As the second biggest city of East Java, Malang is well known as the place that is the perfect to stay in if you want to go to the Bromo volcano. A lot of travel agencies in Malang offer trips to Bromo, sometimes combined with Ijen. It’s not strange that all the tourists are coming to Malang for these volcanoes. The views are just absolutely breathtaking.
Most people don’t realize that Malang is so much more than the place to stay to go to Bromo. Malang and surroundings offer wide varieties of things to see and to do for everyone. The beaches are uncountable and just as stunning as in Lombok. The local people are just as humble and kind as in Bandung. And the Hindu relics are evenly wonderful as in Bali.
Stay a few more days in Malang; to experience Malang like the local people experience it. I’ll give you my secret tips, which made me fall in love with Malang.
Stay in a tree house on the beach, even if you travel low-budget
On a two and a half hour drive from Malang there is a quiet, white sanded and clean beach, called Sendiki. During the drive towards the beach, the nature and the rice fields willl already stun you. Getting in the being-one-with-nature vibes you’ll arrive at a little road where you’ll walk towards the beach. Kindly greeted by the local people you’ll enter the beach.
Perhaps overwhelming, at least that was what I felt during my trip to Sendiki. Probably also due to the fact we fell into the rice fields, 200 meters before arriving at the beach. Covered in mud and with faces full happiness we made the local people laugh. Before even questioning us what we did, they offered us a shower and towels. But as soon as we were fresh and clean, they asked us what happened. We could make them laugh even harder, when we told them the story about falling in the rice fields with the motorcycle.
These people also preserve the beach and made it an outstanding spot to spend a night. Just with some bamboo and wood they handmade tree houses. It might not be luxurious, but there is everything you need. Just for Rp. 200.000,- you’ll get a romantic night in a tree house on the beach including breakfast.
View the local soccer game in one of the many cafes
Getting in with the locals? Try watching a soccer game of Arema. Arema is the local soccer team of Malang. It has a huge fan club in whole Indonesia. The spirit of the fan club is even greater than some European soccer fan clubs.
During the weekly plays (schedule differs each week, but ask at the reception of your stay for the schedule) the whole city turns blue. Literally, since it’s the color of Arema. So if you want to feel local, just put on a blue shirt and enjoy the game with cheap snacks and drinks. I can assure you, people will start talking with you and they will make you feel like you belong there immediately. And to make it even easier; there is a café in every single street.
On the nights that there isn’t a game, I recommend you to go to a café as well. Multiple intimate and cozy cafes with cheap excellent local coffee, beer towers or martabak (sweet Indonesian pancake) are to find in Malang. Always run by modest people, that will make you feel welcome.
Hike to the stunning hidden waterfalls (more than 10 to choose from)
Imagine having a two or three hour hike trough the forest of Indonesia. You left your car or motorcycle at the edge of the forest. At that moment you start walking. Perhaps it just rained. Making everything a bit slippery, which is irritating before you realize the scent of the wet forest. Canaries making their signature sound, meaning that there is fresh air. So you inhale deep to clean your lungs from the contaminated city air.
After a while you start hearing people again. It’s certainly a picture that will stay in your memory. A small-scaled village in the middle of the forests of Indonesia. An old man lurking its handmade cigar, which might not only contain tobacco. Young kids running after a ball made of shirts, functioning as a football. Women doing the laundry in the river.
And at the end of the hike, you will get what you earned; a truly incredible view of the waterfall. Big chance you’ll be alone there, which enables the best enjoyable experience. Before going back enjoy the sounds, scents and a refreshing splash in the little lake.