West Java has the easiest access to Jakarta being merely an enclave in this province.
Stretching from the Sunda Strait to the Central Java border, a mountain range passes through the center from east to west and peaks into smoldering volcanoes.
This province has its own unique culture and language, both called Sundanese which is also used to call its people. The ancient kingdoms of Tarumanegara, Pajajaran, Banten and Cirebon would make interesting studies for the student of archaeology Cirebon is located on the border between West and Central Java, having a mixed culture originating from the ancient Cirebon and Banten kingdoms, resulting in similar customs and dialects of the two people, although Banten is located at the extreme western part of the province.
Bandung is situated 180 km southeast of Jakarta. The city gamed fame in 1955 as the venue for the first Afro-Asian Conference which brought together the leaders of 29 Asian and African nations with the aim to promote economic and cultural relations and take a common stand against colonialism.
The Province has a great number of attractions, from the wildlife reserve of Ujung Kulon on the south- western tip of Java and the isolated communities of the mysterious Baduy to the unspoiled beaches, the royal palaces of Cirebon and the world renowned botanical garden in Bogor.
The road from Jakarta to Bandung passes through a beautiful panorama of mountains, paddyfields and small holiday resorts. An expressway connects the crowded capital city with Bogor and the mountain areas, and onward to Bandung.
It has a number of sea resorts on its western and southern coasts which have modern hotels and are popular during the weekends.
The Sundanese people are soft-spoken. The women of the Bandung region are known for their beauty. A lighthearted people who have a love for bright colors, their mournful "kecapi" music is memory of beautiful legends.
The capital is situated on a plateau 768 meters above sea level with a cool climate throughout the year. Although it has a population of over two million the pace of city life is slower than Jakarta's.
Several institutes of higher education are located here, including the country's prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology.
There are short drives up to the mountain resorts of Lembang and the Bosscha Observatory, and higher to the volcanic crater of Tangkuban Perahu, the only crater in Java accessible all the way by car as far as its rim. It is an awe-inspiring sight of emanating sulfur fumes. Descent into all the volcano's 12 craters is only possible with the aid of an experienced guide, because of the presence of suffocating gases at certain spots.
Just a 15 minutes drive from Tangkuban Perahu is a hot springs resort. Here you can swim in warm mineral water pools, good for healing skin problems.
The resort provides visitors with a bar, restaurants, tennis courts and cottage style hotels overlooking a beautiful mountain-scape.
In Bandung, try to see the "Wayang Golek" wooden puppet show and hear the "Angklung" bamboo orchestra, as well as the classical Sundanese gamelan and dances.
Mang Udjo Angklung Workshop
One of the unique characteristics of this place is that traditional art performances are staged with a natural background of mountains, ricefields and plantations. Bamboo handicraft and musical instruments are made and sold here. Mang Udjo's "Angklungs" are well-known because of his fine workmanship and exact tuning of these bamboo musical instruments. His workshop is located in the village of Padasuka, around 7 km from Bandung.
Since long known for its hot water springs, Maribaya lies north of Bandung which can be reached within 30 minutes. The trip itself is worthwhile making, as you will pass through a picturesque road dotted with flowery hills and lovely villas all the way. The mountain air is cool and the sulfur-laden water just comfortably hot for swimming as well as for just soaking in. Part of the scenery is a 25 m high waterfall set against a steep mountain cliff.
Nusantara Aircraft Industry (IPTN/Nurtanio)
Vastly stretched out at Jalan Pajajaran, 6 km from down town, this is the only aircraft industry in Indonesia. To visit this place a permit should be arranged previously.
One of the leading resorts is located in less than an hour by road to the south of the city. The eastern side of the lake is a cool forest having an average temperature of 10 degrees C and is often hazy the whole day. The north side is bordered by a lush tea estate, reaching far out to the west and south.
Juanda Forest Park
This is a 590-hectares (2,475-acres) forest for research and recreation with native plant species as well as from other parts of the world. The Japanese occupation forces left a number of caves and tunnels which they dug out of these cliffs during World War II for the defense of the area. This highland forest park is minutes away from Bandung.
Situated just about halfway between Jakarta and Bandung, this dam was originally built with French technical assistance back in the Fifties, mainly for the purpose of generating electrical power for the region. Since then the dam developed into a multi-purpose designated area as it now serves irrigation to the surrounding arable land and fishery as well. Somewhat later, tourism saw a potential area for development as it now provides convenient facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, a camping ground, speedboats for water skiing and cottages. The water surface is enormously vast, the scenery tropical, the air crisp and cool.
Previously known as "Buitenzorg" (Sans soucis or Without worries), during the Dutch colonial era, Bogor actually lies closer to Jakarta (50 km) than it does to Bandung (120 km). Appropriately named by the Dutch as a town "without worries", they chose Bogor to be the site for constructing the first palace of the Dutch Governor General way back in 1745. Later restored in 1832, the palace still stands solid and elegant today with its stretched out gardens where deer roam freely on the green grass under majestically tall old trees.
However, Bogor is famous because of its Botanical Garden which borders the Palace Grounds, covering an area of 87 hectares with thousands of species of plant-life from all over the world, including towering age old trees and the rarest kinds of orchids. See the original "Havea Brazilliensis" rubber tree, formerly imported from Brazil, and world's largest flower, the Rafflesia, a foul smelling and stemless as well as leafless plant. When visiting this Garden, arrange for a permit to visit the neighboring Presidential Palace which belonged to the Dutch Governor General before Indonesia's independence. Doing this may be a day-long visit by leaving Jakarta in the morning and spend the night in the Puncak mountainous region on your way to Bandung the next day. Here again, the whole car trip will be memorable, as scenic tropical beauty all around is really astonishing. You will also pass by another smaller Presidential Palace at Cipanas, the setting of which is in a colorful and flowery vast garden around this wooden but stylish palace.
Exhibited in this Museum are mainly stuffed animals placed behind vitrines or glass display cases, arranged as if these animals were alive in natural surroundings. It is located on Juanda Street in Bandung.
Batu-Tulis Ciaruteun (Stone Inscription)
An inscribed stone in the Sanskrit language originating in South India, which is a relic from the Tarumanegara kingdom during the reign of King Purnawarman in 450 A.D.
Located on the bank of the Ciaruteun river in Ciampea village which can be reached by driving along the 9-kilometer road from Bogor to Ciampea followed by going on foot for about two kilometers.
Cibodas Botanical Garden
Located in the district of Pacet, 22 kilometers northwest of Cianjur, the Cibodas Garden Park, honored by its other name "Paradise on earth" impounds a 80-hectares area founded in 1890 for nature preservation purposes.
Taman Safari Indonesia
Animals from all continents roam freely in this 35-hectare park, 75 km southeast of Jakarta along the Jakarta-Bandung route.
Among the animals kept here are some comparatively rare species such as the anoa, rhinos, giraffes, white tigers and European, American as well as Asian bears. Adjacent to the park are recreational grounds with swimming pool, tennis courts, an artificial lake, a waterfall and a children's playground with facilities such as a circus arena, a house of horrors, a merry-go-round and a small circuit. There are also restaurants, cafeterias and other facilities.
Lido Water Recreational Center
It lies 21 km south of Bogor or 81 km from Jakarta. The lake is conveniently located along the route from Bogor to Sukabumi and Pelabuhan Ratu surrounded by scenic panoramas. Water sport facilities, a restaurant and accomodation are available.
Pangrango is a cool place at the foot of this mountain bearing the same name, equipped with the longest restaurant and swimming pool. It has ample mountain views overlooking tropical forests and hills and is located on the Salabintana Road, at 7 km from Sukabumi.
Located in the district of Cisaat, 14 kilometers from Sukabumi, Situ Gunung is a natural lake surrounded by damar trees. It is suitable for camping.
Pelabuhan Ratu Beach
Formerly just a plain fishing village it has now grown into a lovely holiday resort, more and more visited by holiday makers from Jakarta and Bandung, a mere three-hour drive from either city through cool mountain villages with picturesque sceneries. Gradually but surely this area will catch up with the pace of development as is the case with Carita on the extreme West coast of Java. Pelabuhan Ratu-Cisolok is a 15 km stretch of breathtaking beauty with hills, mountains and very wide sandy beaches everywhere around you, set against the deep blue Indian Ocean. Truly rare is the fact that thick tropical forests on rolling hills are found right next to stretches of white beaches. Taking walks uphill enables the visitor to look down on the horseshoe shape of the bay's coastline, whereas at night hundreds of fishermen's boat-lamps are seemingly competing with the star-studded sky above, which is both enchanting and romantic. There is one four-star hotel, the Samudera Beach, about 6 km from Pelabuhan Ratu, but several other smaller hotels and cottages are available at moderate rates.
At this virgin stage, this area represents unspoiled beauty in a typically tropical setting with hospitable inhabitants.
Because of its proximity to Jakarta this area is visited by more tourists from the capital than those from Bandung. Moreover, the highways to and from Pelabuhan Ratu have recently been greatly improved to assure you of a smooth ride to enjoy the sceneries you pass even better. Don't forget to the fresh seafood at reasonable prices. Good for taste, swimming, sun bathing and surfing.
On the southwestern tip of West Java is a wildlife reserve of 51.000 hectares covering the Ujung Kulon peninsula and the nearby islands of Panaitan and Peucang. The reserve is a dense forest and is the home of the last surviving one-horned rhinoceros of which only 50 remain. Ujung Kulon is accessible by boat and the closest departure point is Labuan on the west coast.
An entry permit is needed, issued by the Forestry Service (Perlindungan Hutan dan Pelestarian Alam) at Labuan. The dense forest provides a natural habitat for many species of rhinoceros, wild ox, deer, wild boar, panthers, crocodiles, snakes and birds. Visitors are only allowed up to the buffer zone where rustic accomodation is available on Peucang island where towers are erected to be able to observe the animals undisturbedly.
Marine life in the surrounding seas is a kaleidoscope of colors. Beautiful sea gardens are found off Peucang and Panaitan islands. There are no scuba facilities in Ujung Kulon. On the western tip of the peninsula is a lighthouse built by the Dutch which stands near the site of the ruins of the old one.
A stay of at least two days on the reserve is recommended where food provisions should be taken along.
This is the coastal area where the Dutch formerly landed to trade. Banten has few relics to show of its past grandeur, however, there are the ruins of powerful Moslem kingdoms such as the palaces of Surosowan and Kaibon, the grand mosque of Mesjid Agung Banten (1599) and a Dutch fortress and an old Chinese temple.
Baduy Cultural Conservation
The Baduy community in Banten is an utterly unique and closed society which can be reached via a 10 km village road from either Cibolegar or Cibungur village in the Leuwidamar district. The 50 km road from Rangkasbitung is steep. In April and May, the Baduy community is closed to outsiders, as during this time it commemorates certain ceremonies, called Seba, the offering of part of their agricultural products to the Head of the District, Sub-Regent and the Chief Resident. During this ceremony the "Puun of Baduy" sends out a group of representatives of Baduy Dalam people as well as Baduy Luar to act as the community's spokesmen. When conducting this Seba ceremony the Baduy Dalam members refuse to ride any vehicle, instead, the distance of 150 km is traveled on foot as proof of their perseverance.
To enter this very special Baduy area, one should obtain written permission from the Rangkasbitung District Office stating the purpose of the visit which may take one whole week to process.
Karang Bolong Beach
The name Karang Bolong means Rock (karang) with a Hole (bolong). This may have been some frozen lava, formed during the eruption of Mount Krakatau. The Rock forms a gate facing the sea, making it look very picturesque. There is a small forest which has been converted into a recreation spot. There is a river flowing down to the sea where people can have a bath of fresh water after swimming in the salty sea.
Salira Indah Beach
About 15 km from the Merak bus station is the Salira Indah beach resort, located at scening Tanjung Pujut.
This resort on Java's west coast can easily be reached within a few hours from Jakarta either by bus or car.
Dua Island (Pulau Dua)
Dua Island is the name of a small nature preservation inhabited by some 50 kinds of fish-eating birds. These birds originated from Africa, Asia and Australia and stay on this island to lay and hatch their eggs during April through August each year and fly back home afterwards. It is located in the Banten bay and is accessible by boat from Tanjung Priok sea harbor or from Marina, Ancol.
A rocky isle of 500 m2, it is located 127 km south of Rangkasbitung or 120 km west of scenic Pelabuhan Ratu. The isle functions as a tide breaker as well, so that the inward beach is safe for a variety of marine sports which would have been threatened by the menacing tides of the Indian Ocean.
The isle has a forest conservation park and rubber estate.
Traveling northeast from Bandung towards the coast, the seaport of Cirebon offers a wealth of culture and history. Situated by the border of West and Central Java, it is a combination of both. There is an ancient royal cemetery where a holy sultan was buried which has become a place for pilgrimage at the Astana Gunung Jati
In the city itself, the ancient palaces (kratons) of the Kasepuhan and Kanoman now serve as museum which are open to the public, exhibiting house ornaments, paintings, calligraphy and other art treasures of the courts. The royal carriages are sumptuous in design, one of them a gilded coach in the form of a winged elephant. Across the square from the Kasepuhan Kraton is the "Mesjid Agung" (Grand Mosque) which is of a Javanese "Peak" architecture and made entirely of wood. Cirebon is also known for its distinct batik, now a flourishing industry which may be seen in the village of Trusmi. Another specialty this city can offer you is a wide range of seafood, probably the best in West Java.
The Prince Sumedang Foundation Museum
Located in the Pavilion of the Sumedang Regency building, in which relics of Sumedang's ancestors such as gamelan, spears, crown and royal clothes are exhibited.
A typical Sundanese town in the highlands, Garut is surrounded by volcanic mountains and vast tea plantations. Around this area are a few lovely lakes and hot springs, one of which is at Cipanas where comfortable accomodation can be found. People visit these sulfur springs which have medicating effects to purify their skin. Mount Papandayan's crater is probably one of the most spectacular mountain scenes on Java island.
There is the Cangkuang temple situated by Cangkuang Lake which was a major discovery of archaeological value as it was the first of its kind found in West Java, dating back to the 8th century. Situated 17 km from Garut, but 50 km from Bandung.
Sixty kilometers from Garut, Tasikmalaya is known for its plaited mats, painted umbrellas and batiks of particular designs and colors.
The uniqueness of Kampung Naga is that in spite of its proximity to modern society, it has retained its traditional customs over the centuries. It is a small village in the beautiful mountains of the Salawu District, some 30 km from Tasikmalaya. Here the most important traditional ceremony is called the "Upacara Pedaran" which illustrates its age-old history and culture, held only once every year.
Accessible from Jakarta over a fair road, you can reach it in less than 3 hours, one third of which is over a toll road which is being extended to the extreme western part of Java in Merak. Here again, most visitors arrive from Jakarta as Bandung is more than 6 hours away from Carita by road. At present Carita and surroundings have definitely got more hotels and other accomodation than those found in Pelabuhan Ratu, and is therefore better developed. It is also located on the way to ferry-crossings to Sumatra from Merak.
Besides white beaches behind hundreds of swaying coconut trees, one panoramic highlight is the visibility of the infamous Krakatoa Volcano from Carita, rising above the horizon in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatera. You won't have difficulties finding a place to stay here as many cottages, hotels and camping grounds are all available, not to mention the inevitable seafood.
With devastating effects this volcano erupted just over a century ago in 1883, bringing its fine ashes with the wind streams as far away as over New York City, whereas the eruption's tidal waves reached the American West Coast. At that very instant, Krakatoa vanished as if devoured by the sea, causing formidable tidal waves which in turn swept off just about everything alive from the surrounding coastal areas. However, the disappearance of the gigantic Krakatoa also meant the birth of small islands in its place, one of which is called "Anak Krakatau" or Krakatoa's Child which is at present an extremely active young volcano. From both WestJava's West Coast and from Sumatra's Lampung Province, this young and very active volcano is clearly visible. A boattrip to this place may be worth making.
Pangandaran, Karang Nini and Batu Hiu
This is the second beach resort area on the Indian Ocean after Pelabuhan Ratu. It certainly equals the latter's awe-inspiring natural beauty, however, it has the disadvantage of being so far off from Bandung (223 km) and even more so from Jakarta (400 km). Road conditions are good, thus making the trip by car or bus recommendable. However, if you prefer to take the train, get into the Bandung-Yogyakarta Express train and get off at the Banjar railroad station about 4 hours later. From here it will be another 50 km by bus to Pangandaran. The beach is called Penanjung, where most of the cottages and hotels are located, however, of modest ratings. Nothing luxurious should be expected. Pangandaran is especially of interest to nature lovers, as there is a wildlife reserve in the vicinity where wild birds and other indigenous animals live about freely to be enjoyed by visitors. Here too, the white beaches are fine, the ocean ever so blue and the seafood superb. Twelve kilometers before arriving at Pangandaran you will see a huge rock on the beach which is called Karang Nini. A forest Conservation Park is located right here, which is another place of special interest to nature lovers. Nearby is a camping ground which has basic facilities suitable for the younger set. Somewhat further out, west of Pangandaran, driving 23 km on the way to Parigi, lies Batu Hiu, meaning Shark's Rock, which is a coastal rock having the shape of a shark. Close by a recreation park is found where you can have an endless open ocean view and enjoy nature at its best.
Fine paintings, hand-carved wooden statues and screens, silver-work, hand-woven and painted cottons and silks, batiks, embroidery, garments for casual wear, leather and cotton bags, bone carvings, shell ornaments, masks, pottery, ceramics, basketry, sandstone statues and bamboo furniture, are all West Javanese specialties.
Return to 'Travelling to Indonesia' Home page