The third biggest city in Indonesia, Bandung, is rich with heritage in arts and culture. Many of its architectural structures originated from Europe during the Dutch colonial times. Unlike the other states in Indonesia, Bandung’s climate is relatively cooler with an average temperature of 23 degrees all year around. This is largely due to Bandung’s high altitude, sitting 2,460 feet above sea level and surrounded by non-active volcanoes. Apart from the panoramic volcanic views, it is also popular for its distros and street food. Most of Bandung population are of Sundanese descent and this is displayed in the local delicacies available in it’s restaurants. As the idea of backpacking means low costs in all aspects of travel, this guide serves to perfectly encapsulate the backpacking journey in Bandung. Here’s to spreading some love for the backpackers out there!
PLACES TO CRASH FOR THE NIGHT
As a backpacker, finding an ideal accommodation which meets with your basic needs and budget is the holy grail. Bandung has a wide variety of accommodations from cheap hostels to concept hotels. Backpackers always go for the cheaper alternative as long the place is comfortable and has necessities such as wifi and proper beds. Staying in hostels definitely is an exciting experience as you can mingle with other backpackers from around the world and share stories of your recent travels. Here’s a personal favourite based on the amazing experience I had and that I’ve love to spread the word on.
Pinisi Backpacker (Jl. Pasirkaliki Belakang 84 Gg. Musaen No. 92/6A, Bandung, Indonesia)
This hostel offers a mixed bunk rooms and separate female rooms. This minimalist designed hostel is perfect for backpackers looking to mingle with other guests as they have a common hall room for the guests to chill after a long day exploring the city. Security locker, wifi and coffee are provided 24-hours for guests and another perk is that breakfast is included.
The Attic Bed and Breakfast (Jl. Lr. H. Djuanda 130 BLK, Bandung, Indonesia)
This hostel provides separate private bedrooms and a common kitchen and living room. The hostel opened in early 2016, hence it is well furnished and clean. The host will definitely try to accommodate to your every need from assisting in your itinerary and booking your transport for the next day. This hostel also provides breakfast, wifi and even has a porch for guests to organize a BBQ.
Cottonwood Bed and Breakfast (Jl. Mustang B2/1A, Kompleks Kumala Garden, Pasteur, Bandung, Indonesia, 40164)
For a cheap fee, this concept hostel has the best décor among the rest. With rooms that are amazingly decorated and Instagram-worthy, this is definitely the place to stay during your Bandung trip. The hostel also has a café just below its main lobby and provides the guests with a place to mingle and just reflect on their day over a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
EXPLORING THE VOLCANOES
Start your trip with visiting some place away from the busy city. Places like Kawah Putih, Tangkuban Perahu and Hutan Mati are a few places you simply have to visit. Kawah Putih offers an out-of-this-world experience with its mystical Crystal Lake and beautiful landscapes.
The white mist which is made up of sulphur from the nearby volcanic activities is ever-present and the clear waters from the lake changes color due to the weather conditions. Another beautiful natural phenomenon you can experience visiting the Hutan Mati (Dead Forest) which is being burnt off by the nearby volcano. The tree trunks that remain make it another beautiful spot to visit in Bandung. Surprisingly, there are still villages and settlements around these volcanic areas in Bandung. The sole reason they stay on despite the risk, is to work on their plantations which are mostly strawberries and tea leaves.
Bandung is a hipster city in the making. The number of concept cafes has been steadily rising throughout the years. Each of the cafes offers something unique in terms of décor and culinary specialties. The Noah’s Barn Coffeenery is one of the few cafes with lavish décor and serves excellent coffee.
A trip to Bandung is never complete without trying the city’s specialty coffee which is Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee).
Preparing the coffee is an interesting process which includes part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defaecated by the civet itself. The coffee beans are then further processed and cleaned before it is made to the final product which is ready to be brewed. Due to the complicated process in cultivating the coffee beans, Kopi Luwak is regarded as the most expensive coffee in the world.
FASHION AND DESIGN
Local independent brands rule the fashion scene in Bandung. You simply cannot miss the local independent boutiques along the streets and the interesting designs will attract you to enter these establishments. In Bandung, these establishments are commonly known as distros and are mostly located at Jalan Sultan Agong. This is one of the reasons Bandung is dubbed “The Paris of Java” other than the city’s cool climate and European architecture. Local brands like Wadezig, UNKL 347 and SCREAMOUS have even reached global recognition.
The prices of the products are relatively cheap and affordable too and also offer a wide range of products from clothing to accessories. Be prepared to reserve some empty spaces in your backpack for these local brand products.
LOCAL DELICACIES AND CRAFTS
No trip to a country is complete if you never visit the country’s street markets. Bandung is no exception. This is the best place to feel and experience what Bandung has to offer. Dago Street for example offers that exact experience with a variety of street foods to choose from. Street foods like Sate Kardjan, Bubur Ayam Mang Oyo and Roti Bakar Bandung are highly recommended.
However for a better taste of Bandung food culture, you simply have to try the Sundanese cuisine such as Mie Kocok and Soto Bandung. Also on Dago Street, you can get almost everything. From cheap flowers to local crafts, you can simply get your souvenirs or memorabilia at Dago Street.
Bandung is generally a friendly place to visit. Try to get to know the people there and listen to their life stories. Strike up a conversation with your Cupir/Supir (Taxi Driver) or Ojek (Motorcycle Taxi Driver) and they will be able to tell you insider stories of Bandung. There is an application called Go-Jek which is available for download in your smartphones.
This application is a taxi service using motorcycles instead of the conventional taxi vehicle. It is definitely a cheaper and faster alternative for transportation in Bandung. Locals know their area way better than anyone else so why not ask them for recommendations for places to visit?
Places like Stone Garden and Bukit Moko are places of discovery through conversations with the locals, and are certainly beautiful places to visit. The view of Bandung at night on top of Bukit Moko is just breathtaking and memorable.
While the best part of backpacking is taking risks to open paths of discovery, I account my accidental discoveries to my gut feel. Whether you’re flying solo or in a group, prepare to witness the highly hyped mystical volcanic phenomenon in this city and an all-encompassing experience you wouldn’t wanna miss.