INDONESIA – Bandung city tour: Must-see colonial places & Angklung concert

INDONESIA - A wonderful 2-3 week Indonesia itinerary: Jakarta to Bali across Java

Bandung, also called Paris of Java, is a huge city and the capital of West Java. Bandung was an important city during Dutch colonial time. I’m Dutch so I included a visit on my two-week Indonesia itinerary. I arrived by car from Jakarta with a stop at the Bogor Botanical Gardens on the way. I recommend a full day for a Bandung city tour to see all the colonial art-deco buildings and the Sukarno historical places. In the evening I recommend attending an Angklung concert. Now, it’s time to share with you the must-see places in Bandung.

Bandung city tour: Must-see colonial places

Traces of human settlement in the area around Bandung date back to the era of the Java Man. In the 17th century the Dutch East Indies company started to develop the area. They build a road to Batavia (now Jakarta) and created plantations for cinchona (quinine), tea and coffee. These plantations made Bandung a prosperous city and attracted lots of Europeans. Back in the Netherlands, Bandung was advertised as Europe in the Tropics, an ideal living city with low taxes. A leaflet (see photo below) is on display in one of the museums. Many of the colonial buildings survived WWII and can be visited today. I’ll list the most important ones that are a must include on a Bandung city tour below.

ITB West and East Hall

I recommend starting at the Institut Teknologi Bandung or more specific the West and East Hall located at Jl. Ganesha 10. These halls date to the first quarter of the 20th century and are a beautiful example of West Sumatran style architecture. They are still used by the Bandung University where President Soekarno is one of the famous alumni. When I visited the doors of both halls where locked and I couldn’t find anyone to open them. It was easy to look inside though so well worth stopping by. I wandered around the area for about 30 minutes before continuing to the next stop of this Bandung city trip.


Villa Isola

Next up was Villa Isola (Jl. Dr. Setiabudi 229) which was designed by the renowned architect C.P.W. Schoemaker. He was responsible for the design of several Bandung art-deco style buildings. Villa Isola is magnificent and surrounded by gardens. Today it’s used as the headmasters building so a visit inside is unfortunately not possible. On a clear day, the building mirrors beautifully in the ponds in front of the villa. A visit takes just 15 minutes and it’s well worth including if you’re sightseeing Bandung.

Gedung Sate

Stop next at Gedung Sate (Jl. Diponegoro) before going downtown Bandung where the remainder of the sites can be explored on foot. Its name is derived from satay, as the decoration on the roof looks like this (delicious) food. The decoration however doesn’t represent that because the 6 ornaments symbolize the 6 million guilders which was the cost of the building. It has a mix of various building styles and was used as the head office of the Dutch East Indies Government Companies. Today it’s the seat of the West Java governor. Gedung Sate is open for the public but just at specific times which, of course, wasn’t the case when I was there. Ask your hotel for opening times. It’s one of the few buildings of this Bandung city trip where you can visit the interior. Now, continue downtown.

Grand Hotel Preanger & Savoy Homann Hotel

There are two colonial art-deco hotels in Bandung which still are hotels today. Both are located on Jl. Asia-Afrika which in colonial time was the Postweg connecting West Java with East Java. I stayed at the Intercontinental Bandung but staying at one of these two famous hotels is an option too. Savoy Homann Hotel saw many famous guests including royalties of various countries. Grand Hotel Preanger has a small museum inside, make sure to visit it! At both hotels you can enjoy a bit of colonial Java while having lunch.

Gedung Merdeka

Gedung Merdeka was a society for rich people named the Concordia Society. Today it’s a museum of the Asian-African conference held in 1955. This conference hosted by President Sukarno contributed to the Non-Aligned Movement and became a huge milestone which lead to the first NAM summit in 1961. When I visited the museum, there were several school groups touring the museum too. Of course, they all wanted to go on a photo with my blonde daughter. Make sure to visit this museum on your Bandung city tour!

Bandung city tour: Sukarno historical sites

Soekarno’s Prison

Soekarno (or Sukarno) was the first president of Indonesia and called the father of Indonesia. It’s beyond the scope of this website to go into too much political details but a bit of history cannot harm. President Sukarno studied at the Bandung University and was a partisan of a free Indonesia. The Dutch however, didn’t like that idea that much so they imprisoned him in 1927. His small prison cell can be visited today and is well preserved between modern shopping malls. There is also a statue of President Soekarno commemorating him. A visit to Bandung isn’t complete without a visit to Soekarno’s Prison.


Gedung Menggugat Landraad

The Gedung Menggugat Landraad is another Dutch colonial building worth visiting. I have included it under the Soekarno’s historical places as this is the court where Soekarno pledged his defense against his arrest and a free Indonesia. The building changed purpose over time but today it has a small exhibition with photos, news articles and the original court room restored. If you’re into history like me this is a must visit in Bandung. In general, I included many such places on my two-week Indonesia itinerary.

Angklung concert in Bandung

Going to an Angklung concert is a must do in Bandung as there is a famous Angklung school just outside of Bandung. The school is called Saung Angklung Udjo (Jl. Padasuka 118) named after Udjo Nalagena which was a famous Angklung artist. An Angklung is a traditional instrument made from Bamboo. The evening performance by children lasts about 90 minutes. You will get an Angklung yourself and you can participate during the performance yourself. A great and unique experience to end this Bandung day trip!

A Bandung city day trip is one thing you must do in Central Java but there is more. I already covered day trips to the White Crater in the south and Tangkuban Perahu volcano in the north which are two must do day trips from Bandung. 3 days in Bandung is perfect to see everything but if you have the time a 4th day will make the schedule more relaxing. I didn’t have more time on my two-week Indonesia itinerary, so I had to fit everything in just 3 days. After my visit to Bandung I do agree it’s Europe in the Tropics or Paris of the East. Bandung is a pleasant city.

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Gallery Bandung city tour

Check the gallery for more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.

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