BANDUNG – X8 THINGS TO DO IN PARIS VAN JAVA

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A cluster of amazing activities, loads of things to do and unique landscapes surround Bandung, a city in the highlands and just a short ride away from the hectic streets of the capital city – Jakarta.

Bandung is also known as the Paris of Java for its buildings resembling Paris back in the Dutch colonial ages. And many of the European-influenced buildings still stand today.

When we visited Bandung for the first time we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Information about Bandung was limited and most articles/blogs and guides were written in Bahasa (Indonesian).

But one thing we knew for sure was that Bandung had to be a very interesting place to visit.

Because whenever we asked any of our friends in Jakarta where we should go next, everyone said we should visit Bandung.

So we sort of figured out that there have to be lots of cool things to do in Bandung besides the few tourist spots and activities that we knew about.

Through our own research and with the help of locals such as the homestay owners and a friendly grab taxi driver, we created a list of things to do while we were in Bandung.

The activities aren’t necessarily in the city itself. For example, waterfalls, craters, and viewpoints require a short ride out of Bandung.

But we made sure to keep each tourist spot within a reasonable distance so it isn’t too time-consuming to get there.

The list of tourist spots in this guide was created over two trips.

On our first trip to Bandung, everything was put on hold because we got sick and spent our days just chilling out with the homestay owners. While getting even more tips on places we should go. 

On our second trip, we spent almost 2 weeks in Bandung and made it a point to catch up with all those interesting activities that were put on hold.

In this guide…

…we are laying out everything you need to know about Bandung and the cool thing to do while you’re there. All in an easy step-by-step guide.

We will list a few areas where you should stay to get the most out of your holiday in Bandung. And most importantly what to be aware of in Bandung to avoid getting sick as we did.

Jacqueline Standing near a raging cascade in canyon inside the jungle

IS BANDUNG WORTH VISITING

There is no doubt that Bandung is a place you should visit!

Especially if you’re already in Jakarta and want to visit a place that offers a ton of interesting activities, then consider adding Bandung to your Java itinerary.

One of the reasons why Bandung is a good place to visit is because of its cooler climate. Even the mid-day sun is nothing compared to Jakarta.

So you can easily go out and explore for the entire day without feeling exhausted after just a short walk.

A guy chilling out on a hammock tied between two trees up on a putri mountain
A guy just chilling out at a sunrise spot near Bandung.

HOW TO GET TO BANDUNG FROM JAKARTA

Jakarta and Bandung are 2 neighboring cities in West Java. And getting from one city to the other is straightforward with a few different transport modes to choose from.

Before I get into all the logistical stuff, keep in mind that Bandung is a popular city.

So it would be a good idea to book your transport before everything is sold out.

Jakartan’s love a holiday break, so expect to find trains and buses between Jakarta and Bandung completely sold out especially on weekends and even more on festive days.

We learned this the hard way when we found tickets sold out for trains and buses during both our trips in West Java. And both times we had to postpone our trip from Jakarta to Bandung until tickets were available.

Either way, I suggest pre-booking your tickets if you have a fixed schedule and can’t afford to move travel dates. 

By Taxi

If you’re short on time, then a taxi is the best option. By taxi, the ride from Jakarta to Bandung should be around 2 hours which makes it an efficient way of getting there.

And if you leave early enough you’ll have an entire day to start ticking things off your list of tourist spots in Bandung.

A taxi is also the most expensive option especially if you are traveling alone. The cost is around IDR 650,000 ($45). Just make sure to agree on a price before you get in to avoid any complications later on.

A performer in a hello kitty costume collects a tip from a yellow cab taxi driver somewhere on a busy street in Jakarta
A street performer collecting a tip from a taxi driver.

By Bus

Every day buses and minivans travel for 2.5 hours from Jakarta to Bandung (and vice-versa). Both buses and minivans are an efficient and cost-effective way of getting to Bandung from Jakarta.

Prices for buses and minivans are around IDR 100,000 ($6/$7) which makes them a great option if you’re on a budget.

Generally, minivans are faster than buses. 

But keep in mind that in a minivan the space is quite crammed considering the van needs to fit other people along with their luggage and sometimes even other goods.

Therefore, I would suggest taking a proper bus over a minivan. After all, there won’t be much difference in the trip duration. And in a bus you’ll have a lot more space to wiggle around.

By Train

While a taxi or a bus/minivan are the best options if you are short on time, a train is by far the best option.

The trip duration by train isn’t necessarily a problem because it is just a little slower than by taxi or bus/minivan. The only downside is that trains aren’t as frequent as buses, minivans and taxis.

Trains aren’t only the cheapest option, but are also a lot more comfortable and offer stunning sceneries of the countryside in West Java.

Most of the 3-hour train ride will be along lush landscapes, rice fields, jungle, and rural areas which will make it an interesting experience in itself.

The journey by train from Jakarta to Bandung takes about 3 hours or less depending on what train you take.

If you ask us, taking a train is well worth the additional time it will take.

Train tickets cost between IDR 75,000 ($5) and IDR 200,000 ($11/$12) for VIP cabin. Vip cabin is very limited so be sure to book well ahead.

THINGS TO DO IN BANDUNG

Now that you’ve got a good idea about Bandung, how to get there, and some sort of perspective about the place, let’s get into some of the most interesting things that you should include in your Bandung itinerary.

Because there are quite a lot of things to do in Bandung and nearby. To give you an idea, we spent almost 2 weeks in Bandung and still have a few things on our list. 

But don’t worry, what we have listed below can be done within 3 days.

WALK ALONG THE PARIS OF JAVA – BRAGA STREET

Bandung has long been a popular travel destination. It was a popular resort area back in the Dutch colonial days.

Back in the Dutch colonial ages Bandung slowly became a resort city for the rich. Luxury hotels, cafes and shops opened up with most of the buildings still standing today.

For a good understanding of Bandung’s history and European influence, there is no better way than to take a walk along Braga street.

Walking along this street sort of transports you back in time.

Lined with historical buildings [some well maintained and others degrading that tropical trees are growing right through the walls and roofs] Jalan Braga is a place anyone should visit while in Bandung.

Besides being a pretty street, and probably the most photographed place in all of Bandung, there are a few other things to do while you’re there. Dotted along Braga street are cafes and places to eat and a mall.

There are also some Korean bars that serve food and are also quite cool to take a beer and chill out.

A photographer looking for his next shot along the sidewalks of Braga street
A historical dutch building with tropical trees growing through the walls and roof

HEAD INTO THE MOUNTAINS – LEMBANG

Bandung is literally surrounded by mountains that wrap all the way around the city. And in the Northern part of the city there is a region named Lembang located in Bandung’s highlands.

We actually spent half our days in Lembang instead of in the City.

Lembang is basically a cool place to stay. Like literally, in Lembang you can feel cold at night and early mornings.

A lot of the cool things to do in Bandung are already in the North of the city. 

That is one of the reasons why we based ourselves for a few days in Lembang. Because we were a lot closer to things we wanted to do and we never drove more than 40 minutes to reach stunning waterfalls, camping spots, an Instagrammable forest, and an epic sunrise spot from above a mountain was just a 15 minute uphill ride.

Fog sets on the villages almost completely hiding the small houses
Views from a sunrise spot in Lembang.

GO TO A STUNNING CASCADE – CURUG ASEUPAN

At the end of a narrow, short canyon and nestled away in the jungle, there is one of the most spectacular waterfalls that you’ll ever see further west from Bandung. 

For my standards of waterfall ratings, this cascade was pretty damn amazing!

Curug Aseupan is nestled within a narrow creek and surrounded in a tropical landscape. 

This spot is in a nature park named Curug Tilu Leuwi Opat. And in this nature park are quite a few other waterfalls and flowing rivers.

Basically, Curug Tilu Leuwi Opat means 3 waterfalls 4 rivers. That was quite self-explanatory when someone told us what the words meant.

Because Curug Aseupan is inside a park, you don’t really need to worry about getting lost in the jungle or anything. Unless you intentionally go off the trail like we did.

Once you get to the park, make sure to hire a guide or one of the park workers. 

The cascade is stunning but is also a bit dangerous near it. Everywhere is completely covered in the water spray and extremely slippery.

And one of the best things to do once you’re here is to actually squeeze through from behind the raging cascade plunging down into the pool.

Entry fee to Curug Aseupan is IDR 15.000 – $1

CURUG ASEUPAN – READ THE FULL GUIDE HERE

Jacqueline standing beneath the fall getting soaked
The contrasting blue and yellow steel bridge leads up to the waterfall. Here I photographed our guide waiting on top

AND ANOTHER CASCADE – CURUG CISANCA

There is no doubt that we love waterfalls in any shape and form. And although we have only listed 2 cascades here, there are many more waterfalls all around Bandung.

Curug Cisanca is one of the new tourist attractions near Bandung. And is located at the end of a charming town named Subang.

There is a parking area at the top of the cascade. And from there, a nice walk through the jungle, chilly pepper fields, and an isolated homestay, and down a flight of stairs carved out of the mud will lead you to the waterfall.

Once we got to the end of the stairs, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The stairs end right in the middle of a viewing area that looks directly on Curug Cisanca. 

And one interesting thing is that rather than just 1 cascade there are 3 waterfalls plunging down into a single waterhole.

The cascade sort of breaks up on its way down so there is no problem just going under it and taking a natural shower. Or taking a dip in the shoulder-deep swirling water in the pool below.

Entry fee to Curug Cisanca is IDR 10.000 – $0.70

The 3 cascades ar curug cisanca surrounded in jungle and plunging into a shallow pool beneath

GO CAMPING

Bandung is a popular destination for many things. History, the cooler climate, adventure, and also camping are all part of the things to do in Bandung.

And there are camping spots in just about every place that is worth visiting. Like near waterfalls, nature parks and epic sunrise spots.

We hadn’t really planned doing camping. But when we visited Curug Cisanca and one of the groundkeepers told us we should go and camp there, we were like no questions asked we’re coming!

The place is the perfect camping ground with various spots to set up camp. For example, you can set up camp just a few feet away from the river and a mini cascade.

Now how cool would it be to fall asleep to the sound of a flowing river and a small cascade!

And although it is a raw and natural experience to camp at Curug Cisanca, expect basic necessities like a toilet and a small restaurant made out of bamboo.

Once you’re there make sure to have a go or maybe two at the river-tubing.

You will need to jump into an inflated tire and float in a narrow river while the current transports down the river through patches of dense jungle, under a bridge, and a few bumps along the way.

I have written a full detailed guide about the place because it really was one of the most interesting things we did in Bandung.

READ THE FULL CURUG CISANCA GUIIDE

CATCH AN AMAZING SUNRISE – PUTRI MOUNTAIN

The reason we stayed for a few nights in Lembang was that some places were very close by. And one of the places that we just couldn’t miss was a sunrise spot high up on a mountain named Putri mountain.

From the town center of Lembang Putri mountain is roughly a 25-minute ride. 

The ride in itself is interesting as you’ll need to make your way up a steep hill as the air starts getting cooler. And along the way, the road will get narrow and take you through an authentic part of Lembang where chickens run freely in the streets.

The view from the top looks all the way over the villages beneath and a cluster of mountain tops and volcanos spitting out fumes.

We were also rewarded with an epic view of the fog engulfing the underlying village, while the sun rays shined through as the day slowly lit up.

READ THE FULL GUIDE ABOUT PUTRI MOUNTIAN

A village engulfed by the morning mountain mist dwarfed by mountain tops and a silhouette of mountain peaks in the distance.
Jacqueline on putri mountain blurred out and the image focuses on the mountains in the background

IF YOU WANT AN INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACE – ORCHID FOREST

If you’re into the whole Instagram place with cool photo spots, make sure to visit the Orchid Forest.

The forest is sort of a park with lots of man-made things where to take photos.

Although these kind of man-made places aren’t really the things we look for when traveling, the Orchid Forest is a pretty cool place, to be honest.

There are a lot nice photo spots all around the park. Like hanging lanterns and a cluster of ping pong balls floating around. Or small hobbit-like houses in the woods.

And the main highlight is a suspension bridge that zig zags through the trees which is quite cool if you go in the evening when it is lit up.

Jacqueline posing under a bunch of white lantern hanging from the trees
Jacqueline standing on the edge of a platform that looks onto a pretty suspension bridge lit up and zig zagging through the tall forest trees

AN ACIDIC LAKE – KAWAH PUTIH

Without a doubt, one of the most interesting and even natural phenomenons near Bandung is Kawah Putih. A crater lake that is quite different from any other lake.

What is interesting here is that Kawah Putih is an acidic lake due to the sulfur that is inside the water.

If you have ever heard of Ijen Crater, the world’s most acidic lake, Kawah Putih is like a small version of that.

Surprisingly, the lake constantly changes color from bluish to whitish green or brown. The color of the lake depends on the amount of sulfur in the lake.

Leafless and almost lifeless-looking trees sprout out of the yellowy ground around the lake. This gives a unique and rather eerie feeling to this place. Especially if you’re here in the morning before the fog clears up.

Kawah Putih is located inside the crater of a volcano in a region named Ciwidey.

From Bandung, getting there takes about 1.5 to 2 hours which will depend a lot on traffic.

But don’t worry too much about the ride, because once there, take a little bus that transports tourists 5 km up the hill. The lake is at the end of this bus ride. And nearby and just a short walk away from the crater are beautiful tea plantations that you can wander through and have a stunning backdrop with various viewpoints.

Jacqueline sitting on a rock near the acidic lake.
A wooden bridge crossing through the sulfuric lake

Best Places to Eat in Bandung

Bandung really offers some great places to eat all around the city.

But as I mentioned above we were sick in Bandung. This was due to our poor judgment when we went to eat from one of the food stalls that basically had no hygiene standards. And we ended up with food poisoning.

I don’t want to put you off eating the amazing local dishes. But you do need to eat from the right places.

The biggest problem is the lack of running water and plates and dishes being washed over and over again in the same dirty water.

So, a suggestion is to find a place that looks clean and has running water [or at least buckets with clean water] where to wash the dirty plates and cutlery.

Food that doesn’t require any plate or can be served on a banana leaf or piece of paper should be ok.

Another suggestion [especially if it is your first visit to Indonesia] would be to eat from places that have an actual shop. An example is Masakan Padang or other little warungs because they will have their own water.

OZT PORK RIBS

If you’re looking for a great dish of pork and you’re in Bandung, go to OZT Pork Ribs.

I can easily say that their ribs are the best I’ve ever had. 

I’m not sure how they do it, but the meat is so tender that the rib bones are completely detached from the meat. You can literally just slide the bone out with no effort.

That is how tender their pork ribs are. But they also have other tasty things like delicious starter of crispy fried pork with a side of spicy dip.

KAMBING BAKAR CAIRO

Here you’ll find lots of different dishes consisting of lamb. After all, Kambing does mean lamb in Indonesian.

We left the waiter to suggest what to eat because the menu is Indonesian and couldn’t really understand what was written. everything the waiter suggested was a great choice because each dish was super good with meat that fell apart.

THE HARVEST

If for some reason you are looking for a place to buy a nice and tasty cake, make sure to check out The Harvest. We came here to buy a cake for friends in Bandung.

You don’t have to buy a whole cake like we did because there is a choice of various slices of cake. Or macaroons maybe if you want. And even a selection of sweet and savory pastries.

Street Food

Then there’s the more traditional street food. Make sure to try a few local dishes. Just make sure the place the looks clean.

And the more people there is at that stall or shop, is a good indication the place must be good.

Definitely try Batagor

The word Batagor is basically an abbreviation for Bakso, Tahu, and Goreng. 

Batagor is tofu dunked into a sort of batter and fried.

That would probably be good enough. But then a peanut and spicy sauce is drizzled all over the fried tofu which adds a great combination of flavors.

Cost of batagor from a street cart is IDR 5000 ($0.35)

Nasi Goreng

Everywhere you go you will see stalls and shops with Nasi goreng written. Nasi is rice and goreng is fried.

It is probably one of the most easily found food in Indonesia and is a great meal to grab on the go.

The price for a nasi goreng varies from food stalls to shops. But the price is usually between IDR 15.000 and IDR 25.000 ($1 to $1.70).

Bakso

Another popular dish is bakso which you will see almost everywhere. From pushcarts on the streets and little portable kitchens on scooters or even in small warungs, bakso is a simple yet tasty food that is a very popular dish in Indonesia.

Bakso is most commonly a soup with noodles or rice. And the highlight and what bakso actually stands for are the tasty meatballs in the soup.

The price for a dish of bakso is around IDR 10.000 to IDR 15.000 ($0.70 – $1)

Masakan Padang

Rather than street food, Masakan Padang are shops. But since you will see them everywhere I decided to list them here too.

It is easy to recognize a Masakan Padang from a glass cabinet on the sidewalk that displays all the different dishes and sides available for that day.

Probably one of the highlights at a Masakan Padang is the beef rendang. It is basically a beef stew cooked in coconut milk and loads of spices and left to simmer while all those tastes soak into the meat.

Rendang was listed as one of the best foods in the world by CNN Travel.

Other things we like to add other than rendang are fried potato patties, fried tempeh, liver and a meal wouldn’t be complete without some spicy sambal.

A dish of rice with rendang and 2 or 3 other sides should cost between IDR 20.000 and IDR 25.000 ($1.35 – $1.70).

WHERE TO STAY IN BANDUNG

CIHAMPELAS

Cihampelas is one of Bandung’s most popular areas. Most people like to stay here because there are loads of things to do nearby.

The main interest here is all the shops, malls, restaurants, and loads and loads of shopping. Like, Bandung is a clothing capital and Cihampelas is where most of the local designer shops are located.

LEMBANG

We spent almost 2 weeks in Bandung and half of our stay was in Lembang.

The main reasons we chose Lembang were the cooler climate and the fact that there are loads of things to do up there in the mountains.

Interesting activities like waterfalls, parks, forests are a lot closer to Lembang than if you stayed in Bandung. And you’ll find a lot less traffic, especially during the week.

The downsides of Lembang are that it does tend to get busy during the weekend and festive days. And there isn’t much choice of western restaurants like burgers or pizzas.

DAGO

Dago is sort of the high-end area of Bandung. The location is between the City proper and the mountains in Lembang.

So the climate is cooler than in the city. And is also less busy than the city center.

Dago is probably the best option if you want to be in the middle of everything. Because the city is close by and the activities in the North are also not so far away.

Also in Dago and nearby are a few Universities so you’ll find loads of cool cafes and restaurants nearby where you can hang out, have a coffee and eat. And even make some new local friends in the meantime.

FINAL NOTE

Although Bandung isn’t a very well-known tourist destination with foreign travelers, it truly is a beautiful place and worth visiting.

I can easily say that the local people we met in Jakarta definitely made a good point when they told us to visit Bandung.

If you’re planning to go to Bandung, make sure to save the URL of this article. Or pin it to Pinterest for future reference. And if you have other travel buddies or adventurous family members, share it on your socials and let your friends and family know about this amazing place!

One last thingy: While you’re in Java make sure to visit the most impressive natural wonders in East Java because some are so unique you won’t find anything similar anywhere else.

READ OUR EAST JAVA ROUTE GUIDE

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