The island of Java with friends, explore everything from trendy rooftops to temples, caves, waterfalls and volcanoes
It’s never a bad idea to take a trip to the island of Java with your friends. Java is an enormous island, spanning no less than 128,000 square kilometres — just less than one quarter of Spain’s total surface area. It’s such a diverse island in terms of scenery, heritage and cultural events that you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to making the most of your visit to Java with your friends.
During the trip, you’ll be able to enjoy thrilling experiences such as rafting on the Elo River and learning all about batik, the most authentic Javanese art form. We must also address the endless possibilities that Jakarta, the island’s capital city, has to offer.
- Plans with friends on the island of Java
- The best plans with friends in Jakarta
- Where to stay with friends on the island of Java
Plans with friends on the island of Java
Java offers everything from spectacular protected parks punctuated with volcanoes, jungles and deep cave systems, to cities as rich and monumental as Yogyakarta and the wider province of the same name. Here is a selection of some of the best ways to explore and discover the island of Java with your friends:
– A route through active volcanoes: Java is renowned for its volcanic activity. Two of its most famous volcanoes are Mount Bromo (standing at 2,329 metres above sea level) and the Ijen complex (2,769 metres). Both of these volcanoes, which are found in East Java, are “alive” and considered to be the main attraction in their respective protected parks. In the case of the Ijen volcano complex, many people visit its crater —despite the difficulties in reaching it and descending from it— to marvel at the deep blue colour of the lagoon within the caldera, which can be appreciated during hours of little ambient light.
– Cycling around Yogyakarta: Yogyakarta is easily one of the most beautiful municipalities anywhere in Indonesia. Known as “the city of sultans”, it has a rich heritage of civil and religious monuments. The best way to get around the city, and in doing so feel relief that you’re not stuck in a traffic jam, as is commonplace in all Indonesian cities, is by bike. While there are multiple bike rental shops, we recommend signing up one of the bike tours organised by local companies.
– Route around Yogyakarta’s temples: this city is the capital of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, which is home to two of the most impressive monuments anywhere on the island of Java and indeed all of Indonesia. These are the temples of Borobudur and Prambanam. The first is considered to be the largest Buddhist temple in the world, where visitors can undertake a spiritual and artistic 5-kilometre journey to its historic rooftop. Prambanan, meanwhile, is a complex of around 200 temples dedicated to various Hindu deities, where construction first began in the 9th century. Signing up to a guided tour with your friends is one of the best ways to fully appreciate the uniqueness and richness of this complex.
– Total adventure at Goa Pindul: located just 40 kilometres from Yogyakarta is this sui generis adventure park, which exploits its incredible natural features to offer thrilling experiences such as cave tubing in the Pindul Cave, feeling the sheer force of the water at the Sri Gethuk waterfall, floating peacefully down the Oyo River, exploring the local mountains in a 4×4 or navigating the scenic Pinnus Pengger forest along a network of trails.
– A refreshing rafting session in the heart of the jungle: this is one of the most popular (and refreshing!) things to do with friends on a trip to Java. The raging Elo River flows through the jungle of the same name, which is close to the city of Magelang in the Special Region of Yogyakarta. This river has type I and II rapids, making it suitable for novices who are just starting to dip their toes in this aquatic activity. Several local companies offer rafting experiences and various other activities in this stunning natural setting.
– Immerse yourself in local culture in a batik workshop: batik is an ancient manifestation of Indonesian culture and craftsmanship. It is a technique of dyeing fabrics using wax, which employs a wide variety of motifs. The island of Java boasts many workshops that offer groups of visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the process and learn this technique which is so deeply rooted in tradition. And best of all, participants can take their creation home with them at the end of the session.
– Travel to the centre of the Earth in the Jomblang Caves: if you and your friends fancy a pleasant surprise during your trip to the island of Java, this should be high on your list of things to do. Located close to Yogyakarta, Jomblang is a complex of underground tunnels and chambers that are found as deep as 120 metres beneath the Earth’s surface. On this several-hour-long experience among stalactites, stalagmites and subterranean columns, you’ll end up in the so-called Room of Divine Light, which is named as such due to the way in which the sun’s rays pass through a hole in the ceiling and flood the space with a sense of fantasy and wonder.
– Take a boat trip to Sepa Island: there’s nothing quite like sailing with your friends before taking a dip in one of the most beautiful beaches in northern Java. Both of these are possible by taking a boat trip to Sepa island, which forms part of the Seribu archipelago (known as The Thousand Islands) The journey from Jakarta lasts a little more than one hour. Once you arrive, you’re free to enjoy the gorgeous beach or the fantastic facilities of the island’s resort.
The best plans with friends in Jakarta
Jakarta is a city that seemingly never sleeps, making it a perfect place to let your hair down with your friends. It is large, diverse and spread across many different districts. Many people choose to spend the day visiting its main monuments, including the Istiqlal mosque and the eclectic National Monument. You could also spend some time walking around its most popular museums and shopping centres, where you can find a wide range of weird and wonderful products.
– Saturday night at Taman Fatahillah Square: this square is the epicentre of Kota Tua, the city’s old town where many traces of its colonial past can still be appreciated. On Saturday evenings Taman Fatahillah becomes a lively open-air market and entertainment hub, where street performers are never far away. Once you reach the square, we recommend taking a refreshing drink at Café Batavia: a throwback to the country’s period as a Dutch colony and a real must-visit during your time in Jakarta.
– High-rise panoramic bars and restaurants: as in the majority of Asia’s major cities and towns, rooftop bars and restaurants are some of the trendiest places to visit in Jakarta. The most popular one is the Skye Bar on the Menara BCA tower. The Skye Bar serves as a restaurant, bar and nightclub, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening with your friends.
– Sunset and dinner by the beach: Jakarta even has its own beach: Ancol beach. It is one of the most popular meeting points for residents, regardless of the time of day. In fact, watching the sun go down at the beach before sitting down for dinner at one of the local restaurants and cafés is one of the best things to do with your friends in Jakarta.
Where to stay with friends on the island of Java
One of Java’s main new developments is the opening of The Orient Jakarta, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, which is found in the city centre. This 5-star hotel was designed and decorated by the renowned international architect and interior designer Bill Bensley, who managed to convey a sense of great comfort and luxury throughout the hotel. The decoration features many batik fabrics, each one different from the last, that cover the headboards in each of the 153 rooms. The hotel also boasts a wide range of antique furniture and highly detailed doors which have been painted by local craftsmen.
Such is the quality of this hotel, it has been included in the prestigious list of The Leading Hotels of the World.
Frequently Asked Questions
What must I do during my trip to Java with friends?
During your trip to the island of Java, you simply must find the time to visit the impressive temples of Borobudur and Prambanan and the nearby city of Yogyakarta. We also recommend visiting Jakarta, which is renowned for its markets and high-rise rooftop bars and clubs.
What are the best trips to do with friends in Java?
One of the best trips to take with friends is to the Bromo and Ijen volcanoes, where you can witness the extraordinary phenomena brought about by their activity. We also recommend taking a boat trip to The Thousand Islands, exploring caves (such as the Jomblang cave) or admiring waterfalls (such as Sri Gethuk).
What is the best time of year to visit Java with friends?
Regardless of who you’re travelling with, it is best to visit Java during the ‘dry season’ which runs from June to October. In these months, although the temperature is higher, you are less likely to suffer the effects of torrential rainfall.