The entire area around Bandung can offer a beautiful countryside with high mountains, hot springs and large tee plantations. The most easily accessible area is north of the city, with maybe the largest attraction; the Tangkuban Prahu volcano. Also south of the city you can find volcanoes to climb or tea plantations to admire, but this area is less developed for visitors and not as easily accessible.
The huge Tangkuban Prahu volcano is situated only 45 minutes by car from Bandung, the name literally means “the overturned boat”. An old legend tells about an estranged young prince who returns to his home, without recognizing his mother he falls in love with her. When his mother, the queen, discover the truth she challenges her son to build a dam and a large boat during one single night. Only then will she agree to marry him. He have almost completed the task when the queen call on the gods to bring up the sun early. When he hear the first cock crow he turns the nearly completed boat over in anger.
The last eruption of the volcano took place in 1969. The summit is at 2076m, while the parking lot and the viewpoint sits at about 1800m. Some days it can be quite chilly at this altitude, and the mist appears suddenly, so make sure you bring some extra clothes. The volcano has an unusual, elongated shape with a huge crater called Kawah Ratu, or the “Queen Crater”. If you walk about 30 minutes along the rim of the impressive main crater you can see the secondary crater, Kawah Upas. It is possible to continue on this path until it returns to the car park again, but it is steep in parts, and slippery on rainy days.
Another popular walk is a 1.2 km path that leads down from the parking lot to an area called Kawah Domas, a volcanic area with steaming geysers.
The volcano may look like a tourist trap at times. Due to the road that is built all the way up to the crater there are many souvenir shops and guides here, but it is no problem to bypass them. If you continue on the path along the crater you will soon find more peaceful surroundings. There are minibuses from Bandung that can take you all the way up, alternatively you can ride with a bus to the gate by the main road and walk the 4.5 km to the top. It may be most convenient to rent a car with driver in Bandung, he will take you there and wait for you, and you can also combine the trip with visits to other attractions in the area.
Some of the large tea plantations here is located southwest of and just beneath the volcano, the rolling green hills are really a beautiful sight in the ever changing light at this altitude. If you arrive at opening hours you can get a tour in a tea factory and taste the different qualities of tea. The best qualities are exported to Europe. You can also drive out to the fields and have a closer look at the harvesting of tea leaves.
The largest village in this area is Lembang, only 16 km north of Bandung along the road to Tangkuban Prahu. In and around this town there are several hotels if you like to stay some distance from the big city.
Only 5 km east of Lembang is Maribaya with hot springs, pine woods and waterfalls. This is a good starting point for hiking, you can walk on tracks all the way to the outskirts of Bandung from here. Unfortunately many of the buildings and installations have seen better days, there is also a lot of garbage around. Still it is worth a visit to see the beautiful nature here.
Ciater is another area with tea plantations and hot springs, eight km northeast of Tangkuban Prahu. The place also has a tea factory you can visit and pools with water from the hot springs where you can take a bath. Ciater is a good starting point for hiking, and has some accommodation.
There are several lakes north of Bandung, the artificial Waduk Jatiluhur lake 70 km northwest of Bandung is the most popular for swimming, waterskiing and other water sports. Another option is to see one of the many waterfalls, for example Air Terjun Cerug Pengantin a few km north of the city. It falls into a narrow valley which you can enter by a steep path from the top. To see most of the attractions here, as elsewhere in Indonesia, you usually have to buy an entry ticket. It may be annoying at times, but it is only small money and an important income for many people.
- SPOT photo of Bandung, Tangkuban Prahu in the center of the image, the Waduk Jatiluhur lake in the upper left