Bandung is the capital of the Sundanese and of West Java . Its population today is about 3 million, and that makes Bandung the fourth largest city in Indonesia . It is located at a relatively high altitude, about 800 meters above sea level, and it has a comfortably cool climate. This is one of the reasons why Bandung is a very popular place among expats, and at the same time, makes it also a popular destination among the Indonesians, who tend to come to Bandung by the thousands on weekends.
The beautiful landscape in the surrounding area may be the largest attraction; both in the north and south of the city, you can visit a large number of volcanoes, hot springs and tea plantations. Bandung used to be a lake, lying in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. The area north of Bandung is most accessible with the Tangkuban Prahu volcano where you can go by car all the way to the top, and huge tea plantations. On the way there it is highly recommended to go by the lovely " Flower Road " with a large number of shops selling beautiful flowers and other plants. The area is called Wisata Bunga and can offer a good view of Bandung , which is often called Kota Kembang, the Flower City , by the local inhabitants.
During colonial rule, Bandung was one of the most popular cities in Indonesia for the Dutch, who refered to the city as Paris from Java. Both in climate as in culture Bandung resembled, more than any other city, a European atmosphere. Unfortunately, the city center has lost a lot of its charm and even the name Kota Kembang (flower city) may at some times seem paradoxical with the reality of traffic congestion and urban waste making any comparison to flowers a joke. Still, in some areas one can retrieve a sense of what Bandung used to be like in colonial ages, with tree-lined quiet lanes and white suburban Dutch built houses set in luscious green gardens.
In the 1920's the Dutch built the famous Technische Hoogeschool, (Technical high school), and that was the starting sign of the growth of Bandung as an educational center. Today, no less than 7 state-run and private Universities make Bandung the educational capital of Indonesia . This has its effects on the demographics as well as the social fabric of the city. With a large student population, entertainment and facilities are abundant and cheap. Also artistic and cultural life is rich as a result of the young make up of a large part of Bandung 's inhabitants.
So in the end, don't let Bandung 's initial chaotic lay out and colorful and odourful streets scare you. Once you take a chance in getting to know this capital of the Sundanese, you will discover that under the layers of smog, an intrinsic charm still permeates this city. You will have to get the places where to find that charm though and that is what this guide is for.