When I decided to visit Malang during my trip, it was not because there were many things I want to do there. A good friend of mine happens to be there for work. Being a cheap backpacker, I was excited for the free accommodation while being a solo traveler, I was thrilled to have a companion. Much to my surprise, Malang turns out to be an interesting addition to my Java trip. This city is brimming with local buzz, giving it an authentic Indonesian experience. It is also filled with some interesting tourist attractions that may not be on a typical tourist’s radar.
Explore the city center
Malang city center is relatively small and easily explored by foot. First, take your orientation with the famous Malang monument – Tugu Bundaran. This majestic monument stands in a middle of a waterlily filled pond. If you are staying at Tugu Hotel *, a highly recommended place to stay in Malang *, the monument is just across at the roundabout. From here take a walk around the city, taking in the buzz of the Indonesian life. Head on south-west to Malang’s Great Mosque Jami, another noteworthy tourist attraction in Malang.
Walk along Jalan Ijen (street)
First off, take your time and wander around the city. Malang is small enough to comfortably, if you ignore the heat, to explore all over. When you walk around, you will see traces of Dutch influence here. If you go along Jalan Ijen (street), you will see colonial houses and palm trees lining up. Here you will feel somewhat transported to somewhere in Europe. Do not miss out the church here, St. Maria, a Catholic church that also boasts Dutch colonial features. The latest initiative here, since 2011, is the car free Sunday from 5 am till 9.30 am. At this period, you will find many locals come here for their morning walk, biking, skateboarding and gymnastics.
Eat the local food
In Malang you can find many famous Java local cuisines, from street stalls to restaurants. The Indonesian food that you must try here in Malang is fried gurame (fish), satay (grilled meat skewers), urap-urap (mixed salad with grated coconuts) and local dessert of fried banana. When I was here, my friend and I went to Inggil restaurant, not just for its delicious food but also its interesting atmosphere of various old trinkets and antiques inside a Dutch house. Another must try food is the local mie goreng (fried noodles) at a roadside stall.
Visit the traditional market (pasar) or the night market
There is a few traditional market in Malang that you can visit. A popular one is the Oro-oro Dowo and the Pasar Besar (big market). Here you can come in the day and shop together with the local for the freshest produces. If you are a night person, there are also the night market here in Malang at Jalan Kyai Tamin. This market offers a variety of local souvenirs and food vendors, though don’t expect too much for the quality of the food here.
Take a becak ride
After refusing several times during my wandering times around Malang, I finally gave in for a ride on the becak. My friend wanted to also have the experience, so I thought it would be a good reason to also try it out. It turns out to be a cooling and breezy ride, a nice change from my slow walking around the city. With a ride on the becak, you may find a new perspective of the city and feel a little bit more like a tourist looking from the outside in.
|-> Find places to stay in Malang at Booking.com. Free cancellation. *|
Visit Candi Singosari temple
Candi Singosari, or also known as Singhasari, is a Hindu-Buddhist temple located in the village of Cendirenggo, 10 km from Malang. It is also a favourite of the local tourists, you will find many of them there. This ancient temple dates back to the Singhasari dynasty and is the funerary temple of its last King. The site of the temple is believed to be the center of the Javanese court of Singhasari. You can get to the Candi Singosari with public transport from the Arjosari bus terminal. The temple requires a donation of 2,000 IDR to enter.
Compare Candi Kidal and Candi Jago temples
Both of these temples lie about 24km to the east of Malang. You can visit both temples at the same time for convenience. Kidal and Jago are both Hindu temples, dating back to the 12th and 13th century. Although older, the Kidal temple is more intact than Jago. But Jago temple boasts a lot of intricate carvings on its remains.
Go to Batu and pluck some apples
Batu is a city next to Malang and well known as “Apple City”. Hence, one must visit an Apple farm when one is here. I visited an Apple Farm here and paid for the apples that I picked. Besides apple picking, you can also tour the rest of the farm. There are various plants and fruits to be enjoyed while taking in the fresh cooling air. There are also always a cafe for a pit stop and rest for some fruit juices with a view.
Check out the waterfalls in Batu
If you are a nature lover and enjoy some waterfalls, Batu city offers a few waterfalls to visit. They all take about 45 mins to 1-hour drive from Malang. One popular one is Coban Rondo waterfall, located in the middle of the forest. Come here during the weekdays to avoid the local crowds and to have more space and time to enjoy the place. Another waterfall to check out is the Coban Pelangi (rainbow), which lies to the east of Malang and at the fringe of Bromo Tengger National Park. This is the waterfall to visit if you are on the way to the famous Mount Bromo of Java.
Take a 4WD ride to Mount Bromo
Speaking of Mount Bromo, rent a 4WD in Malang and take the scenic route to Mount Bromo. If you are on a budget, you can try to share with other tourists who are going on the 4WD. Check out the hostels around and there should be one heading off the next day or so. Going with the 4WD is one of the nicer ways to access Mount Bromo. The drive takes you through highlands and greeneries with beautiful views. You will not be disappointed with this dramatic entrance into the amazing volcano mountain, one of the best in Indonesia.
As you can see, there are many things one can do in Malang, and I am surprised that the city is not yet filled with tourists. This place promises a more subdue traveling in Java and more interactions with the local Indonesians. Visit Malang for its Dutch colonial architectures, local Indonesian food, traditional market, local life and farms, ancient Hindu temples and nature with waterfalls and volcano mountain.