Dieng Plateau, Central Java

Dieng Plateau was initially not one of the places I thought to travel but stumble upon it by sheer chance and it became part of the must visit for me as I make my way from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, making pit stops along the way. You see I was hoping to get a good slice of Java itself, taking it slow, knowing the people and understanding the place.

Lucky for me or not, I was there during the rainy season of December in Indonesia. Therefore, I find myself in quite some rainfall especially in the evenings, but boy, in Dieng Plateau, it is another league of its own. It rained the whole day practically from morning to sundown. It was raining when I reached at night and by noon the next day it started to rain again till I leave, I don’t know when did it stop.

Arjuna Temples, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Arjuna Temples, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Still do not to let it dampen you on that, I must say Dieng Plateau hold its own charm despite being veiled by the rain fall. If you happen to be here during the dry season or better weather, I am sure you have even better time than me!

Where is it

Dieng Plateau is situated in Central Java, nearby Wonosobo. Most people in Indonesia calls it Dieng. It is a highland of 2,000 m. Even though nearby to Wonosobo, it is actually located in the regency of Banjarnegara.

Map of Dieng Plateau in Central Java, Indonesia

Map of Dieng Plateau in Central Java, Indonesia

Why go

If you want to see something different from the rest of Java in Indonesia, here is the place. It almost somewhat exists on its own up here in the highlands. If you explore around you will be trekking through rolling hills of plantations and mountains flanking from all sides in the horizon. A fellow traveller whom I met there commented: “At this view (while looking from the road vast rolling hills of vegetable fields), it almost seem like I am back in France.” And if you are here during off peak season, you will find yourself one of the only handfuls of travellers wandering around, making this place exclusive and off your usual beaten path.

House on hilly villages, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

House on hilly villages, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

When is the best time to go

Definitely not during the wet season like me but during the dry season of April to October. You may find more people than the usual sparse crowd during the peak season of June-August there.

Also be warned that the temperatures in Dieng can be quite cold being in the highlands, therefore remember to pack proper clothing. The guesthouses here are bare and minimal, therefore do not expect any kind of heating, a sleeping bag of your own would help tremendously in your sleep.

Attractions in Dieng Plateau Map

Attractions in Dieng Plateau Map – click on for bigger view

What to see

Sunrise at Sikunir Hill, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Sunrise at Sikunir Hill, Dieng Plateau, Java

There are many craters (kawah) around here for you to explore, like Sikidang Crater (Kawah Sikidang) which is more popular, and there are others like Kawah Candradimuka and Kawah Sileri.

Arjuna Temples Complex – Candi-candi (ancient temples) dotted around, the most famous being the Arjuna complex not because of its magnificence, what not with the likes of Borobudur and Prambanan not too far off but for its really old age. Here you can find Candi Arjuna, Candi Setiyaki and Candi Bima. They are one of the oldest temples in Indonesia, dating back to 8th century built by the Sanjaya dynasty. It can be a bit disheartening to see the remaining small temples around the complex but keep in mind that it had stood the test of time for a long, long time.

Telaga Warna (colored lake) – not to be mistaken for it’s name for it is only in hues of blue and maybe some slight green. Try to walk up the hill beside it to catch a top view of the lake which can be quite beautiful if you caught it during the right light of day.

Telaga Warna, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Telaga Warna, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

What to do

Carvings at Hindu Temples, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Carvings at Hindu Temples, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Definitely trek and walk around Dieng Plateau highlands. We were being adventurous and thought to walk to all the places on the map for exploration, and it took us a good walk along the main road and then up the hills of houses and then deep into the vegetables fields and plantations. Along these treks you will find yourself surrounded by rolling fields of greens, hardworking locals smiling at you, local houses and kids running around and also other ancient structures dotted around.

Catch the sunrise at Sikunir Hill – rent a car or motorbike to the foothill of Sekunir, then it is about another 30-40 minutes hike up (good workout to wake you up) in time for the sunrise. Here you can see the sun slowly lit up the hills of terraced rice fields with dark mountains as backdrop

Or catch the sunrise at Perahu Hill – This one you have to start earlier about 3 am and rent a vehicle to the foothill and hike up for about 2 hours. The view here is, of course, more magnificent as it takes more energy and effort.

How to get there

From Jakarta to Dieng
Get a train from Jakarta to Purwokerto and then take a bus to Wonosobo. At nearing Wonosobo, ask to be drop off at a junction near Klenteng where you will catch another public mini bus to Dieng.

From Yogyakarta (Jogja) to Dieng
Get a bus to Magelang and then switch to another bus to Wonosobo. Then at Wonosobo, also catch a minibus to go up to Dieng.

Rolling hills of plantations, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Rolling hills of plantations, Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Where to stay

You may find a handful of homestays, hotels or guesthouses by the roadside once you reach Dieng Plateau by bus as it will drop you at the main road. I chose to stay near Dieng Plateau for easy access to the trekking and sites but you may also stay in Wonosobo and take the minibus up when you want.

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What and where to eat

Local specialties are Keripik Jamur, a crispy fried champignon or Carica in syrup, a sweet drink.

How to get around

Dieng can be small and big depending where you want to explore. The usual tourist circuit is doable by foot if you want to take a loop around and stop by at those places to visit. If you want to go a little further, catch a local minibus and stop off at junctions that you need and cover the rest with trekking on hills and plantations.

Ancient Structures at Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Ancient Structures at Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

Where to go nearby

Purwokerto – what a real city would be like in Java before it get over-saturated as a jaded city, with its little park (alun-alun), good food, laid-back atmosphere, surrounded by many natural wonders and most of all the fun and friendly people.
Purwokerto – this quaint and relaxing place is off the usual beaten path of travelers in Java
Wonosobo – To catch more of village lives in the heart of Java.
Yogyakarta– for the grander temples of Central Java – Borobudur and Prambanan. It is also a place for food and shopping and other tourist attractions.
Semarang – another modern city of Central Java with ancient port.
Yogyakarta – old city, famous ancient temples and good food.

Travel Tips

Remember that Dieng can be chilly up there in the highlands, so pack enough warm clothing. It also helps to bring your own sleeping bag, for the nights are cold and the blanket provided by the guesthouse can be too thin for comfort.

Photo credits from top: Pandu Adnyana, Burmesedays, gardnergp, Rachel, Photo Dharma, Paul Arps, Daniel Julie and Rachel

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Java Travel Guide
Top 10 Things to Do in Java