This post was last updated on June 27th, 2020 at 02:30 pm
If you are in Indonesia and you’re going backpacking in Bandung and surroundings, you can prepare yourself for beautiful vast landscapes including volcanoes, crater lakes, and the typical green tea plantations. But that is not all, there are also great options for shopping and delicious food.
Regardless of what there is to do, it is good to know that Bandung is located between 3 mountains at 750 meters above sea level. This gives the city a cool climate, which is a relief if you come from the sweltering Jakarta, for example.
Are you planning to go to Bandung, the former “Paris of Java”? Then don’t miss our tips below. It would be a shame if you think it is just a dirty, busy place with polluting cars. Because there is more to see and experience, much more. The city itself may not always be fascinating, but the surrounding area certainly is.
1. Visit Kawah Putih – “White Crater”
Kawah Putih, also known as “White Crater” is a true natural wonder located about 50 kilometers south of Bandung. And really, that description fits perfectly. What a magically beautiful spot this is.
If you think that this is a white crater lake, then you are wrong. The color of the water is bright turquoise. The white is in the fairytale sulfur fumes hanging above it. This creates a brilliant effect.
Speaking of sulfur, this smells pretty strong. It is recommended not to be in the crater for more than 15 minutes at a time. You can get nauseous, get a headache, or a dry mouth.
From Bandung center, it is about an hour’s drive to Kawah Putih. However, with busy traffic, you can easily be on the road for 2 hours. Do not worry, because along the way you will enjoy beautiful rice fields and wooded areas.
TIP 1 – Bring a vest, because the crater is at an altitude of more than 2,400 meters, so it can get quite chilly. On average days, it’s usually around 14 degrees Celsius (~ 57°F) or less.
TIP 2 – Near Kawah Putih you will find the serene Patenggang Lake, more than worth a visit. In the middle lies a small island you can sail to.
2. Take a look at the active volcano Tangkuban Perahu
Have you ever visited an active volcano? This is possible in the vicinity of Bandung, namely at Tangkuban Perahu. Do not be alarmed by the word “active”, the last eruption was in 1983. So it was a while ago.
At a height of 1,830 meters, there is a viewpoint where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the landscape. When you walk down you can visit the Kawah Domas hot springs. Unfortunately, this is only possible with a guide, which means that many of the locals (can) impose themselves.
Unlike Kawah Putih, Tangkuban Perahu is located north of Bandung, about an hour’s drive (30 kilometers). You can just go there by taxi.
3. Walk through the Malabar Tea Plantations
The Cameron Highlands in Malaysia is known for its breathtaking tea plantations, and the Malabar Tea Plantations are well-known in Bandung. How nice is it to end up in such a calming environment after spending a few days in the city bustle? Refreshing right?
You can book an excursion in Bandung and go there with a guide who tells you more about tea production along the way. On the way you’ll see all kinds of tea pickers at work. This is how you learn how tea, the drink you probably drink regularly, is made.
One more thing: if you want to go for the ultimate local experience, you can stay with local residents.
The plantations are located 45 kilometers south of Bandung. It is best to book a tour so that transport is included. It is a bit more difficult to get there by public transport. Another option is to ask a local to take you there, which is quite common in Indonesia.
4. Feel one with nature at Dago Pakar
About 15 kilometers north of the city center lies Dago Pakar, which consists of 2 different parks: Taman Hutan Raya and Taman Wisata Maribaya. Below we describe some highlights of both spots.
Taman Hutan Raya
If you are looking for peace and want to be literally embraced by nature, we recommend going to Tebing Keraton, a cliff from where you have a breathtaking view of the wooded landscape. If you didn’t already know what meditation was, this is the ideal place to learn it 😉.
In the park, you will also find 2 waterfalls that are worth visiting: Curug Lalay and Curug Omas.
Taman Wisata Maribaya
Taman Wisata Maribaya is a bit further up north, which can be reached on foot from the aforementioned Taman Hutan Raya.
An absolute must is to walk to the Maribaya Waterfall, a hike of about 5 kilometers. Not only is this waterfall beautiful, the way there is just as special. You walk through the pristine jungle and breathe in the purifying mountain air along the way. In addition, there are 2 more caves to discover: Gua Japang and Gua Belanda, also known as the Japanese Cave and the Dutch Cave.
Don’t forget to jump into the natural hot springs, you will feel reborn. You have earned that after this brisk walk.
5. Visit the traditional village of Kampung Naga
Admittedly, this is not the closest place to visit from Bandung, but a must if you really want to get off the beaten track. It is a destination where old habits predominate.
Good to know: you will have to inform the village head if you are interested in visiting the community.
You can explore the area with a local guide from the town. He will tell you all about the local primitive life in Kampung Naga. We say primitive, because, for example, there is no electricity. You also get a look at one of the houses in the middle of the beautiful green rice fields.
The village is about a 2 hours’ drive east of Bandung. We recommend taking a look at this gorgeous place, especially if you are looking for a unique experience.
Fun fact: “Kampung Naga” literally means “Dragon Village”.
6. “Eat with a view” at Warung Daweung
Bukit Moko is a mountain in Bandung where you have a truly breathtaking view of the city and the mountain valleys.
We advise you to eat at Warung Daweung, which translates freely as “daydream cafe”, while the sun is setting. There’s a reason why this is the ideal setting to be there. However, we will not say much more about it, we would like you to experience it for yourself. 😉
By the way, if you are looking for more restaurants in Bandung where you can “eat with a view”, then we have 5 more suggestions for you:
- The Valley Cafe: One of the more famous places in Bandung with views over the city from the mountains.
- Dusun Bambu: Believe it or not, you can eat in some kind of bird’s nest here.
- Purbasari Restaurant: Eat lunch with a view over a soothing lake and adjacent picturesque cottages.
- Cafe D’Pakar: An ideal place to relax in the middle of the mountains. Order a coffee and the sweet bread toast, that’s all you need here.
- Sapu Lidi Makan: If you want to go for an authentic Indonesian experience in the middle of the rice fields. And if you like relaxation 🙂.
7. Breathe in culture at Saung Angklung Udjo
Completely different from the above activities is attending the Saung Angklung Udjo, a special cultural show where you can enjoy the local “Angklung” music.
It is fantastic to see how the locals, mostly children, and young adults, play their bamboo instruments with passion. The cheerfulness of these people is priceless, for that reason alone you should take a look.
And you can do more than just watching here. Some lucky ones are challenged to dance with the locals. Are you up for the challenge? 😉
8. Cruise across Lake Cileunca
Locally referred to as Situa Cileunca, Lake Cileunca is a restful place surrounded by tea plantations and mountain scenery. It is nice and cool here since you are at an altitude of about 1,500 meters. To be precise you’ll be in Pangalengan, about 50 kilometers south of Bandung.
Without exaggerating, it is almost meditative to take a boat trip on the water here and see all that beautiful nature around you, it is stunning. You can also fish here, something that the locals do regularly.
Incidentally, there is also a bridge that connects 2 villages, the “Love Bridge“. Why this name? It seems that many couples have found love here.
Do not expect crowds of tourists here, it is a place that is still fairly undiscovered. 🙂
9. Go shopping at Cihampelas Walk
It would be strange if we didn’t say a word about shopping in an article about Bandung. After all, this is precisely what the city is so famous for. The Cihampelas Walk mall in Bandung city is a mecca if you like shopping. You can buy (fake) brand clothing here at bargain prices, often of super good quality.
This shopping center is surrounded by many trees, giving you the feeling of walking in a kind of jungle. This makes for a cozy setting, especially in the evenings when everything is attractively illuminated.
Besides shopping, you can also enjoy delicious food at one of the many nice cafes. If you like spicy Indonesian food, try the “Nasi Ambeng Bali”.
10. Take a look at the construction of Al Jabbar Mosque
The Al Jabbar floating mosque is located in the Gedebage area in Bandung. This mosque stands on an area of 26 hectares and is located on Lake Gedebage.
The mosque was designed by architects from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). The mosque is expected to accommodate 50 thousand worshipers and will be equipped with a museum about Islam and a library. This mosque has not been fully completed yet.
11. Visit Museum Geologi
In Museum Geologi you get an interesting insight into the geological history of Indonesia, which was created by volcanic activity. In the museum, you will find chunks of lava, crystals, and meteorites. In addition, there are exhibitions with ancient bones and fossils, and you can admire the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a mammoth. The museum is located about 3 kilometers north of the center and can be reached by angkot (minivan).
12. Relax at Sanghyang Heuleut
Sanghyang Heuleut is a clear lake and a nice place to relax and take a dip. It is not only the color of the water that will impress you, but the large rocks and stones also make this place particularly photogenic.
We advise you to avoid the weekends, as many locals come to Sanghyang Heuleut. During the week you have a good chance to have this dream spot all to yourself. You will hardly see (Western) tourists because there is simply not much known about this attraction.
If you do come across a local, ask about the story behind Sanghyang Heuleut. For example, it is said that it was once an important seaside resort for angels…
And the floating market in Lembang?
We personally felt like the floating markets, like the ones in Bangkok, for example, quite disappointing. In Lembang, about 14 kilometers north of Bandung, there is one but it wasn’t that fascinating to us.
In any case, do not expect an authentic floating market, because then you will be disappointed. Rather it is a kind of theme park where you can try delicious local food and where many children are playing. So it is not a floating market like you are used to around the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
There is also a European House, a cactus- and stone garden, and you can take a trip on the lake in a pedal boat.
Personally, we wouldn’t travel for 1.5 to 2 hours to visit this place. It may be worthwhile if you have small children.
Accommodation and transport tips
In the last part of this article about Bandung, we conclude with some advice on accommodation and transport. For example, do you already know which hostel to stay at? Or how to get from A to B? We answer these questions below.
Overall, we think Bandung is a nice and fun city. The area is worthwhile and we always find city life very interesting. We stayed in Bandung for two nights and this was more than enough. We stayed at Hotel Ivory by Ayola Bandung, for US$45 per night, including breakfast.
This hotel is highly recommended. The location is very nice, in a quiet area of Bandung (at 30,000 IDR / US$2.10 from the train station by taxi). Around the hotel are restaurants and a number of trendy clothing stores. As soon as you step into the hotel it feels like coming home! Very nicely decorated and the rooms are spacious and clean. In their own cozy restaurant, you can eat well and drink delicious coffee! The staff are helpful but don’t speak English very well. If you have to arrange something, you are, therefore, more dependent on yourself.
Low budget accommodation
We’d like to tell you that it is not always easy to find cheap accommodation in Bandung. That is why we have another suggestion for you to stay the night: RedDoorz Hostel @ Paskal Hyper Square 2. This hostel is rated as one of the best and the prices are very low. There is a shopping mall, train station, and a food court nearby. They have beds with thin walls and a curtain separating them. It’s very similar to some of the capsule hotels you can find in Tokyo.
Furthermore, Pinisi Backpacker is a nice accommodation. They have great breakfast options and you can even organize some tours here, like a motorbike tour taking you to the rice fields west of Bandung.
If you are looking for a private driver who will take care of all your transport concerns, we can recommend Jacktour.com. Ask for Novan Alf and everything will be fine. Go-Jek and Grab are also recommended to get from A to B cheaply.
Do you want to continue by train Yogyakarta? Then arrange your train ticket online via 12GoAsia. You can also buy a ticket at the station itself, but know that this train is often fully booked for the day. The ride takes about 6.5 hours.
If you want to go to Pangandaran, you can take the train to Banjar (3 hours travel) or Sidareja (3.5 hours travel) and catch a local bus there to Pangandaran. Another option is a direct bus from the Cicaheum bus terminal, which takes 7 hours.
Finally, if you are going to Bandung from Jakarta, we recommend that travel by train. Along the way, you will pass beautiful landscapes including beautiful rice fields. You will be on the road for about 3 hours during this trip full of sightseeing.
Best time to visit Bandung
Of course, you want to keep it as dry as possible during your holiday. The chances of rain are lowest in the dry season. The dry season runs from June to October. These are, therefore, the best months to travel to Bandung.