Thursday, June 2, 2016

Discovering Bandung : Craters (Tangkuban Perahu & Kawah Putih)

Bandung is geographically located on a river basin & surrounded by volcanic mountains, and it has cooler climates compared to other cities in Indonesia, which is why one should visit the natural crater wonders when in Bandung aside from the infamous factory outlet shoppings. 

Arguably the more notable kawah (craters) that became Bandung's major attraction are Kawah Ratu & Kawah Domas, located at Tangkuban Perahu, 25km north and Kawah Putih, located at Ciwidey, 50km south of Bandung city. Two vastly different attraction - and I will share which one I preferred and which one you can probably skip.

The Nay

Due to the logistics and location factors of both craters (Tangkuban Perahu and Kawah Putih), it is advisable to slot both visits on separate days. Question is, if you HAD to choose one crater experience, which one to choose? 

Tangkuban Perahu (Translate: Upturned Boat, namesake of the local legend of Sangkuriang) is rather remote from the Bandung city itself, it is advisable to chart a personal driver to transport you (and your crew) to Tangkuban Perahu and back. 

Now, if your driver were to drive you up to the Kawah Ratu lookout point (on a weekday), it will incur a cost of IDR 25,000 (MYR 7.60) per vehicle on top of the entrance fee of IDR 200,000  (MYR 61) for foreigners. The rates are rather ridiculous as weekends rate are inflated to IDR 300,000 (MYR 90.90) for foreigners.

$ Current Expenditure : IDR 625,000 for three visitors.

Bro Tips : Be Indonesian, the entrance fee is only IDR 20,000 (MYR 6.05)

The Kawah Ratu Crater
The elevated lookout point will give you a view of Kawah Ratu, a scene that looks like where the spaceship from Krypton has crashed on. At approximately 11am, the place is mostly swarmed with more peddlers than tourists, which is fine by me. What is not, is that a licensed guide (based on his badge credential) kept following us persistently and without giving us an option of accepting or declining his service in the first place.

Overlooking Kawah Domas
After giving us a quick history of Tangkuban Perahu and Kawah Ratu, he persuaded us to visit Kawah Domas as well. Since Kawah Domas was in our to-go list, we didn't mind him being our guide (with administrative fee of IDR100,000 - MYR 30 per person). 

$ Current Expenditure : IDR 925,000 for three visitors.

Bro Tips : Just like Poker, it's best that you fold when your hands are going down south.

The legendary tree found en route to Kawah Domas
All is not lost as the guide is pretty informative and 'helpful' in taking pictures for us etc while walking us through the downhill path to Kawah Domas. I don't exactly categorize the path as dangerous or challenging, the challenge is that you have prying eyes from the guide's 'henchmen' who appears midway during our walk and head towards Kawah Domas. The guide mentioned that they will be giving us free feet mud massage down there, with no charge (that's where I started to get a bad vibe, free? Free?)

Mud Spa
Once we have reached Kawah Domas, the henchmen then gave us a pretty decent feet massage, take it as a mud spa treatment. The trick comes RIGHT after that, the henchmen/masseur then transformed into peddlers, and started to persuade us to buy keychains and magnets, for exuberant price of IDR 400,000 (RM 121) for 4 magnets or 10 keychains (and that is also due to the fact that we are Malaysians, their neighbors, and we got that deal that we simply can't refuse, according to them. Other foreigners they mark the price up to IDR 600,000). 

You CAN choose not to buy, I gave them a gratuity of IDR 200,000 for the foot massage given, and not so much for the souvenir (they claimed that it was made by the volcanic rocks, hmmm). My two other friends were duped persuaded and they bought souvenirs worth IDR 600,000 and IDR 400,000 respectively.

$ Current Expenditure : IDR 1,925,000 for three visitors.

After the mud massage, and posing at the hot pools that can boil eggs (was not in the mood for cooking, so we skipped that), we then proceeded with a slight ascend back at the jungle trail to the exit of Kawah Domas. But of course, the ka-ching did not stop there. The guide expected us to give a gratuity for his service. Tipping is an Indonesian culture for sure, but we gave in anyway since we felt that he was informative and helpful enough.

$ Current Expenditure : IDR 2,125,000 for three visitors.

Almost boiled my other eggs
Two craters, and we have raked out almost MYR 215 per person, just for this trip. If you are generous enough to contribute to Bandung's economy, I more than welcome that idea. But this, to us, is simply not worth the trip here (not to mention the 4 hours to and fro journey from Bandung city).

The Yay

On the contrary to Tangkuban Perahu, the entrance fee for three (IDR 50,000 per foreign visitors) plus the car entrance fee (IDR 6,000) only costed us IDR 156,000 for Kawah Putih (Translate : White Crater). That was all we spent.

A short walk trailing the horde of visitors, we reached the turquoise sulphuric lake, surrounded with white shores and mists. We were in awe of this other realm, postcard worthy scenery. Aside from notable sulphur scent, this is definitely a better visit compared to Domas and Ratu.  Of course, you don't get any 'free' massages here, but there are plenty peddlers that are selling souvenirs here as well, and as always, buy only if you feel like buying - no obligations.

Kawah Putih is located in Ciwidey, a quaint market town that also not shy of attractions such as river rafting, strawberry farms and a breathtaking waterfall named Curug Citambur. If you are not in a hurry or if you are bunking near Ciwidey, you can definitely spend a whole day discovering Ciwidey and its vicinity.

We may not have covered the other attractions but there are other photo worthy places that you can target here, such as the tea plantation...

or the Ranca Upas deer enclosure...

Deers at Ranca Upas
and even an abandoned railway track that used to link Bandung and Ciwidey. Much to see, too little time.

This is just an opinionated entry of mine, after all a little balance in ups and downs during travel makes the trip more memorable, no? 


  1. lol.. u almost boiled ur other eggs ya?

  2. Hello handsome, you can be a better model besides a blogger.

    I agree that their touts and peddlers are so irritating, no doubt one needs to survive. I was being hounded by one peddler in Borobudur to buy his souvenir which he marked up so high! I bargained till he had to give in sadly. I think the worst touts and peddlers are in China.

    Hope your eggs are back to shape now. LOL

    Thanks for sharing this place. I don't think I would visit now after hearing your valuable tips always.

    1. Hahhaha, thanks, but I am too fat to be a model.

      Yes, the peddlers are the worst in Indonesia, I guess I will avoid going to these tourist attractions if I do not have a local friend accompanying me.

      I would say, Kawah Putih is good to go (along with Ciwidey area) but Tangkuban is quite a time waster for me. LOL

  3. Love the beautiful lake! While I was in Medan, the guide also asked for a hefty tip. I didn't want to give him or at least try to haggle first but my friend said nvm la and handed to him =.=

    1. Sometimes the 100k we have goes a long stretch for them... if they earned it why not. The thing is Tangkuban Perahu is a massive vampiric tourist spot that if you are on a budget, avoid at all cost :P

  4. Would you recommend the driver that you used during the trip?
    Did you visit these attractions during weekend or weekday? And which site has narrower road, and has more severe traffic jam over the weekend, any idea?
    I can't avoid but to vist one of these attractions during the weekend, and I am trying to figure out where to, to minimise time waste in traffic jams?

    1. Hi Daphne,

      Yes, it is recommended that you get a personal driver as hailing a cab from those locations could be challenging, or risk being touted.
      I went there during weekday but if you must, I recommend Kawah Putih area rather than Tangkuban Perahu. As always, going early is a plus, say 8 or 9am and return to the city before the rush hour (4pm or so).
      Prepare some loose cash for tipping also, it is their culture.
      Enjoy Bandung :)