Bandung, the Cultural Heart of Sunda Located in a Beautiful Highland

The capital of West Java, Bandung is the third biggest city in the country. It is the biggest city in the southern part of Java, popular for its title as the Paris of Java. Bandung earned that title during the colonial era because the city for its cool climate and beautiful natural surroundings.

Aerial View of Lembang, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, Asia
Aerial View of Lembang, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, Asia (c) Shutterstock

Bandung is the host of the Asian-African Conference in 1955, the conference that brought together many newly independent nations from Asia and Africa. This conference represents half of the world’s population and many legendary leaders and founding fathers of many nations from the two continents.

Today, Bandung is one of the center of education, culture, and economy in Indonesia. Bandung is known for the creativity and ingenuity of its people that often come with many innovations. There are lots of culinary and fashion trends that started in this pleasant city.

Bandung is also surrounded by many natural phenomena. There are highlands with magnificent panorama, otherworldly craters, great white water rafting options, and scenic tea plantations. Natural destination in Bandung is dominated by mountainous landscape with lush green vistas.

Bandung is also a welcoming home to those who want to preserve Sundanese culture. One of the most prominent is Saung Angklung Udjo that aims to not only preserve the traditional music instrument, but also educate the tourists to play and enjoy them.

Museums

Bandung, West Java / Indonesia - October 21st 2018: The Disosaurus Displays/Exhibits in the Geologi Museum via Shutterstock
Bandung, West Java / Indonesia – October 21st 2018: The Disosaurus Displays/Exhibits in the Geologi Museum via Shutterstock

Bandung is a historic city with lots of museums to show for it. The museums here are not just about showing the history of the city, some of them are dedicated to certain themes of science or broader area than the city.

Museum Geologi is an old one, opened in 1928 during the colonial era. As the name implied, this museum displays many exciting geological items such as rare meteorites, ancient elephant fossil, raw ores, and even Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil. This is a massive education tourism with an entrance fee of only IDR3000.

The Asian-African Conference held in 1955 in Merdeka Building, Bandung was an important worldwide event that brought together many countries in both continents to cooperate and creating a world order where former colonized countries can also prosper.

Merdeka Building was inaugurated as a museum at the 25th anniversary of the conference in 1980. This museum aims to preserve, protect, and manage all information regarding the conference and the present them to general public.

Sri Baduga Museum displays a complete chronicle of Sunda people, from pre-history to today’s culture. Artifacts from megalithic era, Pajajaran Kingdom, until modern life of Sundanese are shown here. Sculptures, fishing equipment, furniture, musical instrument, till furniture showing the development of Sundanese culture.

Saung Angklung Mang Udjo

Angklung (c) Shutterstock
Angklung (c) Shutterstock

Saung Angklung Udjo (Udjo’s House of Angklung) is a must-visit destination when you are in Bandung. This house is an education and cultural tourism destination where tourist can learn about angklung, a traditional Sundanese musical instrument.

Angklung is a musical instrument made of several bamboo tubes, producing differentpitch. Each angklung is tuned to octaves. In a way, angklung is Indonesian’s equivalent of handbells. Angklung is believed to have existed in the 12th century in Sundanese villages and then spread all over Southeast Asia since.

Saung Angklung Mang Udjo was established by Udjo Ngalagena, a student of Daeng Soetigna (the father of modern angklung). Daeng Soetigna created angklung that is based on diatonic scale instead of tradional pentatonic scales. Udjo had to endure difficult times trying to preserve and popularize angklung to general public. With perseverance, Udjo and his wife managed to make their angklung house as the most referred cultural center in Bandung.

Today, the house is operating at its full capacity, accommodating about a thousand tourists daily. Bamboo show is the most popular attractions with Wayang Golek demonstration, Helaran ceremony, traditional Sundanese dance, angklung orchestra, arumba show, and many more.

Tourists can also attend the angklung workshop where they can learn the art of making angklung. Their angklung will then be played in the show named Kaulinan Urang Lembur afterward. The tourists can bring home the angklung they made in the workshop.

Fashion shopping spree

Variety of pink shoes display on supermarker shelf in Cibaduyut. (c) Shutterstock
Variety of pink shoes display on supermarker shelf in Cibaduyut. (c) Shutterstock

Bandung is known as a fashion city in Indonesia. This is the city where you can get the latest fashion trend with an affordable prices. Even so, the quality is of the highest, comparable to the world class brands. In short, Bandung is the paradise of quality fashion shopping.

Cihampelas Street used to be known as the jeans street although now stores in this strip of street mostly sells t-shirts and accessories. You will probably get whatever you are looking for in this street. There is an unofficial rule for stores in this city. They must have a superhero concept, usually with a superhero sculpture in front of it.

Tamim Street is not as grand as Cihampelas but it provides an authentic denim experience. On the sides of this narrow street, there are hundreds of stores selling jeans and cloths. You can buy them in the form of fabric or an already made pair of pants. If you want a certain model, in a certain size, made from a certain fabric, you can get it custom-made just for you.

Move along from the center of the city, Cibaduyut is where you can get high quality shoes. Cibaduyut is an area known for a long time as a center of shoe making industry in Bandung. Here you can get a pair of shoes from the maker. The products here are already famous for its quality for decades. Many of the shoes produced here are exported to tens of countries around the world.

Dago

Landmark of Bandung From Dago Hill Mountain at Sunrise on Misty and Fog Morning. Concept of Utopia Future Eco friendly City
Landmark of Bandung From Dago Hill Mountain at Sunrise on Misty and Fog Morning. Concept of Utopia Future Eco friendly City (c) Shutterstock

Dago is one of the trendiest place in Bandung, especially the southern Dago. There are many shops, malls, boutiques, cafes, and restaurant in this part of the city. The northern part of Dago (the upper part) is known as elite residential area with land prices notoriously high. Dago was European’s favorite area during the colonial era, making this area an elite residential complex with huge boulevards.

Dago is one of the most popular area in Bandung. Every weekend, streets in Dago are always full with visitors, making this area heavily crowded. Cafes and entertainment centers are full with people trying to enjoy the pleasant city of Bandung.

The Upper Dago is famous for its wonderful view of the city. That is why in the last few years, there are lots of new fancy restaurants and cafes, offering great food with relaxing panorama. There are lots of uniquely themed cafes in this area, providing exceptional experience.

Apart from delightful restaurants, there are also several beautiful places, laid out naturally by Mother Earth. You can visit Dago Pakar where you there is a beautiful park with carefully made waterfall. You can also find great panorama of lush green hills while enjoying your favorite drinks at local cafes.

Ciwidey

Kawah Putih, translated as `White Crater`, is a sulfur lake set in volcanic crater in the mountainous area of Ciwidey near Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. The sulfur creates a green color in the water. (c) Shutterstock
Kawah Putih, translated as `White Crater`, is a sulfur lake set in volcanic crater in the mountainous area of Ciwidey near Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. The sulfur creates a green color in the water. (c) Shutterstock

Ciwidey is an area to the south of Bandung, with wonderful natural highland’s panorama. The town of Ciwidey is the gateway to explore several beautiful destinations; from the white crater to idyllic lake.

Kawah Putih (The White Crater) is the most popular destination in Ciwidey. This volcanic lake is set so beautifully against the backdrop of rugged hills. The water is white with a greenish shade, the beach has white sand, and the lake is surrounded by several limestone cliffs. There is an otherworldly sense in this place, somewhat feels like a place in the distant planet.

Situ Patenggang is a small lake with incredible panorama all around it. To get there, you need to go through a beautiful tea orchard, with its typical green hills. The scenery is simply breathtaking with tea plantation on one side and rainforest hill on the other. There is a resort where you can enjoy the scenery from its ship-shaped restaurant or even spend the night in their glamping tents.

Ranca Upas offers different experience as this place is originally a swamp that becomes the breeding place for Javan Deer (Rusa Timorensis). In Sundanese, Ranca Upas means the swamp of Upas, a certain flora found in this area. Ranca Upas offers a refreshing camping ground and water park. The water used for the water park comes from a nearby hot spring.

Located on the slope of Mount Patuha, Ciwidey is blessed with very fertile land. In Ciwidey, you can pick strawberry right from the farmers’ orchards. You’d be given a basket and you are fee to pick as many strawberries as you want. The strawberries will be weighed and you will pay based on the weight. The price is a bit more expensive than the buying strawberries in store.

Nasi Tutug Oncom

Indonesian Food Tutug Oncom Rice on white plate in restaurant via Shutterstock
Indonesian Food Tutug Oncom Rice on white plate in restaurant via Shutterstock

Nasi Tutug Oncom literally means rice mashed with oncom (fermented sediment from production of tempeh soybean cake). In reality, there are not much mashing done during the making of this dish, the stirring is more dominant. Oncom is grilled or fried before and then stirred along with rice. While stirring to make both ingredients evenly mixed, sometimes the mix is being mashed.

Nasi Tutug Oncom is usually served with side dish like fried chicken, fried tempe or tofu, fried corn cake, or fried mashed potato. Best place to enjoy Nasi Tutug Oncom in Bandung:

  • Nasi Tutug Oncom Pujasera Merdeka – Jl. Purnawarman Blok C2 No.10-12, Babakan Ciamis, Sumur Bandung.
  • Nasi Tutug Oncom Bobotoh – Jalan A.H. Nasution No. 112, Cigending, Ujung Berung.
  • Nasi Tutug Oncom Bi Kokom – Mikko Mall, Jl. KH. Wahid Hasyim, Cirangrang, Babakan Ciparay.

Seblak

Indonesian famous food Seblak, made from wet crackers and vegetables and spices. via Shutterstock
Indonesian famous food Seblak, made from wet crackers and vegetables and spices. via Shutterstock

Seblak is a relatively newly popular dish. Its main ingredient is boiled kerupuk (rice crackers) with some vegetable added with protein-rich like chicken, eggs, seafood, and beef. There are lots of herbal seasoning like garlic, shallot, kencur, and chili.

Seblak is not necessarily new, but it became a popular street food in Bandung quite recently. It then spread to all over the nation very quickly. However, many consider the original seblak from Bandung is still the best. Here are the best place to enjoy seblak in Bandung:

  • Seblak Jebred – Jl. Buah Batu No.184, Turangga, Lengkong, Kota Bandung.
  • Seblak Sultan – Jl. Sultan Agung No.10, Citarum, Bandung Wetan, Kota Bandung.
  • Seblak Basah Deu’ Tjenghar – Jalan Purnawarman, Babakan Ciamis, Sumur Bandung, Kota Bandung.

Karedok

A dish of Karedok. A raw vegetable salad in peanut sauce from West Java, Indonesia. One of Sundanese signature dish. via Shutterstock.
A dish of Karedok. A raw vegetable salad in peanut sauce from West Java, Indonesia. One of Sundanese signature dish. via Shutterstock.

Karedok is Sundanese answer to gado-gado or pecel. Karedok is basically raw vegetable salad served with peanut sauce. Traditionally, karedok is made from cucumber, cabbage, bean sprouts, legumes, eggplants, and lemon or Thai basil. All of the vegetables are then mixed with peanut sauce with different level of spiciness, according to the customer’s preference.

There are many variations of Karedok today, you can choose many dressing or side dish to accompany this delicacy. The best places to enjoy karedok in Bandung:

  • Lotek Kalipah Apo 42 – Jl. Dewi Sartika No.59, Balonggede, Regol, Kota Bandung.
  • Warung Lotek Macan – Jl. Macan No.1, Burangrang, Lengkong, Kota Bandung.
  • Lotek Mahmud – Jl. Mahmud IV No.9, Pamoyanan, Cicendo, Kota Bandung.

How to get to Bandung

Aerial View of Cikubang Railway Bridge and Toll Bridge, Cipularang, Jakarta to Bandung, Indonesia via Shutterstock
Aerial View of Cikubang Railway Bridge and Toll Bridge, Cipularang, Jakarta to Bandung, Indonesia via Shutterstock

Bandung is served with two international airports; Husein Sastranegara and Kertajati International Airport. Husein Sastranegara is located within the city so it’s much easier to reach and explore the city from this airport. The brand new and bigger Kertajati International Airport is located in Majalengka and a little bit farther from Bandung.

This city is also well connected with roads with other cities in Java. Leuwi Panjang Bus Station is serving buses from the west like Jakarta, Bogor, Lampung, or even Medan. Cicaheum Bus Station is located on the east of the city, serving buses from Sumedang, Majalengka, and cities in Central and east Java.

Stasiun Bandung is probably the biggest train station in West Java. This station is connected to all big cities in Java; Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Solo, and Malang.

What to do in Bandung

Aerial View of Pasupati Suspension Bridge, the Longest Flyover and one icon of Bandung, with Mount Tangkuban Parahu in the Background via Shutterstock
Aerial View of Pasupati Suspension Bridge, the Longest Flyover and one icon of Bandung, with Mount Tangkuban Parahu in the Background via Shutterstock

Getting around in Bandung is relatively easy as there are many transportation modes to choose. Angkot is an inner city transportation with a fixed origin-destination route, usually you can see it on top of them. Getting around the city can be a little bit complicated for foreigners, especially those who can speak Bahasa Indonesia. It’s best to ask around before getting on one of them.

Online and offline taxis are also abundant in every part of the city. You can get anywhere in the city with taxi, just make sure that the driver use a formal meter. Ojek (motorcycle taxi) is also a viable choice to explore the city.

It is nearly impossible to enjoy all of what Bandung has to offer in just one day. So, it’s better for you to plan your travel carefully and explore one part of Bandung at one time. West Bandung is mostly industrial area and where the airport is located. The northern part of the city has the cooler climate compared to other parts. This is where most upscale residential area, malls, factory outlets, and universities are located. If you go further north, you will reach Lembang with its beautiful landscapes. Note that you might need a day to enjoy most of destinations in Lembang.

The central part of the city is understandably the center of administrations, both for the city and the West java Province. Here you can see many historic buildings, including Gedung Sate, City Hall, Bandung Station, and several other malls. There are also Chinatown and bazaar-style Pasar baru.

The southern part of the city doesn’t have many tourist destinations, unless you go all the way south to Ciwidey where there are lots of attractions. The eastern part of the city is mostly residential area but this is where you can find Saung Angklung Mang Udjo.

Best hotels in Bandung

Hilton Bandung. via Instagram/
Hilton Bandung. via Instagram/hiltonbandung
  • Courtyard by Marriott Bandung Dago – Jl. Ir. H.Djuanda No.33, Tamansari, Bandung Wetan, Kota Bandung – Starts from IDR867,169.
  • Novotel Bandung – Jl. Cihampelas No.23-25, Pasir Kaliki, Cicendo, Kota Bandung – Starts from IDR617,419
  • Hilton Bandung – Jalan HOS. Tjokroaminoto No.41-43, Arjuna, Cicendo, Kota Bandung – Starts from IDR1,186.094
  • Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers – Jl. Ir. H.Djuanda No.390, Dago, Coblong, Kota Bandung – Starts from IDR1,252,737.
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Bandung ciwidey Dago Lembang
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