By Darren Griffiths

Things to Do in Malang Indonesia

8th December 2023

Malang City was our first destination in East Java after leaving the country’s central region. Malang is East Java’s second largest city and would be our last big city stop on our tour through Java. You can cover all the things to do in Malang City in a day, but it’s a comfortable enough city for a 2 or 3-day stay. Follow our guide to the best city sights to add to your Malang itinerary.

Our Malang Indonesia Itinerary

Our primary reason for stopping in Malang City was to break up the long 15-hour journey between Yogyakarta and Mount Bromo in East Java.

Many travellers on a tight schedule endure that epic journey, but with more time on our hands and realising there are enough things to do in Malang, we decided to stay for 3 nights at MADOR Malang Hostel.

Get Instagramming At The Colourful Village

If arriving in Malang City from the west by train, the first thing you’ll notice (it’s impossible to miss) is the rainbow-coloured village. The train tracks rise above the village offering an awesome birdseye view.

Things To Do In Malang City Malang Itinerary Java
Rainbow Village rooftops Malang, Indonesia

This former slum neighbourhood, split in two by the Brantas River, had a rainbow makeover just over one year ago. Its eye-catching paint work compares to the famous colourful favelas in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

The plan was all down to a local university student who wanted to brighten up the village for its residents, clean the streets, and put it on all the tourist’s things to do in Malang city list.

With a local paint manufacturer donating all the needed paint, the idea was put into action.

Thanks to local volunteers and university students, the neighbourhood now screams all the colours of the rainbow and more. Every wall, roof, door, and walkway has had a makeover.

With added colourful hanging umbrellas and lanterns, it’s a sight that wouldn’t be welcome with a hangover!

Location – MAP
Rainbow Village Entrance Fee – 3 IDR.

Blue Village

You can visit the other famous painted village, the Blue Village, by crossing the bridge from Jodipan. Together these bright and beautiful villages are a must-see part of any trip to Malang.

Blue Village, Malang, Indonesia

Why did the locals choose blue? Because the local football club, FC Arema, has blue as its colour!

It’s also called Kampung Biru Arema, and the entrance fee is included in the fee for the Rainbow Village.

Visit the Chinese Temple “Eng An Kiong”

With Malang’s large Chinese population, there are a few Chinese temples in the area.

Inside the Chinese Temple, Malang City, East Java
Inside the Chinese Temple, Malang City, East Java

The largest, oldest, and most impressive is “Eng An Kiong”. Located in the centre of town, the temple is worth adding to your list of things to do in Malang City.

The temple is believed to be 400 years old and its traditional Chinese architecture is ornate from the inside and out.

Unless you’re visiting on a religious day or festival, the temple is a serene place to wander and enjoy the ancient Chinese interior decoration.

To add to the ambience, there are dozens of giant candles and incense burning at all times.

Location – MAP
Entrance – FREE

Browse The Bird & Flower Market

If you’re concerned about animal welfare, we wouldn’t recommend adding the bird market to your list of things to do in Malang City.

Bird market street, Malang, Indonesia
Bird Market Street, Malang, Indonesia

If you’re concerned about animal welfare, we wouldn’t recommend adding the bird market to your list of things to do in Malang City.

The bird market was not part of our original Malang itinerary but we ended up walking through it while trying to find the neighbouring flower market.

There’s no doubt that it’s an interesting market and part of Indonesian culture, but seeing such a large number of birds in small cages was not a pleasant sight.

The market doesn’t stop at birds either. There are caged domestic cats, rabbits, reptiles, and other kinds of pets for sale.

Although not as interesting, the flower market next door is an attractive shopping street for those with green fingers.

The street is covered in potted trees, plants, and flowers so it’s difficult to tell where one shop ends and the other starts.

Even if you have no plans on buying a plant for your hotel room, it’s a pleasant and peaceful place to browse with Malang’s middle class.

Location – MAP
Entrance – FREE

Drink At Great Coffee Shops

Malang is a university city, so it’s no surprise that with a large student population, there are plenty of coffee shops around.

Local Balinese coffee is regarded by many as the best coffee in the world, so drinking it as part of your Malang itinerary is recommended.

There’s been a new wave of trendy coffee shops opening up all over the northern part of Malang city.

We recommend the following coffee shops in Malang city:

Java Dancer

A small café that blends an ethnic local interior with a contemporary twist.

Our Iced Coffee and Tea at Java Dancer, Malang City, East Java
Our Iced Coffee and Tea at Java Dancer, Malang City, East Java

We loved the wooden furniture and open-air design which makes a comfortable ambience while sipping their best coffee.

MMMM Coffee

A trendy-looking place set inside one of the city’s many old colonial buildings.

Mmmm cafe, Malang, Indonesia
Mmmm cafe, Malang, Indonesia

The cool bare brick interior, air-conditioning, and awesome drink selection make it the perfect coffee break from your Malang itinerary.

DW Coffee

Grab one of their books from the corner of the shop and sit under a fan in this minimal wooden coffee house.

DW Coffee Shop, Malang, Indonesia
DW Coffee Shop, Malang, Indonesia

The wooden panelled walls and wooden furniture make it almost feel like a homey Scandinavian home.

Enjoy New Green Spaces

In the last several years, some of the city’s open spaces have been turned into pleasant green parks.

Alun Alun Tagu, Malang City, Java
Alun Alun Tagu, Malang City, Java

A lot of effort has gone into creating attractive landscaped gardens for locals to escape the traffic-heavy streets. The largest and best green spaces for your Malang itinerary are:

Alun-Alun Tugu

The circular park with a central lake is surrounded by Jl Tugu’s ancient forest trees and grand buildings such as the Tugu Hotel and Malang Town Hall.

Alun-Alun Merdeka 

A large square in the middle of Malang’s busiest shopping area. It’s always busy with couples on benches, kids on swings, and ice cream sellers.

It also overlooks the impressive Masjid Agung Mosque and colonial Protestant Church GPIB Immanuel.

Eat Great Warung Food And Malang Apple Strudel

Nasi Pecel, Malang, Indonesia
Nasi Pecel, Malang, Indonesia

Like most large Javanese cities, there’s plenty of great food on offer at many Warungs and markets. Eating at the many friendly warungs should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Malang City.

The best Nasi Pecel (rice with coconut and peanut sauce) we had in Java was at Pecel Kawi and there’s some tasty Gado Gado (rice, vegetables, and spicy peanut sauce) to be had along JL KH Ahmad Dahlan.

At night, JL Kyai Tamin comes alive with a local market. Many of the stalls sell local dishes such as Bakso (noodles and meatball soup) and Nasi/Mie Goreng (fried rice/noodles).

We didn’t get the chance to try it but Malang is famous for its Malang apple strudel. If that’s not a reason to start a Malang itinerary then we don’t know what is! 🙂

Walk Along Ijen Boulevard

The most attractive street in Malang city is absolutely Ijen Boulevard.

Ijen Boulevard, Malang City, Malang, Indonesia
Ijen Boulevard, Malang City, Malang, Indonesia

The street has the city’s best examples of beautiful Dutch colonial houses which were occupied by the Dutch during the Dutch occupation. Because of Malang’s nice weather, the city became a favourite destination for the Dutch and other Europeans who lived in Surabaya.

Adding to Ijen Boulevard’s appeal is an excellently maintained flower garden running down the middle and tall shady palm trees from end to end.

While you’re there, make sure to check out the massive Holland Bakery just off Ijen Boulevard on Jl Wilis. You won’t regret adding this to your Malang itinerary!

In places, Malang City doesn’t make a good first impression. Some streets are untidy and dirty while others felt almost unsafe at night due to poor street lighting.

This is something we find in all the cities of East Java province, but the rest of Malang City makes a good impression and the Malang region is certainly an attractive destination.

Overnight Trip to Mount Bromo

But with all the things to do in vibrant Malang city within walking distance of each other, it’s an easy city to visit and a worthy stop to break up the monstrous road trip from Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo in East Java.

On the sea of sand making our way to Mount Bromo, Indonesia
On the sea of sand making our way to Mount Bromo, Indonesia

You can also add a tour of Mount Bromo to your Malang itinerary. They leave at 1 am and return at midday the next day. These can be booked through Mador Malang Hostel.

The active volcano has epic sunrises, which is why an overnight trip is worthwhile.

Half-Day Trip to Batu Flower Garden

If Mount Bromo seems too far, you can try the botanical equivalent of Rainbow Village – the Batu Flower Garden, a 45-minute trip by road from Malang City. It’s located in the Oro-Oro Ombo Forest near Batu City, to the northeast of Malang.

It’s a 6-kilometre drive from Batu City to the garden.

Batu Flower Garden Hobbit Houses, Indonesia
Batu Flower Garden Hobbit Houses, Indonesia

There’s a 10-minute walk from the car park to this relatively new tourist attraction that opened a the end of 2016. it’s very popular with young people coming by car for the day from Malang.

The colorful gardens are perfect for selfies, for a day out with kids, and as a kind of picnic-adventure park! The Hobbits’ Houses are super popular for selfies.

Other attractions include biking and lying in hammocks on high wires, and a small kids roller coaster just above the flower beds.

Tickets: IDR 25,000 (this includes a choice of two photo spots).

Other Malang Attractions to add to your itinerary

If you’re staying longer than three days, here are the best other things to do in the Malang regency:

  • Batu Benkeng Beach
  • Wonosari tea plantation
  • Coban Rondo Waterfall – more than just a beautiful waterfall, there’s a well-known hedge maze and adventure sports like ziplining.
  • Tumpak Sewu Waterfall – the Thousand Waterfalls that many tourists believe is the best waterfall in Indonesia.

Related: Check Out All Our Finding Beyond In Java Posts Here!

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