People – both locals and tourists – flock to Bandung, Indonesia for mainly one reason: shopping. The third largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta and Surabaya, Bandung is indeed teeming with countless outlet stores that hawk bargains. But, unknown to many, there are a whole lot more interesting things to do in this West Java city besides jostling with the crowds to snag that piece of factory reject.
Hike up an active volcano
One of Java’s most popular tourist attractions is Mount Tangkuban Parahu, a 2,084 metre-high mountain which happens to be an active volcano. Yes, you’ve read that right.
Mount Tangkuban Parahu has three craters known as Kawah Ratu (Queen’s Crater), Kawah Domas (Domas Crater) and Kawah Upas (Upas Crater). If you are game enough, you will be able to hike to the edge of the volcano craters where you get to see gurgling hot mud up close, not to mention being engulfed by a strong stench of sulphur. The volcano is reminiscent of Mordor from Lord of The Rings – sans the flowing red lava – with its greyness and steaming white fumes. One thing for sure – the view is pretty spectacular up there and worth sniffing the sulphur stench.
Take in the beauty of Kawah Putih
If the idea of visiting an active volcano sounds too daunting, visit a dormant one then. Located about 50km south of Bandung lies a hauntingly beautiful volcano crater lake called Kawah Putih, which means “white crater” in Bahasa Indonesia. This surreal-looking turquoise lake may remind one of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland with its colour, but that’s pretty much where the similarity ends; you cannot take a dip in Kawah Putih because of its high acidity. Having said that, there are three hot springs around Kawah Putih, namely Walini, Cimanggu and Patuha, where you can soak in the goodness of natural minerals for as long as you want.
Visit a tea plantation
The Ciater district is famed for its vast tea plantations. Even if you are more of a coffee drinker than a tea lover, you will be charmed by the sight of rolling verdant hills that never seem to end. Being located at a high altitude means beautiful weather of about 20°C. Walking among the plantations makes it easy for you to forget that you are actually in Southeast Asia.
City-dwellers, forget about those indoor artificial rock walls. At Citatah Cliff about an hour’s drive away from the city, you get to scale real limestone hills located in Padalarang. The area is popular with rock-climbers and there are different cliffs of varying difficulty levels. So, you’ll be sure to find one that suit your skill level. A two-day course (costing about S$200) conducted by professional trainers is usually recommended. Now, go channel your inner Spidey.
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