Bandung is a cool escape from Jakarta’s oppressive heat. Located in a huge basin 700 metres (2,300ft) above sea level and surrounded by lofty volcanic peaks, this prosperous city is known as Kota Kembang (City of Flowers). It has a large flower market held along Jalan Wastukencana. Before World War II, it was a quaint Dutch administrative and university town of about 150,000 and was known as the Paris of Java for its shady boulevards and expensive shops. Although it is now a rapidly growing industrial city, Bandung still has a pleasant climate and fine surrounds.
The best travel tips for visiting Bandung
Surrounding Bandung are the Priangan highlands (roughly, ‘Abode of the Gods’) with vistas of manicured tea plantations, hot springs, waterfalls and the easiest-to-visit volcano in Java, Gunung Tangkuban Perahu (Overturned Boat Mountain). Morning clouds mix with sulphurous fumes rising from a perfect bowl-shaped centre to create a spectacular scene. There are also several other smaller craters to hike around. Some 7km (4 miles) beyond Tangkuban Perahu is Ciater, where hot springs offer a soothing soak amid tea and clove estates.
Bandung’s foremost industry is education, but there is plenty for travellers too. The town has an abundance of Dutch colonial Art Deco architecture, including the magnificent Gedung Sate, built in 1920.
Browsing in factory outlet shops along Jalan Cihampelas is a feast for the eyes. Many of the shops have quirky facades fashioned from papier mâché, chrome or plywood. One has King Kong peering down; another, a dinosaur crashing through a roof. The Museum Geologi (Geological Museum) is worth a visit for its extraordinary array of rocks, maps and fossils, including replicas of the famous Java Man or Homo erectus skulls found in Central Java. Spend some time, too, wandering around Jalan Braga, the old Dutch shopping district.
Top attractions and things to do in Bandung
With shaded boulevards and expensive shops, learned Bandung has plenty of diversions, most notably its colonial architecture and the nearby mountains.
#1 Admire the Dutch Art Deco architecture
Bandung has an abundance of interesting Dutch colonial Art Deco architecture, including the magnificent Gedung Sate. Built in 1920, this neoclassical building was designed with plenty of native Indonesian elements. Today it is home to the provincial government.
#2 Get your rocks off at the Geological Museum
This small museum digs into the history of the world with rocks, minerals, maps, fossils and a huge replica of a T-rex. You'll also find a replica of the Java Man, a Homo erectus skull found in Central Java that was the oldest hominid fossil when it was dug up in the late 19th century.
#3 Visit Gunung Tangkuban Perahu (Overturned Boat Mountain)
Java's easiest-to-visit volcano is 30km (20 miles) north of Bandung. You can drive right up to the crater rim of Gunung Tangkuban Perahu (Overturned Boat Mountain). It gets its name from its distinctive shape which looks like an inverted hull. Although the volcano is not active, visitors will still be greeted by sulfur fumes. It's worth hiking back down very the jungle.
#4 Wander the campus of Indonesia’s oldest university
Still spitting out fine scientists and engineers, Bandung’s Institute of Technology (ITB) is Indonesia’s oldest and finest university established by the Dutch. The campus is also worth a visit, most notably for its interesting library built in the 1920s. President Soekarno, the first President of Indonesia, graduated from ITB.
#5 Go shopping around Jalan Braga
Prestigious Jalan Braga is the only cobbled street in Bandung. With a number of notable building, including the Art Deco Savoy Homann Bidakara Hotel on Jalan Asia-Afrika, the streets around this former Dutch shopping district is worth a couple of hours of wandering. Don't forget to check out the large flower market on Jalan Wastukencana.
Best areas to stay in Bandung
Bandung offers quality accommodation across all budgets: there are a few good hostels, funky well-priced business hotels and classy historical digs. Luxury hotels offer online discounts, so shop around.
This busy area is ideal for walking to the majority of sights. Home to Gedung Sate, a number of museums, plus some green city parks, most tourists will stay here. It is also close to a number of good places to eat.
Hidden amongst the hills to the north of Banbung, Lembang is home to a number of hot springs. With high-quality hotels, neatly-kept bungalows and boutique digs, this highland area is a fab place to stay but you will need to travel into the centre of town.
Close to the airport, the main train station and a number of shopping centres, Cicendo is the best place for budget travellers to stay in Banbung. It has cheap bungalows and hostels.
Best restaurants and bars
Something of a foodie hotspot, Bandung has lots of good, affordable places to eat. For fancy fine dining, head to the highland areas in the north. Otherwise, you'll find loads of excellent restaurants in and around cobbled Jalan Braga, whilst the night markets near the main square offer quick, cheap, tasty dinners too. As a student town, there are plenty of good places for a night out, including live music venues. Again, Jalan Braga is the place to be.
- Kampung Daun Set amongst waterfalls and woodland, Kampung Daun is more a jungle village than a restaurant serving excellent Indonesian fare as each table is given a standalone hut.
- Hummingbird Eatery This chic, bright, open restaurant focuses on high-end Indonesian food and Western staples in a light, relaxing space.
- Miss Bee Providore Floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of greenery bring the outside world in at this local fave. Expect Western faves like eggs benedict pitched against Indonesian staples.
How to get around
As with many large Indonesian cities, Bandung suffers from heavy traffic jams making it slow to get around. There are public buses but they are slow and cumbersome for tourists. Most will tackle the city by taxi.
Taxis fares are rather reasonable in Bandung. You have the choice of metered cabs like Bluebird, alongside ride-hailing app taxis Go-Jek, Grab, and Uber.
By angkot (minibus)
Angkots serve certain routes through the city and can be handy for crossing town. They're cheap but you'll need cash. The most helpful route goes from the south side of the train station at Stasiun Hall to Dago or Ledeng.
The local buses here (called Damri) tend to – surprise, surprise – get caught up in the traffic jams, especially during peak hours. They can be helpful for reaching several bus stations and the train station.
How many days do you need in Bandung?
You'll need around three days to get the most out of Bandung, or four days if you're hiking in the surrounding highlands. Three days will get you around the historic centre, a visit to the tea plantations and hot springs nearby, plus a couple of museums. You’ll also fit in a trip to either the Floating Market in Lembang or a drive to Gunung Tangkuban Perahu (Overturned Boat Mountain). Complete the latter on foot and you'll need four days.
Best time to visit
The ideal months to visit Bandung are from May to October when the weather is generally dry and pleasant. The average temperature during this period ranges from 22°C to 28°C, making it a comfortable time to explore the city and its surrounding hills. June to August is the peak tourist season in Bandung. Expect crowds and higher prices during this time.
Low season coincides with the wet season and runs from November to April. However, the rain typically occurs in short bursts and the temperatures remain mild. Try and avoid December and January in Bandung, as heavy rainfall can cause localised flooding and landslides.
Find out more about the best time to visit Indonesia.
How to get here
Despite only being two-and-a-half hours from Jakarta (up to nine hours if the traffic is bad), Bandung’s Husein Sastranegara International Airport is becoming increasingly popular with international and domestic tourists. Buses and trains are cheap and frequent too.
With flights from Bali, plus a host of other Indonesian cities, plenty of people fly into Bandung, which is located around 4km northwest of the city centre. Airlines fly to Bandung from Singapore and Malaysia as well.
There are two bus stations in Bandung: Cicaheum to the east (where buses arrive regularly from Garut, Pangandaran, Wonosobo and Yogyakarta); and Leuwi Panjang to the south (with buses from Jakarta, Cianjur and Bogor).
Trains arrive at Bandung Station, 1km northwest of the city centre, from Jakarta, Surabaya and Yogyakarta.