Bandung is the cosmopolitan provincial capital of West Java famous for its universities, cuisine, fashion, and night life. Though it is overshadowed by Jakarta, which is just two hours away, it is a dynamic city in its own right. Bandung is the center of Sundanese culture, and an important business, arts, and education center.
Located in the foothills, and once known as “Paris of Java,” Bandung enjoys much cooler temperatures than neighboring Jakarta. Its refreshing climate, and the surrounding lush vegetation and natural scenic beauty, have attracted a wide variety of residents – students, artists, musicians, business people, and intellectuals.
The food in Bandung is as diverse as its people. One can enjoy western restaurants serving steaks, burgers, pizza, and pasta, European style coffee houses offering fine coffees and pastries, and traditional eateries serving up authentic Sundanese foods such as Soto Bandung (vegetable beef soup with soybeans), Nasi Timbel (rice cooked in a banana leaf and served with fried tofu, tempe, salad, and chili paste), and Laksa Bandung (coconut milk chicken soup with vegetables and rice).
The nightlife options in Bandung are as diversified as its population. Partiers can choose from many different chic nightclubs, karaoke lounges, discos, and pubs. According to the official website of the Bandung tourism office, there are 56 karaoke lounges, 5 karaoke bars, 5 Discos, 25 Pubs, 14 Nite Club, and 28 Massage Centers to provide visitors with nighttime entertainment.
Bandung’s performing arts center (Rumentang Siang), offers a variety of traditional Sundanese performances.
- Tari Topeng is traditional mask dance.
- Wayang Golek is a traditional puppet theater that features finely crafted wooden puppets.
- Jaipongan is a modern Indonesian dance combining many traditional forms.
- Pencak silat is Indonesian martial arts.
- Ketoprak is traditional Javanese theater.
Saung Angklung Udjo Music School (SAU) offers concerts featuring the angklung (traditional bamboo instrument) and other traditional instruments. They also offer performances of traditional dances such as Tari Topeng and Wayang Golek.
The many foreign companies have set-up shop in Bandung, and the wide range of business class hotels have created a favorable business environment. The city hosts a number of business conferences and seminars every year.
The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) is the leading scientific university in Indonesia as well as an eminent fine-arts school. ASTI Bandung is a school of traditional Sundanese music, dance, and pencak silat.
Shopping is Bandung’s main draw. The city is dominated by shopping malls and factory outlet malls. It seems Bandung is Indonesia’s bargain basement. So much so, that on the weekends, the city is hopelessly gridlocked as the Jakarta crowd packs in to load their cars with bargains too attractive to turn down. Shoppers regularly fly in on direct flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to take advantage of the low prices as well.
No trip to Bandung is complete without a short excursion 30 km north of town to the distinctive volcano that can be seen from most anywhere in the city – Tangkuban Perahu. It’s named after its unique shape, that of an upside down boat. Tangkuban Perahu means up-turned boat in Sundanese. There is a parking area at the top near the three craters; alternatively walking up the footpaths is a popular option.
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