For way too long, Indonesia was pretty much synonym with Bali. Even Java, the island of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, was often overlooked, despite offering a variety of cultural, historical and natural sights.
The city of Bandung is the capital of West Java, a region of great natural beauty – offering respite from the humidity of Java thanks to its higher altitude and cooler climate.
Bandung itself has a lot to offer in terms of culture – it is nicknamed ‘Paris of Java’ for a reason! There are several excellent luxury hotels, like the Padma Hotel Bandung. Bandung is a very busy city, but if you fancy a breath of fresh air and a day in nature, there’s plenty of nature nearby.
The Deer Conservation Park in Ciwidey
Ciwidey is a popular day trip from Bandung, with many visitors to the White Lake, a stunning milky-blue lake in a volcanic crater. At the Deer Conservation Park in Ranca Upas you can watch deer graze in the forest and buy bags of vegetables to feed them. There’s also a campsite to spend the night immersed in nature.
The Lodge Earthbound Adventure Park
Are you looking for a fun activity for the little ones? The Lodge Earthbound Adventure Park in Maribaya is the place for you! There are obstacle courses through the pine trees, paintball guns and plenty of paths to just walk around and enjoy the cool mountain atmosphere. There are also some permanently pitched tents if camping in the wilderness is too hardcore for you!
The Parks of Dago Pakar
Dako Pakar is a small forest just north of the city centre, one of the best options to get a taste of fresh nature without going too far. There are two parks in Dago Pakar – one of them is Taman Hutan Raja, that locals call TaHuRa, built to conserve the biodiversity of Bandung’s trees and plants. There’s also a stunning cliff with a view onto the forest below.
The second park is Taman Wisata Maribaya, with a beautiful waterfall and hot spring pools, and a scenery that will make you feel as if you were in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. You can also walk between one park and the other for a great day out in nature, a million years away from the traffic of downtown Bandung!
Pawon Caves and the Stone Garden of Padalarang
This is a real local secret – and let’s hope it remains so! Mount Pasigit is an old volcano not far from Bandung – hike towards its summit and you’ll find the entrance to Pawon Caves, where traces of prehistoric life have been found. Walk a little further towards the peak from the cave entrance to find bizarre limestone rocks, some of them with embedded seashells.
But we’re miles away from the ocean, you’ll think. Well, scientists theorized that this part of Java was once underwater, and it emerged from the abyss as a result of volcanic eruption. Just another Indonesian mystery!
Another wonderful natural sight near Bandung is Tangkuban Perahu, an active volcano you can hike!