After settling in Bandung – now the capital of Indonesia’s West Java province – in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch set about creating their own vision of a European city in the East, perhaps encouraged by the relatively temperate climate. What emerged out of the rolling hills of Cibodas and among the innumerate volcanic craters and tea plantations was termed the “Paris of Java”: a bustling hub of life, trade, and tourism.
These days, Bandung is a melting pot of bustling Indonesian commerce, international hotels, and restaurants, surrounded by breath-taking natural sites, which attracts travellers from all over Indonesia and the surrounding region. The old colonial Dutch buildings that have survived are flanked by modern offices and academic institutions which attract the liveliest scientific thinkers from Indonesia’s huge population. The glamour of the colonial period may have waned with rapid industrialisation, but Bandung still retains plenty of charm.
Like many parts of Indonesia, Bandung is plagued by traffic jams and congestion. It’s worth structuring your days so that you can combine items on your wish list that are near to each other. The public transport system here can be complex and difficult for tourists to navigate. There is little in the way of official route maps for the brightly coloured ‘angkot’ minibus network, preferred by locals. Those seeking convenience might prefer to take taxis, but are advised to book by phone, or with the help of your hotel staff. Make sure to request metered journeys only and remember that many of the top hotels in Bandung will arrange free transit to and from the airport.
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