Java is one of the Indonesian islands that’s gaining popularity for it’s amazing volcanoes, fantastic temples and breathtaking landscapes. Java has it all, and it’s the perfect place for backpackers on a budget. Java is so cheap. You can sleep, eat and see tourist sites like a queen/king for $20 a day, sometimes less!
Btw, Javanese are some of the friendliest people in the world, and we had such a fantastic time exploring thanks to them.
So if you’re wondering what to do in Java, then look no further as I take you through an epic list of all the best things to do in Java, Indonesia.
The best time to visit Java is during the dry season which runs from June to October. August is peak tourist time, but Java really isn’t overly touristy, so you’ll still not find lots of crowds at the main sights. We visited in August and the weather was perfect.
In order to see all the best sights that Java has to offer, then I suggest you dedicate at least 10 days to your trip. 2 weeks is a great amount, but any less than 10 days and you’ll struggle to do all the best thing to do in Java.
READ: Check out my 10 day Java Itinerary for help planning your perfect Java trip!
Getting to Java is super easy thanks to the many airports around and the fact the capital of Indonesia is on this island. International airports include Jakarta and Yogyakarta, so depending on whether you just want to do “east Java” (I suggest you do it all!), or you want to do it all, or just the west, then you can fly into Jakarta, or Yogyakarta.
We use Skyscanner to book all our flights and if you’re flying from Bali, you can get flights to Yogyakarta and Jakarta for less than $35.
Okay, now for the part you came for, a list of all the best things to do in Java.
Tumpak Sewu Waterfall is often regarded as not only the most beautiful waterfall in Java, but in all of Indonesia, and seriously, it’s true. In a world of Instagram, we often worry whether picture perfect places will live up to their expectations in reality. This one does. This waterfall is famous for its sight of the volcano in the background, which only happens when the clouds are gone.
But it’s an awesome place to fly a travel drone and you can even walk down to underneath the waterfall to feel its full force! It’s about a 30 minute walk with a guide but it’s not expensive.
There are actually two viewing points, both cost 20,000 entrance and you can buy snacks and food there. When flying a drone be careful about signal loss as drones have lost their lives here.
It’s an epic waterfall that’s well worth a visit, but it’s 2 hours from Malang city, so you’ll need to either rent a driver, use Grab or rent a moped and drive yourself. We did the last and the drive was fairly straight and comfortable.
The Rainbow village is located in the heart of Malang city in East Java and was the result of a university project to help bring more tourism to the rundown area and slums of Malang.
They decided to paint the area in colorful rainbow colours that can be seen from above and afar and it worked! It’s one of the awesome places to visit in Java and actually is only 3,000 entrance.
This is another fantastic place to fly a drone, trust me, those colours look even more amazing from above.
If you’ve never been to Sri Lanka and seen tea fields there, then I suggest you head into the highlands of Bandung with its cool climate and check out the really beautiful tea fields here. It’s surrounded by them and you can literally take your pick of the areas, park up and walk amongst them on the trails.
This was a really beautiful place in Java and one of my favourite things to do in Java!
If you do want to visit, again they’re situated north of Bandung city, so you’ll either need to hire a private driver, take a private tour, use Grab or rent a moped for the day.
We rented a moped from Vectoran moped rental and it was a great moped for a great price.
If you LOVE to shop, then you’re going to love Jakarta. I’m not a big fan of cities, especially over populated ones, but despite that, I didn’t mind Java as it’s got some really cool areas that are super modern.
We headed into one of the many awesome shopping malls (Which are like mini countries on their own- so big!) and there is shopping galore, and some amazing places to eat!
So if you’re in Jakarta for a stopover, or it’s your first or final destination on a Java itinerary, then I suggest you shop.
Ah, Mount Bromo! This is one of my favourite things to do in Java, if not the world (yes that’s a big claim!). The sunrise at Mount Bromo is the most beautiful sunrise I’ve seen to date, and I’ve seen some pretty epic ones.
It just looked like a painting, it was so perfect. Anyway, when you visit Malang, Surabaya, then a morning sunrise tour to Mount Bromo is one of the most popular things to do. It’s an early start at around 1am, but it’s worth it.
Not only will you get to experience the most epic views in the world, but you’ll get to climb up the active volcano and peer into the crater. I’d say that’s a pretty unique experience.
You can check out my whole guide on going on a Mount Bromo tour right here.
Bradley and I didn’t go to Ijen Crater, simply because we ran out of time. But we really really wanted too. It looks bloody amazing.
It’s known as the Blue crater, due to the “blue fire” it produces. It’s a hike upwards, and the sulphur that leaks out is toxic so you actually have to wear a mask. The views looks amazing and I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about the location.
So if you go to Java, make sure you put this on your epic list of things to do, and don’t run out of time!
A lot of tours combine a Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater tour over a 2-3 day tour.
This epic volcano is located just north of Bandung, and it’s one of the most popular things to do in Java. Actually, Brad and I drove the whole way out there and didn’t realise it had erupted a couple of days before so was closed off to the public.
It wasn’t a tragic eruption, it just was pushing out poisonous gases. But we gotta talk to the control room guys who monitor the volcano and they gave us a little history lesson before we all took random pictures together!
But this is a unique volcano in that you can drive the whole way up to the mouth of the crater, basically you won’t need to hike to view this one.
This is another one of the really cool things to do in Bandung. Basically it’s a replica of the famous floating market in Bangkok, Thailand, but I think I preferred it. Possibly because it was FAR LESS touristy, it was cheaper and it was super cute.
There are so many super cool food options, so don’t make the mistake Brad and I did by eating before we went.
Java loves its flower gardens and there are quite a few situated around the island. My favourites were in Bandung and Yogyakarta.
They’re all very well maintained and typically come with extra activities such as unique photo spots, zip lining opportunities and other such things. You’ll come across a lot of flower gardens, so you pay as well visit one!
When we were travelling around Java we came across some really cool camping sights, which made us regret not camping a few nights. Now, I don’t mean camping in a tent, I actually mean glamping.
You can stay on pirate boats, log cabins, hobbit houses, you name it! In Bandung and Yogyakarta they’re all located deep in the forest where the temperature is cooler and the views are epic. So if you’re looking for something unique, then put this on your list of things to do in Java.
Borobudur temple is actually probably one of the most famous Java attractions, thanks to Instagram. It’s located in Yogyakarta, which is probably the most backpacker known place in Java.
Borobudur temple is both unique and beautiful and a lot of people visit for a sunrise or sunset tour. The sunrise tour looks amazing, and Brad and I fully intended on visiting for sunrise, but I felt sick. So we visited around 10 am.
Honestly it wasn’t overly busy, it was just super warm.
So I do suggest going early in the morning or after 3 when the sun is starting to go down.
It’s one of the more expensive things to do in Java, but it’s worth it. And you can combine it with another temple in the area for a reduced price (I’ll be talking about that temple next).
I’ve seen A LOT of temples since I started travelling, and it really takes a lot to impress me anymore.
Not that they aren’t all beautiful, they are, it just becomes a little same same, it’s the same with churches. But anyway, this temple was magnificent and I think it’s the most beautiful temple in all of Asia, yes the whole continent.
The structure, the detail, the architecture, the atmosphere, just everything about it I loved. It wasn’t heaving with tourists either which was nice, and you can drive around the other temple via segway which is fun.
I suggest you visit around 3 as that’s when we visited and the temperature was perfect and it wasn’t busy.
If you want to visit temples in Java that are pretty much undiscovered and less touristy, then I can suggest Kidal which is located just outside Malang (near the Sekumpul waterfall), and Ratu Boko, which is close to Pranamaban temple (they actually run a shuttle service there).
This was one of the things to do in Java that Brad and I missed out on, due to our own terrible timing issues. Basically, they’re located in Yogyakarta city centre, and we had only allowed a day for sightseeing both the big temples there and the city centre sights...BAD IDEA.
They close at 3, and you’ll need a full day just to see the amazing sights in the city centre. So don’t make the same mistake as we did and head when they open, otherwise it gets super busy.
Yogyakarta is full of “picture spots”, which are basically placed at locations with stunning views. They start to get a bit boring and samey after a while, but I really enjoyed Becci Peak (maybe because it was our first one).
It’s got undeniably beautiful views and you can zip line for less than $1 is also pretty cool!
I felt like a bit of a celebrity here too as everyone wanted my picture- haha!
This is one of the great things to do in Java, but you have to go in the wet season, otherwise there is no epic green rice fields. We were so excited about this spot, because it looked amazing in photos and it seemed like a great droning opportunity.
Well, we went in the dry season and it’s closed down and doesn’t look half as cool!
So yes, visit this place, but only in the wet season!
All throughout Java there is an increasing amount of Hobbit houses and they’re all located in picturesque settings, usually in the forests. They make for great photos, and some of them you can actually sleep in.
We didn’t sleep in any, but we really enjoyed seeing the hobbit houses. My favourites were in Bandung and Yogyakarta.
One of the more unique things to do in Java, that kind of transports you to New Zealand for a brief moment.
Java, and Indonesia in general is a drone lovers dream. There are very few drone restrictions (other than the basic rules, such as don’t drone above people head to a certain height and no religious monuments).
There are so many epic drone locations, and if you haven't got a drone, you might want to invest in one for this trip.
We use a Mavic Pro (We call him Baby Mavic) and he is EPIC. Yes, he is expensive, but when it comes to getting a drone, you either get a high quality one or don't bother at all- trust me.
My favourite drone spots include:
This isn’t for the faint hearted and Brad and I didn’t do it personally. However, if you’re a fan of hiking, then this will be a welcome challenge for you. Only specific companies will do this adventure with you, so you’ll have to head to a tour shop in Yogyakarta city for information.
But even if you don’t hike up an active volcano itself, you can visit the volcanic museum located at the bottom to hear the tragic stories of eruption and see lava and volcanic material from the volcano.
One of the pretty cool places to visit in Java.
Java is a region thriving in delicious and authentic Indonesian food. When you visit somewhere that’s westernised, like Bali (not that I don’t love Bali too), but you lose some of the authentic Indonesian food.
So whilst in Java, eat like the locals do. Ps, it’s some of the cheapest food in the world. My favourites include Mei Goreng, Ayam Goreng, and Chicken satay.
One of my favourite things to do in Java was to rent a moped in Yogyakarta and just head to the mountains. It’s a colder climate and because you’re higher up, you honestly have some of the most beautiful views ever.
It was always so pretty and as long as you’re careful when heading downhill it’s safe.
If you don’t feel confident on a moped, that doesn't mean you need to miss out. Hire a driver for the day. It’s not overly expensive and you’ll have the added benefit of aircon! :P
You’ll probably wondering why the hell I’ve included a restaurant on a list of things to do in Java. Well, as a rule, I wouldn't normally, but the food here was the best I’ve had in Indonesia as a whole, and probably one of my favourite restaurants in the world. Big claim I know.
It’s located in Yogyakarta, and it serves amazing food at a stupidly low price. It’s probably considered to be a mid-range restaurants in Java, but compared to Europe prices, it’s crazy cheap.
The quality of food and flavour was amazing, and the coffee is the best in Java (which isn’t that great on a whole)- but this was awesome.
This is probably the most iconic street, not only in Yogyakarta, but in Java too. It’s the most “backpacker” place in all of Java and it’s got a really cool vibe. It’s a great place to meet other travellers, buy gifts and eat food.
Once a month they turn it into a chinatown style place with lots of great food. Probably one of the most famous Java attractions.
This was my favourite mountainous area of Yogyakarta, and picture spot. It’s not like the other picture spots, you walk out to little planks to get pictures in random little places/settings with an amazing view.
In the wet season, the view would be even more epic, but we loved the pictures here, and it’s currently the cover image of our website (as of 2019!).
Located on the coast of Yogyakarta, not many people venture this far out, but it’s definitely one of the top things to do in Java. This is a heart shaped flower on the sand.
It’s actually another cool droning spot and you can see it’s full effect from above. But not only that, this is a great place to visit for the sand dunes, and you can try sand boarding ,or head in a jeep and drive around the dunes. Pretty epic!
This is a spot we didn’t go to, but it’s something I feel should be included on the list of things to do in Java, because it’s so epic. It’s located in the deep south east of Java and not a lot of people venture here.
Well if you love to surf, you’ll want to visit, the surf is supposed to be great, and it’s also got awesome beaches and places to relax. If I return to Java, I’ll be heading here.
Getting and java is easy and cheap. There are a few options available to you.
Trains: the easiest and cheapest way to get around Java is to make use of the excellent train network available to you! You can get trains from one end of the island to the other. You can also get overnight trains for longer journeys. We loved the trains in Java and used them for the full duration of our trip.
Fly: Internal flights within Java are not that expensive and if you’re short on time, then I suggest you make sure of the flights. You can fly between Jakarta and Yogyakarta, and Yogyakarta and Malang. We use Skyscanner to check all the best prices on flights.
Java is packed with great places to stay. Whether you want to stay in hostels, luxury hotels or even cute airbnbs, you’ll have no problem finding great accommodation, at a great price. Below I’ve listed where we stayed in each location in Java.
Jakarta: POP! Hotel Pasar Baru Jakarta
Bandung: Pasar Baru Square Hotel
Malang: Whiz Prime
Here are some other useful guides we’ve written that you might find useful for your trip to Indonesia.
So there we go! My guide to the best things to do in Java. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful. If you’ve got any other great Java attractions to add to the list, then please drop a comment below.
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