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The 10 Best Destinations in Java, Indonesia

Mount Bromo volcano (Gunung Bromo) during sunrise, seen from Mount Penanjakan | © WATHIT H / Shutterstock
Picture of Edira Putri
Updated: 27 July 2018
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Home to many of Indonesia’s most prominent cultures, Java is the nation’s centre of civilisation. Whatever is in your list when planning a trip, most likely you’ll find it on this sprawling island. From the country’s biggest metropolitan area to a remote diving paradise, discover the best destinations in Java.

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

This expansive natural reserve covers a diverse area comprising some of Indonesia’s most iconic volcanoes. Watching sunrise with the backdrop of Bromo’s gorgeous blown-off top and its surrounding peaks have become the quintessence of volcanic experience in Indonesia. More experienced hikers can try their luck hiking Semeru and reach the highest peak in Java, awed with the sweeping view along the way. The mountains also share the vicinity with glorious waterfalls, savannah, sand and sea, all of which are within reach from each other in a day trip or two.

Mount Bromo volcano (Gunung Bromo) during sunrise from viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan, in East Java, Indonesia
© WATHIT H / Shutterstock

Dieng Plateau

Perched at 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) above sea level, Dieng Plateau is one of the coolest destinations in Indonesia, and not just weather-wise. Both a natural and cultural destination, there are many things to see and do in Dieng Plateau. Other than the sweeping mountain view of jungles and distant villages, this highland has a multi-colored lake, hot spring, and ancient Hindu temples. Once a year, tourists flock to the spot for a much-anticipated festival that includes traditional rituals, performances, and jazz above the clouds.

View from Dieng Plateau

Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, or Jogja, as it’s often lovingly called, is a cherished guardian of the Javanese culture, keeping profound traditions alive and well throughout the centuries. That results in a truly distinctive town, a stronghold for tradition and culture that will fascinate tourists with all its charms. The Yogyakarta Sultanate palace complex remains one of the unmissable highlights where tourists can observe and interact with the ancient culture in the flesh. Exploring villages of batik-makers and visiting the majestic Prambanan Temple are also among the best experiences to have in Java’s center of art and culture.

Exploring Malioboro, Yogyakarta

Karimunjawa

All in all, Indonesia is a tropical paradise with countless exotic island destinations to discover. Karimunjawa is a string of isles off the coast of Central Java, home to flourishing coral reefs, mangrove, and various biodiversity, including rare and protected ones. As is typical with Java’s northern coast, the idyllic beaches on these islands have calm waves, making it an ideal spot for beginner-friendly diving and snorkelling. Island-hopping through its five inhabited islands (and more uninhabited ones) will not only bring you to gorgeous white sand beaches, you’ll also get to meet the mix of culture that makes up the archipelago’s local population — crafty Javanese, skillful seamen of Bugis, and fishermen from Madura.

Amazing white sand beach on Karimunjawa

Jakarta

Beyond the notorious traffic and dense concrete jungle, Jakarta is a dynamic city with many faces, and at least one of them could make anyone fall in love. To see Jakarta as a charming heritage town, go to the Old Town complex to catch colonial landmarks housing profound museums. Contemporary art can be found in Jakarta’s many galleries, theatres, and cultural establishments. No surprise, the capital city is also a bustling lifestyle destination with endless restaurants, cafés, and stores; legendary or freshly opened. And finally surprise, the urban area also holds some beautiful natural attractions, from the exotic Thousand Islands to vast mangrove forest.

The lively Thamrin area of Central Jakarta

Borobudur Temple

The world’s biggest sanctuary isn’t only known and loved for its historical and spiritual significance. Simply put, Borobudur is one of the most beautiful temples in the archipelago. It is majestic with iconic stupas, elaborate stone reliefs, and awe-inspiring natural landscapes. Of course, for those who care enough to delve deeper than what meets the eye, the beautiful adornments reveal epic stories and insights that enrich the mind and soul. The grand design itself symbolises the cosmos and human mind; one thing that makes the symbol-rich temple a worldwide popular site for pilgrimage. Also a rather mysterious architectural feat, the temple was built with a delicate pattern system instead of cement or adhesive, putting all two million blocks together firmly.

Candi Borobudur, Jawa, Indonesia
© Valery Bocman / Shutterstock

Batu

This charming town in East Java is gaining popularity with the opening of even more new attractions. But the highlands area has been a cherished getaway for nobles and royals of the 10th century due to the cool weather, relaxing atmosphere, and splendid nature. Now, Batu’s tourism has taken a new turn with a number of attractions scattered across the area; mainly amusement and theme parks. The town houses the renowned Jatim Park, all three of them, each with different highlights and educational themes. Museum Angkut, on the other hand, has been one of the region’s pride, with extensive collections of transportation showcased in elaborate settings. Batu Night Spectacular and Eco Green Park are also not to be missed. Even with the blossoming new attractions, Batu has not lost its natural charm, the cool breeze and gorgeous mountain view are with you along the way.

Batu Square, Malang

Bandung

Perhaps the moniker ‘Paris of Java’ will give you a sense of what this city is about. If not, the boutiques and fashion outlets lining the main streets may paint a clearer picture of Bandung as a fashion mecca and shopping destination. But instead of high-end designer labels, you’ll find fresh local flairs, non-pretentious quality pieces, and bargain-priced items. Bandung is also a culinary destination famed for novelty concept cafés, restaurants, and street food galore. Art and architecture is also flourishing, giving this town an exciting youthful vibe even amid the abundance of heritage buildings and historical sites.

The natural view at Dusun Bambu, Bandung

Baluran National Park

In the Emerald of the Equator of Indonesia, lush tropical forests and expansive greeneries are no strange sight. But dry plains like the ones you dream about in Africa also exist in the archipelago, earning the place the nickname ‘Little Africa of Java’. Compared to other places in Indonesia, Baluran National Park sustains an entirely different set of biodiversity and ecosystem due to its climate. The savannah is home to many endangered mammals like banteng, Java mouse-deer, Javan leopard, and more, roaming wild and free. Tourists can sign up for an organised safari tour arranged by the park to ensure a more convenient and safe adventure.

Wild deer at Baluran National Park

Puncak Bogor

The name ‘Puncak’ is loosely used to describe an area anywhere around the mountain pass that connects Bogor to Bandung, extending through Cianjur and Sukabumi. The tea plantation, lush vegetation, and glorious landscape of Puncak have welcomed anyone from Dutch colonial officials to weary urban-dwellers from modern-time Jakarta. While the magnificent natural wildlife is still flourishing, attractions keep growing with new theme parks, hotels, and villas. Puncak is especially popular and crowded during weekends with people coming for all kinds of fun, whether to relax and simply breathe fresh air at a villa or have a fun day out cycling, hiking, playing, or paragliding.

Tea plantation in Bogor, Indonesia
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