Java is one of the 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago. Unlike its neighbour Bali, Java is less visited and has managed to retain its authenticity. Travellers who venture around this strip of land are looking more for beautiful landscapes, unspoiled forests and magnificent volcanoes rather than idyllic beaches. It is easy to find untamed areas where nature reigns supreme. And yet, with 141 million inhabitants, Java is the most populated island in the world! It is not difficult to meet locals, who will welcome you warmly wherever you go. Finally, on a trip to Java you will discover the footprints of the Indians, the Chinese and the Dutch, who have successively inhabited the island and made it a crossroads of civilisations.
Surface area : 128297.0 km2
Population : 141000000 inhabitants
Time difference : Java is 8 hours ahead of the UK.
People do not visit Java for the shopping. Nevertheless, there are some locally-made handicrafts that you can bring home as souvenirs (wooden sculptures, basketry, materials and leather puppets).
Shops are open six days a week. Their opening times vary but many are closed between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. Shopping centres are usually open until 9:00pm.
Javanese cuisine is very diverse due to the various great civilisations that have lived on the island, including the Indians, the Chinese and the Dutch. Compared to that of Sumatra, the local cuisine is sweeter, and although it still contains spices, it is not necessarily as spicy. Each meal is of course served with rice, and meat is usually accompanied by vegetables. Make sure you try Soto Madura, a soup made with mutton and potatoes, as well as the not to be missed fried noodle dishes, such as Mie Goreng. Finally, for desert, sample one of the many fruits that can be found on the island. The bananas, pineapples, mangoes and papayas are usually excellent. As for drinks, beer is widely consumed and Indonesia produces excellent coffee.
In Java, as is generally the case in Indonesia, it is always possible to find something to eat. You will find many warung, a type of small outdoor cafe, as well as street vendors cooking outside. If you fancy a good steak and chips, you will certainly be able to order this in the restaurants of major hotels, but the quality is normally poor and it is a much more expensive option than the local dishes.
It is best to avoid visiting Java between December and February, the wettest part of the year. The best time to stay on the island is during the summer months.
What should you take with you? There is no need to overpack, as temperatures rarely drop below 20°C. You should, however, avoid outfits that are overly provocative. T-shirts and anoraks can be bought for cheap on the island. In winter, you should always take a light sweater if you are visiting high-altitude areas. In the wet season, cotton clothes are the most comfortable, as the heat is intense. Do not forget to take a raincoat and waterproof shoes! Regarding medication, the change in eating habits can cause heartburn: make sure you pack some tablets.
As an added precaution: take photocopies of your passport and ID photos with you. These will be very useful in the event that you lose these documents.