Dieng Plateau, the sulphuric marshy land in Java, has started to gain much more attention as a tourist destination over recent years. If you are looking for an Indonesia experience with a local feel, add this to your itinerary.
Located a few hours drive from the temple of Borobudur, this was one of my favourite parts of exploring the central island on this never ending archipelago. It’s a great addition to your trip after exploring the best of Yogyakarta, a royal city in central Java.
What is Dieng Plateau like?
When I arrived at my homestay in Wonosobo, I realised after a good ten minutes of knocking that no one was home and no one was nearby that was going to be able to help.
As fate would be, it was pissing it down so I grabbed a bowl of Bakso noodles for 50 cents from a nearby stall and took a seat in the rain beside him, much to the entertainment of the never ending school girls who kept coming to the window across the street to laugh and giggle at me. This was to become the running theme of my time in Dieng.
It’s that laughter that has me hooked on this county. A friend once told me she loved Indonesians because they are so quick to find humour and damn, we need more laughter in the world.
Once settled in and having been welcomed with a guest book to sign, the first person in nine months it appeared, I used my exemplary hand gestures to arrange the owner’s son/friend/neighbour to give me a tour on his bike the next day for 120,000 IDR.
Whoever the guy was, he rocked up on time and was awesome. Sneaking me into parks before they were open, sharing lunch with me and then driving me around all of his friends’ homes on the way back so they could take a selfie with me. Wonosobo, the bigger town a 20-minute ride from Dieng was like that. There were no tourists here, shopkeepers didn’t know how to over-charge and everything was communicated in smiles – my favourite way to travel.
Top 5 things to see in Dieng
The best thing is, you don’t need to do a Dieng Plateau tour, it is simple enough to explore by renting bike or just hiring a driver for the day.
Explore the Volcanic craters
The whole of the Dieng Plateau is an active volcanic area (last erupting in 2009). You can wander through bubbling craters and ‘enjoy’ the sulphur smell pretty much undisturbed in the early hours.
Watch Sunrise above the clouds
For the bargain price of 50,000 IDR ($4.50/£2.50) you can head to the village of Siknur and its mountain peak for a pretty amazing sunrise above the clouds. The ‘trek’ is short and pretty easy (20 minutes when starting from the village). No guide needed and there was just a small crowd of locals watching the day start with me.
Explore untouched nature off the beaten path
I went two days without seeing another Tourist or speaking English. After a week in Bali, it was great to get into Indonesia properly and the scenery is truly beautiful, the vast rice fields and dramatic landscapes sure make you feel you have hit the remote lands.
Explore near empty parks
The national park which holds the ‘colour changing’ lake, as well as various temples, has an entry attached of 100,000 IDR. Try to head there before it opens and ask your helpful guide to have you ‘sneaked’ in for 50,000 IDR, Worked for me and I got to enjoy the whole park undisturbed.
Tour the temples
From little temples to great lakes where you can hire boats, Dieng has plenty to keep you busy or relaxed for a couple of days.