Blessed by cool mountain breezes and terraced countryside, the “Paris of East Java” is the second-largest city in the province of East Java. This ancient Indonesian urban center retains relics of its rich past, from Hindu temples to Dutch colonial streetscapes. Set in a rolling dip between two mountain ranges and threaded by the River Brantas, Malang is rimmed by apple and tea plantations and makes a lovely base for exploring the region’s rugged terrain.
Things to Do
See the city’s old town by becak—the inexpensive pedicabs found on nearly every street corner. Visit the historic downtown and stroll past handsome Dutch colonial buildings draped in colorful bougainvillea and the tree-shaded city square known as Aloon-aloon. Centuries before the Dutch arrived, Malang was under the rule of powerful Hindu kingdoms. You can see evidence of those civilizations in the well-preserved 13th-century Hindu Singosari Temple, 12 miles north of Malang. The ancient baths at nearby Ken Dedes were used by the royal court of the Singhasari kingdom.
The outdoors beckons in the lush valleys, rugged peaks and a “sand sea” in the otherworldly Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, an hour east of Malang. See smoke and steam billow from the massive volcanic craters of Mount Semeru—the highest mountain in Java—and Mount Bromo. An hour south are the beautiful Balekambang beaches. Limit your swimming to wading in the shallows, however; these beaches can be dangerous for swimming.
Nightlife and entertainment
This cool, relaxed hill town lets its hair down at night in discos and kararoke bars. Sway to live music and dine on grilled fish at Inggil’s. Expats imbibe in the reconstructed waroeng bar at the Tugu Hotel, in the heart of the city’s old town. For a romantic evening, wine and dine along the sloping green terraces of the Taman Indie River View Resto, with smashing Bango River views. Discover traditional East Javanese arts—dance, shadow puppetry, and handicrafts—at the Pandepokan Seni Mangun Dharma arts center.
Restaurants and dining
Delight in Indonesian specialties at street stalls or in Malang’s famed night market on Jadan Merdeka. Heed the call of noodle vendors along narrow alleyways. Sip a heady cup of locally grown Javanese coffee at Java Dancer. Order satay komo—delicious skewers of grilled meat—at Warung Subuh. Malang enjoys a bounty of local fruit grown in the surrounding highlands, particularly apples.