We arrived in Malang by train after an 8-hour trip. The trip was long, but the landscapes are beautiful. We highly recommend going here by train, because you see more of the country by train than you do by plane. And when the train enters Malang you see one of the highlights: The Rainbow village.
But there is much more to do. Of course, you can do a trip to the famous Bromo volcano, but Malang is so much more. You can easily spend 3 days in this town.
Where Is Malang
Malang is located in East Java, Indonesia. It’s a city with a mild highland climate, suitable for us Westerners. There is a lot of colonial architecture left that reminds you of the Dutch styles. The city is around 110 km2 and has a population of around 888,000 people.
Malang is easy to reach by plane from Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, or Yogyakarta. This will take around 2 hours (flight only). But you can also take the train. This will take around 8 hours. If you are adventurous and want really cheap, you can take the bus. But this will take you 21 hours.
Things To Do
Although Malang isn’t that big there are still quite a few things to do to keep you occupied. You could do all these things on foot. We walk to most parts. But if you don’t want to walk, you can always arrange for a taxi or a Grab.
Alun Alun Tugu
Alun Alun Tugu, a square formerly dedicated to the Dutch Governor-General J.P. Coen. The town hall and the prestigious Hotel Tugu Malang are located on this square. In the middle of the pond is a memorial column for the Indonesian struggle for independence. There are also very beautiful colored sunflowers everywhere.
It is always special to see that in every city in Asia, there is so much space and attention to parks with lots of greenery. Meanwhile, traffic is moving around the square at high speed. Be careful when you cross the street!
In one of the side streets of Malang, we find Pasar Burung, also known as the bird market. According to the internet, it is a ‘Bird & Flower Market’, but the flowers are apparently already sold out because they are nowhere to be seen.
We do see many different species in just as many different types of cages. We see birds that we have never seen before. All that whistling sounds fun too. Here and there we also see other animals in small cages, mainly cats and monkeys. That does look a bit sad.
Still, it’s worth walking around the market and seeing the activity. If you’re interested in buying something, don’t forget to bargain. Or simply enjoy the bargaining by the ‘locals’.
Churches and Mosques
Although Java is predominantly Islamic, you also see quite a few churches. We spotted a beautiful cathedral (Kayutangan). At first, the cathedral seems closed, but a walk to the side reveals another entrance. There are some people and I ask if we can take a look inside, that’s no problem. Soon we see why the other entrance gate is closed because the cathedral is currently being restored. Looks like they are painting the ceiling. In the hall of the church, we read that the cathedral was founded by E.S. Luypen and was designed by M.J. Hulswit.
A little further on we come across a large mosque (Masjid Agung Jami). The call to prayer has just started and we see everyone slowly making their way to the mosque. We therefore only admire this from the outside. This is one of the oldest mosques in Java. It was built in the same period as the cathedral we saw earlier, around the beginning of the 20th century. The mosque is located on a large square (Alun Alun Malang) where you can relax in the shade.
Now that we are dealing with a mix of cultures and religions, we decide to take a look at the Chinese temple (Eng An Kiong Temple). It is one of the oldest and largest temples in Malang. It is a Taoist temple and you will see many Yin-Yang symbols passing by. Hesitantly we walk inside, although it is indicated that we can walk in. The special thing about Chinese temples is the enormous amount of decorations and details. Of course, there is a lot of red and yellow, because that brings good luck.
When we make a round, a man comes to us with two cups of water. He tells us a few things about the temple. Yesterday there was a big ceremony and they are still cleaning everything up. He points out all kinds of details and gives some explanations about the altars. We also chat about Indonesia and Malang and everything we have seen so far. When we are done looking we say goodbye and continue on our journey. On to our last and most important stop, the rainbow district!
Kampung Warna Warni
Because the rainbow village is located along the banks of the river, we almost walk past it. Fortunately, we see the entrance gate just in time with a large painting of the name next to it. We walk down the stairs and there are two locals, asking if we want to buy an entrance ticket. The price is not too bad, we have to pay 2,500 rupiahs (about € 0.15 (in 2017)) per person and receive a nice sticker as an admission ticket.
When we walk in we are surrounded by color on all sides, with colored umbrellas hanging on the walls, the floor, and even in the air. It is a cheerful sight that promises a lot of good for our walk through the neighborhood.
We walk to a viewpoint where you can see this district and the one on the other side. Both have been completely transformed into the rainbow district. We also see the bridge that we crossed earlier by train.
Through the small streets, we look for a way through the neighborhood and we see the most beautiful works of art. We end up all the way down to the river where the local kids can’t stop shouting “Hello mister”. In the water we see the ‘locals’ at work and some children are swimming.
Another bridge between the two districts is currently being built. Just welding without any protection, you should try it in the Netherlands.
The rainbow district is the perfect conclusion to our walk through Malang. We have never seen anything like this before and these are the things we travel for. The hidden gems that have not yet been discovered by everyone and therefore still feel authentic. We go back to our hotel and relax and enjoy ourselves.
Malang: so much more than Bromo
Are you planning to use Malang as a base for a tour to Bromo and/or Ijen? Then don’t forget to plan a day to see the city itself. There is more than enough to see and experience here.
The people are generally very friendly and the climate is slightly cooler than the rest of Java. The rainbow neighborhoods in particular are very surprising. We are glad we stayed here a few extra days.
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