The heart of Indonesia, Java, is one of the densest populated places on earth. Nevertheless it is also rich with 121 active volcanoes, fertile slopes dotted with green rice and tea plantations and small little villages, rainforest and even savannah. The scenery in most parts of Java is spectacular and, although the island is overpopulated, there are still plenty of unspoiled places.
It is also one of the most culturally active islands of Indonesia. Its center is Yogyakarta and Solo. Yogyakarta is a lively town that is full of art and education. It is also an excellent base from where to visit the famous temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. Solo is less touristy, but also offers plenty of culturally activities.
To the east is the famous Mount Bromo. This area is characterized by volcanic peaks, but also by lush and green fed by rivers from the high tops. Java is the perfect place to combine art and culture with nature.
I have combined for you the best places to see on Java that hopefully helps in planning your trip.
From Jakarta to the countryside
I would recommend staying as short as possible in Jakarta and head towards the countryside. There are too many other nice places to visit. If you feel like spending a night at a local families home then the home of Persada is a good option. His house is a 2-hour drive from Jakarta and is located in Tanjungsari village. Persada is a very friendly local who opens up his home for travelers who want to experience Javanese life. He will also show you a very special place that is not well known by tourists, Padang Megalith site. Geologists guess that buried beneath the megalithic jumble is an ancient pyramid.
The Tea Plantations of Bandung
From here you can head towards the beautiful Bandung area that is famous for it’s tea plantations. If you are looking for some stunning landscapes then this area is one if the best places to see on Java. Everywhere you look tea plantations surround you. Malabar tea plantation and guesthouse is a beautiful and quiet place. It is a lovely old planter’s house, probably well over 100 years old that has a lot of character. The rooms have views over the tea-covered hills, attractively and comfortably furnished.
It’s a very scenic route from Bandung to Yogyakarta by train and will take around 8 hours. You will pass local villages, rice fields and gorgeous mountain views. Best is to take a morning train.
Next is the cultural hotspot Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is the creative hub of Indonesia. It boasts stunning architecture and has a truly spiritual vibe. And off course don’t miss the beautiful Borobudur temple.
A day trip to the Dieng Plateau
A day trip away from Yogyakarta is the beautiful Dieng Plateau. It looks and feels completely different to almost anywhere else in Indonesia. The Dieng Plateau is absolutely stunning: rolling hills terraced with vegetable gardens as far as the eye can see, boiling pits of mud and colored lakes. It is home to several beautiful temples, crater lakes and hot springs. Be aware that it often rains and can be cold.
Relaxing at Karimunjawa or surfing at Pacitan
If you are looking for a nice relaxation break then Karimunjawa is a perfect place to go. It is the hidden paradise of Java. White-sand beaches fringed with palm trees, turquoise water so bright it stings your eyes and hardly any tourists. It is a beautiful sea getaway from the hustle and bustle of the inland of Java.
Do you feel more for some sportive activity then go to Pacitan. It is 5-hours south of Yogyakarta and an ideal location for both beginner and expert surfers, especially Watu Karung beach. It is not very well known among tourists and the beach itself is very beautiful and is rarely touched. A simple homestay is Surfing Pacitan with a view on the ocean far away from the crowds.
The astonishing Mount Bromo and Iljen Plateau
No trip to Java is complete without visiting Mount Bromo and the Iljen Plateau. Mount Bromo is one of the most iconic mountains in Indonesia. Hike up Mount Penanjakan in time to catch the sunrise over Mount Bromo. It takes about 1-2 hour’s hike to the first vantage point. Maps and information are readily and easily available at one of the many official locations.
Iljen Plateau is home to the greatest acidic lake on earth. The view at the blue greenish lake is astonishing. From Paltuding it’s a one-hour walk up to the Crater Lake. Make sure you’ll be at the top before 10 am as most often clouds start to form and will take away your beautiful view. A guide for this walk is not necessary.
Tropical paradise of Belitung
If you are flying out from Jakarta and want to spend your final days relaxing then the Belitung archipelago is a beautiful place. It is a tropical paradise with white-sandy beaches (better than Bali and some of the best in South-East Asia). It is located a 45-minute plane trip from Jakarta off the east coast of Sumatra.
If you need any help in planning your Java trip, just send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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