The Indonesian island of Java can easily keep any traveller travelling solo or in a group occupied for two months.
In this article I am going to give you a large selection of options for your Indonesia vacation. I will link each of those places to visit in Indonesia to a travel report for more details. Additionally, I am going to give you recommendations for West, Central and East Java. For all recommendations combined, you should plan for an extra two to three weeks of travelling time for this part of your Indonesian holidays, or rather your Indonesia Java round trip. I wish you fun preparing your sample travel itinerary with all the suggestions you find here in this travel guide!
Inbetween, pictures of my everyday travel experiences are going to break up the texts.
Before we start two things
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Do you want even more ideas of what to do in Java?
Put some interesting Java Indonesia things to do into your holiday mix. Below you can book day tours for certain segments of your trip:
Java Indonesia travel guide for West Java
Map for vacation spots in West Java
Jakarta – Recommended – Green
When people give Jakarta a miss based on the reasoning that the place is too smelly and has too much traffic, then I have to wonder why so many people visit Bangkok. I can assure you that in Bangkok public transport is a little better organized, but otherwise the two cities are comparable. And if one is curious about the everyday life of many Indonesians, one should not avoid Java’s larger cities. Here is the Jakarta report.
On a visit to the Istiqlal Mosque these two ladies asked me for a snapshot.
Bandung or Bogor?
Option Bandung – Recommended – Green
At the time, I opted for Bandung and the surrounding area. There is not enough time for both, unless you have plenty of it. Following is a description of both options.
Bandung is another large city in West Java, 150 km southeast of Jakarta. In the area, there are also the smaller cities of Cipanas (6 km north of Garut) or – in case Cipanas has no vacancies, which happens a lot by the way – Garut, which is what I recommend for a two, three night stay.
Seats on my bus from Garut back to Bandung
In the surrounding area one can visit, for example, the Tangkuban Prahu volcano and – much more interesting – the Papandayan volcano. You can give the Cangkuang temple a miss though.
Here the report about Bandung and surroundings.
Beautiful rice terraces came into view during the drive from Garut to the Papandayan volcano.
If you happen to be in Bandung on a Sunday morning, you should not miss the opportunity to watch the Adu Domba, the local ram fights.
Beware: Near Bogor there is a larger place called Cipanas, which is not the one described here. The Cipanas near Garut and Bandung, the one mentioned here, is known for its thermal baths. Make sure you pay attention to this when you book your accommodation.
I have seen time and again that students dress in fancy dress for a project. But I have no idea what this fancy dress, by students in Garut, was meant to be. Unfortunately, no one spoke sufficient English to be able to explain it to me.
Option Bogor – Blue
Those who don’t want to travel into Jakarta after arriving in Java Indonesia at Jakarta’s airport can detour to Bogor. But there are also additional reasons to visit Bogor: For example, there are some very impressive botanical gardens.
A few ideas on what one can get up in and around Bogor can be found in this article.
Near Bogor there are the Puncak Pass and Cibodas. Here one can hike around in natural and agricultural landscapes and visit the Gede volcano.
Purwaceng tea is something one must try on a trip to Indonesia!
Alternatives – Yellow
or not to homestay during your Indonesia vacation? Well, I did it. The homestay was located between Jakarta and Bandung, in rural Cianjur. Details can be found here.
you’ll find the Agung Mosque, ruins of the sultanate and of Dutch buildings. Here’s a report.
Ujung Kulon national park
Nature lovers, who are not too demanding when it comes to their accommodation, can visit Ujung Kulon national park. There, you can for example go on multi-day hikes. A few bits of information can be found here.
Java Indonesia travel guide for Central Java
Map for vacation spots in Central Java
Yogyakarta – Recommended – Green
There is almost no avoiding Yogyakarta on a visit to Central Java. It is an attraction in itself with a few interesting sights, but can also serve as a starting off point for daytrips to attractions in the surrounding area. Here the report for Yogyakarta.
The executive class on the night train from Yogyakarta to Malang
Borobudur temple – Recommended – Green
It is just one of these places that one has to see at least once in a lifetime. I really didn’t care that it was very touristy and that admission is expensive, and you shouldn’t care either. This Buddhist temple is unique! Here the report about the Borobudur temple.
A family that asked me for a photo in Borobudur, plus my not-so-little self in comparison to the average Asian 🙂
Prambanan’s Hindu temples – Recommended – Green
This temple complex is located in the east of Yogyakarta and definitely worth a visit. Most of the temples have been exquisitely restored and still feature the divine statues in their interior. Here the report on Prambanan’s Hindu temples.
If you are in Prambanan at the right time, you can also experience the Ramayana ballet – here a report. Since the ballet only takes place every other day, it is vital that you plan your visit to Prambanan for the right day.
Near the exit of the Prambanan temple complex there are about 15 restaurants, which don’t just all sell the same, they also hung up the same pricelist 15 times: Southeast Asia at its finest! 🙂
Dieng and Wonosobo – Recommended – Green
The plateau of Dieng kills three birds with one stone: There is an old Hindu temple to be visited, the plateau is volcanically active and one gets to experience the finest of Javanese agriculture:
Vegetable cultivation in the valley and on the terraces lining the hillside. Also, the place is not as touristy, hence one actually gets an idea of actual village life here.
Here is the link to the article, including a recommendation for an overnight stay in Wonosobo.
Group of pupils in Dieng
Alternatives – Yellow
is often described as a smaller Yogyakarta. So those who like things a little more quietly can come here instead of Yogyakarta.
Solo’s surroundings also offer a few highlights. You can, for example, visit Gunung Lawu, a spiritual mountain for Hindus, or the Candi Sukuh, a temple dedicated to eroticism.
This is a group of islands 80 km north of Central Java with amazing beaches. This is best suited for people who are seeking relaxation in a truly beautiful spot. Here a report on the islands.
My visit to the place didn’t exactly overwhelm me. But it is nice for hiking and interesting if one wants to study the immediate consequences of the 2010 volcanic eruption.
The royal graveyards of Imogiri
are an attraction close to Yogyakarta. Here a report.
serves as a good starting off point for the exploration of Central Java’s northern coast. The city, which is not visited by many tourists, also has quite a bit to offer, as the following article will show.
In the area, in Demak, there is Indonesia’s oldest mosque – here are a few pictures.
In the coastal town of Cilacap is an old Dutch fortress and guaranteed not many tourists.
Finally, the Java Indonesia travel guide for East Java
Map for decent vacation spots in East Java
Bromo volcano – Recommended – Green
The sunrise viewing platform at the Bromo volcano is just swarming with tourists. But the beauty that you will encounter there is of such an overwhelming magnitude that I wholeheartedly recommend the visit as well as the very early morning start! Here my report about the Bromo volcano.
On the way back from the Bromo volcano to Malang we came across five school street parades. Here’s an example.
We also came past a cattle auction.
Malang – Recommended – Green
Malang is a relaxed place in East Java, perfectly suited as a starting off point for a visit to the Bromo volcano, which also has a lot to offer in its own right, as this report demonstrates.
Malang can also serve as a base to visit the active Kelud volcano – my visit took place on September 5th 2013, before the eruption on February 13th 2014 – and the exciting East Javanese temples Penataran and Singosari. At any of those places you will feel like you are almost the only tourist, which is nice for a change.
P.S. The Kelud volcano’s crater can currently – May 2014 – not be visited. Please inquire whether the crater can be visited before you undertake the long trip to get there.
Advertising for the local football fan club at the Kelud volcano that utilizes the momentarily available foreigner 😉
Alternatives – Yellow
Is an impressive volcanic landscape in the very east of Java Indonesia, well known for the sulphur mining workers.
Is being neglected by many a traveller, even though the old town is worth seeing. A visit to the Sampoerna tobacco museum is also worthwhile. If you only want to visit East Java or want to continue onto Bali by plane, then Surabayas airport is your best option. Here’s the report.
If you are happy to undertake a long, arduous trip in order to eventually enjoy a place by the sea in peace and quiet, then Pacitan is the place for you! If you enjoy surfing without all the hubbub, you have to come here! Here’s the report.
This climatically very dry Indonesian island in the northeast of Java is not very touristy, but has great beaches to offer. It is also famous for bull racing competitions, which take place in a variety of places across the island during the months of August and September. Here’s a short article.
For your travel planning
To make planning a trip a success for you, please read the travel tips for Java Indonesia here!
When is the best time for your Indonesian holidays?
The dry season in Indonesia lasts from May until September. Occasional, short rain showers may occur even during this period.
I hope you have enjoyed this travel route suggestion. Why not leave me a comment, even if it is your first? I would really appreciate it
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