Post Updated on 30th Jan 2017
Bandung was my home for 11 months – Well, almost , though there were several months of traveling around SE Asia included. With an experience of a lifetime, I also uncovered several nuggets of information that can come in handy for any traveler heading to Bandung. Well, for example looking for the best bars in Bandung ..to start with.
Surely, Bandung is just a small hill town with travelers usually passing by for a few days. There are many expats (mostly students) as well in this small town close to Jakarta. With awesome weather all round the year and lovely people, it should be on TOP of your list if you are visiting Indonesia and looking for a “different” experience.
With plenty of drinking holes in town it is next to impossible to pick the best bars in Bandung. Bandung nightlife, overall is pretty laid back – the nightclubs are not that great so a good evening in Bandung would comprise of spending quality time in some of these fun pubs / bars. It took me almost 6 months to uncover these hidden gems and once I found them, they were my mecca for the remaining 7 months.
So here I share with you all the best bars in Bandung and the secret drinking holes which no traveler would hear of anywhere – Which, I , myself painstakingly discovered after months of mingling with locals. They are the best stops for expats and travelers but never talked about online in any forums / websites (Except this one , now, ofcourse).
Go, quench your thirst in these top bars in Bandung now –
#1 – Nomads Bar (Jl. Lembah Pakar Timur) – My all time favorite bar in Bandung and also my home for 6+ months (lucky me). This place is for everyone – when I say everyone, I mean literally everyone who knows how to hold their drinks. Its a place to chill, make new friends and just enjoy the laid back culture and lifestyle of Bandung.
The location is pretty epic too – nestled just next to a view point – Bukit Bintang. There is a rooftop lounge which gives a full wide angled view of the city with comfortable couches and sofas to relax in style. Open 24 hours for “special” guests, this is the ultimate after party, pre party or all day chilling spot.
There is always something fun to do and they host several special nights like – Beer pong, Poker, Barbecue or Video Gaming (if you are in the mood to kill Zombies after a couple of beers). They have an in-house restaurant which serves awesome Indonesian cuisine and finger food – Typically everything you need with your drinks and more . Plus, the place always gets nice and friendly crowd. Oh and the owners know English, which is a huge plus. Considering 90% of the population does not. So, it is definitely a kick ass option for expats and nomads ..hence the name – Nomad’s bar.
- It is an “invitation only” bar so don’t just drop by and expect to be entertained. Contact me or reach out to the owners on their FB page to get “vetted” before you are allowed to join the festivities that happen round the clock at Nomads.
- Always pay for your drinks. You don’t have to pay upfront but don’t just get drunk and disappear – They WILL find you and they WILL kill you (Just kidding, but hey DO pay).
- Don’t advertise without asking the owners first (This post also goes out after special permission) – They DON’T need a whole lot of people to come and spoil their lovely adobe – they want to keep it “good” and clean environment for all to enjoy.
#2 – OJ’s (Jl Hegarmanah) – OJ’s is my second favorite bar in Bandung. It is owned by a lovely Chinese man Om John (hence, the bar name). Some people also call it as “garage bar”. You enter through a garage where you see a shiny black Mercedes parked – How’s that for a grand entrance ??? Since Bandung nightlife is pretty much over around midnight , with clubs shutting early, OJ’s is your tavern for pubbing till wee hours of the morning.
OJ’s always gets decent crowd of pub-goers. You can expect a rusty antique old skool tavern playing some nice rock songs from the 70’s. Great people, some finger food and a lot of beer ! They also have darts if you want to challenge others or just play for fun.
Special Notes –
- Always reach the bar “before” midnight. Else, you risk having to jump their gate and getting thrown out/ banned for life.
- Don’t enter drunk . You can have a couple of drinks before you go there but don’t go totally sloshed – you are free to “get” drunk there though. You will just be frowned upon and probably thrown out.
- The place is hard to find as it is just another house from outside (but a bar inside – hence, secret). Just go to Jl. Hegarmanah and ask the security guard for directions (if you are lucky ), else go with locals who know the place (best option).
#3 – Bamboo Shack (Dago) – Ah now this one is no secret really. Just an awesome place for expats and travelers to meet, chill , chat or play pool. They have pool tournaments, wine tasting, special cuisines , karaoke nights and a lot more for any vary traveler. This place makes it on my list for quite a few reasons. For one, it is the best place to play pool – you will always find someone to play with even if you go there also. Next, you can just grab a book off their shelf and read if you are alone. It’s easy to talk to people there with friendly staff and regulars. Plus, the food is pretty awesome – I am still in love with their Chicken Maryland with Blackpepper sauce – Yumm and ofcourse their special Nasi Goreng.
#4 – Waroeng Pasir ( Punclut) – Want to experience the real Bandung ? Head to Waroeng Pasir – a small cozy retreat in the hills. Open bar with entire Bandung city view – which looks mesmerizing at night. They often have lovely bonfire nights where you can mingle with other regulars of the bar and enjoy great food, beer and live music. During any special festivals (Halloween/ new years etc), they tend to have the best parties. Food is cheaper than at other bars and beer is always fresh. What else do we need ya ask ?
Special Notes –
- It can get quite chilly later in the night – be sure to carry a jacket so you don’t have to rush back just when the party starts.
So these 4 are my favorite places as an expat living in Bandung for 11 months. It does not mean I did not visit/ enjoy the multitude of clubs, pubs and bars that come alive every night. From clubs like Sobbers, Shelter, Amnesia & Mox to Halfway, Maja House, Motzen, Erginn and other popular bars – I feel I know the Bandung nightlife pretty much inside out.
Other Great Spots to Enjoy Bandung Nightlife
1) Braga Street – It is famous for ample pubs with live music – A great vibe to the place with a hoard of bars and restaurants as well as interesting graffiti on the walls. The downside being it is also infamous for prostitution . If you don’t mind being harassed a bit (if you are a guy), go and have some fun – if you do mind, this street is probably not for you.
2) – Pizza E Bira (Paris Van Java Mall) – Pizza E Bira is a small lively joint with live music in the famous PVJ mall. It is well, just another good place to drink with friends but it comes under my special mentions only because of the “Monday Madness”. So, what is it you ask ? Every Monday, head to Pizza E Bira for beer at just IDR 10,000 a glass (that’s less than a dollar). Now, thats a reason to make merry, isn’t it ? So if you happen to be in Bandung on a Monday night – you know where to go !
So that was a lowdown on my favorite bars in Bandung. Feel free to reach out to me if you get lost trying to find these “Secret” places 🙂
Update for 2017 – I was lucky to revisit Bandung last year and I noticed the pubbing scene had changed a bit. The latest new pub/club on the scene is – Backyard and it is seriously kick ass. I would highly recommend grabbing a few beers there before you head out for some serious partying at Shelter or the likes!
Have you been to these places ? Do you recommend any other bars in bandung ? I would love to hear from my readers – do comment and share your inputs.