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Bandung, capital of West Java , is a great place to visit any time of the year as it’s not only renowned for its picturesque open vista, but the town also offers many attractions well worth a visit.
Surrounded by green fertile mountains, Bandung today is Indonesia’s center for learning and creativity. Here is the wellknown, Institut Tekonologi Bandung (ITB) established since 1920, the university that has produced many of Indonesia’s top scientists from engineers, geologists to leaders in business management. Today Bandung is one of Indonesia’s most prestigeous university towns. Bandung is also the center of Indonesia’s burgeoning ICT technology, at the same time it is a center of arts and artists. Every weekend and long holidays the city is filled with young people from Jakarta who flock to Bandung to enjoy its youthful creative atmosphere in music, painting, fashion, and the culinary arts.
Originally established in the late 19th century as a colonial garrison town, Bandung soon grew into a town for wealthy planters who owned the miles and miles of tea, coffee and cinchona plantations, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens in the cool and fertile hills of West Java. Bandung thus became the town of the European elite. And since this was the era of art deco, Bandung has a rich heritage of buildings in examplary art deco architecture. They include the beautiful Villa Isola, - now housing the University for Education-, the Concordia, the present Asian-African Museum, which was then the Society’s Clubhouse- , the main Braga shopping center, where the Dutch colonial elite went to shop, and the Savoy-Homann and Preanger hotels, where they would overnight and hold grand balls.
While along the present Jalan Juanda, then known as Dago Boulevard, were the houses of the elite with their green lawns and flower gardens fronting opulent homes. In those colonial heydays in the early 20th century, Bandung became known as “Parijs van Java”, or the Paris of Java, where Dutch planters and ladies paraded and flaunted their wealth and beauty along the boulevards and Bragaweg, then the Champs Elysees of the East.
Today, Bandung is remembered in history internationally as the venue of the First Asian-African Conference held in 1955 which brought together for the first time, leaders of 29 Asian and African countries, who declared to jointly fight colonialism for national independence. Attending the Conference were noted national leaders, among whom, Jawaharlal Nehru and daughter Indira Gandhi of India, Chao En Lai of China, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and Indonesia’s own President Soekarno. The Asian-African Conference became the precursor of the Non-Alighned Movement.
Later Bandung also became the center for textile mills producing much of Indonesia’s textiles for fashion wear, linen and upholstery.
Standing some 768 m above sea level, Bandung is today the country’s third largest city after Jakarta and Surabaya. Since the opening of the Cipularang Toll road, which cuts down travel from Jakarta to two hours from the previous four hours over the tortuous Puncak Pass, Bandung has become the favourite weekend getaway to relax and escape from the hectic pace of metropolitan Jakarta.
For Bandung offers trendy fashion wear at reasonable prices at its myriad factory outlets, a wide range of delicious local and international cuisines, and a distinct colonial European-style atmosphere combined with captivating traditional arts.
To observe some of the fascinating images of Bandung, you can visit these photo essays:
FROM BANDUNG AIRPORT: Hussein Sastranegara Airport is only 4 km from the town centre. Taxis from the airport to town cost approx. $US 6 (50,000 IDR). Remember to use the safe “Airforce Cooperative” taxi from the airport to the hotel/town centre. Hotels in Bandung usually provide free airport transfer services. They will be pleased to pick you up if you tell them the time and date of arrival in advance.
You won’t want to miss the unique experience once you decide to take a ride in one of Bandung’s most common transportation, the Angkot. It is an acronym from Angkutan Kota, Indonesian Bahasa for ‘City Transport’. This is the cheapest public transportation you can get in Indonesia. So, don’t expect five-star service or much convenience when getting around with it.
Angkot in Bandung comes in red, green, pink, yellow, blue, and occasionally in a combination of two completely unmatching color. In English this is pronounced ‘un-caught’, a public transport minivan, with single entry and exit door on the left, or at the back. This transport has a long seat and not-so-long one, facing sideways and each other. The long one, decent enough for the Asian physique, can accommodate seven people, while the other one accommodates five.
Most important to know is how to say, ‘KIRI’ (pronounced: key-ree), Bahasa for ‘left’ or ‘stop here’. Why ‘left’? In Indonesia, the traffic drives on the left. So “Kiri” is an indication that you wish to stop here or the Angkot will pass your destination. But if getting lost is what you want to do in your vacation, then enjoy taking an Angkot to get around.
The Angkot has no fixed fare as ths depends on how far you wish to travel. Don’t worry though as the cost will be less than a dollar. It is best to ask the driver or kernet (the assistant driver) about the fare to go to your destination. Hail an Angkot as you would a taxi.
If you’re confused with the routes of the Angkot or if it’s just too uncomfortable, then a taxi is the best choice for you to travel around Bandung. Official taxis in Bandung use meters but be careful when choosing an unmetered Taxi. Blue Bird is the best known and reliable taxi service.
Using your own car or renting a car is probably the easiest and the most convenient way to explore Bandung. There are many reliable local car rentals that you can find in Bandung;
Jl. Cipaganti 84 Bandung 40131
Jl. Lamping 7 Bandung 40131
Kompleks Mitra Dago Parahyangan
Bl I/11 Bandung
Jl. Jajaway Dago Atas 12 FA Bandung 40135
It is quite easy to reach Bandung. On your journey you’ll see the wondrous views of the Parahyangan (land of God) landscape, which reboots your sense of adventure. There are many modes of transportation to choose from:
Leaving on the airplane is the fastest way to reach Bandung. Air Asia provides thrice flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and daily flights from Bali (DPS) and Medan (MES) to Bandung (BDO) and vice versa. Malaysia Airlines also serves daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Bandung
Deraya Airlines also operates daily flight from Jakarta (Halim Perdanakusuma Airport) to Bandung (Hussein Sastranegara Airport).
While Merpati Nusantara Airlines flies daily between Bandung-Bali, Bandung-Labuan Bajo, Bandung-Surabaya, and Bandung-Medan Book your ticket beforehand as this is necessary to secure a seat.
Wings Air, subsidiary of Lion Air, operate flight routes of Bandung-Bengkulu, Bandung-Palembang (South Sumatra) and Bandung-Tanjung Karang (Bandar Lampung). Sriwijaya Air and Susi Air also provides flights to and from Bandung.
This is an ideal choice if you enjoy good views along the journey where your eyes will be spoilt by the beautiful lavish green of undulating hills, terraced paddy fields and tea plantations. From Jakarta the 180 km journey takes 3 hours.
PT KAI Persero (Kereta Api Indonesia) provides excellent train services to reach Bandung from several cities in Indonesia:
•If you leave from Jakarta (Gambir Train Station), Argo Gede will lead you to Bandung. Argo Gede serves only Executive-AC class but it is comfortable and faster train. The first train will leave at 5.30 a.m. and the last train at 08.30 p.m. on weekdays and 09.30 p.m. on Sunday.
•If you come from Surabaya (Surabaya Gubeng Train Station) there are several trains that offer a scenic journey to Bandung. Turangga (Executive), Harina (Executive), Argowilis (Executive) and Mutiara Selatan (Business) ply the route daily. So, get ready to pack your bag the first train leaves at 07.00 a.m. !
*Information about fares of the trains is available at www.kereta-api.co.id
Bus and Shuttle Car
There are also convenient buses operated by Primajasa which will take you to Bandung (Bandung Supermall) direct from the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta. The cost is approximately $US 8.50 per person.
However, if you’re looking for something private and elegant, shuttle cars (X-trans, Cipaganti, and Primajasa) are also available in the airport. The cost is approximately $US 14.0 per person. All of them provide great, reliable, and safe services.