Bandung, Indonesia’s third largest city and capital of West Java, is in a magical location surrounded by the lush and beautiful Parahyangan mountains, the Tangkuban Perahu volcano and on the Cikapundung river basin. Nicknamed Paris of Java and/or Flower City, Bandung is popular with tourists and locals alike for fun, gastronomy, outdoor sports and adventure activities. Clothes and food shopping at the many different style establishments can be an interesting experience; there are also many distribution outlets (Distros).
Bandung was originally a resort city for the, mainly Dutch colonial mountain plantation owners. Hence the association with the luxurious lifestyle. Since Independence in 1945, Bandung’s urbanization programme has been frantic.
Getting there from Jakarta is by either airplane (Husein Sastranegara Airport, narrow-body planes only) or via roads (choose between the beautiful but perilous mountainous journey through Puncak or the toll road) using coaches, mini-vans or private cars. But it’s the slow train journey that’s the one to opt for, with unparalleled views through the mountains, gorges and paddy terraces. Getting around Bandung may be frustrating, with small public minibuses (angkot) being the normal mode – but check out journey prices to your destination when you board. Taxis help when unsure of routes, again, agree a price on entry. Some buses do exist, but their routes are limited.
Some very well preserved buildings from the 18th/early 19th century in the classic Dutch colonial style (old Bandung era) and in the later art-deco style, still exist; mainly because of conservation orders. C.P.W. Schoemaker’s Villa Isola, Gedung Merdeka, Cipaganti mosque and the Majestic theatre are exceptional.
The Bosscha Observatory, Indonesia’s only one, can be visited by advance reservation. The Art-Deco Geological Museum features the geology of Indonesia and (of) human life; the Mandala Wangsit Siliwangi Museum, Sri Baduga Maharaja Museum and Pos dan Giro Museum in Gedung Sate are worth visiting.
Local delicacies such as Batagor and bakso tahu/sioma (steamed meat) from a street vendor are must-try snacks, as is the spicy fried meatballs Basreng dish. Martabak (fried stuffed pancakes), Mie Kocok (noodle soup), Lotek (mixed boiled vegetables) and the old traditional chicken soup/coconut milk/turmeric dish Laksa Bandung are also very appetising.
Posted : Thursday, October 18th, 2012 at 10:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save