The Great Trans Java


arriving in Jakarta

Arrive at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport of Jakarta. Driving along the highways enclosing the eastern parts of this sprawling city, gives you an idea of Jakarta, the ever growing capital of Indonesia. Densely populated kampung are tucked away in between high rise buildings. Jakarta is all about political and financial prowess. Drive onwards to Bogor, a former retreat for the colonial elite. The famous Bogor botanical garden provides refuge from the heat for locals and tourists alike. Once started by Sir Stamford Raffles with the help of botanists of London's Kew Gardens, it became an invaluable research centre under Dutch administration.

from Bogor to the tea lands of Bandung

Bogor lies on an altitude of some 300 meters, but has a much more pleasant climate than Jakarta. No wonder people flock to this hill resort to escape the heat and humidity of the capital. While Bogor's transformation as a distant Jakarta suburb is well under way, its botanical gardens remain a world class green oasis. No better way to acquaint yourself with thousands of species of tropical trees and plants, than by a pleasant walk on its spacious grounds. The elegant white clad building in colonial style par excellence once was the official residence of the Dutch governors-general. Now it is one of the presidential summer palaces. After lunch, you'll move to Bandung, regional centre of West Java and right in the heart of tea land. You'll be in time to catch an art performance at Pak Udjo's, the center for all things Sundanese. Join in and watch a moving performance of children en adults, showcasing the musical traditions of West Java.

a day in Bandung

When the Dutch arrived in the 17th century, the area was mostly swampland. Although the location once was the seat of an important Hindu kingdom, only a tiny village stood there. Until the 19th century, its inaccessibility greatly impeded its development. When Governor-General Daendels started building the Great Post Road across the entire length of Java, Bandung began to develop. The European inhabitants of the city demanded the establishment of a municipality (gemeente), which was granted in 1906. Bandung gradually developed itself into a resort city for the plantation owners. Now it is a sprawling metropolis, contained only by surrounding volcanoes. Today you explore the vicinity of Bandung, with its rolling hills and vast tea plantations. First it is off to Tangkuban Prahu, with its hissing and fuming craters, one of the most accessible volcanic areas in the world. Take a small hike through the rain forest to another part of the same volcano. In the afternoon, you'll visit one of the magnificent tea estates of West Java. Factories, some of them dating back to colonial times, process "the green gold" amidst endless undulating carpets of the meeting crows of tea bushes.

from Bandung to Wonosobo

After an authentic train journey through scenic West Java, you will reach Baturaden, one of the prettiest hill stations in Central Java. Move on by car to Wonosobo, a sleepy hilltop village. On a clear day, there are great panoramic views to be enjoyed over Mt Sumbing. It is also the best possible base to explore Dieng.

Dieng Plateau and onwards to Yogyakarta

Sprinkled all over Dieng plateau, there are some small, unassuming temples. Unimpressive when compared to the larger monuments such as Prambanan and Borobudur, dating from the same period before the spread of Islam in, these are however the oldest in Java. The name Dieng is probably a corruption of the two Sanskrit words, Di and Hyang, which literally translates into 'abode of the Gods'. These small temples in a lonely scenery, create a fascinating ambiance. Waking in this high altitude reign of Javanese antiquities, you'll stumble across some curious natural phenomena. Multicolored sulphurous lakes and craters with hissing gasses, are the result of seismic activity in a caldera of an extinct volcano. The road to Yogya is marked by beautiful sights on bucolic scenery. When passing by Magelang, you may recall that this is the place where Diponegoro, the Javanese leader of an uprising against the Dutch, was arrested. Up to this day, streets in many Indonesian cities are named after this hero. Check-in in your hotel in Yogya.


This morning you will get to know Yogyakarta, rightfully dubbed 'the cradle of Javanese culture'. Top of your list is the stately Kraton, right in the centre of town. It was built by venerable Sultans in de second half of the 18th century as a representation of the Javanese cosmos. Meander through the pavilions and low rise, white and green clad buildings. Many have priceless heirlooms on display. Nearby Taman Sari or 'Water Castle' reminds of the whims of these former feudal rulers. This was once a splendid retreat, the playground of mighty kings, a complex of basins, bathing houses, private chambers and watch towers from where kings could observe beautiful women bathing. In the city outskirts, various handicrafts villages can be found. Up to this day, these villages remain vital cultural centers where craftsmen still pursue age old handicrafts. In Kota Gede, Yogya's silver street, a large number of shops produce the finest jewelry and silver home ware. Few batik workshops were left in the center of town. We will bring you to a place where the cap and the canting are still handled with great care. Observe every intriguing detail of the process of manufacturing batik, the quintessential artisan product of Indonesia. After lunch, you will discover the mystery and history of the world famous Borobudur temple, one of the most impressive Buddhist monuments ever erected by mankind. It lies tranquil against the splendid background of the Menoreh mountain range, some 40 km northwest Yogyakarta. The terraced temple tells the times and lives of the Lord Buddha in well over 1.500 bass-relief and thus is a real prayer in stone. It also illustrates the will of man to preserve the past. Once enshrined by a wild jungle, it took more than ten years and great effort to restaurant the monument. Now it belongs to the finest examples of Buddhist architecture.

from Yogya to Solo

Before you head out to Solo, you will visit the royal graves at Immogiri. This is a fascinating City of the Dead, with numerous references to an era when Java was under Hindu influence. All the Sultans of Yogyakarta since the 16th century are buried here and on Mondays and Fridays, people come here to pray for their souls. Entrance to the individual graves is only allowed on these days and when properly dressed in Javanese attire. Then it is off to Prambanan, a splendid temple complex about 16 km east of Yogya. Comprising more than 200 large and smaller buildings, this place is another fantastic reminder Java's Hindu past. Right in the center of the inner walls, the 47 m high Loro Jonggrang triumphs over the nearby plains. It is the most important monument, dedicated to the god Shiva. Wonderful bass-reliefs on the inner walls depict the old Indian Ramayana story. Onwards to Solo, the twin sister city of Yogya.

Solo surroundings

After breakfast, explore Solo town and visit the Sultan palace. Then continue drive towards Gunung Lawu, one of the largest and least active volcanoes of Java. This area has been the favorite location for centuries to built temples amidst a placid nature. Two of them have been restored into their former glory. Candi Ceto, is the younger of two magnificently restored temples in the country side just two hours out of Solo. It was built in the aftermath of the Majapahit period and dates back to the mid 18th century. The temple is located far away from any urban bustle, in a hazy mist-shrouded place in the mountains. The atmosphere of isolation is accentuated when Balinese come to honor their Hindu gods on pilgrimages often organized out of Bali. The location refers to many interesting facts about antique Javanese temple art. Sukuh is much older, an even more mysterious place. Referring again to the great 15th century Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms that dominated Sumatra and Java before the coming of Islam, nobody knows exactly why the temple was constructed or for whom worship took place. Many decorative elements are unmistakably erotic in nature. The three terraces of the building are makes one think of the Maya temples of Central America, although scholars reject any link with this culture. Along the stairs on the west side you get to the roof and an unequaled view of the valley below. Return to Solo, through soft rolling hills covered with tea plantations.

from Solo to Bromo

A morning drive to Surabaya, and onwards to Tosari, nestled against the mighty slope of Gunung Bromo. On the way, there are plenty of photo ops, with sights on dormant volcanoes, rice fields, picturesque Javanese villages, old sultanate towns and the never boring street sights, cluttered with thousands of vehicles and people, moving goods in becaks, bicycles and pushcarts. Arriving late afternoon, the rest of the evening is free, allowing you to prepare for a nightly excursion you will never forget.

Bromo to Surabaya

After an early breakfast, it is off to Mount Bromo. It takes jeep riding along spectacular hanging vegetable gardens and even some horse riding to get at the foot of a volcanic cone, rising out of a sea of sand. Steep stairs lead to the peak where you can have an awesome look into the inner nucleus of a still active volcano. Standing on this lonely crater rim, you realize in full the splendor of surrounding moonlike landscape. It is back to the hotel for a hearty breakfast and then onwards to Surabaya. After lunch, you will visit The House of Sampoerna, situated in "old Surabaya". This stately Dutch colonial-style compound was built in 1862 and is now a preserved historical site. Previously used as an orphanage managed by the Dutch, it was purchased in 1932 by Liem Seeng Tee, the founder of Sampoerna, one of the largest tobacco companies in Indonesia. The side buildings were converted to family residences and the large warehouse-like structures were used to accommodate facilities for tobacco and clove processing, blending, hand-rolling and packaging, printing and finished goods processing. Today, the compound is still functioning as a production platform for Indonesia's most prestigious cigarette, Dji Sam Soe. In commemoration of Sampoerna's 90th anniversary in 2003, the central complex has been painstakingly restored. Overnight in Surabaya before returning home or on to your next destination.

leaving Surabaya

Free time until transfer to airport or onwards to your next destination.