Many visitors to Indonesia’s choose Bali as their destination, and, as I found out this March, it’s a remarkable place, well-deserving of its status as Indonesia’s most popular island. However, Indonesia consists of up to 18,306 islands stretching across 3,181 miles/5,120 kilometers, so there is no shortage of idyllic destinations to explore. Looking to explore an alternative Indonesian location away from the throngs of tourists that places like Bali experience year-round? Consider Cianjur.
The city of Cianjur lies in the West Java province, about 75 miles/120 kilometers from Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and 37 miles/60 kilometers from the large city of Bandung. Its population is just over 150,000, and Cianjur is one of Java’s primary sources of rice production. If the name sounds familiar, perhaps it’s due to the tragic 2009 West Java earthquake that took the biggest toll on the city of Cianjur, killing 21 of its citizens and covering 11 houses in a landslide. But there’s plenty of positive to be found in its recovery!
What to Do in Cianjur
Cianjur is still relatively untouched by tourism, giving visitors insight into authentic Indonesian life. Given my experience in Bali, if you appear foreign, don’t be surprised if locals ask to take photographs with you – but don’t be alarmed! Everyone I encountered was simply curious and was very friendly.
Cianjur’s most renowned destination is the Gunung Padang Megalithic Site. Located within Cianjur Regency but about 30 miles/50 kilometers from the city of Cianjur, Gunung Padang is the largest megalithic site in Southeast Asia. It consists of a series of terraces and is covered by massive volcanic stones. Gunung Padang was completed by 5000 BC, although some believe it dates back much further, and it was constructed as a place of worship.
For garden enthusiasts, Cianjur’s Taman Bunga Nusantara and Cibodas Botanical Gardens are must sees. There, you’ll find themed gardens with a variety of plants and colorful flowers. Bring a picnic for a perfect day out. Or for more natural beauty, head to Cikondang Waterfall in Cianjur Regency.
How to Get to Cianjur
Buses leave Jakarta from Kampung Rambutan regularly, and the route takes about three hours. If you’re coming from Bandung, it’s a shorter drive, and buses leave every half hour. There is also a train from Sukabumi to Cianjur, which runs faster than buses but costs double a bus ticket.
Where to Stay in Cianjur
Cianjur may not be on most tourists’ radars, but nearby in Sindanglaya, Cianjur, you’ll find tranquil accommodation at Puncak Pass Resort. This resort has stunning views of the surrounding green hills from its bungalows and chalets. It offers an on-site restaurant, a pool, a spa, a kids area, horseback riding, and more. If you’re considering a trip to Cianjur, you can book now here.
From my memorable experience in Bali this year, I can definitely say that Indonesia’s most popular island is worth a visit. But Indonesia has far, far more to offer, and if you’re looking for a truly unique experience away from the tourist traps and crowds, pay a visit to Cianjur and its surrounding towns.