When it comes to travel destinations, many people know of Jakarta in Indonesia, one of the biggest cities in the country, but few have heard of Bandung, the wallflower neighbor and capital city of Western Java.
But Bandung is not a complete secret. Local Jakartans have been flocking to the enchanting region of Bandung for some time now and it is a popular holiday getaway destination for hardworking people who are looking for a break from their normal routine.
Jakarta is a chaotic and completely congested city, yet somewhat alluring, but somehow not the chosen city for any sort of holiday, and recently expats and holiday makers are making the move away from the high tourist areas and choosing to explore the surrounding areas – enter Bandung.
Bandung is privy to quite a spectacular location, being almost 800m above sea level, which among other things, ensures that the climate is cooler than many other places in Indonesia; which, if you have visited this country, is a seriously wonderful bonus, as any little reprieve from the heat is most welcome.
The surrounding Parahyangan Mountains are the lush and beautiful backdrop to this steamy city, with evidence of its glamorous Dutch colonial past still seen in places throughout the region. It is a city that had a dazzling start in life. Designed as a colonial town in the 19th century, it quickly gained momentum and became one of the most integral financial and commercial hubs in the country.
Bandung is an eclectic mix of century old charm, astounding natural beauty and the sweeping hand of vibrant modern infrastructure. Art Deco buildings line the leafy streets, jostling for space with slick modern buildings, heavy trafficked streets winding through a pulsating city sprawling out into jostling markets that spill out in the nooks and crannies that make up this fascinating city.
Its ever increasing popularity as a prime tourist destination is owed very much to the fact that there is so much to see and do here, whether you are interested in immersing yourself in the surrounding nature, hiking past waterfalls, tracking in Tangkuban Perahu, walking through active volcanic craters, discovering old WWII caves used by the Japanese in 1940 or exploring national parks – you are in luck, and that’s only on the to do list before breakfast.
The local cuisine has become something legendary, with discerning foodies coming from all over the place to feast their way through Bandung. In fact local Jakartans make their way to the city, which is just under 2 hours away from Jakarta, for the weekend, just for the food alone. Oddly enough, the city is also known for their mouth-watering cakes and pastries and you will find an abundance of cake shops and specialty pastry shops. One local sweet delicacy every visitor must try is the soes merdeka; you can find them in every local cake or pastry shop.
Shopping is another huge aspect of why many locals flock to the area, and indeed Bandung is truly in a class of its own. There are some 25 massive local shopping malls – and those are just the big ones. And you can buy anything and everything here, from high end fashion, to electronics, local handicrafts, leatherwork, silverworks, paintings and beautiful handmade Indonesian furniture.
And then there is another entire region of Bandung that is just jam packed with factory shops and various outlets, so every single shopaholic can get a serious fix here and then some. Even if you are on a serious budget or if you are in the market for some real designer gear – then again, you are in luck.
Some of the best travel advice for visiting this amazing city from other travelers who have been before, is to get up as early as possible – having a small space of quiet time before the rest of the city double clutches into high octane action, is a beautiful experience. Find a quiet, quaint place for breakfast and be one of the first to watch the city come alive around you.
But don’t let that fool you into thinking you should get into bed early – staying up late in the city is all part of the experience, so don’t expect to go home rested – the party has only started. The night life in Bandung is unparalleled, and it is worth staying up a night or two just to experience it – you will find a huge amount of expats in the city who come out after dark for a drink or heading to the restaurants.
There are lots of pubs, rock cafes, wine bars and clubs with incredible views over the city – with a much more laid back and relaxed vibe than places like nearby Jakarta. The dress code is casual, the locals are friendly and everyone just wants to enjoy themselves and have a good time.
It is no surprise that Bandung is slowly gaining momentum as a premier tourist destination – it was only a matter of time. Just be sure to arrive hungry, leave your diet at home, and be prepared to shop till you drop.
John Kravz is a representative of Vpn-guru.com. Read more about privateinternetaccess.