Paris of Java often referred to as the City of Flowers, Bandung is the provincial capital of West Java and Indonesia’s third largest city. Its nickname comes as much from the beautiful flowers found around the city as from the fact that colonial Bandung ‘blossomed’ into a hub of economic and social activity in the 1920s.
During colonial times, Bandung was also nicknamed the ‘Paris of Java’ by the Dutch thanks to its European ambiance and sophistication as well as its resemblance to Paris. Bandung still retains that vibe today, as a beautiful city surrounded by lush Parahyangan mountains, rich with Tropical Deco architecture, and alive with some of the country’s best universities, artists, and musical performers.
As the city is situated on a plateau 768 meters above sea level, the weather is cool and balmy as well and Bandung has quickly become a favorite getaway in Java, as well as the perfect gateway to many other beautiful destinations nearby.
Best Time to Visit Bandung, Paris of Java
Bandung has two seasons – the wet season and the dry season. It’s pretty difficult to predict weather conditions in Bandung, but in general – the wet season lasts from around October to March and the dry season stretches form about June to September. April and May is generally okay, but there might still be occasional downpours.
It’s best to visit Bandung during the summer months – June to September – since rains can be heavy and cause flooding and blocked roads.
Bandung’s summers are also not as hot as the rest of Indonesia, which makes it a great time to visit. As part of the tropics, Bandung is fairly warm year-round but it’s located at a higher altitude and has slightly cooler temperatures than the rest of Indonesia, with its average annual temperature steady at around 24°C or 75°F. Keep in mind that especially in the higher regions – Dago, Ciumbuleuit, Gegerkalong, Setia Budhi Regency or Lembang – it can get pretty cold at night when temperatures can drop to low of 1°C.
How to Get to Bandung, Paris of Java
Bandung is located in the central highlands of the island of Java. It’s pretty easy to get here and you have a range of choices from taking a plane, a bus, or a train.
The easiest option, of course, is to fly in. Bandung’s Husein Sastranegara (BDO) Airport is only 4 km from the city and you can get there from domestic destinations such as Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, and Pekanbaru, as well as international destinations such as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Here are some airlines that fly to Bandung:
- Air Asia
- Batavia Air
- Garuda Indonesia
- Lion Air
- Sriwijaya Air
You can also fly into Jakarta and then take a shuttle service to Bandung, which will take around 3 hours. You’ll have a choice between riding in a chartered van that will take you to your exact destination in Bandung for around $50-$75 (split between the passengers) or to go from one bus terminal to another for less than $10. There’s a range of choice when it comes to choosing shuttle buses to take you from Jakarta to Bandung.
Yet another great option of getting to Bandung is by train. Taking a train from Jakarta to Bandung is the slowest option (over 3 hours), but it’s also the most scenic. You’ll pass beautiful mountainous landscapes and intricate rice fields nearly the whole way there. You can buy train tickets here.
How to Get Around Bandung
There is basically no mass rapid transit system in Bandung. There are some bus lines but they don’t cover the whole city and if you’re visiting, it’s best to use taxis, becaks (bicycle rickshaws) and angkots (minibuses) to get around Bandung.
The cheapest option is taking angkots but they only have their origin and destination names on top and no route descriptions to speak of. A ride on an angkot only costs around 2,000 – 5,000 IDR ($0.20 – $0.50) but it can be complicated to try to learn the routes, especially if you’ll only be in the city for a short while.
A better option is to take a becak (bicycle rickshaws) or a taxi. You can hail down becaks and negotiate with the driver for a fair price, depending on the distance you’re going.
You’ll usually have better luck calling a taxi by phone than waiting by the roadside, just ’cause there are a lot of small roads in Bandung and not much space for passengers to wait. The taxi driver will come to exactly where you are for no extra fee, although there is a small cancellation charge. If you can’t call a taxi, ask around for the closest taxi waiting area.
Keep in mind that some taxi drivers may refuse to use meters so they can charge you a fixed price – you’re free to walk away if you don’t want this. Other metered taxis may take you on a roundabout route to get a higher fee. You can circumvent this by calling a reliable taxi company – we recommend Blue Bird and Cipaganti Taxi as they always use the meter and take direct routes.
Keep in mind that it takes awhile to travel in Bandung, even though the city is small. There is heavy traffic during peak times – morning and evening commute times, in particular) and it is a really good idea to avoid the roads during those times.
Things to See and Do in Bandung
One of the most popular Bandung attractions is the 2,076-meter-high volcano known as Tangkuban Perahu. Its name literally means ‘overturned boat’ and refers to the peak of the volcano which resembles an overturned boat.
Keep in mind that it gets pretty cold here and be sure to bring a jacket!
Kawah Putih literally translates to ‘white crater’ and it is a striking crater lake in a volcanic crater around 50 km south of Bandung.
It is an absolutely beautiful sight, with mists moving in and out of the surface of the lake and the lake changing colors from bluish to whitish green or brown and surrounded by beautiful bleached white rocks.
Wayang Golek is an art form unique to Sundanese and Bandung culture. It consists of an intricate play featuring a cast of characters that are carved and painted on wood.
A “dalang” tells his story using these puppets – a performance you must see if you’re in Bandung.
Built by an Italian millionaire and overlooking the city of Bandung and the Tangkuban Perahu mountains, Villa Isola is a magnificent structure with a unique Indo-European style.
Perfect place to walk around and enjoy the Tropical Art Deco architecture blending perfectly with the nature around it.
Jalan means ‘street’ in Bahasa Indonesia and this particular street is a must-visit while in Bandung. The street is lined with beautiful historical buildings, art galleries and a bevy of restaurants and small eateries.
There is an old Dutch bakery shop where you can taste original bread recipes from back in the day, cafes galore, and pubs where you can sample a variety of brews.
It can get pretty crowded so prepare to walk slowly and carefully.
What to Eat in Bandung
You certainly won’t go hungry in Bandung – there is a rich array of food available here, ranging from local cuisine to favorite international dishes. You’ll pretty much be able to find anything you crave.
Bandung Travel Tips
Bandung is a very popular weekend getaway destination especially for Jakarta city dwellers, so if you don’t like crowds – avoid Bandung on weekends and public holidays as the traffic can be seriously bad.
As mentioned above, Bandung, Paris of Java, also lacks a comprehensive mass transit system and there tends to be a lot of traffic so avoid the roads during the peak traffic hours – around 8 or 9 in the morning and again around 5 to 7 in the evening.
Bandung is as safe as any other city, but be careful with your belongings at all times and also keep in mind that traffic can get very congested here and exercise caution when walking among motorcycles and cars.
And as always – don’t be without travel insurance.
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