Tangkuban perahu is an active volcano, situated 30 km north of the city of Bandung in the direction of Lembang. It is the only crater in Indonesia that you can drive up to its very rim. Mount Tangkuban Perahu has a distinctive shape, and looks like an “overturned boat”. The huge crater is an astonishing view and you can walk around and explore this for around two hours. Here you will be greeted by sulfur fumes which the crater continues to emit although the volcano is not active.
Like so many of Java’s unusual geographical features, there is an interesting legend behind this fascinating mountain as expressed in the local legend of Sangkuriang. Sangkuriang was a strong young man, who had been separated from his mother, Dayang Sumbi since childhood. Yet, through God’s he came to meet her again. On the way home, he stopped by a small village where he met and fell in love with a beautiful girl, without realizing that the girl he loved was in fact his own mother, Dayang Sumbi, who had remained youthful through the years.
When Dayang Sumbi discovered the terrible truth of her lover’s real identity, she was horrified and knew that she could never marry her own son. She, therefore, challenged him to build a dam and a huge boat during one single night before she would agree to marry him. Seeing that her son was about to complete this impossible wish, she called on God to bring up the sun early. With a wave of her magic shawl, Dayang Sumbi lit up the eastern horizon with flashes of light. Deceived by what looked like dawn, the cocks crowed and farmers rose for a new day.
When Sangkuriang realized that his endeavor was lost, in his rage he kicked the boat that he had built turning it upside down, which was transformed into Mount Tangkuban Perahu, the name that in the local Sundanese language translates roughly to “overturned boat”.
Tangkuban Perahu has definitely a significant role especially in the development of the surrounding Parahyangan (land of God) Highlands. Its eruption contributed immensely to the formation and fertility of the hills north of Bandung when through its flow of lava carrying large boulders into the valleys, these formed huge cliffs over which waterfalls leapt to form the lake that today covers the Bandung plain.
Located at the highland just at the outskirt of Bandung, Tangkuban Perahu Crater is surely a perfect place to enjoy cool air and relaxing sceneries after a series of shopping activities in some of the city’s factory outlets or the popular Pasar Baru Trade Center. For a rejuvenating sensation, visitors can continue their journey to the nearby Ciater’s Revitalizing Hot Springs.
Restaurants and warungs are scattered around Tangkuban Perahu. But if you want to experience a different vibe there are various eateries around Lembang. One thing that you should not miss is the satay kelinci (rabbit skewer) which is available at street vendors along the way in Lembang. The smells from sizzling satay on red hot glowing charcoal braziers will make your mouth water.
Around the crater, you’ll see a parade of peddlers hustling postcards, and many vendors sell souvenirs, and unique wooden crafts for souvenirs and trinkets.
There are numerous hotels around Bandung covering every budget. But if you wish to stay longer near Tangkuban Perahu, there are plenty of hotels in Lembang (North of Bandung) where you can enjoy the ambience of this lush country side while inhaling its clean, fresh air.
Kawah Ratu is the huge ‘Queen Crater’ located at the top. It’s the only one crater that can be reached easily by car to its rim. Here you can admire the spectacular panoramic view of this large and deep crater. You may also imagine that you hear a man sighing as if carrying a heavy burden. This wheezing sound actually comes from the sulfur steam that comes out deep from the bowels of the earth. Walk around the rim of the main Kawah Ratu crater and in around 20 minutes you will come to the second crater, called Kawah Upas. The trail here is steep and slippery in some parts; however, your special efforts wil be well rewarded when you notice the shade trees and breathtaking views on either side of the muddy land. This is the best time to freeze the moment through your camera. You can also head off to the third crater, the Kawah Domas.
Tangkuban Perahu is a 90 minutes drive from Bandung on weekdays. The easiest way to get there is by joining a tour or rent a car. However, if you’re up to take an adventurous journey, you may take a Subang Colt via Lembang from Bandung’s minibus terminal in front of the train station to the park entrance of Tangkuban Perahu. The entry is Rp 20,000 per person. There are minibuses, which lead you to the top, which officially cost Rp 10,000 per person. Alternatively, you can walk from the gate at the main road. It’s 4,5 km hike along the road or you can take the more interesting side trail that goes via Kawah Domas. It’s a very steep one-hour walk through the jungle and better tackled from the top down. It starts just behind the information centre and is easy to follow.
• Not everyone can stand the smell of the sulfur fumes; handkerchiefs are suggested to cover your nose and mouth.
• Never walk into the crater without care, it’s better to hire trusted guide.
• Do not hesitate to resist peddlers if you are not interested.
• Best bring a jacket/sweater to protect yourself from the cold temperature.
• Bring an umbrella to avoid sunburn or possible heavy downpours.
• Try to reach the crater as early as possible because around noon the mist starts to roll in through the trees.
• Do not hesitate to say ‘No’ to the vexing local guides who follow you around and ask for money at the end of the trip.