Java is still one of the most popular backpacking destinations thanks to its status as Indonesia’s main island. Densely populated, it is also home to the thriving capital of Jakarta with its hectic pace of life. Away from the centre, backpackers can find the heart of true Java with its cultural attractions and spectacular scenery. If you’re thinking of backpacking through Java, here are some places you may want to include in your itinerary.
The nation’s capital isn’t to everyone’s taste with its frenetic atmosphere. Nevertheless, for many backpackers, Jakarta is a must-visit destination and most of them flock to the cheap hostels in Jalan Jaksa. Right in the heart of the action, there are countless budget accommodations within a 15 minute walk of this bustling hub of activity. There are many free activities to enjoy in the city, like exploring the many open air markets, wandering through the Taman Suropati park and even riding the free city sightseeing bus.
The second largest city in Indonesia, Surabaya’s main attractions are its Dutch colonial heritage buildings alongside the river. Many backpackers stay here as a central point before visiting Mount Bromo, Yogakarta or travelling on to Bali. There are plenty of low cost hostels here as well as several free attractions including the House of Sampoerna where you can watch cigarettes being hand-rolled, the Arab Quarter and the free tourist sightseeing bus. In the evenings, stroll over to G-Walk and sample some of the delicious street food including local specialities such as sate kelopo and rujak cinjur.
Located on the eastern tip of Java, BanyuwangI enjoys a gorgeous setting in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Backpackers come here to see no less than three world class sites – Sukamade Beach, famous for its turtle hatchery, the surfers’ paradise of Plengkung Beach and Ijen Volcano with its mysterious blue fire. Backpackers who would like to experience a little luxury as part of their trip should consider one of the epic hotels in Banyuwangi – Like the Hotel Santika Banyuwangi, or another equally amazing place with wi-fi, a swimming pool and spa facilities!
Many backpackers make Yogakarta the focal point of their trip as it is, in a sense, the cultural heart of Java. With its many ancient monuments, temples and palaces, this is the perfect place to soak up the authentic atmosphere and learn more about the local culture. The main areas for backpacking hostels here are just off Malioboro Street in a very safe and low cost area of town. The cheapest way to get around is to hire a scooter to explore the various attractions in the area such as the Borobodur Temple, the Prambanan Temple and Mount Merapi.
The primary backpacking area of Semarang is located in Jalan Kauman and there are plenty of low cost hostels here that will fit perfectly into any backpacker’s budget. Although not often thought of as a tourist spot, Semarang has plenty to offer the visitor, including the Old Town, the Taman Budaya Raden Saleh garden, the Gua Kreo cave and the Dutch Colonial building, Lawang Sewu. In the evening, head over to Simpang Lima where street food can be bought for as little as Rp 10,000 (around 50p).
I think that Java is easily one of the best spots in Indonesia for backpacking! Do you have any recommendations? Share them below 🙂