Bandung is known as the Paris of Indonesia for several good reasons. Its Dutch colonial heritage means that it’s filled with luxurious, European-inspired architecture. At 768 meters above sea level and about 140 kilometres away from Jakarta, Bandung has a cooler climate than most Indonesian cities. And not to forget, its lush, rolling terrain makes it the kind of destination that travellers from all over the world visit to renew their body, mind and soul. Here are our top 8 things to do when you get there:
Explore Bandung’s Top Attractions
1. See an Active Volcano Up Close
Tangkuban Perahu. / CC BY 2.0 Jean-Marie Hullot
Bandung lies on a river basin that’s surrounded by active volcanoes, with Tangkuban Perahu being one of the few that can be experienced up close.
Named after its ‘upturned boat’ shape (and the mountain does resemble one from a distance on clear days), Tangkuban Perahu — a 30-kilometre journey from Bandung — is easily accessible via a scenic drive up north. You can walk right up to the edge of its main crater, Kawah Ratu, a massive, bowl-shaped structure that’s 500 meters deep.
To take in the mountain in all its volcanic glory, make your way to the edge of Kawah Ratu, then past Kawah Upas and onwards to Kawah Domas, where you be able to soak your tired feet in one of its hot springs. The hot water is said to have therapeutic properties for the skin. Surrounding these craters are lush forests where you might spot wild monkeys taking a peek at you, and warungs (small cafes) where you can sample the local flavours.
It’s best to visit Tangkuban Perahu early in the morning to beat the crowds and clouds, both of which tend to roll in, in the late morning.
2. Soak in the Beauty of a Crater Lake
Kawah Putih. / CC BY-ND 2.0 mo_ko-na
One of the two craters that make up Mount Patuha is Kawah Putih that literally means white crater — thanks to the colour of its lake.
When viewed from a distance, its waters look like turquoise-tinged milk, and when viewed up close, the first thing that hits you is its overpowering, unmistakable stench because of the crater’s high concentration of sulphur.
Because its waters are so acidic, there’s little you can do here (not even toe-dipping). But its surreal, breathtaking beauty makes up for these limitations!
3. Bandung Food – Taste the Essence of Bandung
No soul-awakening journey is complete without a means to nourish the body, and in Bandung, delicious food comes aplenty.
As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So when you’re in Bandung, you must give the local flavours a go. Your first stop: Saung Gawir Resto in Ciwidey — a cosy hillside restaurant built entirely from bamboo that specialises in Sundanese cuisine.
East meets West in a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes at The Stone Cafe. / The Stone Cafe (@jenskie81).
Here, you can sample their grilled specialities and local versions of Singaporean favourites such as otak-otak, mutton fried rice, satay and fried spring chicken — all taken in with the view of a strawberry field.
If it’s a blend of Bandung’s Indonesian and European influences that you’re after, then you need to head over to The Stone Cafe, which comes with an added bonus: stunning views of the area’s lush, tropical surroundings.
Choose from the restaurant’s selection of soups, meaty mains, pizzas, rice dishes that come with generous portions of spice-rich sauces and Western desserts. Dining here in the evening? You’ll get to enjoy a couple of extra touches in the form of a cool, crisp breeze and music from the restaurant’s live band.
To continue your sampling of Bandung’s varied heritage, make a reservation at Gianni’s, a hidden culinary gem in Cihampelas. Here, you’ll find yourself relaxing in beautiful, artisanal surroundings while feasting on premium wagyu beef, oxtail soup (a local favourite), seafood and mouth-watering desserts, all at down-to-earth prices.
4) Shopping in Bandung – Score a Great Bargain
Your Bandung journey will not be complete without a trip to 2 of the city’s retail hotspots — Rumah Mode and Cihempelas Walk, especially if shopping lights your fire.
Rumah Mode / Calvin Teo, Entree Kibbles
Rumah Mode is the go-to factory outlet heaven for shop-till-you-drop bliss. Expect to find a wide selection of local and international designer brands at unbeatable prices, as well as plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can nourish and replenish your energy stores before heading back into a shopping frenzy.
Cihempelas Walk. / CC BY 3.0 Midori
Cihempelas Walk, on the other hand, is dubbed The Greatest Shopping Centre In Bandung for numerous reasons: a beautifully-designed mall experience with a stunning skywalk arena, a wide-enough selection of stores to set any shopaholic’s heart aflutter, and plenty of F&B outlets to satisfy your inner foodie.
5) Floating Markets
If you’re a fan of the floating markets in Thailand, you’ll love the similar, albeit smaller Lembang Floating Market, not far from Tangkuban Perahu.
Lembah Bandung. / CC BY-SA 2.0 Everyone Sinks Starco
Located on the picturesque Situ Umar lake, Lembang Floating Market is filled with hidden gems — including colourful little boats where you’ll find a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, Indonesian delicacies, cakes and pastries being sold — that’ll take you hours to discover. To buy anything within the market, you’ll need to purchase tokens, as you would in a theme park or carnival setting.
There are lots of souvenir shops and restaurants along the side of the lake where you can take a breather. You also can bring your children to visit the miniature petting zoo as well as a traditional Indonesian village replica called Kampung Leuit.
6) Wander off the Beaten Track
Looking for a fresh perspective on life from higher ground? This is exactly what you’ll experience, and more at Tebing Keraton (which when translated, literally means ‘palace cliff’).
Tebing Keraton / CC BY 2.0 Agustinus Dimas
Located a mere 13 km from the Bandung city centre and 1,200 meters above sea level, Tebing Keraton is accessible by car up to a certain point. You have to conquer the remaining 2 km by foot or motorcycle (you can ride one yourself or hire a guide to ride one for you).
The final leg of your journey up will be a little rocky, but well worth the view once you get to the cliff. From here, you’ll see Bandung’s green hills, winding rivers, rice paddies, lush tropical forests and the undulating lines of its mountains, making Tebing Keraton the perfect spot to catch the sunrise (at around 5.30AM) and sunset (at around 5.15PM).
7. Awaken your Senses with Bandung Culture
Saung Angklung Udjo./ CC BY 3.0 Midori
To look into the window of Bandung’s soul is to experience Saung Angklung Udjo — a cultural immersion space that’s aimed at preserving the Sundanese way of living, art and use of the angklung — a musical instrument made from bamboo tubes of varying lengths.
Here, you’ll be able to watch and participate in traditional bamboo music and dance performances including the tari topeng (mask dance) and wayang golek (shadow puppetry). They also offer a more hands-on experience such as making bamboo instruments.
8. Wake up to Breathtaking Views
The important part of your soul journey is waking up feeling calm, relaxed and focused. A great way to do is to surround yourself with the natural beauty of Bandung at Padma Hotel. Just minutes away from the city centre, you’ll rise to breathtaking hill views and have your every need taken care of by the hotel’s butler service.
If you’re looking for a hotel that embodies Bandung’s European roots, you’ll fall in love with Park View Hotel’s Parisian-style architecture and interior. The hotel is a mere 15-minute walk away from Rumah Mode, Paris Van Java Mall and Cihampelas Walk, just in case the shopping bug bites.
For those who prefer a sleek, modern and minimalist ambience and easy access to Bandung’s city centre, the Hilton Bandung will check these boxes on your holiday list. Located in the heart of Bandung, Hilton Bandung will serve as the ideal home base for you to return to after your daily adventures for a good night’s sleep and refreshing setting to start your day.
Now that you’re all set, it’s time to get started on your body, mind and soul-nourishing journey to Bandung!
Best time to go
Best Time To Visit Bandung
Bandung is accessible all-year-round, but the best time to head there are the dry months of June until September to avoid the crowd. The weather is cooler during the wet monsoon seasons of October until March.