Bandung was once known as the Paris of Java, and when I came here I was under the impression that that era had long passed. From what I had heard, Bandung had become a congested mess of bargain crazed shoppers who constantly haunted the various outlet stores.
But, what I found was something very different. Originally, I planned on being in Bandung for one week to hit the high spots, and then move on to more interesting places. That week stretched to two, then to three, as I discovered the real Bandung.
While it it’s true that Bandung certainly has a traffic problem, and the sleepy palm lined lanes are long gone, Bandung’s charm is still intact, if one knows where to look.
By day or by night, relaxing in one of the cafes of Dago Atas enjoying the splendid view, and the refreshing cool mountain air, while having a good meal, or a coffee, is a pleasure not to be missed.
Cihideung is another area in the hills above Bandung where there are many concept cafes and restaurants to enjoy.
Moving down into Indonesia’s fourth largest city is an intense experience after experiencing the tranquility of the hills. Bandung is the Capital of West Java, a regional business hub, and home to many universities, in addition to a primary tourist destination, so, of course it’s a busy place.
But, it’s because Bandung is such a multi-facetted city that it is able to offer so much to its visitors. There are many fine buildings from Bandung’s colonial past, there’s traditional arts and music, there’s a huge variety of scrumptious food, a vibrant night life, an endless array of hotels, and last but not least – there’s the shopping – all to be enjoyed in the cool, refreshing mountain air.
When you want a break from the city, the volcanic craters of Tangkuban Perahu, and Kawah Putih make an excellent day trip, as do the hot springs that surround the city. If you’re into adventure, sports like white water rafting and rock climbing are here for you. A trek through The Great Forest is also an excellent choice.
If I haven’t convinced you to come to Bandung yet, I should mention the incredible hospitality of the Sundanese people. I have found them to be among the friendliest, most gracious people I have ever enjoyed meeting. Then, there all the traditional Sundanese restaurants.
One hotel that deserves a special mention is The Majesty Hotel and Apartments. I stayed here for the three weeks I was in Bandung, and I can honestly say the staff – from the bell boys to the manager – is the most pleasant, friendly, helpful, and professional hotel crew I have come across in a long time.
As much as I have enjoyed Bandung, it’s time to move on to the south coast of Java, where I’ll be using the small village of Batu Karas as a base to explore the area. But, I leave Bandung thinking it still deserves to be known as the Paris of Java.
Today is Independence Day in Indonesia – celebrating 65 years of nation building. Happy Birthday Indonesia!!