Paris on Java
Bandung used to be known as “Paris on Java” because of the beautiful lanes, the art-deco architecture and many shops and galleries.
Bandung is also a big city. It is the third city in Indonesia with around 2.5 million inhabitants. The city, which is surrounded by tea plantations and mountains, originates from the begin of the 19th century when Gouvernor Daendels built the “Groote Postweg” (Great PostRoad). After the construction of the railroad in 1880, the city was truly developed. There were even plans to make Bandung the nation’s capital. For this reason, many buildings were built around 1920in the typical art-deco style.. Many of these colonial buildings have been preserved (although sometimes a little searching must be done among all new buildings).The climate is cooler than in other Java because the city is located at an altitude of 750 meters.
This makes Bandung a popular city to visit.
Bandung’s environment is also beautiful. In the mountains there are many viewpoints, vulcano’s and hiking opportunities.
Jalan Braga (formerly called Bragaweg also called Karreweg and Pedatiweg) was a side street of the Grote Postweg and in the colonial period was a luxury shopping street where the elite, who became rich because of their tea plantations, liked to shop. Many old buildings can still be found on this street. There are still many who shop here. People especially come for cheap designer clothes.
Hotel Grand Hotel Preanger and Savoy Homann are two colonial buildings built in the art-deco style. They are in the old Postweg (now Asia-Africa Road). Hotel Preanger has a small museum. In 1929, Sukarno, then an architecture student, helped renovate the hotel.
These hotels are also very suitable for lunch in a colonial atmosphere.
The Savoy Homann hotel is famous since 1871 and was especially known for the delicious rice table Mrs. Homann liked to make. People came from afar to eat and spend the night here. In 1939 the hotel was completely replaced by a (for that time) very modern building, designed by architect Albert Aalbers. The outside of the building has not changed since 1939 and the authentic elements (Art Deco floor tiles and stained glass windows) are also still present at the inside of the hotel.
Several famous people have slept in the hotel: Charlie Chaplin, Soekarno, Ho Chi Minh, and Willem-Alexander. The writer F. Springer wrote his book Bandoeng-Bandung here.
Back in the days Gedung Merdeka used to be the building of the colonial society “Concordia”. In 1955 the famous international “Bandung Conference” between Asian and African countries took place. Now it is a museum, dedicated to this conference.
The building “Gedung saté” was built in 1920 and housed the local colonial government. Now it is the office of the governor of West Java. It is called “Satay” building because the center piece is said to resemble a satay skewer. The building also houses a museum that tells more about the history of the city. Before “gedung saté” was built on this place, Andries de Wilde’s coffee warehouse could be found here, a large landowner who had a close relationship with Governor Raffles.
Next to “Gedung Satay” is the post office. A museum about the history of the post is housed in this building.
Sukarno studied as a student in Bandung and in this time he already spoke out for an independent Indonesia. Because of these ideas, he was jailed in 1927. The prison where he was imprisoned was called “Banceuy Prison”. The prison is no longer present. A shopping center was built on this place in the early 1980s. During the construction of the shopping center, the cell where Sukarno lived and the watchtower have been preserved and moved. A statue of Soekarno scan be found at the current location.
The courthouse where Sukarno had to defend himself against accusations has also been preserved. This building is called “Gedung Menggugat Landraad”. The original courtroom can still be visited as well as a small exhibition with photos and articles.
City tour with local guide
Discovering the city by yourself is fun, but a tour with a local guides will be even better. Through stories and explanations the past will be revived.
Saung Angklung Udjo Cultural Center was founded in 1966 by Udjo Nalagena and his wife. Their goal is to maintain the Sundanese culture. They make musical instruments and teach children how to play Angklung, a traditional bamboo musical instrument.
Music school students give performances every day. This program is filled with short performances in the form of traditional dances and music. You will enjoy the show and you will get a good introduction to Sundanese culture. You are more than welcome.
Volcanoes and hot springs
Near Bandung you can visit volcanoes:
- South of the city the mountain Patuha with the crater lake “Kawah Putih” (also with hot springs) and
- North of the city you will find Tangkuban Perahu (with hot springs)
South of the city:
South of Bandung is the “Kawah Putih”, which literally means “White Crater”. Compared to the Tangkuban Perahu and the Ciater hot springs North of Bandung, the Kawah Putih volcano and the hot springs of Kawah Rengganis are less visited by tourists. Kawah Putih is a sulfur lake in one of the two craters of the Patuha volcano. Patuha stands for “pak tua” which means “old man”. In the villages around the Patuha the people believed that Patuha is the oldest mountain and that the spirits of the ancestors gather here.
The colors of the landscape are unreal: the water is azure/turquoise and the sand is yellow. Because the lake is located at a high altitude, the atmosphere is cool. You can walk into the lake on the wooden platform.
Because of the high content sulphurous in the air, you cannot stay close to the lake for too long. The water contains so much sulfur that it is poisonous. Sulfur used to be mined here. Remains of the factory can still be found.
It is possible to climb the crater to get a great view over the lake and surroundings. If you don’t feel like walking, it is (often) possible to get a ride on the back of a motorbike (for a small fee). You can also make beautiful walks in the mountains.
Rengganis Crater hot springs
Near Kawah Putih are the Kawah Rengganis hot springs, in which you can swim. You can also swim in the river, complete with waterfalls. The hot springs are half an hour walking away from the main road, hidden in the forest. If you don’t like to walk you (often) can get a ride on the back of a motorcycle (for a small fee).
There are also artificial baths, with different temperatures. Some baths have bamboo pipes for bathing. You can also take a mud bath as a treatment, which will be good for your skin. You usually don’t see many tourists here. Unlike the Ciater spring, there no tourist park is built around the baths. This place is managed by the people from the surrounding villages. The view is beautiful.
Lake Situ Patengan
(or Situ Patenggang)
Situ Patengan is a fairly large lake located between forests and tea plantations. It is beautiful to take a boat trip here.
In the middle of the lake is a small island: Batu Cinta (Love stone). The name of the lake “Patenggang” is derived from the Sundanese word “Pateang-teangan”, which means: “keep looking to find it”.
Once upon a time there was a prince (Ki Santang) who fell in love with a simple village girl (Dewi Rengganis). Because of their descent, they were forbidden to marry and they couldnt be together. War broke out and they lost contact. Out of their deep love for each other, they kept looking for each other. After a long time they met again at a rock.
Here Dewi asked Ki Santang to make a lake for her so that they could sail together.
To this day, in the lake made by Ki Santang, you can still see the rock where they met again… the proof of a real… but impossible love.
Whoever now sails together around the rock will love each other forever.
So remember: you have to keep looking to find it!
Around Bandung are beautiful tea and strawberry fields. Here you can visit (or even stay overnight) at a tea plantation or tea factory.
The Tea Lords
The Malabar Tea Estate is at a two-hour drive South of Bandung. Here you can walk through the tea terraces and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The book “The Tea Lords” of Hella Haasse is based on this tea plantation.
This tea plantation was established by the Bosscha family. Ru Boscha is buried here and his grave can still be visited, just like the old tea plantation and the old plantation house. It is possible to spend the night on this tea plantation in a chalet at the plantation. Breakfast is served in the planter’s house.
You can also have lunch here.
Bosscha came from a family of scientists. After studying in Delft he left for the Dutch Indies. From 1896 until his death in 1928 he was in charge of the Malabar plantation South of Bandung. He was also co-founder of the Bosscha Observatory in Lembang North of Bandung. (The observatory can only be visited on Saturdays for individual visitors). Bosscha spoke Malay, Javanese and Sundanese. He founded a school (for free) for the children of his employees, which was very special at that time. A small museum is located in the part of this school, that still exists today.
North of Bandung
Tangkuban Perahu “The Capsized Boat”
This volcano is about 2000 meters high. The name of the Tangkuban Perahu volcano in Sundanese means “capsized boat”.
The story goes that a long time ago the beautiful Dayang Sumbi lived here. She sent her son Sangkuriang away because he was not obedient. The gods took pity on her and gave her eternal youth.
After many years, her son decided to return. He met his mother, but did not recognize her (because of her youthful appearance). They fell in love and even started to make wedding plans. Then Dayang Sumbi recognizes her son by a scar. She tried to end the marriage and therefore asked her son, who still didn’t not know that Dayang was his mother, to complete what she considered an impossible task. She asked him to pick her up on the wedding day at her house, in a boat.
Since her house is on a hill, Sangkuriang had to build a dam in the river to make the water to rise from the river to Dayang’s house. He also had to build a big boat before the sun was rising.
Sangkuriang was so eager to get married that he begged for mythical powers to help him. He cut down a large tree and made a beautiful wedding boat. (The stump of this tree can still be seen. This is Mount Bukit Tunggul). His hard work progressed quickly and Dayang Sumbi, fearful that her son would succeed in fulfilling his mission, aid a red carpet in the East, giving the impression that the sun had risen. Her son, who indeed thought that the sun had already risen and that he had failed, kicked the dam away out of frustration and a major flood left the boat upside down.
The boat can still be seen: the boat is upside down, on top of the volcano. And if you look down over the rim of the crater, you can still see the wedding fire glowing.
The volcano has three different craters. Kawah Ratu is easy to reach. You can drive to the top by car.
Domas Crater is further down, after about an hour of walking you will reach this crater. You can do this walk (until 2 pm) with a local guide. This crater has a sulfur smell. With this guide you can approach the crater and even boil eggs in hot water.
Upas Crater is the oldest crater. Toxic gas comes from this crater and can therefore not be visited.
The Tangkuban Perahu volcano is popular and can be visited between 7 am and 5 pm. In the morning the view is best and it is still relatively quiet. You’ll also find many salesmen and self-proclaimed “guides” walking along unsolicited. It is good to know this in advance, so you can calmly ignore it..
Ciater hot springs
(near Tangkuban Perahu, “Upside down boat”)
Sari Ater Hot Spring Resort is located on the slopes of the Tangkuban Perahu, in the middle of the tea plantations. At this local tourist spot with restaurants, playgrounds and pools you can swim and bathe in the healing waters from the springs. You can also get a massage near the water. The temperature of the water from the springs can reach 42 degrees. You can walk here with a guide from the Tangkuban Perahu or drive there by car.
Lembang floating market
Don’t expect the floating market to be authentic traditional. This is a beautiful park that was created a few years ago on a lake, which primarily aims for local tourists. You can eat delicious Indonesian snacks and buy nice souvenirs here. You can also get on the water by boat or paddle boat, and there is a kind of zoo and flower garden.