Java, Indonesia: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Java is the heart of Indonesia housing the capital city, Jakarta. It is the world's most populous island that has more than half of the Indonesian population. With an area of approximately 128,297 square kilometers, it is considered as the 13th largest island in the world. It lies between Sumatra and Bali. It was mostly formed as a result of volcanic eruptions; the island contains 38 mountains and volcanoes including Mount Merapi, the most active volcano, and Mount Semeru, the highest volcano in Java.
Java has a diverse mixture of religious beliefs, ethnicities, and cultures. Its rich colonial history can be mirrored in its remarkable attractions and landmarks. The island consists of two special administrative regions, Special Capital Region of Jakarta and Yogyakarta Special Region, and four provinces, Central Java, West Java, East Java, and Banten.
The Jakarta City lies in the Special Capital Region of Jakarta or also known as Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta. It is the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia. Situated on the northwest coast of Java, it is the most populous city in the country with over 9 million people. It is the seat of the national government and the provincial government, the political center, and the hub of Indonesia's national finance and trade.
Being a large capital city, Jakarta is housing important landmarks in the country. It is one of Indonesia's designated tourist areas. As the main gateway to the rest of Indonesia, it is housing the largest and most modern airport in the country. Homing several skyscrapers and mix of old and new architectures, Jakarta also has a lot to offer in terms of tourism. The large area it covers is divided into different districts: Central Jakarta, East Jakarta, South Jakarta, West Jakarta, North Jakarta all the way to the Thousand Islands.
The central district of Jakarta is the home to the head of government, many cultural attractions and monuments. The National Museum is a great start for the tour. The museum holds a collection of prehistoric artifacts, archeology, heraldic, historical relics, geography, ethnography, and ceramics. Also, Jakarta's most famous landmark is housed in the central district, the National Monument or Monas. The Indonesian National Gallery is one of the most prominent landmark that is located next to the National Monument. It is a place to appreciate the art of Indonesia with its spacious halls s one of the most prominent landmark that is located next to the National Monument. It is a place to appreciate the art of Indonesia with its spacious halls filled with over a thousand art pieces by notable classical artists.
West Jakarta is the home of the Jakarta Old Town or the Old Batavia, which is often referred to as Kota Tua Jakarta by the locals. Along the streets of the Old Town are the best samples of Dutch colonial architecture in the region. Inside its vicinity are museums including the Jakarta History Museum, which is also known as the Fatahillah Museum. Another museum today that was a colonial building in the past is the Museum of Sculpture and Ceramic Arts that was once a Dutch courthouse. West Jakarta is also where the Chinatown or the Glodok is located, which is situated adjacent to Kota Tua.
The main draws in Southern Jakarta are the galleries and monuments. For historical sites, the Youth Spirit, the Space Man, the Gajah Mada and the Djoko Sutono monuments are worth the visit. Further in the southern district is a village where Batavian cultural heritage is well preserved. The Setu Babakan Batavian Cultural Village is an escape from the busy and bustling city.
The northern part of the city is the home of the Maritime Museum. Nearby is the Sunda Kelapa old sea port with traditional schooner ships called pinisi parked in a row. It is one of the unique attractions in the north district.
Set near the coast and on the way to the Thousand Islands, the Ancol Dreamland is a famous attraction for families. It comprises multiple amusement parks, water parks, and beach.
Although East Jakarta is the least tourist-friendly area, it is housing an entertaining and beautiful amusement park. The Taman Mini Indonesia Park features the rich arts and cultural diversity of the whole Indonesian islands, which makes it one of the most unique amusement parks in the world.
Another province under a special status in Java is the Yogyakarta Special Region, also known as Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta in Indonesian term. Its administrative capital is Yogyakarta, the cradle of civilization on Java. Yogyakarta is known as the Never ending Asia for its endless attractions and appeal. It is Indonesia's one of the foremost cultural centers that offer many attractions. The city center, Kraton or Sri Sultan’s Palace, is a lively spot with Dutch colonial-era buildings.
The Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu temple complex in Southeast Asia and Yogyakarta is its home. It houses 240 temples originally, but many of these are now ruins. Granted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, the 9th century temple complex is dedicated to the three divine aspects of the Trimurti: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
The Sri Sultan’s Palace is located in the city center. It is a group of buildings comprising the main palace, the Sultan’s residential area, two of the Sultan’s grounds, and a large servant’s residential area. The area is still used by the current Sultan. It was built in the 18th century with Javanese style architecture and an interior with a European ambiance.
Other attractions in Yogyakarta are the Candi Sambisari, one of the most famous structures, and the Cerme Cave Walisongo, a 1,500 meters long alley with stalactites and stalagmites.
The Malioboro Street is the main commercial area to find numerous souvenir and handicraft shops. One of the things you can do is to dive into the side streets and find genuine bargains. There are also trendy malls and trade centers. The Malioboro Mall is the largest one, which offers high quality products at a very reasonable price.
Central Java is a province located in the heart of Java. Central Java is divided into 29 regencies or kabupaten and 6 cities or kota with Semarang as its capital city. Included in the province are the offshore islands of such as Karimunjawa on the north and Nusakambangan on the southwest. Yogyakarta was once a historical and cultural part of Central Java, however, it is now a separate administrative entity.
The Borobudur Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is within the vicinity of Magelang. With an area covering 123 x 123 meters, it is the world's largest Buddhist Temple and one of the best-preserved ancient monuments in Indonesia that had been one of the primary tourist attractions in the country. This colossal pyramid-shaped temple was built in the 9th century topped with its Great Stupa, which is 40 meters above the ground. This ancient temple is perched on a hill with five ascending square terraces. Its walls are sculptured in bas-reliefs depicting Buddha’s past lives and his enlightenment that extends to a total length of 6 kilometers.
Semarang is a city in Central Java with notable and beautiful architectural elements. The Sam Po Kong (Kedung Batu) is an old Chinese temple built in honor of the Chinese Great Admiral Zheng He who visited the area in 1405. Along Jalan Letjen Suprapto 32 is the striking Gereja Blenduk, which is a copper domed Dutch church. It is the oldest church in Semarang, which was built in 1753.
One of the places that makes for an interesting visit is the town of Solo (Surakarta). This is a very clean and quiet city. Here, one can see something that is truly special; the Bedhaya Dance. Solo is also filled with cultural attractions. The Kraton Surakarta was the palace for King Pakubuwono II, the first king of Solo. Places of worship are also the places to visit in Solo. Masjid Agung grand mosque was established in 1794 and features a classical Javanese design. Other things one can do in Solo can be searching for batik textiles to take back home. This is best found in Kauman and Laweyan. In order to find the best batik, take a visit to the House of Danar Hadi and learn more about batik before purchasing anything.
West Java's capital city, Bandung, is one of the most prestigious university towns and the center of Indonesia's learning and creativity. It is also known to be the Paris Van Java of the country offering trendy fashion wear at reasonable prices at its myriad factory outlets.
The Villa Isola is one of the must-see landmarks of the city. It is an art-deco building designed by the Dutch architect, Wolff Schoemaker, for the Dutch media tycoon, Dominique Willem Berretty, in the early 1930s. Originally built as a Berretty's private residence and was later transformed into a hotel after his death. Nowadays, it is the headmastership office of the Indonesia's University of Education.
Gesung Sate is a public building with a neoclassical design by Dutch architect, J. Gerber, for the Dutch East Indies Department of Transport, Public Works and Water Management's main seat, which was completed in 1920. It is now the seat of West Java's governor. It is constructed using a blend of architectural styles like Spanish-Moorish, Italian, Thai and Balinese.
The Mosque of Bandung was first constructed in 1812 with its first building built as a wooden structure. In 1850, the mosque was renovated and expanded, wherein the roof was replaced by clay tiles and the walls are replaced by solid bricks.
The Gedung Merdeka is a historic building that was used during the Asia-Africa Summit in 1955. The building was first built and named Societeit Concordia in 1895 and in 1926; it was reconstructed and redesigned by CP Wolff Schoemaker and Van Galen.
Bogor is another city located in West Java. It spreads over a basin set against the volcanic backdrop of Mount Salak at about 12 kilometers south and Mount Gede at about 25 kilometers southeast of the city. Bogor is an important economic, scientific, cultural, and tourist center. The city is also considered as a mountain resort with very rich vegetation. It was dubbed as “The Rain City” because of the frequent showers that are ideal in the profuse, interesting, and beautiful vegetation.
The Botanical Garden is also known as Kebun Raya Bogor by the locals. It is a venerable botanic garden founded in 1817 by the Dutch Colonial Government. It is Indonesia's first and foremost botanic garden that covers an area of 87 hectares. Apart from the thousands of plant species found in the Botanical Garden, it is also housing the neoclassical landmark, Istana Bogor or Bogor Palace, and the Bogor Zoology Museum.
The Bogor Museum of Ethno Botany is one of the longest standing museums in Bogor dating back 1982.
The Sukarna Gong Factory is the oldest and the only one left maker of the traditional percussion instruments in West Java.
The Bogor Cathedral was formally known the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a historic church that was built in 1750.
East Java is where the second largest city of Indonesia is located, Surabaya, which is also the province's capital. It is considered to be the melting pot of the old and modern Java. Several tourist attractions are zoological gardens and the immaculately presented Sampoerna Museum. East Java is a home to several natural attractions including the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park that houses Mount Bromo and the Ijen Crater that has a beautiful turquoise lake at 2148 meters above sea level. Other cities worth a visit are the Banyuwangi, the east-most city on Java that is home to beautiful beaches and mountains; and Malang, a laid back city in a cool climate offering attractions from natural beauty to cultural architectures.
Banten's capital city, Serang, is the gateway to the Ujung Kulon National Park, the Tanjung Lesung Resort, Sawarna Beach, and a whole lot more. Aside from being the center of the provincial government and business activities, it is a home to several unique natural beauties.
The Ujung Kulon National Park is located in the extreme south-western tip of Java. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for containing the largest remaining lowland rainforest in Java. Included within its vicinity is the Krakatoa Volcanic Island Group. It plays an important role in our environment as it is the last refuge of the endangered Javan rhinoceros. Apart from the rhinoceros, the national park is home to the most endangered floras and faunas including 57 rare species of plants and 35 species of fauna such as Banteng, Silvery Gibbon, Javan Lutung, Crab-Eating Macaque, Javan Leopard, and Smooth-Coated Otter.