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Written by Nadia Crowe
Co-written by Beverley Lennon
Edited by Beverley Lennon

East Java is massive, it hosts a variety of different landscapes and one town will feel nothing like the other! From the other worldly mountains of Bromo, the colourful villages in Malang, the exciting theme-park capital of Batu, to the buzzing city of Surabaya, there are a variety of different experiences to be had and eventually, you can be sure you’ll never get bored here.

In the early months of 2019, we went on a road trip around East Java from Surabaya to Mount Bromo and discovered the secret mountain townships of Malang and Batu – considered to be the chilly highlands of the region, with temperatures dropping slightly to combat the typical Indonesian heat.

We thoroughly enjoyed the bunch of scenic places both little towns have on offer – Malang being the city of apples where you’ll feel like in New Zealand and Batu being the theme-park capital will surely get the inner kid in you screaming!

Now, we bring you an exciting itinerary that’ll give you a taste of both chilly mountain townships where you’ll get to dine with giraffes, step into a safari with free-roaming animals, explore slums that have been turned into colourful vibrant villages, sample delicious local cuisine, and get your adrenaline pumping! Time to explore further than just Surabaya!

Read More:

4D3N Scenic adventure itinerary from Surabaya to Mount Bromo: Things to do, where to stay and how to reach this active volcano!

Mountain township near Bromo: 26 Magical things to do in Batu for a chilly getaway to the highlands

1.5 hours from Surabaya: Our 2D1N Escape to Baobab Safari Resort and Prigen Safari Park in the chilly highlands where animals roam free

47 Best things to do in and around Malang (2 hours drive from Surabaya!)

 

Overview

If you’ve never been to East Java, then you’re in for a treat! Malang and Batu are two (still relatively hidden) gems, which are just begging to be explored!

From colourful villages, to serene mountainous backdrops, each experience is bound to make you sigh in awe. Let’s not forget some incredible animal encounters too, from ferocious tigers to majestic giraffes, you’ll feel like you’re in Africa sometimes!

Food will be nothing to scoff at either, so prepare your taste buds!

Getting to Malang and Batu

From SingaporeFrom Malaysia (tap here to view)

Total cost: From SGD 163
Step 1: Take a flight from Changi Airport Singapore via Garuda Indonesia, Jetstar, Scoot, SilkAir or Singapore Airlines  to Juanda International Airport Surabaya. Flight duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes. Return flights from SGD 149.
Step 2: When travelling to Batu, the easiest option is to hire a private driver/car the drive will take roughly 2 hours from Surabaya.
Step 3: Malang is an hour’s drive away from Batu so hiring a private driver/car will be your best option again.

Total cost: From RM 494
Step 1: Take a flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport via Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia or Citilink, to Juanda International Airport Surabaya. Flight duration: 2 hours and 40 minutes. Return flights from MYR 452.
Step 2: When travelling to Batu, the easiest option is to hire a private driver/car the drive will take roughly 2 hours from Surabaya.
Step 3: Malang is an hour’s drive away from Batu so hiring a private driver/car will be your best option again.

From Jakarta:
Total cost: From Rp. 2,127,800
Step 1: Take a direct flight from Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport via Citilink (also available at Halim Airport), Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, or Sriwijaya to Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport Malang. Flight duration: 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Step 3: When travelling to Batu, the easiest option is to hire a private driver as it’s only an hour’s drive away.

Day 1

Meet roaring tigers, explore a safari park and sleep next to zebras!

Welcome to the big city life! – Surabaya

You’ve landed in the right place, but the journey isn’t over yet! Hop in the car and get ready for a bit of a drive to your hotel! Don’t worry, marvel at the views on the road, the changing landscape… or catch up on your sleep!

Note: We’ve recommended some car rental options at the end of this article!

Roar with tigers at lunchtime – Tiger Cave Restaurant! (1.5 hours)

Sighting a tiger in a jungle is a dream for many, so when we heard we could have lunch with tigers surrounding us, I have to say that we were pretty excited! Relax, it isn’t much of a frightening experience but rather an impressive one. We were lucky enough to secure the best table that gave us unobstructed views of the tigers roaming around and roaring for food.

I was thrilled to get such up-close views of the carnivores; would we be their lunch? I hoped not. As we ordered some of the chef’s recommendations, the moment we’ve all been waiting for began — it was lunch time for the tigers too!

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Hop onboard an ultimate Lion King safari adventure at Taman Safari Prigen! (3 hours)

What better way to explore a safari than by driving through the animal kingdom yourself? Giving it a thought – I believe this is what made our trip there quite a remarkable experience. You’re in the comfort of your car with only your friends and family, so it makes it very intimate and enjoyable.

The safari is divided into different zones, where you can find animals from different continents. You’ll have zebras by your window when in the African zone, and you can feed the enormous bison in the American/European zone, and admire the elephants in Asia.

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Check into a magical animal kingdom –  Baobab Safari Resort (1 hour)

At Baobab Safari Resort, you’re in a prime location to spot African wildlife! The resort lobby itself expands to the outdoor area where you’ll find the pool and the animal park – it is quite a spectacle; your eyes will glisten like real kids as you walk through what would be your ultimate “African Safari Lodge”.

While there are various room categories (all of them with unique safari feels) at the resort, you sure want to opt for their Premium Safari room to wake up overlooking the most exciting members of the animal kingdom! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing animals roaming around freely as compared to what you have seen before in many countries in Asia (where the poor creatures are caged).

Read more: 1.5 hours from Surabaya: Our 2D1N Escape to Baobab Safari Resort and Prigen Safari Park in the chilly highlands where animals roam free

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*Note: Free private parking is available.

Have dinner above the clouds – D’Gunungan at The Taman Dayu (1.5 hours)

Your first sunset this holiday should be spectacular, and at D’gunungan, it’s definitely a view to remember. With the sprawling township situated below, it’s perfect for watching as day turns to night and the lights start coming on one by one.

Serving a variety of food, ranging from authentic Indonesian cuisine, a spectacular fusion, to full blown Western delicacies, there’s ample options for just about anyone (even the fussy eaters!) You could even choose to have your meal picnic style, situated amongst the grass on beautiful cushions!

Photo Via TripCanvas

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Watch as wildlife comes alive – Night Safari at Baobab Safari Resort (2 hours)

If you’ve been to the Night Safari in Singapore before, you sure must have hated the long queue but rest assured, the night safari walk at Baobab Safari Resort is much more intimate than the ones at popular attractions.

And we know you might be thinking it will be too dark to see anything, but you’re absolutely wrong as the animals will be visible with the help of torchlights (just don’t flash right into their eyes!).

What’s different at nighttime is that you’ll get to see all kinds of nocturnal animals coming out to hunt for their food – snakes, spiders, bats are only a few of them. So no, it won’t be the same old animals that you’ve seen during the day! Plus, I personally think that walking in the dark knowing you’re surrounded by animals is quite an adrenaline-inducing experience! Isn’t it?!

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Day 1 Route

Other accommodation options for Day 1:

Option 2: Relaxing and affordable mountain sleep – Inna Tretes Hotel

Option 3: A royal escape to a majestic location – Kaliandra Sejati Eco Resort 

Day 2

Prepare for a special breakfast date and colourful strolls through wonderland!

Go on a breakfast date with giraffes – Baobab Safari Resort (1 hour)

Besides waking up with close views of the surrounding wildlife, this morning, you’re welcome to share your breakfast table with Zahara, Zahari and Kamil – the three celebrity giraffes at Baobab Safari Resort!

It’s an experience like no other as the three long-necked creatures gently make way to your table, scoping out your breakfast and hoping for a snack. You will be provided with leaves and vegetables to feed them.

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Wander through the iconic rainbow village of Malang – Kampung Jodipan, Tridi, and Biru Arema (1 hour)

Before 2016, Kampung Jodipan and Tridi were nothing more than a dull slum area. But the fate of this village changed after a group of students from the local university proposed to paint the village with murals and colourful hues.

Now, almost every part of these villages have turned into a perfect frame for photographers. The best way to start exploring Kampung Jodipan is from Brantas road bridge, where you can see the colourful rainbow village on one side and the blue village on the other side. And if you’re lucky like us, you may even catch a sight of the local trains departing from the nearby station on the Brantas bridge.

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Where gypsies meet artists and Alice – Madam Wang Secret Garden (1 hour)

Once we stepped in, it was as though we had wandered into a whimsical Wonderland, someone’s secret hideout.

We entered a lovely greenhouse framed by vines and leaves, strolled through a walkway intricately lined with garden greenery from ceiling to pillars, before entering a colourful indoor seating area decorated with encouraging quotes and gypsy trinkets.

And along the way from the greenhouse, tables and seats were scattered and tucked into little spaces, so when you find your spot, you know it’s time to settle down with your book and order one of their refreshing fresh juices (we loved them, some of us even had double servings!). It’s the perfect place to while away the afternoon in that secret spot.

Photo Via Firlandireza, Mutiaramalakha, Claraangelinast, Kerenlalamentik

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Alternative:  Come here for real puppy cuddles!- Pawvillion Dog Café (1 hour)

While in Malang, we got a cuddly floof fix at Pawvillion Dog Café! Being real dog lovers, we were more than thrilled to meet Angelo and Pepper the Goldens, Loki the husky, Paddy the Bedlington Terrier, Buby the Beagle and all of their other cute furry friends! It’s almost as if we stepped into ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ movie scene!

To be able to play with the dogs, you’ll have to spend a minimum of Rp. 30,000 per person. But since we were quite a big group, we needed to spend a minimum of Rp. 150,000 and the best part yet is that we secured the VIP table and sofas. We were happy to see that the dogs were well-taken care of and the cafe was clean too!

Photo Via TripCanvas, Endonesiaaa

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Become a vehicle connoisseur at Southeast Asia’s largest transportation museum – Museum Angkut (3 hours)

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘museum’? If just like us you assume that all museums are boring; you’ll be surprised by Museum Angkut! We had so much fun here!

Known to be South East Asia’s largest transportation museum, this is where we had the chance to check out over 300 collections of modes of transport from all over the world!

Yes, that includes coming up close to a real 66 Ford Mustang, stepping into a real size Indonesian presidential plane (the best part, if you ask us!), standing next to a gigantic rocket replica and so much more!

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Come for sunset drinks with magical city views! – 15 Celsius The Skylounge (1.5 hours)

There sure is a reason for this place’s name. Indeed, we did feel the 15°C temperature at the rooftop skylounge as it got quite chilly once the sun dropped, but the views are beyond amazing!

If you make it in time for the golden hour, you’ll also be able to spot on the last sights of the surrounding mountain ranges and vast plantations as the sky slowly gets swallowed by darkness, replacing the scenery with sparkling stars and city lights.

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Spend the night at a little Japan in the chilly highlands – The Onsen Hot Spring Resort

We never expected to find a Little Japan right in Batu! This dreamy resort has brought us one step closer to the land of sashimi, ramen and sakura blossoms.

The resort owners’ close attention to details in replicating a mini Japanese town — such as the design of the ryokan homes, onsen (hot spring), architecture and overall vibes — almost made us forget that we were still in Indonesia.

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Day 2 Route

Other accommodation options for Day 2:

Option 2: Enter fruit picking heaven – Kusuma Agrowisata Hotel

Option 3: A stylish and modern option for the night – Golden Tulip Holland Resort 

Day 3

Bask in serene endless greenery and go on thrilling rides to get your heart pumping!

Fuel up for the day! – Breakfast at your hotel (1 hour)

Arrange to have breakfast at your hotel so you can fuel up without a hassle before your big day ahead!

Sign up for an all-you-can-eat fruit picking! – Kusuma Agrowisata (1 hour)

Known as the country’s largest apple producer, one simply shouldn’t miss out on picking fresh  apples from the trees at Kusuma Agrowisata while in Malang – they’re one of the pioneers of agrotourism in Indonesia and have opened their orchards to the public since the early 90’s.

In here, the air is fresh and crisp – you get to happily connect with nature and spend some fun good times outdoors and eat as many fruits as you want!

Depending on the harvesting season, you’ll also find oranges, dragon fruits, and strawberries. The best part about this place is that a single ticket will grant you access to an all-you-can-eat fruit day and unlimited fun for the kids at the on-site water park!

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Meet dinosaurs, sign up into Hogwarts, enter a futuristic house and more!! – Jawa Timur Park 3 (4 hours)

Bring along your magnifying glass and put on your green vest, my friends! Because today we are going to take a journey back to the era of dinosaurs!

There’s also a Legend Stars Park! From Hollywood top actors to world-renowned politicians and activists, we were lucky enough to meet some of our celebrity crushes and pose next to them.

If you’ve been thinking of a round-the-world trip, here’s where you can hop from one continent to the next within a few minutes. Their newest addition in the world tour is the ‘Diagon Alley’,  where we got to dress like Harry Potter and friends to battle Voldemort!!

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Traditional dining in the middle of rice paddies – Paddy City Resort (1.5 hours)

For a calm and unique dining experience, Paddy City Resort is all about enjoying the natural environment in a typical Indonesian village. Paddy fields, wooden houses, and the smell of freshness are three elements that make this resort memorable.

With tables placed literally in the middle of the rice fields, you can be intimately close to nature. Listen to the sounds of the nearby river while you enjoy local drinks such as Wedang Jahe, a warm traditional ginger drink.

You will only find traditional local dishes here – Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice), meat specialties like Krengseng Sapi (Beef), Sup Iga Sapi (Beef Ribs Soup), or Ayam Rica-Rica (Spicy Chicken).

Photo Via Adishkharisha

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Let your dreams take you on a journey to the sea – Kapal Garden Hotel

There is no shortage of unique hotels in Malang, but this one has got to take the cake. Resembling an actual ship, and decked out with a massive swimming pool, you’ll want to spend at least a few hours exploring every inch of this hotel! If you have time, you should also spend an hour or two wandering around The Legend Park which it is located in!

Located conveniently next to Jawa Timur Park 3, you can rest assured that you won’t have to wait long after your exhausting day at the theme park before being able to crash in one of their yacht-like rooms!

Photo Via Fifi_ikayati, _shidiqsatria

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Day 3 Route

Other accommodation options for Day 3:

Option 2: A comfortable stay with great views of the city – MaxOne Ascent Hotel Malang

Option 3: Luxurious option with great pool! – HARRIS Hotel & Convention Malang

Day 4

Go on a final round of souvenir shopping before heading home!

Get ready for your last day – Breakfast at hotel (1 hour)

Have a final delicious breakfast before heading off on your journey home!

Drop by the heaven of fruit chips – Lancar Jaya Sanan Malang (1 hour)

We have tasted several fruit chips in Malang and we have to say that we prefer the ones at Lancar Jaya. The chips here taste fresh and they’re the crunchiest! They also come with an affordable price tag as compared to other touristy outlets. We tried their apple chips, banana chips, as well as jack fruit chips and loved them all!

Don’t forget to pick some up as souvenirs, and explore some other options in the shop!

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To leave without some of these is a sin! – Malang Strudel (1 hour)

Malang Strudel is where you’ll be able to stock up on the legendary apple strudel. These delicacies come in various versions and flavours and we thoroughly enjoyed its taste – not too sweet, yet fresh, flaky on the outside and soft on the inside. The outlet also sells several other snacks that are unique to the region; in fact it is a one-stop souvenir shop!

Photo Via TripCanvas, Iin_rifah

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Drive back to the airport in Surabaya (2 hours)

We know, this is always the worst part, but at least the long drive back to the airport will give you time to start planning your next trip to Java, there’s just so much more to be seen!

Day 4 Route

Optional stay for the night: 

Stay right by the mall (shops, cinema, food outlets and more!) – Ciputra World Surabaya

Photo via TripCanvas

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Getting around

You can explore Malang city easily with online taxi services such as GOJEK and Grab. But if you are travelling around different areas, we recommend you to rent a car instead.

Renting a car without a driver/ with driver

During our trip to East Java, we rented a private car  and decided to self-drive as we’re quite familiar with the roads in Indonesia. We were happy with the services received from ‘Yes rent car ‘and the vehicle was in a very good condition too.

If you’re not confident about driving in Indonesia, opt for their car rental services with driver provided and enjoy a worry-free trip in the highlands!

Without driver

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With driver

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Best time to travel

If you wish to visit natural attractions around Malang like Mount Bromo or the surrounding waterfalls, we recommend you to come during the dry season which falls between June to October. Throughout the wet season (December – April), it will be gloomy on most days and terrains at natural attractions can get very slippery.

TripCanvas’ Tip: We were there during the Ramadan season and thoroughly enjoyed visiting around with no crowd!

Travel Budget- Estimated Cost Breakdown

Travel costs:
Travelling from Singapore: SGD $163 / USD $120 per pax (USD $480 for 4 pax)
Travelling from Malaysia: MYR 494 / USD $119 per pax (USD $476 for 4 pax)

Activities (4 pax): Approximately USD $101 (calculated based on activities listed, not inclusive of shopping)

Car rental (4 pax): Approximately USD $120 (for 4 days with driver)

Total cost for food (4 pax): Approximately USD $133

Total cost for hotels (4 pax): Approximately USD $440 (2 rooms)

Estimated Total for 4 pax from Singapore
(Flight+Activities+Transport+Food+Hotel): ~ USD $ 1274 /SGD $ 1734.30 (~USD $ 318.5 / SGD $433.60 per pax)
Estimated Total for 4 pax from Malaysia
(Flight+Activities+Transport+Food+Hotel): ~ USD $ 1270 /MYR 5282.05 (~USD $ 317.5 /  MYR 1320.50 per pax)

Batu and Malang are still two relatively unexplored hidden gems, tag some friends who would love a short getaway with chilly weather and thinner crowds! 


PLEASE NOTE: All the above information is correct at the date of publication. If you come across any changes or updates, please let us know and we will update the information accordingly. Thank you!
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