Each instrument makes only one tone. You can imagine that dozens of different tuned Angklungs together can make for a beautiful orchestra. The extra nice thing about this performance is that you can also try playing the instrument yourself.
Tickets for the show can be purchased on site.
Accommodations in Bandung
Bandung is a big city and there are also plenty of nice accommodations in Bandung for every budget.
For example, I stayed in Buton Backpacker Lodge, a super nice hostels with both neat dorms and double rooms. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the staff very friendly. But Ostel by Ostic is also recommended by many people and has a very high rating.
How to get to Bandung
Bandung is located in the west of Java and is easily accessible from various cities.
- Jakarta: It’s easy to travel by train from Jakarta to Bandung in about 3 to 3.5 hours. A ticket costs no more than € 10.
- Yogyakarta: There are also a number of direct trains from Bandung to Yogyakarta. This train ride takes about 8 hours and you will be amazed by the beautiful landscape racing past. Tickets cost between € 5 and € 30 depending on the class.
- Pangandaran: You can take the route to Pangandaran by bus, train and taxi. The cheapest option is the bus. This departs from station terminal Cicahuem and takes about 7 hours. If you prefer to travel by train, you can travel from Bandung to Sidareja station and then take the bus or a 45-minute Grab taxi to the village.