Java, or Jawa, is the main island of Indonesia and was once the centre of powerful Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, Islamic sultanates and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies. The island is now Indonesia’s economic and political centre and is home to a population of 130 mil-lion (as of 2006), making it the most populous island in the world and one of the most densely populated regions on earth. Almost nine million of them live in cosmopolitan Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
Java may not have the scenic beaches in Bali or the mystic of Papua, but it has its share of beauty and adventure. The island has tropical islands, premier beach resort, and world-class surf breaks at Ujung Kulon. It has national parks (Alas Purwo National Park), temples and kraton (palaces) of unique splendor that include the Buddhist temple of Borobudur, an architectural wonder. Beyond the cities lie verdant fields, pristine rainforests and rice fields, showing why Java was once called the “Garden of the East”.
The island of Java is administratively divided into six provinces: Banten, WestJava, Central Java, East Java, Yogyakarta Special Region, and Capital District of Jakarta. The five largest and most populous cities in Indonesia are in Java, namely Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Semarang and Bandung.
The best time of year to visit the island of Java is during dry season which spans from May to September, when days are hot, dry and sunny. These months are also an ideal time to travel if you are planning on climbing the mountains of Bromo or Ijen.Rainy season in Java runs from November to March, although East Java experiences less rainfall than the western regions. Days are characterised by regular, intense rain showers that tend to last for a couple of hours.Temperatures are consistently warm year round, with average daily temperatures hovering around 28-30°C, although temperatures are cooler in the higher mountainous regions such as Mt Bromo, especially at night.
Java lies between Sumatra to the west and Bali to the east. Borneo lies to the north and Christmas Island to the south. It is theworld’s 13th largest island. Java is surrounded by Java Sea in the north,Sunda Strait in the west, Indian Ocean in the south and Bali Strait and Madura Strait in the east.
The land is 661 miles (1,064 km) wide long from east to west and ranges in width from about 60 miles (100 km) at its centre to more than 100 miles (160 km) near each end. A longitudinal mountain chain, surmounted by many volcanoes, runs east to west along the island’s spine and is flanked by limestone ridges and lowlands. Java is highly volcanic, yet serious eruptions are few; only 35 of its 112 volcanoes are active. In the west the volcanic peaks are clustered together, becoming more widely spaced in the central and eastern parts of the island. The highest volcano is Mount Semeru, at 12,060 feet (3,676 metres). A series of discontinuous plateaus lies south of the volcanic belt and reaches an elevation of about 1,000 feet (300 metres).
Most rivers in Java run northward, since the central mountains that form their watershed lie somewhat closer to the southern than to the northern coast. Some rivers do run southward, however. The largest rivers on the island are the Solo and the Brantas, in Java’s eastern portion. Those and many smaller rivers are a source of water for irrigation but are navigable only in the wet season, and then only by small boats.
Java’s rich vegetation is southern Asian, with Australian affinities; more than 5,000 species of plants are known. Dense rainforests abound on the damp slopes of the mountains, while thick bamboo woods occur in the west. The island’s fruit trees include banana, mango, and various Asian species. Teak, rasamala, and casuarina trees and bamboo occur in forest stands, together with sago palms and banyan trees. Teakwood is one of Java’s major exports.
Among the island’s fauna are the one-horned rhinoceros and banteng (wild ox), though these species are now restricted to only the more remote areas, notably Ujung Kulon National Park, at the island’s western tip (designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991); the Javan tiger is now extinct. The island is also home to monkeys, wild pigs, and crocodiles; about 400 species of birds; 100 species of snakes; 500 species of butterflies; and many types of insects.
Java’s inhabitants include three major ethnic groups, the dominant Javanese, the Sundanese, and the Madurese, and by two smaller groups, the Tenggerese and the Badui. The Javanese constitute approximately 70 percent of Java’s population and live primarily in the central and eastern portions of the island. The Sundanese live mainly in the west, while the Madurese live in the east and on Madura Island. The Javanese language belongs to the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) family. Islam is the predominant religion, though Hindu traditions of an earlier era are still evident in many areas. Historically, Javanese social organizations vary in structure from relatively egalitarian rural communities to the highly stratified society of the cities, with their complex court life. Historically, Javanese social organization varied in structure from relatively egalitarian rural communities to the highly stratified society of the cities, with their complex court life. These differences found linguistic expression in distinct styles.
Java is one of the world’s most densely populated areas. The island averages more than 2,600 persons per square mile (1,000 per square km) and has the majority of Indonesia’s population on only 7 percent of the total land area of the republic. Java’s rate of population growth has remained quite high; from an estimated 5 million people in 1815, the population had grown to roughly 140 million in the early 21st century. Most of Java’s population remains rural, but its cities have nevertheless grown at a rapid rate. The chief cities are Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, Surakarta, and Yogyakarta. The rural population density is highest in the south-central plains and the northern plain.
Javanese cuisine is more indigenously developed and noted for its simplicity. Nevertheless some of Javanese dishes demonstrate foreign influences, most notably Chinese. Javanese food is categorized into Central and East Javanese food, both serve simple and less spicy food. However Central Javanese food tends to be sweeter. In a wider sense, Javanese cuisine might also refer to the cuisine of the whole people of Java Island , which also includes Sundanese in West Java, Betawi people in Jakarta and Madurese on Madura Island off East Java. These ethnic groups have their own distinctive cuisines. Javanese cuisine is largely divided into three major groups: Central Javanese cuisine which is sweeter and less spicy , East Javanese cuisine uses less sugar and more chili and of course Common Javanese dishes
The local currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). USD 1 is around IDR 12,500 –13,500. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and traveler’s cheques and foreign currency are accepted at most of the large hotels and authorized moneychangers. There are local banks as well as ATM machines in all main towns.
The best way to travel around Java cities is by hired car, trains, taxi or tour package. Walking is a great way to take in the sights and meet the locals though it can get hot by the middle of the day. Be prepared to meet traffic jams, especially when travelling during peak hours and into business districts, at some cities in Java such as Jakarta, Bandung, Bogor, Yogyakarta and Surabaya. Taking train to travel between cities in Java will be a unique overland journey as you will see many beautiful landscape along the way to your destination .
Embrace the local mode of transport such as andong, Traditional horse drawn carts, and becak, traditional three wheeled pedal powered cart, which can be found in the tourist areas of Yogyakarta and Solo. The newly chosen Jakarta Governor has issued a local regulation that allows becak and andong to operate again after more than 20 years of prohibition. Taking traditional vehicles will let you fell relaxed and it’s a romantic way to take in the sights.
It is advisable therefore to choose a hotel near the location where you will have your meeting or business appointments or to the attraction or destination you wish to visit. Distances in some cities in Java are far and there are frequent traffic snarls.
Most big cities in Java have airport and train tracks which enable travelers to connect to other cities. Some of the cities such as Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya even have International airports which has daily international flights from neighboring country. Malaysia and Singapore.
Night Busses and Trains are best options to travel overland from one city to another in Java. Enjoy good views along the journey where your eyes will be spoilt by the beautiful lavish green of undulating hills, terraced paddy fields, or tea plantations may accompany you along the way to your next destination.
To visit some attractions it is best to rent a car through your hotel or your travel agent. Best make sure to have a sturdy and comfortable vehicle especially when you plan to visit mountain regions or savannah, although generally speaking, roads around are good.
If you wish to travel overland from Java to Bali, we suggest you to take the train and continue with the ferry at Ketapang port, on the eastern tip of Java which sails to the port of Gilimanuk. You can of course, also travel by night busses from any large city in Java to go to Bali.
Below are our preferred tour packages which our consultants prepared carefully and handpicked each of the destinations to make unforgettable moments when you travel to Java.