What makes Bandung, a city 768 metres above sea level, a cool place? Get high on Bandung with this two-day itinerary.
Words: Ari Fajar
Day 1: Paddling Around the Plateau City
Bandung is a relatively small city by Indonesian standards, and most attractions are centrally located. As public transportation is not so dependable and traffic can be a nightmare, biking is the better way to travel.
8am Pick your ride at one of the bike sharing stations at Jl. Dago (Jl. Ir. H. Juanda) and make your way to Braga, the old entertainment area of the Dutch colonial period. Make short stops to take some pictures as you pass by the City Hall, Bandung’s Cathedral (Katedral Santo Petrus) and Bank Indonesia along the way.
- BikeBdg Bike sharing locations can be found on bikebdg.com.
9am After working up an appetite, you should be ready for breakfast. Visit one of Bandung’s oldest coffee shops, Warung Kopi Purnama, which first opened in 1930. Have toast with srikaya (coconut jam), pindakaas (peanut butter) or palmsuiker (palm sugar) spread or go for a heavier meal such as bubur ayam (rice congee with shredded chicken) or soto Bandung (clear beef soup with slices of daikon).
- Warung Kopi Purnama, Jl. Alkateri No. 22. 6.30am-6pm.
10am Continue to the Museum of the Asian-African Conference (Gedung Merdeka) where you will get to revisit the birth of the Non-Aligned Movements and the (then) newly emerging Third World Countries. The museum’s engaging displays show how Asian-African countries rose from colonialism and slavery.
- Museum of the Asian-African Conference, Jl. Asia Afrika No.65. 8am-4pm (Mon-Fri); 9am-4pm (Sat-Sun).
12pm Go to Jl. Braga for a walk through the memory lane on the street once known as the playground of the old colonial masters. Most of the buildings are dilapidated but a few have been reborn as spanking new cafes and bars. Stop by at Sumber Hidangan, one of the oldest bakeries in Bandung, to buy a bag of likeur bonbons (liquor filled chocolates) and saucijzenbroodjes (sausage rolls) before heading to your next destination.
- R.M. Sumber Hidangan (d/h Het Snoephuis), Jl. Braga No. 20-22. 8.30am-13pm and then 4pm-9pm.
2pm When it comes to café culture, Bandung is at par with other big cities in the region—with chic designs and as much attention to detail. But cafés in Bandung are unique because they are set in residential spaces, creating a more intimate atmosphere. Head to Jalan Progo and pick one of the cafes dotting the street.
- Cafés, along Jl. Progo, normally 8am-10pm.
Note: Although it’s possible to bike to Saung Angklung Udjo, it’s better to return your bike at this point and continue with other means of transportation (angkot, taxi, etc) instead.
3pm Enjoy various traditional Sundanese performances at this centre of bamboo-based arts and crafts. After a tour around the gallery, catch the daily 4pm show with a snippet of wayang golek (wooden puppet) performance, traditional dances (highlight on Cirebon-style mask dance) and an interactive angklung experience.
- Saung Angklung Udjo, Jl. Padasuka No. 118, Bandung. 10am-8pm.
5pm There’s something about looking at the heavenly bodies that elevates and stirs something inside when you feel the universe looking back at you, especially when it’s through one of the largest telescopes in the southern hemisphere. Be sure to book ahead, though.
- Observatorium Bosscha, Jl. Teropong Bintang, Lembang. Visitation schedule can be found here.
Day 2: Nature and Culture
As a city of higher learning with students flocking from all corners of the country, Bandung seems to have a source of limitless creative energy, making it ideal for aspiring artists. The city also offers great accessibility to natural beauty which made it a favourite weekend getaway since colonial time up to this day.
7am Start your day with the local breakfast kupat tahu (rice dumpling and tofu drenched in peanut-based sauce). The one in Gempol Market is a bit pricey (IDR 12000) for street food but all doubts will go away when you have a spoonful. The peanut sauce is so rich and nutty! It’s no wonder the establishment has reached legendary status.
- Kupat Tahu Gempol, Jl. Gempol Wetan, Bandung. Open 6am to 11am.
8am First photo op of the day. Officially, Gedung Sate is the office of the governor of West Java Province. Unofficially, it’s the most popular site for local tourists to do their selfies. Prioritise taking pictures of the landmark before proceeding to do a little people-watching at the adjacent Gasibu Square and a leisurely stroll around the neighbouring Flower Library Park (Taman Kandaga Puspa).
- Gedung Sate, Jl. Diponegoro, Bandung. Not open to the public (but hey, you can take pics in front of it).
9am Bandung’s Geology Museum is a nod to the area’s rich history of volcanology and geologic phenomena. Inside the spacious colonial structure you will see interesting collections of fossils, minerals and many more.
- Geology Museum, Jl. Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung. 9am-3.30pm (Mon-Thu), 9am-1.30pm (Sat-Sun).
10am Dago Hill is a cool respite from the city where you can find several art galleries. Aside from housing the artworks, the galleries also double as cafes where you can have your lunch while enjoying the view of Bandung from uphill.
- Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Jl. Bukit Pakar Timur No.100, Bandung. 10am-5pm (Tue-Sun); closed on Mondays and National Holidays.
- Lawangwangi Creative Space, Jl. Dago Giri No.99, Bandung. 11am-10pm (Tue-Thu); 10am-11pm (Fri-Sat); 11am-10pm (Sun).
11am Quite a number of artists found home in Bandung, including one of Indonesia’s most celebrated sculptors, I Nyoman Nuarta, who created Bali’s Garuda Wisnu Kencana. While the first floor of the gallery exclusively displays the proprietor’s own masterpieces, you can also see other artist’s pieces on the second floor of the building. Set an appointment beforehand if you want to join the workshop (minimum of three persons).
- NuArt Sculpture Park, Jl. Padasuka No. 118, Bandung. 10am-8pm.
1pm There are two methods to approach Mount Tangkuban Parahu (‘Upturned Boat’); by driving all the way up to the crater’s rim (the only volcano in Indonesia where you can do so) or by trekking. Opt for the second one if you have the stamina and you will be rewarded with beautiful scenery.
- Mount Tangkuban Parahu, 30 km north of Bandung. 7am-5pm; 7am-2pm (Domas Crater).
6pm On your way down to Bandung, stop and smell the rose, er, tea leaves at one of the tea plantations. Watch where the locals make their stop and follow their lead to snack on jagung bakar (grilled corn), ketan bakar (grilled sticky rice) and fresh milk.
- Grilled Corn & Grilled Sticky Rice Stalls, along Jl. Raya Lembang. Late afternoon until late evening.
7pm There’s nothing like a relaxing soak in a hot spring after a day chock-full of fun. Take your pick amongst the many spa and hotels around the Ciater area. Well-known among the locals are Sari Ater Hotel & Resort, Ciater Spa Resort and Gracia Spa.
- Sari Ater Hotel & Resort, Jl. Raya Ciater, Subang. Open 24 hours.
10pm As your 24 hours excursion draws near to an end, it’s only natural to close it with an excellent dining experience. There are several restaurants to try out, including Kampung Daun (Sundanese, Indonesian & Western) with its ‘dining amidst a lush village setting’ experience and The Peak (Western & Indonesian, wine & cigar) 1230 metres above sea level with the view of Mount Tangkuban Parahu and Mount Burangrang everywhere you choose to sit. Reserve your space in advance.
- The Peak, Jl. Kol. Masturi, Lembang. 11am-11pm (weekdays); 11am-2am (weekend)
- Kampung Daun, Jl. Sersan Bajuri, Lembang. 11am-11pm (Sun-Fri); 11am-12am (Sat)
And it’s a wrap for your weekend introduction to Bandung, a nexus of architecture, art, history, culture and nature which will get any visitor on a high!
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