For years, Bandung has been a city of many names – Flower City, Parijs van Java, Ibukota Pariangan – each name highlighting a beauteous side of the city. Nowadays it’s well-known for its pleasantly cool climate, apparel products and culinary hotspots, attracting foodies and shoppers alike.There are many things to do in Bandung and travellers are bound to be spoilt for choice. But a comprehensive travel guide of Bandung is sure to help locate the one’s true interests with ease.
Explore its nature
Take a picnic at the scenic Juanda Forest Park. Old tunnels used by the Japanese forces during the World War can still be found within its 590 hectares of greenery. If you’re up for a small trip, drive up to Lembang, a chilly suburb city in the north of Bandung. Mount Tangkuban Perahu is one must-go destination when in Lembang, a panoramic volcano with a legendary story behind it. Continue on to the natural hot springs of Ciater, just 30 minutes away. Relax in its warm, mineral pools which also hold healing properties for the skin. If you’re on your way south, make sure to drop by Kawah Putih Ciwidey, a craterous mountain filled with hot, green water. Its beautiful surroundings are extremely popular with couples – every year, more than 100 couples specifically choose the location for their pre-wedding photo shoots.
Shop till you drop
Renowned as a fashion destination, it’s best to visit Bandung with an eager shopping appetite. Find your perfect pair of jeans among the eye-catching shops along Jalan Cihampelas or get a funky jacket from the independently-run distribution stores around Jalan Trunojoyo and Jalan Sultan Agung. Not to forget the plentiful Factory Outlets that spread throughout Jalan Ir H Juanda, Jalan LL RE Martadinata and Jalan Setiabudi, all shouting great bargains on designer pieces.
Eat like the locals
The people of Bandung are natural food lovers, which are why so many eating joints can be found in this town. Drive around Bandung’s Dago Pakar area and you’ll see how it’s practically infested with hillside restaurants that boast an amazing view of the city, especially at night. Other dining places such as Sapu Lidi Sawah and Kampung Daun take advantage of the cold weather by setting up well-designed, village-themed restaurants. Another must-try restaurant in downtown Bandung is Bancakan, a restaurant that radiates that vintage kampung ambience, from the rustic interiors to the vintage cutleries. Many come simply to enjoy the mood of that old-time atmosphere.
Take delight in the arts
There’s definitely something in the air, because there is a ridiculous amount of talented artists and musicians originating from Bandung. It’s no wonder the city has long been considered the unofficial capital of arts when there’s places like Selasar Sunaryo Art Space showcasing regular exhibitions and Atmosphere café and restaurant, which boasts live music on a daily basis. Saung Angklung Mang Udjo is one rare jewel of a place where takes of modern songs such as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” are beautifully performed with sets of angklung – a single-note musical instrument made from bamboo, played together to create harmony. If visitors feel like taking a shot at playing the angklung, they can. Just follow the conductor’s direction.
With endless amounts of restaurants and food stalls in the city, Bandung is indeed the ideal place for a gastronomic tour. And if you’re wondering where to begin, might as well start with the city’s most popular dishes.
Abbreviated from ‘Bakso Tahu Goreng’ (fried bean curd and meatballs), this widespread Sundanese dish can be found from street-side carts to restaurants. Deliciously crispy in texture, fish dumplings are fried, topped with peanut sauce, sweet soy sauce and a drizzle of lime. You can also request a souped-up version of it, often referred to as Batagor Kuah.
Nasi Tutug Oncom
Truly a Sundanese cuisine, this dish is basically rice mixed with oncom, or fermented soybean waste. It is usually wrapped in banana leaf then grilled to perfection before being served with raw vegetables and fried chicken.
Bandrek & Bajigur
Bandrek is a traditionally hot, sweet and spicy drink best served during chilly weathers, made mainly using ginger with cinnamon, coriander seeds, palm sugar, cloves, star anise, cardamom pods, lemongrass, chili and coconut milk. With the mount of spices used, it’s no wonder this beverage gives the body an immediate warming effect once consumed. The sister beverage to the bandrek is bajigur, another hot and sweet drink that’s also a local favourite, made from coconut milk, Aren sugar with small amounts of ginger and salt. With Bandung located in the highlands, it’s quite ideal to drink these during the night when the temperature drops.
Tying the knot in Bandung is certainly different from any other place in Indonesia. For one thing, it’s inexpensive when compared to the bigger cities. But what sets it apart from the rest is the town’s naturally cooling climate, making it the perfect destination for those looking for whimsical outdoor weddings.