West Java, The Enchanting Land Of Sunda
West Java surrounds the nation’s capital of Jakarta on three sides, and good roads provide links to most of the province, passing through rugged mountains, iridescent paddy fields and along pastoral stretches of palm-fringed coastline. There are a number of popular resorts on the western and southern coasts with modern hotels and extensive facilities, favourite weekend get aways for people living in Jakarta.
West Java provides visitors with an extensive array of fascinating things to see and do. Venture to the brink of the awesome power of Krakatau or explore the pristine wildlife reserve of Ujung Kulon on the south western tip of Java. Take refuge in the Pulau Dua Bird Sanctuary off the coast of Banten or visit the mysterious Baduy peoples in the remote Halimun Mountain Reserve.
Discover unspoiled beaches at Pangandaran and treasures in the royal palaces of Cirebon or wonder through the world-renowned botanical gardens of Bogor. West Java has something for everyone. Bandung is about 180 kms southeast of Jakarta and is called “The Paris of Java” because of its tree-lined boulevards and artistic influences.
The city gained international fame in 1955 as the venue for the first Afro Asian Conference, which brought together the leaders of 29 Asian and African Nations with the aim of promoting economic and cultural relations and taking a common stand against colonialism.
West Java Places of Interest
The capital is situated on a plateau 768 metres above sea level with a cool climate throughout the year. Although it has a population of over two million, the pace of city life is much slower than Jakarta’s. Several institutes of higher education are located here, including the country’s prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology. Take a short drive up to the mountain resorts of 76 Lembang and the Bosscha Observatory, or even higher to the volcanic crater of Tangkuban Perahu, the only ‘drive-up’ volcano on the island!
Visit the nearby Crater Hot Springs Resort for a swim in warm mineral water pools. The resort features a bar, restaurants, tennis courts and cottage, offers a beautiful mountain landscape.
Mang Udjo Angklung Workshop
Mang Udjo’s “Angklungs” are well known because of his fine workmanship and exact tuning of these bamboo musical instruments. His workshop is located in the village of Padasuka, 7 km from Bandung. Traditional music and dance performances are staged against a natural background of mountains and ricefields. Bamboo handicraft and musical instruments are made and sold here.
This popular lake resort is one hour south of Bandung. The eastern shore of the lake is covered in dense forest. The north side is bordered by an expansive tea estate.
Juanda Forest Park
This highland forest park is minutes away from Bandung. The 590-hectare (2,475-acre) forest is a site for research with native plant species, as well as those from other parts of the world. The Japanese occupation forces left a number of caves and tunnels which they dug out of these cliffs during World War II for the defence of the area. Excellent trails for hiking.
The 30 minute trip to Maribaya passes through some lovely mountaint scenery. Wellknown for its hot springs, the sulphurladen water is comfortable for swimming or soaking. Lie back and relax while enjoying the view of a 25 meter waterfall set against a steep mountain cliff.
Situated halfway between Jakarta and Bandung, this dam was originally built with French technical assistance in the 1950’s to generate electrical power for the region. It now provides irrigation to the surrounding arable land and a fishery industry has been developed as well. It is now being developed for tourism and provides convenient facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, a camping ground, speedboats for water skiing and cottages. The reservoir is huge, the scenery tropical, the air crisp and cool.
Bogor actually lies closer to Jakarta (50 km) than it does to Bandung (120 km). Appropriately named by the Dutch as a town ‘without worries’, Bogor was chosen as the first palace of the Dutch Governor 1745. Restored in 1832, the palace sits elegantly amidst gardens and expansive lawns where deer roam freely under majestic old trees.
The world-famous Bogor Botanical Garden borders the Palace Grounds, covering an area of 87 hectares with thousands of species of plant life from all over the world, including towering ancient trees and world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia.
There are over 15,000 species of trees and plants, 400 varieties of palms alone. The orchid houses contain over 3,000 orchid varieties. You don’t have to be a horticulturalist to enjoy the gardens, it is a masterpiece of design and a wonderful place to just stroll and enjoy the company of family and friends.
Right next to the Botanical Garden, the highlights of this museum are the blue whale skeleton and an impressive library of rare botanical books.
Batu Tulis Ciaruteun (Stone Inscription)
A relic of the Tarumanegara kingdom in 450 A.D., the stone is inscribed with Sanskrit characters. Located on the banks of the Ciaruteun river, the site is a pleasant 2 km walk from Campea village, just 9 km from Bogor by car.
Cibodas Botanic Garden
Located in the district of Pacet, 22 kilometers northwest of Cianjur, the Cibodas Garden Park is a 80-hectare nature preserve found in 1890.
Animals from all continents roam freely in this 35-hectare park, 75 km southeast of Jakarta along the Jakarta-Bandung route. Among the animals kept here are some comparatively rare species such as anoas, rhinos, giraffes, white tigers and European, American and Asian bears. Adjacents to the park are recreational grounds with a swimming pool, tennis courts, an artificial lake, waterfall and a children’s playground and amusement park. There are also restaurants and cafeterias.
Pelabuhan Ratu Beach
Formerly just a traditional fishing village, Pelabuhan Ratu has grown into a lovely holiday resort, while retaining much of its former charm. It is a three-hour drive from either Jakarta or Bandung on good mountain roads.
Pelabuhan Ratu-Cisolok is a 15 km stretch of breathtaking coastline; thick tropical forests cascade down steep hills to white sand beaches and the deep blue waters of the Indian ocean. At night hundreds of fishermen’s boatlamps merge with the star-studded sky above, an enchanting and romantic scene.
There is one four-star hotel, the Samudera beach, about 6 km from Pelabuhan Ratu, but several other smaller hotels and cottages are available at moderate rates. Don’t forget to enjoy the fresh seafood at reasonable prices.
Krakatoa erupted in 1883, one of the most catastrophic natural events in recorded history. The volcano literally blew itself apart, sending a column of ash and stone 80 km into the air. Ash fell on Singapore, and the entire region was covered in darkness for two days. Gigantic tidal waves over 40 meters high killed almost 40,000 people along the coast of Java and Sumatra.
The volcanic dust in the atmosphere circled in the earth for three years, creating sensational sunsets. The area is still a hotbed of volcanic activity, and the Anak Krakatoa (Child of Krakatoa), has been growing and erupting since 1928.
It is possible for boats to land on the eastern shore of this young volcano, and depending on recent activity, you can climb to the rim of the caldera.
Dua Island (Pulau Dua)
Dua Island is the name of a small nature preserve inhabited by over 50 species of fish-eating birds. These birds migrate from Africa, Asia and Australia and stay on the island to lay and hatch their eggs from April through August each year. It is located in the Banten Bay and is accessible by boat from Tanjung Priok sea harbour or from Marina, Ancol.
A characteristic Sundanese town in the highlands, Garut is surrounded by volcanic mountains and vast tree plantations. The hot springs resort at Cipanas has comfortable accommodations.
Nearby Mt. Papandayan’s crater is probably one of the most spectacular mountains scenes on Java. The Cangkuang temple was the first of its kind found in West Java, dating back to the 8th centuries.
The uniqueness of Kampung Naga is that in spite of its proximity to modern society it has retained its traditional customs over the centuries. It is a small village in the beautiful mountains of the Salawu District, some 30 km from Tasikmalaya.
Travelling northeast from Bandung towards the coast, the seaport of Cirebon offers a wealth of culture and history. Situated on the border of West and Central Java, it is home to a combination of both cultures.
In the city itself, the ancient palaces (kratons) of the Kasepuhan and Kanoman now serve as museum which are open to the public, exhibiting household ornaments, paintings. Calligraphy and other art treasures of the courts. The royal carriages are sumptuous in design, one of them a gilded coach in the form of winged elephant.
The Kasepuhan and Kanoman now serve as museum which are open to the public, exhibiting household ornaments, paintings, calligraphy and other art treasures of the courts.
Across the square from the Kasepuluhan Kraton is the “ Mesjid Agung” (Grand Mosque), in a traditional Javanese style and made entirely of wood. Cirebon is also known for its distinct batik, now a flourishing industry in the village of Trusmi. The local seafood is among the best in West Java.
Pangandaran, Karang Nini and Batu Hiu
Pangandaran is one of Java’s best-kept secrets as far as international tourists are concerned, but has been extremely popular with locals for a long, long time. A small fishing town, it possesses one of Java’s finest beaches and the Pangandaran Nature Reserve teems with wild buffalo, barking deer and monkeys.
The people are very friendly, this combined with the ideallic surroundings make this a great place to spend a few days relaxing island-style. Pangandaran is half-way between Bandung and Yogya, about 5 hours by bus from Bandung and 8 hours from Jakarta.
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