Ciwidey is a small town in southern Bandung. It is the gateway to the beautiful highland in the slope of mount Patuha. The most visited places here are Kawah Putih (white crater) and Situ (lake) Patengan. Along the way we will see beautiful tea plantation, it is like a green carpet covering the hills.
Kawah Putih is one of Sunda's hidden gem, despite of its proximity to Bandung. It is less popular compare to Tangkuban Prahu crater in Lembang, but in my opinion Kawah Putih is more beautiful.
It is named Kawah Putih because the crater and all the surrounding rocks and sands are all white. Overtime rain fills in the crater and now it looks like a lake. Most of the time the color of the lake is green, but sometimes a part of it becomes brownish. The hot springs make the water warm. The view is amazing, but you can not stay too long since the smell of sulphur is quite strong.
Visiting Kawah Putih is a must, but the best view is in in the morning. Fog often hangs over the lake in the afternoon. You can park your car in the parking area near the entrance and then take a minibus to the crater. The crater is approximately 2 kilometers uphill. Alternatively, you can walk up there.
Another fun activity in Ciwidey is strawberry picking. Its cool weather is perfect for starwberry farms. There are many strawberry farms here, but they are all will be crowded during weekend and holidays. Hence, you'd better come early.
The farmer will give you a basket and you can pick the strawberry by yourself. The price is more expensive than buying them in the store, but strawberry picking is always fun, especially for children.
One restaurant I recommend you to go for a lunch is Sindang Reret Restaurant. It specializes in sundanese food, such as gurami fish, golden fish, and chicken either fried or grilled. My daughter favorite is the fried gurami and my favorite is 'gepuk'. Gepuk is sliced beef, spiced, and then cooked for hours until tender. The taste is rather sweet. If you like spicy food, you can try sundanese salad named karedok. Karedok consists of raw vegetables such as cucumber, string beans, eggplant and cabbage with oncom sauce. Oncom is made of beans fermented with fungi, which you can only find in Sunda. If you prefer cooked vegetables, you can order gado-gado, which comprises cooked cabbage, string bean, bean sprouts, boiled egg and potato, fried tofu and tempe with peanut sauce.
Sindang Reret has two theme restaurants, side by side. The first one is houses on top of a big fish pond. The other one is on the field looking at paddy field. You also can choose a modern dine in with dining table and chairs or a traditional one: sitting on a mat.
We can feed the fishes in the pond. The fishes always swim to the surface whenever we throw some food into the water. Children can play and run as much as they like in the field. The restaurant also provides flying fox during weekend and holiday.
If you want to spend a night here, Sindang Reret has several hotel rooms, but it is just a standard hotel room. Alternatively, you can rent a villa in the nearby area.
There are several traditional snacks you can only find in Ciwidey. First snack is sweets made of orange skin. It is called 'kalua jeruk'.
Next snack is 'berondong jagung' (pop corn ball). It is pop corn glued together with palm sugar.
Since there are many strawberry farms in this area, we also can buy stawberry sweets called dodol strawberry, made of sticky rice, sugar and strawberry juice.
If you continue driving you will pass tea plantation and at the end of the road you will arrive at Situ Patengan, which also known as Situ Patenggang. Situ is the sundanese word for lake. Patengan or Patenggang derives from Sundanese words ‘pateang-teang’, meaning finding each other. This is based on Sundanese legend of Raden Indrajaya (Raden is similar to Lord in England) and Dewi Rengganis (Dewi means a beautiful lady).
According to the legend, Raden Indrajaya and Dewi Rengganis were very in love, but they were separated. They were very sad until their tears became Patengan lake. They kept searching for each other until they met again at Batu Cinta (love stone) in Situ Patengan. Many people still believe that lovers will have everlasting love if they visit this stone.
Apart from believing the legend, Situ Patengan has a scenic view. The tea plantation, which looks like a green carpet covering the hills, pine forest and the green lake together form a very beautiful and relaxing view.
One favorite activity in Situ Patenggang is to rent a boat or a pedal boat to circle the lake or go to the tiny island in this lake.
We also can spend a night here by putting up a tent in the camping ground. Its location is facing the lake in Situ Patengan. The view is beautiful, but the cold wind makes it chilly, especially during night time. Thus, don't forget to bring a jacket.
Situ Patengan is a favorite family vacations destinations in Sunda, due to its proximity to Bandung and the entrance fee is cheap. Hence, it is very crowded during Sundays and national holidays, especially the Ied Fitr holiday. People comes in big buses, private cars, and motorcycles. Usually the traffic jam is inevitable since the road is quite narrow and the parking lot is limited.
Ciwidey is approximately 30 km southwest Bandung. The easiest way to go there is via toll road and exit at Kopo. So, if you enter the toll road from Padalarang, Pasteur, Cimahi and Pasirkoja, you should choose direction to Cileunyi and exit at Kopo. This is the first exit after Pasirkoja. If you come from other access, such as Cileunyi, Buahbatu, and Moh. Toha, then you should choose direction to Padalarang and exit at Kopo.
Once you have paid the toll fee, turn right at the stop light, then you only need to follow the road until you reach the town of Soreang. You just need to follow the main road to arrive at the small town of Ciwidey, then drive several kilometers uphill to reach Kawah Putih entrance on the left side of the road.
If you continue driving on the main road, then you will pass many strawberry farms, Sindang Reret restaurant, tea plantations and Situ Patengan at the end of the road.
One last tip before you go to Ciwidey, Kawah Putih and Situ Patengan: don’t forget to bring your jacket, since the cold wind makes it quite freezing up there.