Many people arrive in Jakarta without a clear plan of where they will go in Java. In many ways, this is a mistake because this first impression of Java can be a very poor one and can encourage travellers to move as quickly as possible across the island. But with a bit of research, you can plan an orderly escape from Jakarta and really enjoy all that Java has to offer.
The following is a snapshot of places to consider visiting straight from Jakarta.
Bogor is only a 90-minute train ride from Jakarta and is one of the most popular first stops for people leaving Jakarta and a great stop it is too. At the heart of Bogor is the fabulous botanical garden which covers a staggering 80 hectares. Visitors can spend hours wandering through the maze of pathways and encounter serenity which is all too hard to get in Jakarta.
Ujung Genteng is one of those beachside destinations that is both stunning and off the beaten track, meaning accommodation is usually of the hut variety and food very local. But this is what makes Ujung Genteng such a fantasatic spot to unwind from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta. Be prepared for a long day of travel to get here though as public transport is sporadic at best.
Bandung is another massive Indonesian city and is located a mere three hours from Jakarta. Bandung features many of the traffic problems of its bigger brother and many visitors see nothing of interest in the city due to poor accommodation choices. This really is the key — find a hotel away from train station to avoid the worst of the traffic snarls. The best thing to do while in town is to visit a couple of volcanoes, Tangkuban Parahu and Kawah Putih, as well as taking a walk through the forested valley in Dago.
If you’re into thermal springs, volcanoes and other quirks of geology, Garut is a great place to make your first destination when leaving Jakarta. Most people stay in the town of Cipanas — a town famed for its hot spring water. This hot water is piped into almost every hotel in the area so that you can soak in a scalding hot bath and soothe your aching muscles. This is particularly appealing if you’ve just done some climbing around the nearby Gunung Papandayan or pottered around the geothermal region of Kawah Sikidang.
Many people skip all the above-mentioned towns and head on a nine-hour journey to Pangandaran, a southern beach resort popular with the people of West Java. It’s a fantastic location for a spot of surfing, a few beers, some food at one of the beach cafes and a hike through the monkey-infested national park.
Batu Karas is a little-known spot an extra hour away from Pangandaran. It’s arguably a better place to learn to surf than Pangandaran and certainly has a more Western vibe than its nearby cousin. The town of Batu Karas is nowhere near as busy or crowded as Pangandaran, but this also means you’re likely to get bored more quickly as the drudgery of isolation sets in — or not. Whichever you choose, Batu Karas and Pangandaran are great first destinations on your trip across Java.
A large number of people visiting Java choose to travel from Jakarta straight to Yogyakarta, half way across the island. We’ve heard many people say that the reason they do this is that Jakarta gave such a bad impression of Java that they just wanted to get to Bali as quickly as possible, stopping off in Yogya along the way.
Of course Yogyakarta will be a city visited by almost every trans-Java traveller, but we reckon it’s best to do this after visiting one of the above-mentioned towns or cities first. Beaches, volcanoes, botanical gardens, hot springs and forest walks await and only add a few days to your journey — and these attractions end up being what many consider to be their favourite experiences in Java.
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