If you love natural landscapes and unusual activities like boiling eggs in a volcanic crater, put Bandung on your travel list.
I travelled to the third largest Indonesian city situated in West Java recently and found Dutch colonial buildings surrounded by miles of volcanic mountains and plantations. The city offers cooler weather, great shopping outlets, good food and is only a 1 hour and 50 minutes' flight away.
I began my trip by heading to Lembang City to visit one of Bandung's most active volcanoes, Tangkuban Perahu, situated only 40km away from the city.
This short journey can take up to two hours due to traffic congestion. But it gives you more time to appreciate the vibrant markets and lifestyle. When traffic came to a halt, I would walk along the street and enjoy bala-bala, a savoury fried snack.
The area surrounding the volcano is heavily forested, so I took the 1.2km trail downhill to Kawah Ratu or Queen's Crater. This route offers scenic views for good photographs. I had the opportunity to boil eggs in temperatures above 120 deg C in one of the craters and enjoyed a mud bath in the hot water springs. This is said to help prevent skin diseases.
Then I headed to a tea plantation, where I was surrounded by acres of green fields. After the hiking, I was famished and had an early dinner at the Natural Strawberry Land and Resto, which has Wi-Fi for tech junkies like myself.
I opted for Nasi Liwet Strawberry Komplit (46,000 rupiah), which consisted of steamed rice, fried chicken, tofu, vegetables and strawberry sauce. Children will love the desserts here, like the Strawberry Float Ice Cream (36,800 rupiah) and can pick strawberries at the plantation a few metres away from the restaurant.
On my third day, I went shopping at Cihampelas Walk, which is highly rated by tourists. It is best to shop at night here, but get your buying done early as most shops close around 10pm.
Bandung has many factory outlets selling high quality brands, but if you prefer the mall, then there is Paris Van Java shopping mall, which is the largest in the area. I visited a few arts and crafts shops in Braga Street, which had items of historical significance. This area is popular for karaoke.
Learning a few words of the local language can help you. During the traffic jams, my driver Aca Sudrajat taught me a few terms in the Sundanese language. It is safe to get a metered taxi and a trip from the Husein Sastranegara International Airport to the city, which is about a 20-minute drive, will cost around 46,000 rupiah.
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