Bandung

Bandung is the capital city of West Java Province, and the third largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta and Surabaya. Nicknamed Parijs van Java (Paris of Java) by the Dutch for its resemblance to Paris and European atmosphere back at the colonial times, it is locally called as Kota Kembang, literally meaning the Flowery City since Bandung used to have a lot of flowers.

A city sitting in a former lake with an altitude of 768 meters above sea level, the surroundings of lush and beautiful Parahyangan mountains makes the climate cooler than most major cities in Indonesia. If you are into the city situation, look for its universities to study, apparel products to try on and wonderful places for gastronomic adventure. Nowadays, Bandung has become a very popular weekend escape for Jakartans because of its close proximity.

Understand

History

Although the oldest written reference to the city dates back to 1488, there were numerous archaeological finds of "Java Man" that lived on the banks of Cikapundung river and the shores of Bandung's Great Lake.

In the 17th-18th century, the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) created small plantations in Bandung, with a road to Batavia (today's Jakarta) completed in 1786. In 1809, Louis Bonaparte, the ruler of the Netherlands and its colonies, ordered the Dutch Indies Governor H.W. Daendels to improve Java's defenses against the threat of the English, who occupied the nearby Malay peninsula. Daendels responded by building the Great Post Road (De Groote Postweg) that stretched about 1000 km between the west and the east coasts of Java. Because north coast was in the form of impassable swamps and marshes at the time, the road was diverted through Bandung along what is now Jalan Asia-Afrika.

Daendels liked Bandung's strategic location so much that he ordered the capital to be moved there. Military barracks were built and Bupati Wiranatakusumah II, the chief administrator of that area, built his dalem (palace), Masjid Agung (The Grand Mosque) and pendopo (meeting place) in the classical Javan alun-alun (city square) near a pair of holy city wells (Sumur Bandung) and facing the mystical mountain of Tangkuban Perahu.

Powered by its cinchona (for malaria drug quinine), tea, and coffee plantations, Bandung prospered and developed into an exclusive European style resort with hotels, cafes, and shops. Many of Bandung landmarks, including the Preanger and Savoy Homann hotels, as well as the shopping street of Jalan Braga, are still available today. The Concordia Society building, now Gedung Merdeka, was built with a large ball room as a club for rich Europeans to spend their weekends.

Pasopati bridge flyover, a new landmark of Bandung.

In 1880, the first major railroad between Jakarta to Bandung opened, boosting small industries and bringing in Chinese workers. The first of Bandung universities, the Technische Hogeschool (TH) was established on July 3, 1920. One of the its alumni members is President Soekarno himself. That university is now known as the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB)

In 1942, after Japanese soldiers landed in coastal areas of Java, the Dutch retreated from Jakarta to Bandung, but were driven out from there as well and surrendered soon after. After the end of the war, first the British and later the Dutch came back trying to reestablish the pre-war colonial situation, but on March 24, 1946, during the struggle for Indonesian independence, the city of Bandung was burned down by retreating forces of the TRI, because they would not comply with the order given by the British forces to move out of Bandung to the south (Bandung Sea of Fire/Bandung Lautan Api). For the TRI this act was a sign of refusal to surrender. Over 200,000 people fled the city during the incident.

In 1955, the Asia Africa Conference (Konferensi Asia Afrika) was held in Bandung, paving the way for the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. The Indonesian parliament was located in Bandung from 1955 to 1966, but was moved back to Jakarta in 1966.

Orientation

Today's Bandung is a sprawling city of 2.7 million people and suffers from many of the same problems as other Indonesian cities. Traffic is congested, old buildings have been torn down, and once idyllic residences have turned into business premises, fortunately the facades are still same.

There are main roads that roughly split the city into three parts, the north, the central, and the south. The Pasupati overpass splits the north and the central. Dago or H Juanda and Merdeka are the main roads from north to south. The Jenderal Sudirman, Asia Afrika, Kosambi and Jenderal Ahmad Yani cuts the central and the south. If you enter using the toll road, you will start from the outskirts first and then make your way into the city center.

Road in bahasa Indonesia is translated into Jalan and abbreviated into Jl.; this applies to all kind of road from small road to major road. You will see a lot of Jl. in front of the road name in this guide. Very small road that cannot by passed by car is called Gang and abbreviated into Gg.

Tourist information office

Get in

Map of central Bandung in detail.

Bandung is located in the central highlands. It can be reached from Jakarta via the toll road or by train. When using the road, there are many small buses connecting Jakarta and Bandung. An alternative to the toll road is the winding and mountainous roads through Puncak (=Peak). The route through Puncak is quite scenic but on weekends and public holidays the traffic is congested.

By plane

Bandung's   Husein Sastranegara (IATA: BDO) Airport has a difficult location among the mountains and has only limited services with narrow-body airplanes. The airport is located at the end of Pajajaran Street, 4 km from the centre of the city. There's no metered taxi available from inside Bandung Airport. The official taxi of the airport (a monopoly) didn't use meter and will only drive with a taxi ticket (the ticket shown the amount you have to pay to the driver) which can be bought at the taxi booth near the international arrival exit gate for a minimum of Rp 40.000. Most hotels provide a free airport transfer services.

All of Indonesia's major airlines are present at Bandung Airport, offering frequent connections with most of Indonesia's major cities, with at least daily flights to 13 destinations including Surabaya (East Java), Medan (Sumatra), Makassar (Sulawesi) and Bali. There is no scheduled flight connection with Indonesia's capital Jakarta, as the distance between both cities is a mere 125 km only. In addition to the wide range of domestic destinations, AirAsia connects Bandung with multiple daily flights to Malaysia (Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur) and Singapore. Also Malindo Air has daily flights from/to Kuala Lumpur, and Silk Air five weekly from/to Singapore.

Jakarta's Soekarno Hatta International Airport airport is 2.5 hours away (plus any, often significant, traffic jams) from Bandung. A number of companies offer direct shuttle bus services to Bandung, including a convinience Primajasa big bus; see the next two sections for details.

By bus

Bus services connect Bandung and smaller surrounding cities. Several long-route buses are also available from major big cities. The most convenient way is the air-conditioned bus with the express or non-stop tag. The main bus terminals in Bandung are   Leuwipanjang, serving buses from the west (Bogor, Jakarta, Merak, Pandeglang, Tangerang, Depok, Bekasi, Cikarang, Cibinong and Sukabumi.) and   Cicaheum, serving buses from the east (Cirebon, Garut, Tasikmalaya, Banjar, Pangandaran, Indramayu, central Java cities, eastern Java cities and also from Bali Island).

It is also possible to take a bus to Cileunyi, 16 km to the east of the city. Though it actually passes Bandung, it does not stop there, so you must take an angkot to Cicaheum and then to Bandung.

By shuttle bus

With 7-10 seater minivans leaving every few minutes, the shuttle bus market between Jakarta and Bandung is fiercely competitive. Roughly speaking, services can be categorised as either door to door in a chartered car or van that takes your group exactly where you want to go, for around US $50–75, or point to point from its pools to another, for under US $10. Many companies offer both.

Bandung shuttle providers

Due to competition, all shuttles now only have 2 prices, for 8-11 seats Rp 80,000 (Star Shuttle) to Rp 85,000 (Baraya) and for 6-7 seats Rp 90,000 to Rp 110,000 in a minibus.

By car

Bandung is two hours away from Jakarta by car, thanks to the new Cipularang toll road that completes the inter-city highway between Jakarta and Bandung, thus it is now faster to travel by car than by train from Jakarta. However during the rainy season, parts of the road may be closed because of landslides, and bewildering because of possible high winds or blinding fog and downpours. While most cars would exit the system at Pasteur, the first exit to Bandung with excellent connections to Lembang, it is very congested during the weekends so it is highly encouraged to enter the city at the less congested tolled exits instead: try Pasir Koja, Kopo, Moh. Toha, and Buah Batu. If you still wish to exit at Pasteur so bad, note that only a car with a minimum of 4 people can use the exit on Saturdays from 09:00 to 13:00!

One alternative route is by the slower, but enjoyable, route via the Puncak area. If you travel by car using this route, be sure to stop at the Puncak Pass, the tip of the highland just on the outskirts of Jakarta, for a view of tea plantation and fresh air. There are plenty of good restaurants and hotels out there.

By train

State operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia offers frequent services between Jakarta and Bandung with Argo Parahyangan, as well as other towns on the southern rail route. Though even the fastest services take more than three hours from Jakarta, the comfortable trains, and the scenic mountains and paddy fields makes you forget time. There are two classes for each train: Executive class, near to slightly over Rp 100,000 per ticket for air conditioning, reclining seats and a foot rest and Business class for Rp 15,000 to Rp 25,000 less offers air conditioning and comfortable seats, though without recliners or foot rests.

If you do travel by train, get off at the Bandung train station, which is located right at the city center and offers excellent transportation connections to the city's places of interest. The station has two faces — the old entrance (from Jakarta is the right of the train) and the newer entrance (from Jakarta is the left of the train); to go to the parking lot and find taxis more easily, take the newer entrance, but if you want to take angkot you should go to the old entrance, there are a small terminal 100 meters in front of the station.

Get around

Some tips on using angkot:

  • There is no uniform color, but each route has the same 2-color scheme, even the same model of minibus (some routes may mix Kijangs and minibuses). There may be custom variations to the vehicles because they are privately-owned.
  • Usually an angkot is a modified ordinary minibus. The 10-seat minibus becomes an 18-seater. This is possible by lining passengers side by side. It might be a bit awkward for first-time users.
  • Don't be nervous about touching other passengers; the cramped seating often makes it unavoidable. Do be aware that some pickpockets operate on angkots. Be very careful if you see someone acting sick or odd.
  • To stop the angkot, just raise your hand, and when you need to get off, just shout 'kiri !!' (pronounced "kee-ree"), the Indonesian word for "left." This is a request for the driver to pull aside to the left.
  • The most comfortable and safest seat is usually the front window, next to the driver, but you still share one seat for two.
  • Payment is by cash only, but preferably in small denominations. An average single trip fare costs Rp 2,000~5,000.
  • The door is typically removed, so don't be scared if it is missing. Tall people will need to bend over to get in, and the bench seats are really small.
Request an angkot to stop.

Travelling around in Bandung can be quite complex and frustrating, especially to newcomers, because there is no mass rapid transit system. Locals travel using small public minibuses, known as angkot from angkutan=transport and kota=city.

By angkot

This option has only origin and destination names on top, sometimes with a description of which street they pass if there is more than one angkot route for a certain origin-destination route.

Although there is an official price for angkot from Organda (the local regulator of these private city transport), it is usually based on how far you travel. It's better to ask the driver or kernet (driver assistance) about the price to go to a location. To ask for an angkot to stop and pick you up, just raise your hand. When you're inside and want to stop, just ask the kernet to stop or say 'kiri' (kee-ree) or simply 'stop'. It used to be easy to find a bell that you could press to stop, but not anymore. Most angkot fares range from Rp 4000 and Rp 8000 for the longest routes, but are usually about Rp 3000 to Rp 5000. For very short distances below 1.5 kilometers, Rp 2000 is enough.

The official angkot routes are listed on Bandung's City Government website.

Some angkot have same destination, but have different routes, such as Angkot No. 01, which runs from Cicaheum to Kebon Kelapa through Bandung Super Mall, whereas Angkot No. 02 goes through Aceh.

By taxi

If you don't know which angkot routes to take, you're much better off taking a taxi. Metered taxis may take you out of your way to get more money or run the meter first before you enter the taxi, in case of phone orders. The fare for trips within the city is usually between Rp25,000 and Rp75,000. At most big streets, taxis can be hailed at malls and big hotels, but as in most cases, ordering by phone is the safest bet, although there is usually a minimum payment for phone orders.

Allow plenty of time for the journey, as traffic congestion is common, especially in weekends. Short trips of under 10 km may take over an hour in the rush hour and in weekends.

Almost all taxis in Bandung require a minimum payment of Rp 25,000 except for Blue Bird, which requires none. Besides the flagfall for the first kilometers, the tariff for next kilometers is Rp 4,500 and waiting time is Rp 45,000/hour (is also charge when the taxi trap in traffic jam or stop behind the red light).

List of taxi companies in Bandung:

By bus

There are a number of bus companies but they don't cover the whole city due to many narrow streets in Bandung. City buses, called Damri, usually cover long routes across the city from end-to-end; for example, from the north to the south (Dago or Setiabudi to Leuwi Panjang Central Terminal) and from the west to the east (from Cibeureum to Cicaheum and then to Cibiru). The intersection of north-south routes and east-west routes is Alun-alun Central Park and intersection of Astana Anyar and Asia Afrika.

Buses can be stopped anywhere, not just at the bus stops. The ticket price for all routes in the city is Rp 2,000 for without air-con and Rp 3,500 with air-com.

Damri buses also serve outer Bandung (from April 1st, 2015), to areas such as Alun-alun Central Park Bandung to Ciburuy (near Padalarang), and Elang to Jatinangor. All buses will use air conditioning. The additional buses to serve Dago to Leuwi Panjang Central Terminal will also use air conditioned buses.

By car

Using a car is probably the easiest and the most convenient way to travel around Bandung and surrounds. If you don't have a valid driving licence, then you can also rent a car with a chauffeur, which is very common for western travelers. Perhaps it is even better to rent a car from Jakarta. Rental cars are available from numerous outlets, including major international brands, for an average of Rp350,000 per day for 12 hours, Rp500,000 for travel outside Bandung such as to Tangkuban Perahu.

While it is generally required to travel by car, especially to the outskirt mountains, the horrendous weekend and rush hour traffic jams can put your trip up to an hour behind schedule, so be sure to plan ahead by starting early and look for alternate routes! The major roads that are often crowded are the roads leading up to Lembang (Jalan Sukajadi), Dago, Cihampelas, and the corridor from Pasteur toll exit to Pasupati overpass that connects these streets. On the weekends, especially long holidays, hoards of cars from Jakarta head over to this part of the city for a getaway, resulting in even uglier drive times. Be aware that many streets, especially the small ones, typically go one-way but sometimes poorly indicated!

For cars from outside Bandung be aware of local rule that every car should provided with trash bin or will be penaltized and has been done with penalty Rp 250,000 and lose the time to visit the court.

See

Architectural jewels

There were many buildings built in a classic Dutch colonial style during the late 18th and early 19th century. The locals referred to this time as the Bandoeng tempo doeloe (old Bandung) era. The Art Deco style was very popular throughout the earlier half of the 20th century and the city and its suburbs retain many fine examples of these architectural styles. The city administration has a tendency to lean toward a modern style throughout the city with many of the more recent bridges, banks, malls and commercial areas. However many of the historical buildings have conservation orders and there are some very well preserved and maintained examples of the colonial era architecture to be seen. The non-profit organization Bandung Heritage Society has been formed recently to assist in endeavours to further preserve the city's historic buildings.

Who is C.P.W. Schoemaker?

Born in Ambarawa (Central Java) in 1882, Schoemaker has been renowned as the father of Bandung Art Deco architectural style. He is famous for adapting modern European architecture to the tropical surroundings. This blending of ancient decorative elements and modern architectural features has made him the best Indonesian architect of his time. He later became a professor at the Institute Technology Bandung. Among his students was ir. Soekarno, the first president of the Republic of Indonesia. He died in 1949 in the city that he loved and buried at the Pandu cemetery, Bandung.

When visiting Bandung, don't forget to visit his residence at Jl. Sawunggaling 2, where its heroic renovation has been awarded by UNESCO.

His artworks include: Gedung Merdeka, Villa Isola, facade of the Grand Preanger Hotel, Cipaganti mosque, Cathedral at Jl. Merdeka, Church at Jl. Wastukencana, the Majestic theater, Gedung PLN, Landmark building at Jl. Braga, etc.

Make sure you see these buildings before they're gone.

Gedung Sate, Bandung.

Arts & science

Bandung has been the melting point between the local Sundanese culture and the high-end technology developed at the Institute Technology Bandung. There are some interesting places to visit:

  • Reservation must be made 1 month before.
  • Bosscha is closed on national holidays, Sunday and Monday.
  • Day visit at 9:00, 12:00 (except Friday at 13:00) and 15:00.
  • Public night (17:00-19:30), between April–October, with some presentations and demos. Ask there for a specific date as this public night is open at the 7th & 8th of the lunar month.
  • Special visit can be arranged, subject to their availability.
Museum Geologi

Do

There are many activities that you can do in the city or outside the city. As Bandung highland is surrounded by a string of mountains, activities in the outskirts of the city are centred about the mountain resorts, adventure activities and outdoor sports. In the city, you can have savor the culinary diversity (see the Eat section), shop at the cheap outlets and distros (see the Buy section) or just hang around.

Every Sunday is Car Free Day in Dago street from Cikapayang to the north to Simpang-Siliwangi between 06:00 to 10:00. Come as early as possible, because it can become hectic, as it is only a small street.

Outdoor activities

View of Kawah Putih from the crater floor
Tangkuban Prahu crater.

Buy

Shopping for clothing and accessories is the main reason many weekend visitors travel from Jakarta. Many items are less expensive than in Jakarta. Denim (jeans) stores are along Jl. Cihampelas. These became very popular in the 90s with unique facades built to attract people. The more up-market fashion stores include the many emporiums on Jl. Dago, Jl. Riau and Jl. Setiabudhi. Sisa exports (rejected export products), and factory outlets are prolific and have a very wide range of export quality items, mainly for 'L' sizes and over. Small sizes sometimes are remakes of big sizes, which you may find fit your body, but with the pocket on your chest looking oversized. A new trend are the distro (distribution outlets). Luxury labels are often available but for those the extensive upmarket malls in Jakarta may be more suitable with a much larger range, however they are often more expensive.

Local handicrafts and souvenirs

Shopping malls

While shopping malls are not the actual highlights of a trip to Bandung, there are a few that are prominent enough to be included in this list.

Factory outlets (FO)

Many fashion items that are typically manufactured for many of the world's top brands are produced in Indonesia. Of the productions, even slight defects such as a missing or incorrectly inserted button are enough to reject the bag from being displayed at their shelves, or they might have overrun the production quota that they ended up being dumped. These residual products are sold with sisa export tags, because they were made for export. Some of these items have Grade A (best quality, overrun product) or Grade B (export quality, slight defect) qualities. Don't be surprised to see made in Korea or made in Singapore in their tags! While you will still see a bag tagged $65 intended for sale at New York City, they will sell for only Rp45,000 ($5), a dramatically small fraction of the listed price in the destination market!

Enjoy bargain hunting but make a careful inspection yourself. Check for below-standard or damaged items and counterfeit branded products. The shops often have a wide range of modern contemporary styles and accessories.

Most of factory outlets are concentrated in Riau Street, Cihampelas Street, Dago Street, and Sukajadi-Setiabudi street. Listed here are just a few of the attractions, while its surrounding area has other shops that have surprises waiting for those who do pay a visit. If you cannot find what you are looking for, it is very likely you can find them next door or across the street!

Riau Street

North area

Distros (distribution outlets)

Distros are a new phenomenon in Bandung where a shop sells stylish products that were made by local designers. They are served as a distribution store, because these local designers do not have their own marketing label yet. The products that are sold are books, indie label records, magazines and also fashion products and accessories. After their products receive large attention they may then release their own clothing label. There are more than 200 local brand names in Bandung. One thing that makes distros stand out from factory outlet is that distros come from individual designers and young entrepreneurs, while factory outlet products come from a garment factory.

Note that now distros are getting famous in Indonesia. The local branded name with free and independent motivation has been shifted. Be careful when buying in distros as the prices are increasing to a level almost the same as at boutique shops.

  • unkl347, Jl. Trunojoyo 4
  • Invictus,Jl.Pager gunung 13 and Jl.Trunojoyo 6
  • Ouval Research, Jl. Buah Batu 64
  • No Label, Jl. Sumatra 24, Blackjack, Jl. Trunojoyo
  • Screamous, Jl. Trunojoyo
  • Badger, Jl. Trunojoyo
  • Airplane,"starseeker","oglea", "Blankwear" Jl. Sultan Agung
  • Cosmic, Jl. Trunojoyo
  • Green Light, Bandung Indah Plaza Lt. 2 and Jl. Buah Batu
  • Temple, Jl. Dipatiukur
  • Skaters, Bandung Indah Plaza Lt. 2, Jl. Cihampelas and Jl. Raya Lembang
  • Black ID, Jl. Lombok and Paris Van Java Mall.

Eat

Bandung is a heaven for food lovers who enjoy new experiences. There are a lot of varieties, not only local cuisine but international ones. You can find any food you want for any kind of taste. Do note, that most eateries in Bandung focus on creating new variations, not making sure it tastes good.

Everybody has their own favourites. One page is not enough to list all food stalls, food courts, restaurants and cafes in Bandung. Here are some lists that are popular or have a long history.

Local delicacies

Batagor

Legendary eateries

Chic restaurants

For those who want a breathtaking view, eat in a local Sundanese village or have romantic international cuisine. Don't expect the taste to be half as good as the view and experience though.

Sundanese restaurants

Sunda is the ethnic name of the local people living in West Java. Sundanese food has some distinctive features. It mainly consists of fried fish, pepes ikan (steamed fish in a banana leaf), raw vegetables and chili pastes. To try these type of foods there are numerous Sundanese restaurants. Some of the popular ones have several branches in Bandung.

Chinese style restaurants

Thai style restaurants

Japanese and Korean style restaurants


Western restaurants

Mexican restaurants

Seafood restaurants

Ice cream and pastry

Your culinary tour in Bandung does not end at the restaurants/cafes! There are plenty of bakeries in the city where exotic pastries entices you to bring one home a legacy of the Dutch who wanted to pamper or relax in the city. Some of them have high popularities that you must take a queue even before the shop it even opens!

Drink

Alcoholic drinks can often be found at bars, night clubs, hotels and 24 hr mini-markets. Drinking fresh icy yogurt or juice is very tempting, especially after spending a day in a hot sun.

For alcoholic drinks you can buy it in these stores:

Sleep

Most sleeping options are in line with where most of the tourist attractions are: around the Pasupati bridge and to its north. Accommodation in the city itself available for a wide range of price, from a $30 1-star, to more than $200 room at a 5-star hotel, which usually occupies the city center area. More options are up the hill at Lembang, especially 3-star hotels.

Budget

Mid-range

The slick curves of the Savoy Homann

Splurge


North Bandung and surrounding, Dago/Jl. H. Juanda and Riau:

North 'Outside' Bandung

Central Bandung

Ciumbuleuit

Cihampelas

Other

Connect

Tourism offices

Emergency

  • West Java Police HQ (Polda Jawa Barat) : Jl. Soekarno Hatta No. 748, ☎ +62 22 7806392.
  • Greater Bandung (Polwiltabes Bandung), Jl. Merdeka
  • West Bandung (Polresta Bandung Barat), Jl. Sukajadi No. 141A, ☎ +62 22 203 1615.
  • East Bandung (Polresta Bandung Timur), Jl. AH. Nasution No. 21, ☎ +62 22 7805981.
  • Central Bandung (Polresta Bandung Tengah), Jl. Jend. Ahmad Yani No. 282, ☎ +62 22 7200058, +62 22 7271115.
  • Bandung (Polres Bandung), Soreang.
  • Cimahi (Polres Cimahi), Jl. Raya Cibabat,☎ +62 22 2031181.

Consulates

Hospitals with 24 hour emergency rooms

Go next

There are some sidetrips to the mountain range surrounding Bandung:

View of Kawah Putih (White Crater)
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