Malang is located in the east side of Java, Indonesian.
When I travel somewhere, one of my favourite things to do is to walk around to get a true feel for a place. I like to meet people, and experience what it would be like to live there, even if for a short time. I love to explore all the smells, colours and flours around me. I’m crazy about markets, food stalls and art. Malang has a bit of everything.
Malang’s colourful villages are definitely a must.
The three villages in Malang that were revitalised used to be slums on the verge of eviction. Poor areas without any basic conditions to live in. Today they have a new face and the economy in this deprived neighbourhoods is growing and there is finally some money to support the community.
Colour Villages in Malang
The Kampung Tridi
Kampung Biru Arena
Separate entrance fees are asked to enter to the different neighbourhoods (Rp.3,000~$0.20)
The Ijen volcano is located near the eastern tip of Java island, and anyone visiting the island is probably planning a visit to the vast volcanic region of the Ijen plateau.
This region has three volcanos, the Ijen (2368m), the Merapi (2800m) and the Raung (3332m). The vast majority of visitor goes only to the Ijen.
Hiking the volcano, contemplate the Acid Lake, the Blue Flames and the sunrise can be done easily independently without a guide or a tour.
You can get to Ijen via Bondowoso or Banyuwangi.
Java is well connected by bus so its easy to get to one of these towns from any place in Java.
To get to Ijen you will need to rent a scooter or hire a taxi. If you are used to drive a scooter, the roads to Ijen are really good, and because you do it during the night there is no traffic, plus the route is quite straightforward and well sign-posted.
At the entrance
Once you arrive you need to go in direction of the building where you can buy the entrance ticket. It costs Rp.100,000 (~£7.10) on weekdays and Rp.150,000 (~£10.60) on weekends for foreign visitors.
Ijen – chasing the blue flames
To chase the blue flames its starts with a midnight hike to the crater edge, although is a steady walk up a hill, it’s no easy task.
Once you get to the crater rim, you’ll find lots of guides offering to help you on the way down, but it’s up to you whether to get one at this point, to be fair you don’t need one at all.
Whatever you decide to do, the only thing that really matters is to put the gas mask on and keep it at all times, the sulphuric fumes are toxic, corrodes the skin, stings the eye and cause breathless.
Descending to the volcano crater
When you start descending the terrain turns to boulders and rubbles and its important to take care where you step. The rocky path down to the crater is breaking up because of the number of people walking on it daily.
Be mindful that you will not be the only person doing this journey, the place is completely packed with tourists plus you have the miners making their way back up with their baskets full. Its horrible to see the miners working in conditions that can only be described as hell —a portrait of bone-crushing physical labuor.
Once inside the crater, you can see the blue flames of the sulphur mine if the weather allows it. The ones I saw where quite small, much more impressive than the flames are the miners work in such harsh conditions, where is almost impossible to breathe.
The ‘Blue Flames’, are Sulphur gas escaping from the walls of a dormant volcano igniting to 300 degrees when in contact with oxygen.
At the time I visited the Ijen, it was really cold and very very windy, that means that the visibility was terrible plus the fumes were blowing in all direction. When the fumes are on top of you, you can’t open your eyes and is really hard to breathe, would I repeat the experience, probably not.
After you’ve explored everything inside the crater, climb up to contemplate the sunrise overlooking the landscape.
Once the sun is up, the views over the largest acid lake on earth are quite nice, this lake has a pH lower than that of battery acid, caustic enough to dissolve metal, can you believe it?!
The way down from the volcano rim is not easier than the way up, I’m sorry to say it.. the downward slope is absolutely killer on the knees.
warm clothes and gloves
snacks and water
The rest of the Ijen plateau area is worth exploring, with its breathtaking views, countless streams and hot springs and coffee plantations. There are also a few nice isolated settlements.
If the crowds, toxic smokes are nor for you, you may prefer visiting the magnificent Mount Bromo.
Yogyakarta, or Jogja, is a hub for culture and arts in Indonesia, and hands down one of my favourite cities in Indonesia.
First, because it’s full of art, culture, music, great vegan food, friendly people and has a great vibe that I found hard to find elsewhere in Indonesia.
Jogja is mostly known for its fine art scene, but not surprisingly, the cultural centre is also a bastion for street art activity. Here wherever you roam, you will stumble upon incredible street art that is brightening up streets and neighbourhoods.
Yogyakarta’s street art makes this charming city feel even more unique. You can find work of artists like Digie Sigit DS13 and Anti Tank Project. Both artists are using their painting to express their opinion on the social and political environment of their city.
The Jogja street art scene, along with the numerous contemporary art galleries in the city, makes Yogyakarta an absolute must-visit for any art lover travelling to Java.
To get a good overview of Yogyakarta’s street art scene, you will need at least a couple days in the city.
Have a look at the photos and get inspired by this small fraction of what Jogja has to offer, and let me know what you think of the street art in Yogyakarta.
Malang is an East Javan city, that I went to just because I had time to spare, is not really a touristic destination, although Malang is where Surabaya’s residents would come to get away for a day or two. Malang moves at a more slow and enjoyable pace than the regional Capital, Surabaya.
Located 90 km south of Surabaya, the capital and largest city of East Java (Jawa Timur), Malang is the second largest city in Indonesia’s East Java province, but you don’t fell the rush of a big city, Malang is a place that welcomes you with open arms.
Malang is one of those cities that a lot of people love, and it’s easy to understand why.
My suggestion is to skip all the attractions that you see mentioned on the main sites and the lonely planet guide, and head to the amazing neighbourhoods.
On top of that you can admire some historical Dutch buildings, and sample delicious vegan food, that can be found easily anywhere in the city from street stalls to restaurants.
There are a few traditional markets in Malang that you can visit, and also night market at Jalan Kyai Tamin but don’t expect much for the food here.
The colourful villages
If you walk away from the centre of the city you will be amazed in the most unexpected way. What a few years ago were slums are now vibrante and colourful places, full of life, wrapped in a magical vibe.
As part of a project to revitalize the area that was on the verge of eviction the riverside slum was transformed into a rainbow village.
Nowadays virtually every corner has colour. This project was an initiative of some students from Muhammadiyah University of Malang. The students were inspired by the favelas of Rio.
You can easily spend a day exploring the different neighborhoods, immersing yourself in the narrow pathways, walking around and observing the surroundings.
Kampung Warna-Warni – Indonesian for Village of Colour
The Jodipan village and the Kampung Tridi village are connected by a yellow bridge over a small river and are coloured with bright colours, on the opposite side of the highway is the village Kampung Biru Arema, named after the popular Malang football team where everything is coloured blue.
These colourful neighbourhoods are not in the foreigner’s tourist route yet, but they are really popular among locals. The rise of local tourism is spurred the local economy. The tourism is giving women (who are generally uneducated), an opportunity to make a living out of selling food, drinks and souvenirs.
Around Malang, you can find great Hindu and Buddhist ruins and beautiful pal-dapples rice and corn fields. Malang is surrounded by active volcanoes, mountains, rivers, and the rough Indian Ocean.
Going close to a volcano was for a long time on my bucket list, and I finally had the opportunity to visit one in Indonesia. My favourite one was by far the Mount Bromo.
If you are planning to visit Mount Bromo, remember that you can do it for free, and without joining a tour. Here is how to do it.
How to get to Cemoro Lawang
Wherever you are in Java you need to head to Probolinggo. That can be done by bus, taxi or train.
In Proboling they are quite good at scamming tourists, so be careful and go to the bus station. Don’t believe if they say that there are no buses and that the only way to go is by joining a tour.
Outside the bus station, you have the minivans (called Bemos) that will take you to Cemoro Lawang (a village right next to the crater of Mount Bromo).
Unfortunately, there is only one option here. These minivans don’t have a schedule neither depart regularly so you need to wait for sufficient passengers to arrive. They charge Rp.35.000 ($2.50) if the bemo is full with 15 people, but they are happy to leave early without waiting to have 15 people as long as you pay the difference.
The ride from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang takes approximately 1 hour and a half always up the hill. Sometimes felt like the minivan wasn’t going to be able to go further up, but in the end, we arrived safely.
To go back to Probolinggo it’s the same route you came, find a bemo in the centre of the village, and wait for more people to arrive.
At Cemoro Lawang
Once at Cemoro Lawang its easy to find a place to spend the night, it felt that everyone in town had a room to rent. Just make sure you have hot water because it’s really cold there, and you will not want to take a cold shower when is 5ºC outside. Cemoro Lawang is a village high up in the mountains, 2217m above sea level, so you can imagine how chilly it is.
Cemoro Lawang doesn’t have great food at all neither accommodation options, and because of the lack of offer, the prices are a bit higher than in other places in Java. We paid Rp.200,000 ($14) per night for a basic mouldy room. We didn’t struggled to find plant-based options.
How to Hike Mount Bromo for Free, Without Using a Tour or a Guide
It can’t be easier to visit the Bromo for free. Just find the passage next to hotel Cemara Indah. Walk through a narrow passage near the hotel, and this way you don’t pay any entrance fee (Rp.350,000~$25). The path is quite straightforward, you go down the path, cross the sea of sand and then go up the volcano. It took me around 1hour and a half to get to the crater.
I recommend using the free offline map app – maps.me so you don’t get lost.
Both crossing the sea of sand and peeking inside the crater was definitely an experience of a lifetime.
How to avoid the crowds
Mount Bromo isn’t the highest peak of Indonesia, but it is very popular among touristand locals. If you don’t plan your visit carefully, you might end having your experience ruined.
Avoiding the tours is the key and the only way to have a nice time exploring the area. So keep in mind that all tours go to see the sunrise first and then visit the volcano, so from late morning and afternoon the place is empty, there will be close to no people around it, and you can thoroughly enjoy your walk on the moon like landscape in the company of the wind and some clowns.
Be kind to all kinds
You will get a lot off offers for a horse ride up to the volcano, please don’t use the poor horses to transport you, they look sick, malnourished and tired. These horses are severely mistreated, and they are too small for riding up slopes with people on their backs… Please don’t support animal abuse ? be kind ?