Java is the most populated island in Indonesia. In spite of the crowded major cities, it's also home to amazing volcanoes, fantastic temples and breathtaking landscapes.
Java has it all, and it’s the perfect place for backpackers on a budget.
It's incredibly cheap, especially if you know where to go and where to stay.
You can sleep, eat and see tourist sites like a queen/king for $20 a day, sometimes less!
Not to mention that Javanese are some of the friendliest people in the world, and we had such a fantastic time exploring these places thanks to them.
So if you’re wondering what to do in Java, 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.
One of the downsides of visiting during the dry season is that a lot of the rice fields would be brown and dry, instead of filled with vibrant green plants.
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 length of time, but any less than 10 days and you’ll struggle to do all the best thing to do in Java.
Remember, it's a pretty big island!
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 IDR for 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.
Another great option is to actually book a tour who can organise transport and everything else for you.
At the time of writing, it costs 487,500 IDR per person for a group of 4+ people. Price is inclusive of:
Alternative tour to check out: Book with GetYourGuide here
Opening times: 07:00 - 17:00
Price: 20,000 IDR
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 vibrant 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 costs only 5,000 IDR to enter.
It's a nice place to spend a morning or afternoon just walking around and exploring the local vibes.
This is another fantastic place to fly a drone, and trust me, those colours look even more amazing from above.
There's a fantastic guided tour option that starts from IDR 341,463 per person.
Entrance: 5,000 IDR
Opening times: 07:00 - 18:00
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, one spot I would recommend is Kebun Teh Ciater.
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 don't want to worry about driving, we recommend getting a private car charter, which is a popular way for tourists to get around.
It costs around $47.85 per day, or a 10-hour itinerary, and the best thing is that you can customize your itinerary for the day.
A pro tip when hiring a private charter is to actually ask your driver for his personal favorite places to eat! This is an easy way to discover local favourites and hidden gems that you won't be able to find elsewhere.
Entrance: 5,000 IDR + parking fee (2,000 IDR for bikes, 5,000 IDR for cars)
Opening times: 24 hours
If you LOVE to shop, then you’re going to love Jakarta. I’m not a big fan of cities, especially overpopulated 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 genuinely are like mini countries on their own - so big!) and there was shopping galore. Not to mention so many 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 take advantage of the country's shopping capital.
Here's a list of some of the most popular shopping malls:
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 best things you can do. It’s an early start at around 1am but is well 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.
But for a quick reference, we highly recommend this great sunrise tour.
It's 712,500 IDR for a group tour and 1,500,000 IDR per person for a private tour.
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 nothing short of magical 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!
This fantastic Ijen Crater tour leaves from Surabaya, Malang, or Banyuwangi, so you can easily adapt it to your itinerary.
When writing this guide, prices start at $60.35 per person for a group of 4+ people.
A lot of tours combine a Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater tour over a 2-3 day tour.
If you're staying in Yogyakarta, here's a great 3-day tour that will take you to Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater!
It includes private accommodation at both Bromo and Ijen, breakfast, a guide-slash-driver, and all the necessary entrance fees and costs.
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 realised 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, so basically you won’t need to hike to view this one.
There were 3 guys there trying to sell stuff to two people, so I would believe that there are hundreds more when it’s open. But actually they were nice guys and we just chatted!
Note that this volcano is extremely popular, even among locals.
Also, it’s probably the most expensive entrance fee in Bandung for foreigners at IDR 300,000 (USD 22) per person whereas locals have to pay just IDR 20,000.
It might be worth going with a tour like this one if you prefer to have transport sorted for you. Plus, they'll take you to a nearby strawberry farm afterward, which is quite popular in Bandung!
This Tangkuban Perahu Crater tour on Klook is a fantastic alternative too, as it's part of a full-day tour that takes you to a coffee plantation and other attractions around the city.
Entrance: 300,000 IDR on weekends, 200,000 IDR on weekdays
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 actually preferred it. Possibly because it was FAR LESS touristy, it was cheaper and it was super cute.
Here's the official Floating Market Lembang Instagram.
There are so many super cool food options, so don’t make the mistake Brad and I did by eating before we went...
Your entrance ticket gives you a free welcome drink as well as access to the Rainbow Garden. It’s only 35,000 IDR for the entrance.
Opening times: 09:00 - 18:00
Price: 35,000 IDR
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 may as well visit one!
There's also one in Malang called Batu Flower Garden, which hides a secret waterfall that you shouldn't miss!
I've written more about how to visit it in the full Malang guide.
When we were travelling around Java we came across some really cool camping sights, which made us regret not camping for a few nights. Now, I don’t mean camping in a tent, I actually mean glamping.
Oh, fun fact: did you know that the global glamping market is valued at $2.57 billion in 2022??
Glamping is slowly but surely gaining popularity not only in Java but the rest of Indonesia, and I can see it soon becoming a bucket list activity for tourists.
You can stay on pirate boats, log cabins, or even 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 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.
However, Borobudur is actually an important landmark and one of the most iconic cultural sights in the whole country! It was constructed back in 778 AD and is home to centuries of rich history and traditions.
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.
While you can totally purchase your own tickets to the temple, it might be worth getting them from tour providers such as GetYourGuide, as the price is so much cheaper and you'll get a few add-ons too!
This one, for example, includes a skip-the-line access to Borobudur Temple as well as the magnificent Prambanan Temple!
More on that just below this!
Entrance: 455,000 IDR (or 375,000 IDR for just the temple complex)
Opening times: 06:30 - 17:00
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, just like with churches in Europe. But anyway, this temple in Yogyakarta 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. They cost around 30,000 IDR to rent.
I suggest you visit around 3pm as that’s when we visited. The temperature was perfect and it wasn’t too busy.
If you want to visit Borobudur and Prambanan while in Yogyakarta, you can get a package ticket for 675,000 IDR.
Even better, try booking ahead with tour providers, so you can skip the line!
Entrance: 375,000 IDR (25 USD)
Opening times: 06:30 - 17:00
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).
Another one worth a visit is the Ratu Boko Temple, which is close to Prambanan Temple (they actually run a shuttle service between the two temples).
Entrance (to Ratu Boko): 25 USD
Opening times: 07:00 - 17:00
This was one of the things to do in Java that Brad and I missed out on, due to our own terrible timing issues. The Sambisari Temple is 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.
It's a 9th-century Hindu temple buried five metres underground and is just an architectural beauty!
They close at 4pm, 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.
Here's a unique cycling tour to Sambisari and Kedulan temple!
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 Becici Peak (maybe because it was our first one).
It’s got undeniably beautiful views and you can zipline for just 15,000 IDR or less than £1
I felt like a bit of a celebrity here too as everyone wanted my picture - haha!
The entrance is only 10,000 IDR and well worth the stunning views from above.
Entrance: 10,000 IDR
Opening times: 08:00 - 20:00
This is one of the great nature things to do in Java, but you have to go in the wet season, otherwise there are 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, especially with that iconic wooden bridge cutting through the sea of green paddy fields.
Unfortunately, we visited in the dry season, so it was closed down and didn'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, including one called Seribu Batu Songgo Langit.
Here's the official Instagram page, which you can contact for reservations or more information.
This is one of the more unique things to do in Java, which kind of transports you to New Zealand for a brief moment.
Java, and Indonesia in general, is a drone lover's paradise. 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.
If you're not up for hiking, it's actually more recommended to take a Jeep tour!
Merapi is Indonesia's most active volcano and has had some large eruptions over the years. It's definitely a landmark you might want to see and learn more about.
This Guided Jeep Safari will take you on a thrilling ride on a 4WD up the mountain. You will get to see the mini museum and hear stories about the last eruption too.
Alternatively, here's a fantastic Merapi Jeep tour from Klook.
Java is a region thriving in delicious and authentic Indonesian food. When you visit somewhere that’s too 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. food in Java is some of the cheapest in the world, whilst tasting so good!
My favourites and some quick recommendations:
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 private car charter for the day! It’s not overly expensive and you’ll have the added benefit of aircon!
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.
Roaster and Bear is 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 among the best ones 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 souvenirs, and discover authentic street food.
Once a month they turn it into a Chinatown-style place with lots of even more amazing food.
If you want to make the most of your time here, it could be a good idea to do a walking tour of Malioboro street.
The local guide can take you to the most popular spots and must-try food vendors.
Hutan Pinus Asri was my favourite mountainous area of Yogyakarta, and an awesome photo spot. It’s not like the other picture spots because you have to walk out to little planks to get pictures in random 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!).
This place wasn't too busy when we visited around midday.
Entrance: 3,000 IDR (plus motorbike or car parking)
Opening times: 06:00 - 18:00
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 gigantic heart-shaped flower arrangement 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 sandboarding in the nearby southern beaches, or head in a jeep and drive around the dunes. Pretty epic, right?
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.
Pulau Merah, which translates directly to red island, is located east of Java and very close to Bali, and not a lot of people venture out here.
If you love to surf, you’ll want to visit as the surf is supposed to be epic!
Not to mention that it's got awesome beaches and places to relax, and being so secluded, it's truly a hidden paradise...
If I return to Java, I’ll be heading here for sure.
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.