Visit Cianjur For Off The Beaten Path Java, Indonesia
After staying in Jakarta for a couple of nights, it wasn’t long before we were ready to leave the city’s infamous heavy traffic and choking fumes. Most travellers avoid having to stay the night in the capital city but it was a good place for us to work out the start of our itinerary through Java to Bali. We struggled to find any decent information online so for the first time in a long while, we took our guidebook’s recommendation for our next stop after Jakarta. Cianjur would be our following destination.
Most Western tourists jump on a bus from Jakarta and make a beeline for Yogyakarta. Some might stop in the cities of Bogor or Bandung along the way but we were keen to explore an area off the beaten path. We didn’t want to leave one big city for another so rural Cianjur seemed the perfect place.
Visit Cianjur: Where is Cianjur?
Cianjur is a town and district in the West Java province of Indonesia. You’ll find the main town on one of the busy main roads between Jakarta and Bandung. You can visit Cianjur in about 3 hours from Jakarta and 2 hours from Bandung, making it the perfect stop to break up the otherwise long 5-hour bus journey.
Cinajur is well known in Java for the excellent quality of rice grown in the area. Growing rice is the main economic activity and rice fields can be seen everywhere from in between houses to further into the beautiful countryside hills.
Visit Cianjur: What Is There To Do In Cianjur?
The truth is, there’s not a lot to do in Cianjur unless you book yourself a stay with Cianjur Adventure. Cianjur Adventure is a community-based tourism programme in Java which provides travellers with great opportunities to experience real Indonesian life in a non-touristy town.
The advantage of staying with Cianjur Adventure is that all the guides speak excellent English. Almost perfectly! Our guide, Ryan, taught English in Bogor for 4 years before becoming a guide. All the guides are local to the area so it’s a unique opportunity to visit a non-touristy town and learn about local life without the challenges of language barriers. The guides have also travelled all over Indonesia extensively so are a fantastic resource for learning about other parts of the country and access recommendations that you won’t find in guidebooks.
The guides have also travelled all over Indonesia extensively so are a fantastic resource for learning about other parts of the country and access recommendations that you won’t find in guidebooks.
Cinajur Adventure offer a long list of things to do in Canjur. Their flexible programme gave us the freedom to see what we wanted, when we wanted, for as long or short as we wanted.
Visit Cianjur: Floating Village
On the day of our arrival, Cianjur Adventure took us to Cianjur Floating Village. Cianjur Floating Village is a huge artificial lake filled with hundreds of floating fish farms. Since the 1980s, local farmers have built these tiny floating houses so they can attend and feed their fish all day. Farmers also often spend the night. The fish are later sold to buyers who then sell onto customers in the nearby large city markets.
The landscape didn’t always look this way. Before the 1980s, a village stood exactly in its place. The lake was created by the government to provide electricity to much of Java. Villagers were paid a good price to relocate to other nearby villages and the old village still stands under the waters!
By boat, we were brought to one of the local farmers and his floating farm. We took a look inside his house and watched him feed his many fish. Tiny baby fish filled one of the fish enclosures so we were able to enjoy a free fish spa! The tickling bites from the little fish take some getting used to. So much so that it became a game to see who can keep their feet in the water the longest.
Visit Cianjur: Rural Villages, Rice Fields and Waterfalls
A must do for everyone wanting to visit Canjur, is Cianjur Adventure’s rural village hike. This is a full day hike (9am – 4am) passing through gorgeous countryside.
Our morning was spent walking through dozens of bright green rice fields, tea plantations and farms growing all kinds of produce. We were shown plants growing avocados, papaya, coffee, guava, spring onions, cassava, nutmeg and so much more. One kind farmer retrieved some guava from up in the trees for us to try.
In between the rice fields and farms are many tiny friendly villages. As we navigated our way through the narrow village pathways we were greeted with welcoming smiles, enthusiastic waves and very excited children. Foreigners are an uncommon sight in this part of Indonesia so we got a lot of double takes. You know you’re somewhere special, somewhere not many have visited when you get this type of welcome. Sadly, these are becoming harder to find in today’s well-travelled world. If you’re looking for this type of experience, then visit Canjur now!
After a brief stop for a cup of local tea inside a village house, we made our way to a beautiful waterfall through lush jungle. It rained the night before, so in places, the path was quite muddy and slippery. Extra care was needed when walking on narrow ledges with a steep drop on one side! We had one near accident as I relied too much on a branch to support my weight as I climbed over a fallen tree. I almost fell several meters! Luckily, Shelley was nearby to stop me falling backwards but I nearly took her with me.
Our guide pointed out a group of monkeys jumping from tree to tree before finally making it to the remote waterfall. We enjoyed a 30-minute swim in the cold pool and a shoulder massage from the white cascade of fresh water before heading back.
On the way back, with the sound of an approaching thunderstorm in the distance, we were provided with a delicious lunch in the same local house we had previously visited. Jackfruit curry, red kidney bean curry, sweet corn fritters, morning glory are just some of the dishes we devoured until none was left.
Visit Cianjur: Other Things To Do In Cianjur
Cianjur Adventure’s programme provides many other things to do, so it’s possible to fill several days with local activities.
Cooking Class – Learn how to prepare and cook local Indonesian dishes in the main house kitchen.
Hike To Pangrango National Park – A full day hike through a local national park to waterfalls.
Sunday Festival and Local Wedding – With a wedding happening every Sunday, there’s a good chance you’ll get invited!
School Visit – Interact with local kids and teachers while sitting in on some lessons at a local English school.
Javanese Massage – After a long hike, get a Javanese massage to relieve those aching muscles.
Traditional Market – Local markets are open daily so can by visited at any time.
Tea Plantation and Factory – There are many tea plantations in and around Canjur.
Visit Cianjur: Cianjur Adventure Accommodation
Cianjur Adventure has plenty of basic but clean rooms from large doubles to shared dormitories. The accommodation is located inside a safe and cosy compound where the family and owners also sleep. At mealtimes, everyone eats together which creates a great social atmosphere. During low season, you might have the place to yourself.
Another Cianjur Adventure highlight is all meals are included in the room price. All meals are lovingly cooked inside the main house kitchen by two friendly ladies. We got to try so many local dishes during the three days and there wasn’t a single dish that we didn’t like. You should visit Canjur just for the food!
They’ll also arrange a shared van pick up from Jakarta city, Jakarta airport, Bogor and Bandung. Ours cost 100K (£6) per person from Jakarta city centre.
Visit Cianjur Now Before It’s Too Late
We often finish our blog posts this way, but it is important to visit these off the beaten path destinations before it’s too late. Before many other travellers hear about the area and visit Cianjur in their bus loads. We left it too late before visiting some other parts of the world, such as the Philippines, so know too well the downsides of leaving it until later.
Right now, Cianjur is non-touristy, rural, and locals, like Cianjur Adventure, are making an extra effort to make sure their guests enjoy their time there. Everyone should visit Cianjur during their tour of Java, Indonesia.