Introducing the city

£1.00 | Rp16,936

GBP | IDR

Gasoline £0.46 | Rp7,750

One-way ticket £0.15 | Rp2,500

Beer £0.89 | Rp15,000

Main Course £0.68 | Rp11,500

About Java

Broiling volcanoes hedged by rainforest, stretching savannas and a millennium old rice farming practice; the underbelly of southeast Asia is as impelling culturally as it is visually.

Java is Indonesia's fifth largest island (out of 17,000) and the economic and political overlord of a vast and spread out country. It is also the most populated island in the world (130 million) and has 121 active volcanoes - it's close quarters to say the least.

Outside the malls and museums of Jakarta and Surabaya abound some of the most prodigious outdoor adventures you could hope for. Hike rainforests in Western Java to find the rafflesia arnoldii or corpse flower, so called because of its pungent fly attracting odour. Make your way to the vast Buddhist stupas of Borobudur, Central Java, an eighth century temple complex, silhouetted by the mighty Merapi volcano. Ascend the barren slopes of Mount Semeru (the highest in Java at 3,676 metres), or Mount Bromo that splutter sulphurous toxins year round. Java is somehow a lost world that throngs with human activity.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

The shoulder months of May, June and September are not so humid and preferable to the July and August tourist season that has highs of 40 degrees Celsius.

Java has a tropical climate and average temperatures range between 22 and 29 degrees Celsius. Java's mountainous spine runs from East to West and is composed of active and dormant volcanoes.

Temperatures are significantly lower in the mountains, especially at night. Western Java is characterised by heavy rainfall and hot weather, the climate here is heavily influenced by monsoon winds. Rainy season in Jakarta is January and February and peak dry season is August.

Eastern Java is drier by comparison but the temperature range is similar, with averages between the low twenties and mid thirties degrees Celsius. Central Java receives more rain than the East and humidity rarely drops below 60 per cent.

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Travioor top tips

Left Hand
Cover Up
In Public

Insider Info

  • The left hand is traditionally considered to be dirty, used to clean yourself in the toilet. Do not offer the left hand as a form of greeting and avoid using it to eat.
  • Visiting Borobudur and the uncountable other Buddhist temples is a fundamental part of the Java experience. Upon arrival, both men and women should purchase a sarong and carry it with you in order to access temples respectfully.
  • Public displays of affection are simply unacceptable to Islamic Java. Opposite sexes greet each other by a handshake, initiated by the woman. Crossing the hands over her chest is a polite decline to shake hands.

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Food and drink

Main Course £0.68 | Rp11,500

3-Course Meal £4.72 | Rp80,000

Cappuccino £1.33 | Rp22,500

Beer £0.89 | Rp15,000

The Scene

Javanese cuisine has very evident Indian, Chinese and Arabic influences. The less adventurous will appreciate the simplicity of dishes like nasi goreng; shapely mounds of fried rice tossed with turmeric and crunchy vegetables, topped with soft yolk fried egg and served with a side of prawn crackers.

Like most southeast Asian countries, rice is served with every meal and is of cultural as well as culinary significance. As a rule of thumb, steer away from fish if you are far away from the sea, unless you can find out if it was sourced nearby. Typical favourites are red snapper, barbecued until the skin is brown and crispy, served with spicy and citrus sauces of ginger, chilli, lime, garlic, tamarind, coconut, peanuts and palm sugar.

Pork is obviously uncommon, Indonesia is largely Muslim. Traditionally, the Javanese eat with their hands although westerners are rarely expected to do so. Restaurants will provide a spoon and fork; hold the latter in the left hand and push food onto the spoon.

It was the Dutch who planted coffee in Java after acquiring it from Arab traders. Indonesia's mountainous core and loose, volcanic enriched soil is ideal for coffee growing.

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History

Java's Story

The first humans to arrive to Java came some 40,000 years ago by way of mainland Asia. At this time, the ocean sea level had not yet risen to create the Indonesian islands mosaic. Java's ethnography is complex because of continuous migration from Australia, China, Malaysia and India to name a few.

12,000 years ago, more humans arrived as the last ice age concluded. They survived by hunting and collecting plants and shellfish. Within 8,000 years these people were using primitive metals and had formed rice farming communities which was key to the structured Buddhist and Hinduism empires to come. More specifically, wet rice farming necessitated the regulation of water and so settlements benefited by cooperating with neighbours rather than competing for resources.

The Sailandra Hindu kingdom of Central Java and the Buddhist Sriwijaya dynasty that ruled Western Java were in full swing by the 7th century and constructed the statues and temples across the plains of Java, still standing today. War and fledgling trade led to the collapse of these empires, opening the door to Islam in the 13th century that took a foothold in West Java, eventually spreading throughout the entirety of Indonesia. Over 50 per cent of Indonesia is Muslim today.

The Portuguese and Dutch arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries, greedy to seize lucrative commodities like ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and mace. When the Japanese invaded in World War II there was a feeling that liberation was at hand but this was not Japan's foreign policy and Javanese resources and people were cruelly exploited again. Independence came soon after in 1949. Today Java plunders her own resources and has little more than 10,000 acres of forest left and numerous critically endangered species. Palm oil plantations are the main culprit for this and their farming affects many other parts of Indonesia.

Language

Halo | Hello
Matur nuwun | Thank you

Javanese

Javanese is the dominant language of Java Island, even though Bahasa Indonesian is the national and municipal language of capital Jakarta. Road signs are also in Bahasa. Javanese is Austronesian in origin and difficult to classify linguistically, although there are striking similarities to Sundanese, Madurese and Balinese. Sudanese is widely spoken in Western Java.

Most people on Java are bilingual and speak Indonesian, the official language of Indonesia, so if you've already picked up some Indonesian, that should see you through. Here's some everyday Javanese to have at hand:

  • Nami kula: My name is
  • Sami-sami: You're welcome
  • Kadọs pundi kabaripun?: How are you?

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Need to know

+62 Dialling Code
112 | 118 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • Java is about 1000 kilometres long and is the 13th largest island in the world. Traversing by land is time consuming, so (depending on how long your trip will be) think two or three lengthy stays at your chosen highlights. 
  • The social consensus deems social harmony to be of great worth. Avoid disturbing this custom in simple ways like smiling a lot and remaining calm even in stressful situations.
  • The visa on arrival is for 30 days only. Those wishing to take advantage of the 60 day visa must apply before arriving in Indonesia.

 

VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for Java here.

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Travioor Recommends

1. Javan Rhinoceros

Those that make it out to the Ujung Kulon will have the opportunity of spotting this endangered herbivore, pursued by poachers for its ivory horn. There are fifty left.

2. What to Pack

The amount of outdoor activities and weather extremes can make packing daunting. Think lightweight for clothes to provide room for hiking gear and survival essentials.

3. Kopi Luwak

Civet coffee is selected coffee cherries, improved in flavour by the digestive system of civets. Luwak coffee is not authentic and many companies treat civets inhumanly.

4. Travel Logistics

Don't trust maps. Some areas of Java appear to be close by or easily accessible but poor roads may mean long detours and roundabout ways. Internal flights are cheap.

5. Volcanoes

Access to volcanoes is restricted in the wet season as surfaces become too dangerous. The same things happens during periods of volcanic activity so check before you visit.


See What's On In Java  


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