Java (Indonesian: Jawa) is an island in Indonesia.


Java is Indonesia's fifth-largest island. Its 130 million people make up 65% of Indonesia's entire population, and makes Java the most populated island in the world. Covering an area of 127,569 sq. km (7% of Indonesia's area) and with a population density of 940 people/sq. km, Java is the world's most crowded island as well.

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is located on northwest region of Java. Surabaya (the second largest city in Indonesia), is located on East Java. Java acts as Indonesia's center of cultural and economic activity.

This is a quite remarkable island geographically with no less than 121 active volcanoes. Add to that a host of major national parks and, despite its very crowded nature, the island has lots to offer the visitor who appeciates outdoor attractions.

The main ethnic group in Java is Javanese, except for the West Java region where most people are Sundanese. In the province of East Java, 22% of the population is of Madurese descent. Half of them live on the island of Madura.

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia. Population: 8 million (within city limits). The total population of Jakarta and its suburbs: 12 million people. The population of Jakarta is a mix of many ethnic groups. The group native to Jakarta is Betawi.


  • West Java - The massive urban sprawl of Jakarta, Bandung in the hills and national parks.
  • Central Java - Charming Yogyakarta and very important temples.
  • East Java - Indonesia's second city Surabaya and stunning volcanic scenery.


  • Jakarta

  • Bandung

  • Surabaya

  • Yogyakarta

  • Solo

  • Semarang

  • Bogor

  • Malang

  • Jember

Other destinations

  • Anyer - beautiful beach, gateway to Krakatoa volcano

  • Baluran National Park - savannah grasslands which will make you think you are in Africa

  • Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park - spectacular volcanic scenery, home of the Tenggerese

  • Borobudur - the largest ancient Buddhist temple, one of the world's seven wonders

  • Madura - large, remote, arid island and massively off the beaten path for visitors

  • Mount Halimun Salak National Park - arguably the best and most complete rainforest area in Java, near Bogor

  • Prambanan - remarkable ancient Hindu temple

  • Sukamade - turtles come to lay their eggs virtually every night of the year

  • Ujung Kulon National Park - amazing national park with unspoiled jungles, white sand beaches, corals and the last examples of the Javanese Rhinoceros

Getting there

By air

Most visitors arrive at Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, Solo and Yogyakarta. There are several domestic airlines such as Garuda, Merpati, Lion Air, Mandala, Sriwijaya Air. International airlines: AirAsia, SQ, Qantas, MAS, Cathay Pacific, PAL, Thai International, JAL, KAL, Eva Air, Air India, etc.

By sea

PT Angkutan Sungai Danau dan Penyeberangan/ASDP ferry services:

  • Gianyar(Bali) from/to Gilimanuk (East Java)

  • Bakauheni (Lampung/Southern Sumatera) from/to Merak (Banten). Rp 12,000 for a 2-3 hour journey.

  • Kamal (Madura) from/to Tanjung Perak (Surabaya)

PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia/ passenger ship routes include:

  • Medan (North Sumatra) from/to Tanjung Priok (Jakarta)

  • Pontianak (West Kalimantan) from/to Tanjung Priok (Jakarta)

  • Makassar (South Sulawesi) from/to Tanjung Perak (Surabaya)

Traveling around

Java's infrastructure is by far the best in Indonesia, and it's possible to cross the entire island by land in a single (long) day. However, the sheer density of population means that roads, buses and trains can get overcrowded if you're moving at the same time as everyone else.

By bus

The main form of long-distance transport, vast armadas of buses cross the island and connect every city and mountain hamlet. Watch out though, as many drivers have near-suicidal driving habits that emphasize speed above all else.

By train

Java has the best railway network in Indonesia, with trains connecting the capital city of Jakarta with most other cities and towns in the island. The eksekutif class is the best class, and consequently the most expensive.

Ticket reservations can be made starting one month in advance. No on-line ticket reservation is available, but availability can be gleaned on . Descriptions of various trains are available on .

By road

Java's toll roads are built nearly to Western standards, with dual grade-separated lanes in both directions and elevated interchanges. Tolls are quite affordable, usually Rp 1,000-5,000 every 10 km or so. However, signage is often lacking and driving habits are atrocious, so it's very wise to pay a little extra and get a car with driver instead of attempting to drive yourself.


Java offers everything a somewhat adventurous traveler is looking for: two of world's great ancient monuments, volcanoes (all 121 of them), major national parks, rainforests, tea and rice plantations, large cities, big waves and even savanna. The scenery in most parts of Java is spectacular and, while the island is overpopulated, there are still plenty of unspoiled places. Even though the beaches are not very appealing in Java and tides can be fatal especially in south part of Java, in nearby archipelagos like Pulau Seribu or Karimunjawa the traveler can find white sand beaches and corals islands.

Things to do

  • Trek in Ujung Kulon National Park and Mount Halimun Salak National Park, see excellent examples of rainforest and wild animals.

  • Dive in the pristine waters of the Karimunjawa islands.

  • Rent a fisherman's boat and sail around the Kepulauan Seribu National Park archipelago.

  • See the crater of a volcano real close at Tagkuban Perahu (in Bandung).

  • Watch the sunrise at the breathtaking Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.

  • Surf one of the world's great waves at G-Land near Banyuwangi.

  • Travel from Jakarta to Yogyakarta by day train. Beautiful landscapes and a cheap and more relaxing way to travel around Java.

  • Visit the Dutch war cemeteries Menteng Pulo (central Jakarta) or Ancol (in the north of Jakarta by the sea). They are haunting and quiet getaways from the bustling city. To visit Ancol, take a taxi and ask for "makam kehormatan Ancol".

  • Visit Kebun Raya (botanical gardens) in Bogor.

  • Wake up early to see the sunrise at the Borobudur temple near Yogyakarta.

  • Watch a spell-binding evening performance of The Ramayana against the lit backdrop of magnificent Prambanan.

  • Climb the Gunung Gede volcano.

  • Play golf at the Merapi Golf Course in Yogyakarta. The active volcano Mount Merapi looms over the course just a few miles away.

  • Eat mie goreng from a street vendor ("kaki lima"). Try martabak. Eat ice-cream at Toko Oen in Malang.

  • Visit the huge shopping malls at Jakarta.

  • Enjoy a fine Sunday brunch in any Jakarta international hotel at an amazing value.


Boiled water or water from a sealed bottle. Coffee or tea. It's safe. The same applies to Bir Bintang, which combines very well with a hot indonesian dish.


While Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is the lingua franca understood by almost everyone, the majority of Java's population also speak Javanese, a related but mutually incomprehensible language. As the largest single language in Indonesia, Javanese influence on Bahasa Indonesia has been quite significant, and particularly in Central and East Java you'll even hear the local pronunciation change — the most notable change is a turning into o, so eg. Surabaya becomes Suroboyo.

Other significant local languages include Sundanese, spoken in West Java, Betawi in Jakarta and Madurese, spoken on and around the island of Madura.


Use common sense, as you would do in your own country. Most common is (fortunately) theft, violent crime is rare in Indonesia. However, it's wise to be extra cautious in Jakarta and other big cities (See also wikitravel: Jakarta section). Avoid crowds.

Traffic can be chaotic. Watch out for trucks, cars and other moving objects. One rule applies: "might is right". Don't expect traffic to respect pedestrian ("Zebra") crossings (even when a police(wo)man is in sight). When crossing a busy street - be confident, make sure your intentions are clear to the oncoming drivers. Cars never stop, but if they know what they can expect from you, they will avoid you. Using hand signal like put one hand in the air or signaling stop might help, too.

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