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Just Back From…. Java

Real Holidays’ Rob Milverton took an exploratory trip to Java to discover volcanoes, ancient temples and coffee plantations. Read about Rob’s highlights from his Javanese discovery.

Javanese Gems

From busy, populated cities, to remote, mist-enshrouded temples, Rob found Java to be full of diversity. Fresh from street markets, ancient ruins and jungle residences, Rob reveals all…

Mount Bromo

Our entry point to Java began in Surabaya, Java’s second largest city. A busy, thriving city devoid of tourists, Surabaya is home to some 2.5 million inhabitants. From here we visited the impressive Mount Bromo – a spectacular volcanic moonscape. We spent an afternoon climbing up towards the crater of an active volcano. It was unlike anywhere else I’ve visited before and it was interesting to note how little western tourism there was.

The following morning, we ascended for an awe-inspiring sunrise overlooking the surrounding peaks of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Afterwards we had an al fresco breakfast on the plains of the national park, which felt a bit like being in Africa. Staying at Plantaran Bromo was a  relaxing place for downtime – including massages with stones from Mount Bromo itself.

Rob Milverton

Travel Planner

Java feels very undiscovered, in fact, the only tourists you’ll see are domestic sightseers, and in some places we were the attractions ourselves!

Waterfalls and Coffee Plantations

While travelling around Java we made a couple of stops to break up the journey and this allowed us to understand the breadth of the country.  We visited the Coban Pelangi Waterfall -  named because of a rainbow that often catches the spray of the falls. The waterfall itself is very impressive – a thin torrent that shoots through jungle. It’s a very lush area, with bright green foliage growing all around.

On the way between Malang and Biltar we visited a working coffee plantation – very much a small-scale operation with machinery dating from early 20th century.  It was really interesting to get into the countryside, away from Java’s busy cities. Pristine nature surrounded us, and we saw a kingfisher here and heard a Javan eagle (Indonesia’s national bird).


One of my absolute highlights of the trip was Yogyakarta, the island’s most cultural and artistic city. We had a tour of the Sultan’s Palace – the Sultan is the only one still actively involved in Indonesian politics, and there’s lots of historical detail to enjoy, plus there are often gamelan players in the courtyards. We then had a brief look around a water temple complex before heading to a batik workshop, which was hands-on and interesting to learn more about this ancient technique.

Yogya is also the base for visiting Prambanan – a 9th-century Hindu temple complex. The complex is small enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed, yet its carved towers that point sky-wards are stunning and beautifully preserved. Something else to note about Yogya is its thriving street food culture and Malioboro Street is great for small bites such as peanut chicken noodles (chicken feet optional!), giant meatballs and avocado shaved ice.


    On the way to Borobodur temple complex, we stopped to visit a rural village eco-project at Candirejo. We met with some inhabitants and watched tempeh (soy cake) being made and we had a go at playing the gamelan.

    On the way to Borobodur temple complex, we stopped to visit a rural village eco-project at Candirejo. We met with some inhabitants and watched tempeh (soy cake) being made and we had a go at playing the gamelan.  We also stopped off for a look at the ‘Chicken Church’, a huge kooky church in the shape of a chicken. A strange sight that you won’t forget in a hurry!  Borobodur felt a little busier than the lesser-known temples at Prambanan although if you explore not only the top floor but the lower floors too, you’ll find them to be generally quieter. The bell-shaped stupas are quite a sight overlooking the often-misty paddy fields and forests, with volcanoes in the distance.


    If you’d like to find out more about Java and work out an itinerary that will suit your specifics, please call Rob.

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