Back in its heydays, Bandung earned the moniker ‘Parijs van Java’ (Paris of Java). Tree-lined boulevards and graceful colonial buildings hark back to Bandung’s previous grandeur. The city is surrounded by fertile highlands dotted by picturesque tea plantations and fruit orchards which also make excellent vantage points for outdoor sports enthusiasts. To many, Bandung is a shopping paradise filled with factory outlets and affordable designer goods, whilst for the smaller spenders, it’s a recreational city filled with dramatic landscapes and palatable offerings.
Best of Bandung
1. Gedung Sate
Built in 1920, Bandung’s ultimate landmark got its name from the ornaments atop its main tower which resembles satay (skewered meat). The building now serves as the office of West Java’s governor. No entry is allowed except with special arrangement, but you can certainly take lots of photos in front of the complex!
2. Asian African Conference Museum
‘Sociëteit Concordia’, the former meeting place of the colonial Dutch was the venue for Asian-Africa Conference in 1955. See the walls filled with photos of the conference and get educated on the historic event as well! With so many neighbouring art-deco buildings, this is an ideal place to start your city tour.
3. Kawah Putih
The White Crater‘s lake reflects different colours of white and green depending on the weather, which makes it a favourite for pre-wedding photoshoots. The journey up is a beautiful experience by itself, as the misty lake’s allure is a picture perfect moment. Many stalls near the entrance sell strawberries locally-grown in the region. Enjoy them fresh or opt for an on-the-spot fondue.
4. Observatorium Bosscha
Established in 1923, Bosscha Schmidt‘s telescope is the only survey telescope in Southeast Asia. Plan your visit months ahead and remember to book your place.
5. Saung Angklung Udjo
Learn to play the Angklung (bamboo musical instrument, a UNESCO Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity) or enjoy a performance which includes Sundanese dances and the wayang golek wooden puppet show. Be sure to catch the daily cultural show at 3.30pm.
6. Mount Tangkuban Perahu
The only volcano in Indonesia where you can drive right up to the crater’s rim! Bury your feet under warm mud while cooking eggs in the hot springs! A treat for everyone!
7. Braga Street
Stroll along the street to see striking structures that once were chic cafés and boutiques catered to Dutch patrons. Come early in the morning to catch freshly-baked pâtisserie from the oldest bakery in town or drop by on a Saturday night for a weekly culinary event.
8. Shopping at Bandung factory outlets
Let’s not deny that shopping is the main reason why Bandung is crowded all year long! Factory outlets offering factory rejects, overruns and second-hands for branded items at bargain prices make Bandung a shopping paradise much sought-after by the brand conscious! Most of these outlets can be found in Jalan Ir. H. Juanda (Dago) and Jalan L.L.R.E. Martadinata (Riau).
9. Cihampelas Street
The street is lined with denim stores where you can buy jeans in any type, size and variances with vibrantly decorated shop fronts – an elaborate attempt to lure customers in.
10. Bandung Distros
Another unique Bandung phenomenon, ‘Distros’ are shops which carry fashion items made by local indie designers. Take your pick at the arrays around Jl. Trunojoyo and Jl. Sultan Agung.
11. Tea Plantations
Refresh yourself in the cool temperature of tea-carpeted hills and purchase some quality leaves to take home. With prior arrangement, you can even go horse-back riding and paragliding. There are several plantations around Bandung, including Rancabali, Malabar and Gunung Mas.
12. Hot Springs
Hot springs are believed to have therapeutic benefits so much so that taking a dip in it is one of the colonial Dutch Masters’ favourite pastime in the heydays. A short trip from Bandung will find you at Ciater or take a longer drive to head to Cisolok (Cipanas).
13. Situ Patengan
Situ means ‘lake’ and Patengan means ‘looking for each other’ in Sundanese. It’s a lake with a scenic view, being surrounded by serene tea plantations that West Java is well known for. According to local beliefs, lovers should go around the lake and visit Batu Cinta (Love Stone) to seal their eternal love for each other.
Green Canyon (Cukang Taneuh)
When the sun shines bright, the water turns from brilliant greenish to bluish. This is the best time to go on your scenic boat ride, body rafting and even leap into the blue from the high rocks!
Known amongst international surfers as “Little Bali”, Batu Karas has been voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia with its dark sand and wonderful surf.