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Bandung, Indonesia: The Capital Of West Java

Bandung is the capital of West Java in Indonesia. With a diverse food scene, lush tea plantations, volcanoes and hot springs, modern shopping malls and Instagram-worthy cafes, Bandung truly has something for every style of traveller. 

Despite this, Bandung is not often at the top of the list of must-see destinations in Indonesia and it is often forgotten. Do not make the mistake of missing this incredible spot! 

If you’re interested in learning more about traditional Indonesian culture, specifically Sundanese and Javanese, you’ll love this place. Bandung offers an impressive blend of music, art, handicrafts, fabric, Islamic architecture, and food. But what else is on offer? Grab a cold coconut (minus the straw) and I’ll fill you in!

Flying over the mountains of West Java Bandung
Flying over the mountains of West Java is the perfect entry to Bandung. Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

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Best Time to Visit Bandung

Bandung experiences a cooler climate and a definitive rainy season which is often a welcome relief from the tropical heat and pollution in the city. However, since Bandung still has a tropical climate, heavy rain and monsoons can occur throughout the year. 

The low tourist season is usually between January to April. During this time, it gets very hot in the city with temperatures over 30°C.

Due to its location, rain can occur anytime, but the peak rainy season is often between September and December. Don’t forget your jacket if you’re visiting around this time! 

Holidays in Bandung

raising the Indonesian flag
Raising the Indonesian flag takes place on dates such as Independence Day.

Bandung has a predominately Muslim population. As most of the community follows the Islamic faith, the holy month of Ramadan is observed in many households. If you are planning to travel to the island of Java, it would be a good idea to check the Islamic holidays before you go. This is often a peak time for travel as families gather for the celebrations.

During the holy month of Ramadan, followers of Islam are called to fast from sunrise to sunset for thirty days, and many restaurants or street vendors will close until early evening. 

You may also find celebrations for the Chinese New Year and national holidays. For example, Indonesian Independence Day, known locally as Hari Merdeka, is observed annually on August 17th, and the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, known locally as Maulud Nabi, is celebrated on October 29th.  

Where To Stay In Bandung

There are several areas where you can stay in Bandung. Each area is typically frequented by tourists and has a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities. Bandung is a trendy weekend destination for domestic tourism, especially for locals travelling from Jakarta. If you’re visiting then, it may be worth booking accommodation in advance. 

motorbikes bandung street
Bandung city has shops, restaurants, and plenty of apartments! Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

City Centre:

Here you will find numerous shopping malls, a range of hotels, restaurants, and easier access to public transport. Explore Asia Africa, taste the delicious street food, or visit historical buildings like Gedung Sate or Cipaganti Mosque (Masjid Cipaganti).

Dago:

Dago is a surrounding area of Bandung in the highlands with trendy restaurants, shopping, and incredible city views. This area is popular with tourists visiting the Bandung Zoo and the Cihampelas Walk shopping district.

Lembang:

Lembang is situated high up in the mountains and benefits from a cooler climate and slower pace of life. You can find beautiful plants and flowers for sale along the road, visit the orchid forest, or stopover at the floating market.  

lake in bandung
Travel out of Bandung city and you will be surrounded by nature. Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

Best Hostels In Bandung

Bandung is known for its vibrant city living and there is no shortage of accommodation options. You can find something suitable for your budget, from basic capsule hostels to luxury suites. For budget travellers, hotels are affordable and are a nice break from the hostel scene if you are in the city for a weekend. 

1. OsteL By Ostic

Offering basic but clean private rooms with shared bathrooms and starting from around $7USD a night, the Ostel By Ostic Hostel is run by travellers for travellers. Boasting comfortable bedding, daily cleaning, WiFi and all the essentials that travellers need, the rooms start at approx $6USD per night. 

Choose from options including:

  • Basic single room (private) with a shared bathroom
  • Standard single room (private) with a shared bathroom
  • Basic double room (private) with a shared bathroom

2. Buton Backpacker Hostel

Bandung’s first pod concept hostel, Buton Backpackers Hostel, has excellent reviews that say it’s relaxing, with a really friendly atmosphere. You can select from either a private room or a shared dorm room, plus there is a communal kitchen and cafe area to enjoy. 

There is a 24-hour check-in desk making it a perfect choice for backpackers arriving late at night. Rooms start from $7USD per night. 

3. The Attic Bed & Breakfast

Situated in northern Bandung, The Attic B&B is a popular place for backpackers looking to stay a little closer to the airport. Guests can choose from a private room on either the first or second floor or a dorm room (pod style) on the third floor. 

More good news is that bookings include WiFi and a complimentary breakfast, all starting from $10USD per night.  

4. RedDoorz Hostel @ Dago 2

If you are looking for great views, fantastic food, and somewhere a little different, head up the hill and out of the city to Dago. There are numerous luxury hotels in this area, but you can find budget-friendly options too. 

Select a bed in either the 16-bed female dorm or 22-bed male dorm at RedDoorz, starting from $6USD per night. 

5. Ivory Hotel 

If you are searching for a hotel, check out my personal favourite that I always come back to. While not a hostel, Ivory Hotel offers fantastic value for money. Private double rooms are spacious, clean, and comfortable with a large bed, desk, fast WiFi, TV, A/C, mini-fridge, and ensuite. 

You can also sit back and relax downstairs in the outdoor cafe or order a meal in the restaurant. While not the most budget deal, this midrange hotel often has excellent deals on Booking.com with an average price of $35USD per night. 

Travel tip! Save money by taking a room only and skipping the buffet breakfast. It is easy to find delicious street food available nearby. Rice, vegetables, soup, fresh fruit, coffee; Bandung has an amazing and very affordable food scene!

Things To Do In Bandung

1. Kawah Putih (White Crater)

kawah putih bright blue water lake
A visit to Kawah Putih, or the White Crater, is a must-see if you visit Bandung.

Do you fancy exploring a volcanic lake? Of course you do! Kawah Putih is something that has to be seen to be believed – it is truly mesmerising. 

This is an outdoor activity not to be missed if you have the time to spare, and for nature lovers, it should be on your bucket list. However, be warned, visiting this now water-covered volcanic crater has one downside: the smell. 

The pungent sulfur aroma is unpleasant around the clock, getting even worse after a fresh rain. Kawah Putih was previously a sulfur mine during the Dutch and Japanese occupation, and while it has been a tourist destination since 1987, it was only renovated in 2020. 

A visit to Kawah Putih, or the White Crater, will take you outside of the city to a town called Ciwidey. Here you can also find natural hot springs, tea plantations, and strawberry farms. The cooler climate makes for a pleasant escape from the city. 

It is best accessed by car, so check out the price on Grab or Gojek (Go car) and talk to the driver to arrange transport for a day trip (approximately 50 km from Bandung). 

2. Paris Van Java (PVJ) Shopping Mall

Paris Van Java is a popular shopping mall located in the city on Jalan Sukajadi. It is a great place to hang out, shop, dine, or watch a movie. The mall has a children’s playground, large department stores, food courts, sushi restaurants, and a Starbucks. Great if you’re craving that homely touch! 

The decorative theme of the mall changes regularly to spotlight different places where you can take photographs or relax. Bandung is well known for its shopping malls, and Paris Van Java is my personal favourite. 

3. Museum of the Asian-African Conference

Bandung is well known for hosting the first Asian-African Conference in 1955, where the Ten Points of Declaration for the promotion of world peace and opposition against colonialism were made. This is referred to as the Declaration of Bandung

To signify the importance of this event, the Museum of The Asian-African Conference was opened. It was established by the Government of Indonesia and is a museum full of Indonesia’s diplomatic and political history. 

Located on Jalan Asia Afrika in Gedung Merdeka, the building houses a collection of magazines, books, publications, and documents. It aspires to educate students and visitors worldwide.

4. Gedung Sate

Gedung Sate is a public building that serves as the seat of the Governor of West Java. The name in English translates to Satay Building because the design on the top of the building looks like Sate (a traditional Indonesian dish). 

The iconic building also features a museum and manicured gardens and fountains. While it looks impressive during the day, I think it is even more beautiful at night. 

5. Enjoy The Cafes

Although cafes are not tourist attractions per se, taking a morning to relax in one of the many cafes in Bandung is a popular way to spend your time here. There are tons of options if you’re searching for good coffee and WiFi. The cafes in Bandung often have a mixture of modern indoor seating with a relaxed outdoor space. 

Some of the best coffee spots around Bandung are Naked Brown on Jalan Trunojoyo, Tjimanoek 43 on Jalan Cimanuk, Two Cents on Jalan Lombok and Kisah Manis on Jalan Abdulrahan Saleh. 

6. Bandros Bandung Tour On Bus

You can’t miss these bright and colourful Bandros Tour Buses!

Like the double-decker buses found in London, the Bandros Bandung Tour On Bus stops off at various hotels and attractions around the city. 

Named after the incredible food, Bandros is a delicious street snack made with coconut milk, shredded coconut, rice flour, salt, and margarine and is known locally as Kue Pancong. 

There are numerous buses in different colours departing from the Bandung City Hall Garden.

7. Orchid Forest 

Located in Cikole Lembang, the beautiful Orchid Forest houses a collection of more than 20,000 orchid flowers, including rare species of orchid from across the world. 

The most impressive part of the forest is the suspension bridge in the pine tree forest, which is an ideal location for taking photos at sunset. Orchids are one of the most vulnerable plants in Indonesia and they are also some of the most expensive flowers. 

8. Go Glamping 

Ciwidey is popular for camping and glamping due to the cooler climate! Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

There are many reasons to go glamping in Bandung and the surrounding areas. The number one reason is undoubtedly the cooler climate! There is nothing better than going on a road trip, arriving at your glamping tent, starting a fire and relaxing for the weekend. 

There are numerous glamping spots in the highlands where you can experience clear nights and fresh air. A popular spot is Trizara Bandung Glamping in Lembang. Spend time in Mother Nature and forget the madness of the city in one of 47 private glamping tents available on-site. 

For ‘true campers’ who want to pitch a tent and make do without the ensuite, there are campgrounds to suit almost every style of travel. 

I highly recommend doing a little research first to garner the popularity of the site. It is always worth checking the weather too! 

Also, don’t go without first stopping for outdoor essentials at the Eiger Adventure Store on Jalan Sumatera, Braga, Bandung. 

9. Gunung Tangkuban Perahu

Gunung Tangkuban Perahu, or Mount Tangkuban Perahu, is a volcano located approximately 25 kilometres from Bandung. In Bahasa Indonesia, Tangkuban Perahu, means ‘up-turned boat’ which represents the shape of the mountain. 

There are three craters to explore there. The volcano was active as recently as 2019 when it was closed down to tourism due to eight minor eruptions. However, now it is open to visitors again. There are even minibuses that shuttle tourists to the top of the mountain where you can take in the incredible views. 

For some travellers, this particular activity might be considered a ‘little bit touristy’ with higher entrance fees, stalls and souvenirs, and tour guides.

10. Saung Angklung Udjo

This Sundanese musical performance highlights music, dance, design, puppets, and art, and is wonderful to watch. The colourful and entertaining show is recommended for all ages. In case you were wondering, Angklung is a traditional musical instrument made with bamboo and it is used through this cultural experience. Discover more on the website.

Food and Drink in Bandung

fried rice indonesian food
A simple plate of Nasi Goreng (fried rice), grilled fish and spicy sambal! Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

When it comes to things that Bandung is known for, you can’t not mention the food. The city has a vast array of culinary delights to suit every taste and dietary restriction, and the best part? It’s cheap! 

Street food, delicious fried snacks, fresh fruit, coffee, sweet treats… the list goes on! Essentially, you’ll find everything you need to keep you going for less than $2USD, with most eats starting around 0.50 cents. 

You can buy fresh coconuts, rice, vegetables, fried chicken, fried rice, noodle soup, deep-fried vegetable fritters, and traditional sweets, all sold by local street vendors from their food carts on the side of the road. Not sure which drink to order? Check out these mouthwatering Indonesian drinks!

fried tofu
Tahu Goreng (fried tofu) can be found in almost every restaurant! Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

Small eateries called Warungs cook dishes fresh to order and usually have a small number of specialities. For example, if you want fried rice (nasi goreng), you can find someone cooking precisely that; if you want meatball and noodle soup (bakso), you can find someone selling it. You will be greeted with delicious (and usually spicy food!) and a smile.

Be sure to order your meal “tidak pedas” (not spicy) or you will get more chilli than you hoped for! If you’re not interested in street food, you’ll find a wide range of western chains like Mcdonald’s, KFC, Dunkin Doughnuts, Starbucks, and several cafes and restaurants serving international cuisine. 

My tip is to stick with the Indonesian food as it’s great in Bandung, especially the vegetarian dishes. Must try vegetarian dishes in Bandung include Gado Gado (mixed vegetable salad), Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), Lotek (steam vegetables in satay sauce), and any of the coconut desserts, including Kue Awug (cake), Klepon (pandan with brown sugar and coconut), and Surabi (pancake in coconut milk).    

street food noodle stand
A food cart selling chicken Mie Ayam (noodle & chicken soup). Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

How To Get To Bandung

Plane 

The major gateways to Bandung are Jakarta, the capital city on Java island and Denpasar on Bali island. Bandung has its own international airport, Husein Sastranegara International Airport, so you don’t always need to fly to Jakarta if you are travelling from overseas. 

The best thing is that the airport is only five kilometres from the city and operates both international and domestic flights. In addition, you can also find several affordable domestic flights from several major airports in Indonesia. 

Airlines well connected within Indonesia include Air Asia Indonesia, Air Garuda, Citi Link, Tiger Airways, Wings Airways, Lion Air, and Silk Air. From the airport, you can take a taxi to the city centre. The central Bandung train station is about a 5 km drive away.  

Train 

train at the station
Bandung Station has a large network of trains across Java. Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

Bandung has a central train station, known locally as Stasiun Bandung. If you plan to travel between Bandung and Jakarta, there are over 20 train trips scheduled each week, and the journey takes approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes. Train travel has become increasingly popular due to traffic congestion. You can also take the train to nearby cities such as Yogyakarta, Surabaya, and Bogor. 

Changes to the train schedule do occur sometimes. Therefore, it is essential to check the timetable before departure. You can check online at the Kereta Api Indonesia official website.

Gojek & Grab 

The everything apps – Gojek and Grab – will be your best friends as you travel around Indonesia. If you need transportation, deliveries, food, snacks, drinks, or groceries, almost everything can be arranged via the Go Jek or Grab apps, available on smartphones. 

These in-demand services are a popular way to get around the city, and with the immense number of drivers in Bandung, you won’t be waiting long for your ride to arrive! 

Wear a helmet if you take a motorbike (the driver should have a spare) and carry the correct cash (a small tip will make them smile). Alternatively, you can top up the application with a balance to go cashless which is highly recommended.

grab motorbike taxi
Use the Grab app to easily get around the city of Bandung. Photo credit: Cherie Julie.

Where To Go Next?

  • Yogyakarta: A hub for art, music, dance, and food, Yogja is a wonderful city to explore. Spend a few days or a few weeks – you won’t run out of things to see and do! The best way to visit is to take the train which is typically an 8-hour journey from Bandung. 
  • Jakarta: The metropolis of Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, home to over 11 million people, is about 3 hour drive from Bandung. This is THE place to go for exciting nightlife and a historic mix of cultural experiences. 
  • Bogor: This is the third-largest city in Indonesia, Bogor boasts tea plantations, mountains, volcanoes, national parks and botanical gardens. Take a few days out to wander this part of West Java which was once the capital of the Sunda Kingdom. 
  • Bali: If you are ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, you can be sure you’ll find a slice of tropical paradise in Bali. Fly direct from Bandung and you’ll be on the beach in no time! 
Cherie Julie | Travel For Change Collective

Cherie founded a responsible tourism blog, Travel For Change, in 2016 with the desire to encourage other travellers to wander with purpose. Today the blog has transformed into a copywriting business for mindful brands where Cherie writes on a variety of topics such as the environment, human rights, animal welfare and sustainable travel.

Find her on: Instagram

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