Batu is a pleasantly cool and verdant hill station on the slopes of Mount Welirang (Gunung Welirang) in East Java. Batu, Selecta and the surrounding villages are a charming area worth a couple of days to explore, and more importantly to relax.
Batu is a very common Indonesian place-name element - Batu Gajah, Batu Ampar, etc. Sometimes these get informally shortened to “Batu”, but this place is Batu full stop. The word means “rock” or “boulder”, and is often applied to landing places, but in this instance it may indicate a royal retreat in a pleasant upland climate. In ancient times only the ruling elite could take themselves away in that fashion, with their grand entourages. Early modern times and the Dutch colonial period saw the growth of a mercantile class glad to escape from sweltering Surabaya, and Batu expanded as a hill station. The nearby town of Selecta was constructed as a purpose-built hill resort in 1928 on the slopes of Mount Arjuna (Gunung Arjuna), and city-dwellers acquired weekend houses here. The area had reached a population of 190,000 by 2010. The climate also suits the growing of apples and orchids.
The Batu area is at 800 to 1100 metres so it is pleasantly cool compared to lowland East Java. Typical day time temperatures are 17 to 20 °C. The mountain tops reach over 3000 m and their night-time temperatures regularly drop to 3 to 4 °C.
It is a 45-minute drive from the centre Malang to Batu and 3 to 4 hours drive from Surabaya to Malang. Using 2 hours train from Surabaya to Malang would be advisable and then take a GrabCar or GoCar for added convenience.
Regular shuttle buses and bemos ply the route, departing from Malang's Landung Sari bus terminal.
The better hotels in the area are open to arranging to collect you from Malang.
Batu gets very crowded at weekends and during school holidays with trippers from Malang and Surabaya. Avoid those periods if possible.
The area lends itself very well to walking. There are regular local bemo services and all of the better hotels offer tours and/or private transport to the main sights. Batu complex becomes bigger due to constructions of newer theme parks and attractions and to visit them all might take 2 or 3 days. Use ride-hailing services such as Gojek and Grab for easier navigation around the area.
- 1 Alun Alun, Batu (the centre point of Batu town). A small park in the middle of Batu town, where locals regularly take walks and idle about. The newly re-worked Alun Alun is adorned with representations of pretty much all of Batu's specialities: apples, strawberries, milk-producing cows, rabbits, etc. as booths, lanterns and statues. There is also a decent-sized ferris wheel with Rp5,000 entrance fee.
- 2 Coban Rondo Waterfall (4km from Sebaluh village, west of Batu). A good waterfall on the slopes of Mount Panderman with a 30-metre drop. The road here from Sepalu village goes through attractive terrain with some nice views and passes a small elephant enclosure. A nice excursion is to get dropped off at the turning at Sepalu and walk the 4 km to the falls.
- 3 Mount Panderman, Songgokerto village. You can see Mount Panderman looming large from the centre of Batu. It is a good hiking and birdwatching area. If an organised hike is of interest you should be able to find a guide at Coban Rondo Waterfall.
- 4 Museum Angkut (Transport Museum), Jl Sultan Agung No. 2, ☏ . 12:00-20:00. Opened in 2014 and part of the Jawa Timur Group, it presents the history and development of transportation across the world. It has many classic cars and motorcycles, and replicas of the presidential airplane, Batavia (old Jakarta), "Gangster Town", Broadway, Italy, France, Germany, England, the Buckingham Palace, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and a floating market. M-Th Rp70,000, F-Su Rp100,000.
- 5 Punten, Punten village (3 km from Batu town centre). Hectare after hectare of apple orchards and orchid nurseries. Pay a nominal rupiah sum and pick and eat as many apples as you can manage. Other villages nearby have similar setups and include Sidomulyo and Pandanrejo.
- 6 Songgoriti (about 2 km west of Batu town centre). This is probably the single most attractive village in the area and a day or half day spent just wandering here will be time well spent. Don't get cheated, they sell some hot showers as "hot springs". There's also a notable Hindu temple dating from the Majapahit period in the 15th century.
- 7 Taman Rekreasi Selecta (Selecta Recreational Park), Selecta, ☏ . This landscaped park was established by the Dutch in 1930 and although very changed, it remains a charming place to visit outside of the school holiday seasons when it is overrun with children. Nice swimming pool. There are hot showers for Rp5,000, but no hot springs or hot pools. Opportunities for some guided walks and horse riding. There is a hotel and restaurant attached to the park. Entrance: Rp35,000.
- Selorejo (about 20 minutes drive from Batu town centre). A bit of a drive from Batu through meandering mountain roads, but the view is scenic and pleasant. Selorejo's main feature is the dam, where you can hire a boat to go around, as well as fish (fishing lines for hire available). Leisure walk around is very pleasant, with a few resting spots available. Popular with locals for picnics. Some food also available.
Climb Mount Arjuna and Mount Welirang. This is a tough 3 day expedition for experienced trekkers only. These two mountains combine to form a volcanic massif. Dormant Arjuna is at 3,338 m and active Welirang at 3,156 m and the two are joined by huge saddle ridge. There are several ways to approach the trek but the best start point is at Selecta, 4 km north of Batu. You will need a guide and these are best found in Selecta village. If you are staying in Batu your hotel may also be able to help you find a good guide. Plan for two nights on the mountains in temperatures which can approach freezing. There is no need to cart tents as there are simple hut shelters used by the local sulphur workers and all guides will know the locations. You will need a warm sleeping bag and appropriate clothing though.
The lower slopes are lush but this gives way to a high terrain which more recalls the Andes or Tibet than tropical Indonesia. The same is true of the basic shelters in which you will be sleeping. The route from Selecta tackles Arjuna first and the views from the top are stunning - the whole volcanic spine of East Java stretches before you. The following day, Welirang offers similar magnificence with the added thrill of a steaming, sulphurous active crater. Be very careful on Welirang and take no risks - this mountain is classed as a very active A-type by geologists. This is a very rewarding trek with views as good, if not better, than from any of Java's volcanic peaks.
Walk. The area in and around Batu and Selecta is very scenic indeed and lends itself well to casual walking as well as more strenuous treks.
Eat apples. They are everywhere and you can hardly not.
Theme and amusement parks
- 1 Jawa Timur Park 1, Jl Kartika 2 Batu, ☏ .
- 2 Batu Secret Zoo and Wildlife Museum (Jawa Timur Park 2), Jl Oro-Oro Ombo No. 2, ☏ .
- 3 Batu Night Spectacular (BNS), Jl. Raya Oro-Oro Ombo 200 Batu, ☏ .
While it is not exactly a shopping mecca, there are interesting souvenirs one can take away from Batu.
- Toko Linda, Jl Raya Selecta no 115. A one-stop-shop on the way towards Selecta, where you can get various Batu snacks specialties. The shop also sells everything from daily needs to clothes.
Apples again. This is the country's major apple producing centre and aside from the delicious fresh produce, try:
- Dried apple chips. A real speciality here which are sold in bags so you can stock up. Healthy and truly delicious.
- A local apple cake known as Dodol.
There are good quality restaurants attached to all of the main hotels.
- Sate Hot Plate, Jl. Patimura No. 40, ☏ . Sate kambing (goat satay), and other sate, including beef and chicken. Steaks and many vegetable, noodle, tofu and tempe dishes are also on the menu. Rp4,000-45,000.
- Pasar Senggol (Around Alun Alun). A large array of local food and snacks, served in permanent makeshift tents that gives you truly local tastes and lifestyle. Most famous street food includes tahu brontak (deep fried stuffed tofu), pisang molen (banana wrapped in flour-based batter), pisang goreng (fried banana), ketan (sticky rice, served with ground soy bean and coconut), bakso (meatballs in soup), tahu lontong (tofu and rice cake in peanut paste), etc.
- Depot Santai (Opposite Metropole Hotel). Delicious local interpretations of Chinese cuisine. Generous portion with local price range. Lesehan (sitting on the floor) dining is available. Specialities include Fu Yung Hai, Koloke and fried rice.
- Cart Food. Cart food are commonly sold in batu. The single-manned hand-pushed carts commonly sell food such as bakso (meatballs in soup), Mie tek tek (fried noodles), Tahu Lontong (tofu and rice cake in peanut sauce), Roti Goreng (Sweet fried bread), Putu (steamed pandanus cake served with coconut and red sugar), etc. They come with eating utensils handy, and will wait for you to finish eating before moving on.
- Jagung Bakar (Up the mountain roads at Pujon). afternoon to late night. A lot of the tents on the roadside on the mountains of Pujon sells Jagung Bakar (barbecue corn), where you can pick your own corn from the stack and season the corns yourself if you prefer. The sites juts precariously out the ledge of the roads, propped with bamboo. Beautifully casual, one can see the city of Batu with the lights at night. It gets chilly, so be prepared.
Unsurprisingly, there are several local variations on apple juice, both pure and laced with different syrups.
There are a lot of quite highly priced hotels in Batu these days which were set up to cater for the wealthy local weekend market. If you are visiting Batu on a weekday outside of the school holiday season you'll likely get a good deal at a higher end hotels.
Simpler budget accommodation is also available and if you visit on weekdays without a reservation you will almost certainly find plenty of available options.
- Kartika Wijaya Hotel, Jl Panglima Sudirman 127, Batu, ☏ . The most famous hotel in Batu and it is a grand old heritage building. It has seen better days though and there are many reports of disappointed visitors. Offers individual cottages as well as conventional rooms in the main building.
- Klub Bunga, Address: Jl Kartika 1, Batu, ☏ , email@example.com. A very modern hotel set in 12 hectares of grounds. Full service facilities, spa, massage, restaurant etc From Rp450,000 to 2,400,000.
- Kampung Lumbung Boutique Hotel and Spa, JL Puskesmas Dalam 1 Raya Beji, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A 30 room boutique style hotel all built with re-used timbers in traditional East Java style, claims to be eco-friendly. You can also find vanishing East Java buildings architecture from old teak houses that are rebuilt for several villas in this hotel From Rp450,000.
- Metropole Hotel, Jl Panglima Sudirman 93, Batu, ☏ . Nice enough mid-range hotel which is popular with weekend trippers form Malang. From Rp400,000.
- Royal Orchid Garden, Jl. Indragiri 4, Batu, ☏ . A swanky establishment with regular hotel and condominum sections. Two restaurants, two bars and private tennis courts. A notably good in-house spa. From Rp1,000,000.
- Hotel Sumber, Jl. Darsono 14, Batu 65311, ☏ . A 15-room hotel set in over 2,500 m² of landscaped gardens. From Rp200,000.
- Villa Gunung Putri, Jl. Arumdalu no. 42, Songgoriti (7°51'45S 112°29'45E), ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. A nice and cheap little villa with a beautiful view surrounded. With its traditional architecture and well decorated with some contemporary arts it will assure that u'll have something worth remembering. It has 1 main villa (with 3 bedrooms, kitchen, hot water bathroom, living room, dining room) and 2 small pavilions (bed, TV, water dispenser, bathroom). The last ones for Rp100,000 per night (May 2016). Free pick up available. Rp600,000.
The telephone area code for Batu is 0341.
Internet connectivity is good and you will find public internet cafes in central areas of Batu.
- The historical and cultural delights of Malang are 45 min away
- Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park for active volcanoes