Enveloped with splendid mountains and active volcanoes, there are fewer places on earth which can match the splendour of Bandung, the third largest city of Indonesia. This sprawling green region, also known as ‘City of Flowers’, is home to protected forests, craters, plantations, waterfalls, hot springs and camping areas.
It’s a city where the glorious past is still intact and quite evident in Bandung’s rich colonial architecture reflecting its old world charms. The city is famous for shopping and dining that really wins over the hearts of tourists. Bandung has an abundance of factory outlets selling well-known brands at cheap prices and more than 560 restaurants
Bandung has an incredible historical significance from the ancient times. It dates from 1488 when the first reference to the name, Bandung, began. The city was an agreeable place to some European adventurers. In 1809, Louis Napoleon, the ruler of the Netherlands ordered Governor H.W. Daendels to increase defences against the English. They found Bandung as an apt strategic place to plan their exploits.
Bandung was an important place for both Asian and African countries. In 1955, President Soekarno held the Asian-African summit conference at Bandung. This movement was aimed at uniting Asian and African countries to fight against the colonization of the West. The same conference was also held again in Bandung in the year 2005 but this time in memory of the 1955 conference.
When Indonesia finally attained Independence and the Dutch left, the glimpses of Dutch footprints was left behind in Bandung, which is very much prevalent in its architecture. One of the best examples is the stunning Savoy Homann Hotel, built to its present glory in 1938.
Bandung is the capital of the Sundanese which is the main culture of the provinces West Java and Banten. Within this cultural hemisphere, only Jakarta is excluded. The Sundanese have its own cultural legacy and language, which is truly unique and can be experienced in no place better than Bandung.
Predominantly, Sundanese people believe in monotheism as a form of organized religion. During pre-Islamic period, dynamism and animism were two sets of beliefs that Sundanese practiced. Hence, these old belief systems coupled with Hinduism still play a big role in particular regions of West Java, i.e. Kampung Naga community and Baduy tribe. Although Sundanese are predominantly religious, they tend to also be very open-minded and welcoming to foreigners and their habits.
A distinct facet of Sundanese culture is its food. The whole of West Jawa and Bandung in particular, are a paradise for food lovers. Sundanese food distinguishes itself for the variety of steamed dishes, such as nasi timbel (rice steamed in banana leaf) and little packages called pepes (steamed fish, meat or tofu in banana leaf). Also Sundanese meals are often accompanied by raw vegetable salad, with spicy sauces.
Apart from these main dishes, Bandung has several specialties that can be found only in the city and are extremely popular. Some of the dishes are surabi (sweet or salty filled little baked pancakes), cendol (a drink with jelly and sweetened with coconut milk and palm sugar), colenak (roasted cassave root, again with either sweet or salty topping) batagor (baso tahu goreng, fried chunks of fish and tahu eaten in a soup or dry with peanut sauce).
What to Experience
Though shopping attracts many tourists to Bandung, there are a few tourist attractions that is worth a visit:
Villa Isola – Built by an Italian millionaire, Villa Isola is perched at the northern part overlooking the breathtaking view of the valley. Villa Isola was completed in 1933 by the Dutch architect Wolff Schoemaker for the Dutch media tycoon Dominique Willem Berretty, the founder of the Aneta press-agency in the Dutch East Indies. The original purpose of the building was Berretty’s private house, but then it was transformed into a hotel after his death and now it serves as the headmastership office of the University of Education Indonesia
Gedung Merdeka – Another architectural wonder built for the rich previously and today it serves as a museum displaying collections and photographs of the Asian–African Conference, the first Non-Aligned Movement that was held there in 1955.
Gedung Sate – Built and used by the Dutch companies, it is popular for its satay food decoration. It has 6 ornaments symbolizing 6 million guldens. Now it is used as the office for West Java governor. Luckily, the place is open to public and don’t forget to have a good chill and drink at the top floor while overlooking the city.
Watch musical performance at Saung Angklung Udjo- This traditional musical performance is one of the best way to explore Indonesian culture. It is a 2 hour show of several parts including puppet show, mask dance, Angklung performance and dances with little kids.
Kebun Binatang- Kebun Binatang is a 14-hectare (35-acre) zoo which was created in 1933 when two existing zoos in the city (Cimindi zoo and Dago Atas zoo) were combined and moved to the current location on Taman Sari street. The new zoo was located in “Jubileum Park”, a botanical garden created in 1923 to celebrate the silver Jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Kawah Putih- 2 hours from Bandung city center, the lake is a stunningly beautiful with setting from a movie. Being the highland it is also cooling but beware of sunburn too cause regardless it can still be pretty sunny. This is a sulphuric lake as it is from a volcano.The entire area can be explored in 30 minutes.
Tangkuban Perahu- About 1.5 hours from Bandung, it is yet another crater from volcano of Indonesia that is worth the visit for the sheer awe of the view from the top.
Where to stay
Stays at Bandung includes all range from high end, mid-range to budgeted hotels to hostels. Being a fairly popular travel destination for both locals and foreigners, Bandung does not lack in choices of place to stay. Hotel trans studio Bandung is a good choice
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