Set at 768m above sea level and surrounded by lush mountains, Bandung, the capital of West Java, is popular for its pleasantly cool climate and plenty of shopping options.
It’s the weekend destination for a lot of people based in Jakarta, which would explain the horrible traffic from Friday to early Monday morning. Beyond its outlet stores, however, Bandung is also a frequent jump-off point for day trips to the countryside on its outskirts.
Just hours from Bandung are some of Indonesia’s most amazing natural attractions. Whether you’re up for an eco-adventure, a sightseeing tour, a relaxing retreat, or a photo shoot session, there’s something in store for you in the outskirts of Bandung.
Here are some Bandung day trips that you can add to your itinerary whenever you’re in Indonesia.
Kawah Putih, the White Crater
About 50 kilometers south of Bandung, you’ll find this unique volcanic attraction. One of two craters in Mount Patuha, Kawah Putih is famed for its white waters.
Yes, white (or greenish white, actually). The vast crater lake changes colors depending on the weather, and most of the time it’s either milky white or greenish white. Even the sand and rocks around it have leached into whitish colors. This phenomenon is due to the high sulfur content of the lake, where a sulfur mine once stood.
Sulfurous gas and steam can not only be seen bubbling from the lake, you’ll be able to smell it too. It is sometimes strong enough to make your feel queasy.
It was much stronger when we went there last year; I felt nauseous even after hours of leaving the area. All of use wore a disposable mask, but the sulfur in the air still made it hard to stay long.
This year, however, I noticed that the water level was much lower. We also didn’t need to wear a mask, and we didn’t feel nauseous.
With or without the nausea, Kawah Putih is awesome, especially for those who love taking pictures. The lake is bright and stark on sunny days, and eerie yet mesmerizing when it’s shrouded in mist on cloudy days.
Add to that the bare trees growing in the lake and a backdrop of tree-clad cliffs, and you get a completely surreal and stunning view.
Ranca Bali Tea Plantation
Just a short distance (5-minute drive) from Kawah Putih you’ll come across another pretty scenery: a green expanse of rolling hills and winding tea plantations.
Located 1,628 meters above sea level, the Ranca Bali Tea Plantation has been around since 1870 and to this day fascinates visitors not only with its panoramic landscape but also with its cool and fresh (and sometimes misty) ambiance — the perfect backdrop for a nice scenic stroll…or a photo shoot.
Tip: When you’re there, buy a pack of blueberries or strawberries from the vendors there. Each pack costs only IDR10,000 (less than a dollar) and the fruit is fresh and delicious.
This famous volcano is located 25 to 30 kilometers north of Bandung.
From Bandung, it resembles the hull of an overturned boat. Up close, it wows with craters that you can ride or hike to the edge of — if you want to see the volcano’s boiling mud and hot springs.
Unlike in Ijen Volcano, though, going down the crater is not allowed, so we just stayed a few minutes there to take pictures. There are a lot of stalls selling souvenirs, too.
Sari Ater Resort
This complex is every bit a relaxing retreat. For one, it has an incredibly peaceful setting — right along the slopes of a mountain, amidst a sprawling tea estate.
Thanks to nearby volcanoes, its warm, shallow pools are as rejuvenating as they are therapeutic, although I didn’t swim when we were there. The pool water comes from hot mineral springs, which is why swimming in them relieves sore muscles and is believed to help heal skin and joint problems.
Both public and private pools are available.
Sari Ater is about 30 kilometers north of Bandung and easily accessible from Tangkuban Perahu.
Floating Market Restaurant
The “restaurants” — a row of 30 or so anchored boats (traditional canoes) with built-in food stalls — float in the middle of an artificial lake. They sell different types of street food, including Bandung specialties.
Popular options include satay, meatballs, dumplings, batagor (fried bakso and tofu), lotek (vegetable salad), karedok (raw vegetable salad), otak-otak (grilled fish cake), lemper (chicken wrapped in sticky rice), lumpia basah and miekocok (beef noodle soup).
For snack time, don’t forget to try pisang goreng (banana fritters), which is served with cheese and chocolate.
You can purchase food here using special “coins” (much like arcade and casino tokens) and enjoy them in the adjoining dining area featuring small private huts. Make sure to buy the coins before you go inside the complex!
There’s also a counter where you can buy food to feed the animals in the area, including fish, turtles, geese and rabbits. Plus, you can go on paddle boat and ATV rides, check out the stone and cactus gardens, or catch a miniature train set in action.
If you’re ever in Bandung, do make time for a day tour to its surrounding countryside.
Yes, the city is large and already offers a lot to explore, but you won’t want to miss out on the exciting experiences and breathtaking scenes that you can only find in its outskirts. Going off the beaten path in Indonesia can indeed be incredibly rewarding.
Bandung was the last stop of this year’s #TripOfWonders influencers campaign with #WonderfulIndonesia, the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism. We had previously gone to Makassar, Lombok, and Banyuwangi. We only covered Bandung and Kawah Putih, but the other info in this article came from a previous campaign with Indonesia Tourism (April 2015).