There’s more to Indonesia than Bali – Secrets of Java

Indonesia and Bali are almost synonymous to most of us! Isn’t it?

How many of you have come across deals by travel companies like 5 nights 6 days in Bali, 9 nights 10 days in Bali, trip for adventure sports in Bali, best deals on trip to bali . A honeymoon destination, a bachelor’s paradise, a couple’s romantic vacay spot and a lot more. Bali , bali and more bali!

But who’s heard of Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya? For serious travelers whose trips revolve around indulging in learning about traditions, soaking in culture, living a local’s life, knowing the origins, paying heed to history and listening to stories of a place, I recommend to explore the other side of Indonesia – Java.

Sometimes, even best of the places of a country get overpowered by a single destination which has been promoted well by a country’s tourism board, travel companies and influencers. Such is the case with an island called Java which is so closely located to Bali and still hardly gets noticed.

On my recent trip to Indonesia, specifically to Java and Bali, I spent most of my trip exploring the hidden secrets of Java. I am unveiling the must visit cities of Java for you to have a balanced itinerary of experiences and fun, the next time you travel to Indonesia 🙂


A city popularly known as Paris van Java is nestled between 3 mountains and is popular among locals of Java for its cool and calm weather. The city offers rich heritage in art and culture and offers a variety of attractions for all kind of travelers.

There is abundance of things to do in Bandung like unbelievably inexpensive shopping in factory outlets, enjoying traditional musical performances which includes puppet show, mask dance and so many more, relaxing alongside gorgeous lakes at a throw away distance, staying in a dutch style built art deco resorts and lots and lots of architectural wonders.

The factory outlets in Bandung     Pic credit :
Mask Dance at a Musical Show
White crater lake at a throw away distance from Bandung   Pic credit :
Dutch style built Villa Isola     Pic credit :



Yogyakarata (Jogja as endearingly referred by locals) is called the Cultural capital of Indonesia and I think no less of it. Infact, it won my heart the most out of all the places I visited on this trip. No wonder, Mr. Barack Obama is holidaying there currently.

This city is jam packed with adventure, culture and stories at every nook and corner. It offers not one but two UNESCO world heritage sites, trek down to an underground cave which sees dispersion of sunlight in most fascinating fashion for few mins every day, the most scenic and offbeat waterfall, the grand staged act of Ramayana, a stunning crimson sunrise across the temple, palaces of their kind, Batik art schools, alluring cafes and restaurants, loads of cheap shopping, quirky street art and the inviting locals.

Prambanan temple
Borobudur temple     Pic credit:
Joblang Cave lit and well captured at that precious moment     Pic credit : Nakul Sharma
Ramayana staged against the backdrop of Prambanan Temple
Taman Sari, the water castle
Batik art in progress
Quirky graffiti on one of the walls 

I spent 3 days in Jogja only to realize that even a month there would pass by in a blink of an eye. I tried and grabbed the experiences the city offered with both my hands to cherish for times to come. I am sure to go back and spend a month in jogja once in this lifetime.


Surabaya might not be a worthy place for spending a lot of days but it sure is a gateway to many breathtaking attractions in Java like Mount Bromo, Malang etc.

Mount Bromo is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. For the adventure of witnessing the sulphur oozing crater of an active volcano, it comes across as an iconic and most hike worthy mountain. One can savor an ethereal landscape at the time of sunrise on one side and Mount bromo in full glory on the other.

Mount Bromo as seen just after the sunrise
View from the crater of the mountain

Malang is a town to sight the unseen and offbeaten paths. The city offers beautiful landscapes while walking along the roads dotted with beautiful well tended bougainvillea leading to old colonial structures and cultural attractions.

Hotel Gajahmada Graha, one of the most iconic hotels in Malang     Pic credit :

Besides being a gateway to some of the major attractions of Java, Surabaya hosts various interesting museums like submarine, cigarette manufacturing unit – part of which now converted into a museum, monuments of national importance, evening markets and malls bustling with the young crowd during late evenings.

House of Sampoerna museum
A machine used in manufacturing cigarettes on display in Sampoerna Museum
Tugu Pahlawan, Surabaya
Monument defining the meaning of Surabaya – combination of Sura (Shark ) and baya (crocodile)

Jakarta : 

The capital city of Indonesia gives a peek in the lives of the urban citizens of Indonesia. The days in the capital can be best spent in exploring national monuments, arts theater and walk around the most famous shopping areas of Indonesia while the nights transport you to an entirely cosmopolitan city where the youth- locals and foreigners is seen pub hopping till late hours.

National Monument, Jakarta
National Monument, Jakarta
Youngsters partying the night away
Skyline of Jakarta dotted with lit skyscrapers

Have you seen Indonesia beyond Bali?

Leave a comment if these places interest you and stay tuned for more posts on detailed itinerary, tips & tricks about these visit worthy cities!


18 thoughts on “There’s more to Indonesia than Bali – Secrets of Java

Add yours

  1. Haven’t been to Indonesia [yet] but I hope one day to be able to visit it. You really show the other side of Indobesia, not only Bali. It is really interesting and it gives me an idea of what to expect and where to go when I have the opportunity to visit it. Great post!

    P.S. Great photos!


  2. Thank you for showing us places beyond Bali. Bandung is fast emerging as the new destination. You didn’t go to Komodo Dragon Island? I am keen to see Ramayana in Indonesia. Curious to see how different or same it is from the Indian version.


    1. Yup, Bandung is definitely emerging fast. Komodo was not on my list this time, but I definitely have to go there next time.
      Ramayana was quite intriguing there and was mostly similar to Indian version. But the costumes and performance were very interesting to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

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