Java (Indonesian: Jawa) is an island in Indonesia. The much smaller but still sizable island of Madura, off the coast of and covered as part of the region of East Java, is also included in this article.

Mount Bromo (left) and Mount Semeru (top right), East Java


Java is Indonesia's fifth-largest island, compromising only 7% of Indonesia's territory (127,569 sq. km), but 65% of Indonesia's entire population (130 million people) fills the island, it is the world's most populated island with a density of 940 people per sq. km!

Indonesia's most important cities are on this island. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is located on Java's northwest coast. Surabaya (the second largest city in Indonesia), is located in East Java. Bandung (the third most populous city in Indonesia), is the capital city of West Java province. Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo), although not large in population are very significant centres of culture, in southern central Java.

The island of Java has distinct cultural zones. In the west Sundanese , Betawi in Jakarta. Javanese, for most of central and eastern javanese provinces with the Madurese at Madura Island. Smaller indigenous tribes include the Badui of the west and Tengger from the east.

This is a quite remarkable island with no less than 30 active volcanoes. Add to that a host of major national parks with lots to offer the visitor who appreciates outdoor attractions.


Map of Java with regions colour coded
West Java (Banten Province and West Java Province) (Anyer, Bandung, Banten, Bekasi, Bogor, Ciamis, Cianjur, Cirebon, Depok, Garut, Jakarta, Kampung Naga, Kepulauan Seribu National Park, Puncak, Mount Halimun Salak National Park, Pelabuhan Ratu, Sukabumi, Tasikmalaya, Tangerang, Ujung Kulon National Park)
Includes the massive urban sprawl of Jakarta, to the south Bandung in the hills.
Central Java (Central Java Province and Yogyakarta Special Region) (Borobudur, Cilacap, Dieng Plateau, Jepara, Karimunjawa, Kendal (Java, Indonesia), Magelang, Mount Merapi, Parangtritis, Prambanan, Purwokerto, Salatiga, Semarang, Solo, Tegal, Yogyakarta)
Charming Yogyakarta and significant ancient temples.
East Java (East Java Province which includes of Madura Island) (Baluran National Park, Banyuwangi, Batu, Blitar, Bojonegoro, Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, Jember, Madiun, Madura, Malang, Pacitan, Probolinggo, Surabaya)
Indonesia's second city Surabaya and stunning volcanic scenery.


The Jakarta city skyline

Other destinations


While Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is the lingua franca understood by almost everyone, the majority of Java's population also speak Javanese, a related but mutually incomprehensible language. As the largest single language in Indonesia, Javanese influence on Bahasa Indonesia has been quite significant, in Central and East Java local pronunciation changes changes include a turning into o, so eg. Surabaya becomes Suroboyo.

Other significant local languages include Sundanese, spoken in West Java, Betawi in Jakarta and Madurese, spoken on and around the island of Madura.

At the border of the West Javan and Central Javan Provinces, the people use a combination of Sundanese language and Javanese language which confuses people who speak only Sundanese or Javanese.

Get in

By air

Most visitors arrive at Jakarta where most international airlines that fly to Indonesia land at, and has excellent connections to all points on Java. An increasing number of international carriers also fly to Bandung, Semarang, Solo, Yogyakarta, and Surabaya. Flying to these secondary airports can be dramatically cheaper than connecting from Jakarta thanks to the role of low cost carriers from Malaysia and Singapore, so you might want to transit at one of these two countries before heading here. Domestically, all the airports are well connected with more than 10 flights a day, most fly from Jakarta.

By sea

PT Angkutan Sungai Danau dan Penyeberangan/ASDP ferry services:

PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia/PELNI passenger ship routes include:

Get around

Java's infrastructure is comprehesive in - it is possible (but not advisable to try) to cross the entire island by land in a single (long) day. However, the sheer density of population means that roads, buses and trains can get overcrowded if you're moving at the same time as everyone else.

By bus

The main form of long-distance transport, vast armadas of buses cross the island and connect every city and mountain hamlet. Watch out though, as many drivers have near-suicidal driving habits that emphasize speed above all else. There are two type of buses, with aircon and without aircon; the fare of non-aircon is only about a third of using aircon. If you do take a bus, take one with aircon, because drivers of such buses are known to be safer, as a general rule. For long trips, people tend to use cheap airlines, because their fares are usually comparable to bus fare. However, in peak season, even 'cheap airlines' fares increase to 3 to 4 times the cost for air conditioned buses.

By train

Java has the most comprehensive railway network in Indonesia, with trains connecting the capital city of Jakarta with most other cities and towns in the island. The eksekutif class is the luxury class, and consequently the most expensive.

Ticket reservations can be made starting 90 days in advance. On-line ticket reservation is available through PT Kereta Api's ticketing site and several other on-line ticket agent websites and also thousands of Alfamart and Indomart mini markets. Travelers can also buy ticket from a ticket agent's shop or local post office which is available in most of all cities in Indonesia. Either buying from internet or ticket shop, travelers will get printable voucher with Rp6,000 additional administration fee and it must be exchanged with the real ticket at the nearest or departure train station. Please remember that your name in the ticket should be same with your identity or you can't get into the train, if the name is different or you must pay double.

All transportation moda in Indonesia relatively are not facilitate need of disability persons. In October 2014, PT Kereta Api released a breakthrough with disability wagon(s) which has wide door, ample space for wheelchair and toilet for disability persons. No additional charge to use diability wagon. It is applied in new route through north of Java double tracks, Jakarta-Surabaya-Malang vice versa and gradually will be implemented to all executive long routes.

By road

Java's toll roads are built nearly to Western standards, with dual grade-separated lanes in both directions and elevated interchanges. Tolls are quite affordable, usually Rp 1,500-5,000 every 10 km or so. However, signage is often lacking and driving habits are atrocious, so it's very wise to pay a little extra and get a car with driver instead of attempting to drive yourself.


Typical Central Java scenery with Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu looming large

Java offers everything a somewhat adventurous traveler is looking for: two of world's great ancient monuments, volcanoes (all 121 of them), major national parks, rainforests, tea and rice plantations, large cities, big waves and even savanna. The scenery in most parts of Java is spectacular and, while the island is overpopulated, there are still plenty of unspoiled places. Even though the beaches are not very appealing in Java and tides can be fatal especially in south part of Java, except for surfing in Banyuwangi, East Java. In nearby archipelagos like Pulau Seribu or Karimunjawa the traveler can find white sand beaches and corals islands.


Typical stupas of the upper levels at Borobudur


Boiled water or drink water from a sealed bottle. Tap water is not drinkable, except boiled or is filtered by small purifier. Coffee or tea, it's safe. The same applies to beer, which combines very well with hot Indonesian cuisine. Beers are relatively cheap, but other alcohol drinks with more than 5 percent alcohol are relatively expensive due to taxation.

Stay safe

Use common sense, as you would do in your own country. The most common crime for travellers to be aware of is theft. Violent crime is rare in Indonesia. However, it's wise to be extra cautious in Jakarta and other big cities, especially in crowds.

Traffic can be chaotic. Watch out for trucks, cars and other moving objects. One rule applies: "might is right". Don't expect traffic to respect pedestrian ("Zebra") crossings (even when a police(wo)man is in sight). When crossing a busy street - be confident, make sure your intentions are clear to the oncoming drivers. Cars never stop, but if they know what they can expect from you, they will avoid you. Using hand signal like put one hand in the air or signaling stop might help, too.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 25, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.