Set 750m above sea level, and protected by a fortress of watchful volcanoes 190km southeast of Jakarta, BANDUNG is the third largest city in Indonesia and a centre of industry and traditional Sundanese arts – with plenty of cultural performances for tourists – though it suffers from incredible traffic pollution and uninteresting modern developments. Sundanese culture has remained intact here since the fifth century when the first Hindu Sundanese settled in this part of West Java. Modern Bandung's main tourist attraction is nearby Tangkbuhan Prahu volcano, from where there's a very pleasant two-hour forest walk down to the city, too.
The Dutch spotted the potential of this lush, cool plateau and its fertile volcanic slopes in the mid-seventeenth century, and set about cultivating coffee and rice here, settling in the area to live in the early nineteenth century. Several relics from the city's colonial era remain, including some of the elegant shops along Jalan Braga, and some fine buildings on Jalan Asia-Afrika.