A Road Trip to Dieng Plateau

At 2,100 meters above sea level, Dieng Plateau is one of the highest highlands in Indonesia. One of its villages, Sembungan village (2,263 meters above sea level), holds the record as the highest village on Java Island. From this height, you can see clouds below you. Hence, people often refer to Dieng as "Negeri Di Atas Awan," which loosely translates to Land Upon The Clouds.

Dieng Plateau - Negeri di Atas AwanDieng Plateau - Negeri di Atas Awan

Due to its high altitude, the area experiences cold temperatures, with fog frequently enveloping the surroundings. The average temperature during the day is around 18°C, dropping to 8°C at night. In the dry season, temperatures can plummet to 0°C when the cold monsoon wind from Australia passes through Java.

The coldest temperature recorded in Dieng was -5°C, resulting in frost, locally known as Embun Upas, (loosely translated as poisonous dew in English). Of course, the frost is not toxic per se, but it harms crops, particularly potato plants.

The frost hurt the farmers, but it is a natural phenomenon sought by many tourists. They are drawn to the area to witness this rare occurrence in a tropical country like Indonesia.

Dieng Plateau is one of the few places in Indonesia where visitors can experience winter-like weather.

Things to Do in Dieng Plateau

  • Watch the breathtaking view of sunrises and sunsets 
  • Explore the volcanic craters and lakes
  • Visit ancient temples
  • Stroll in Tambi Tea Plantation
  • Swing by Dieng Kailasa Museum
  • Check out Dieng Volcanic Theater
  • Go to the annual Dieng Culture Festival. 

And other information you need to go and stay comfortably in Dieng:

  • How to go to Dieng Plateau
  • Types of accommodations in Dieng Plateau
  • Where and what to eat in Dieng

Tambi Tea Plantation

Stroll on the wooden bridge at Tambi tea plantation in Dieng Plateau.Stroll on the wooden bridge at Tambi tea plantation in Dieng Plateau.

As usual, highlands in Indonesia are suitable for tea plantations, including Tambi in the Dieng Plateau. Since they are privately owned, there are several plantations, but the sizes are smaller (compared to plantations in Puncak Pass, Ciwidey, and Pangalengan). Each of them offers breathtaking views of tea plantations that look like green carpets rolling on the hill, with mountains in the background, and swirling fog in the air. 

During our visit in mid-2024, at least we saw and visited three tea plantations in Tambi. Each plantation has low bridges and platforms made of wood or bamboo, about 1.5 meters above the dirt path. These structures were a bit rickety in places, but they provided a safe way to enjoy the view without getting scratched by sharp branches. The entrance fee for each plantation was Rp. 10,000 per person, plus parking.

Dieng Kailasa Museum

Kailasa Museum contains a lot of artifacts from the temples in Dieng Plateau.Kailasa Museum contains a lot of artifacts from the temples in Dieng Plateau.

Opened on July 28, 2008, Dieng Kailasa Museum is located within the Balai Pelestarian Peninggalan Purbakala complex, across the street from Candi Gatotkaca. This museum is named after Kailasa, the mountain where Shiva resides, as most of the temples in Dieng are dedicated to Shiva. 

Dieng Kailasa Museum contains valuable ancient stone statues from temples in Dieng that are risky to be stolen in their original places. The minute you enter the museum, you will see several statues that represent the many faces of Shiva. In addition to the statues found in Dieng, the museum also has a small theater and provides information on the arts, beliefs, and daily life in Dieng, including the geology, flora, and fauna in Dieng. 

Besides the statues in the museum, you will see many more statues in the garden and terraces inside the museum complex, either because they are not yet put into their respective places or they are still unidentified.

You also can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding area from the garden at the back of the museum.

Dieng Plateau Theater

Located at Jalan Dieng Theater with GPS coordinates of 7°13'00.1"S 109°54'54.4" E (-7.216693, 109.915097), Dieng Plateau Theater has been open since 2006. This theater has a capacity of 100 seats. It offers a 23-minute film about the Dieng plateau, such as its history, people, culture, and volcanic activity. The ticket price is Rp.10,000/person and the opening hours are daily, from 8AM until 4PM.

Dieng Culture Festival

Dieng Culture Festival is an annual event surrounding “Ruwatan Rambut Gimbal”, which is the ritual of cutting several children's dreadlocks. Although having dreadlocks is hereditary, they don’t have it since birth (dreadlocks started to grow when they were toddlers) and not all children in Dieng have dreadlocks. Usually, those children got a fever as the symptom of the start of the growing of dreadlocks. 

Preceding the ritual, these children request one thing from their parents, which will be given to them during the ceremony as soon as the dreadlocks are cut, otherwise, people believe that the dreadlocks will regrow. 

According to local beliefs, children with dreadlocks are the incarnation of Kyai Kolodete and Nini Roro Ronce. They are husband and wife who were assigned by Nyai Roro Kidul – the supernatural queen of the South Sea – to protect the Dieng plateau. Therefore, after the ritual, the dreadlocks are collected to be drifted on the Serayu River to reach the Indian Ocean and return to Nyai Roro Kidul.

Initially, Ruwatan Rambut Gimbal was the main event of the Dieng Culture Festival, but today it has developed to include other events, such as a Jazz Festival called Jazz Atas Awan, traditional dance performances, fireworks, and releasing lanterns.

The theme of the Dieng Culture Festival 2024 is The Journey and will be held from the 23rd to the 25th of August. 

How to Go to Dieng Plateau

Road trips are the only way to go to the highlands of Dieng. You can take a train or plane to Semarang, Yogyakarta, or Solo (Surakarta), and continue to Dieng by car. The distance between Jakarta and Dieng Plateau is approximately 400 kilometers. Thanks to the Trans Java toll road, the driving time from Jakarta is reduced to about nine hours. 

There are several roads that will take you to Dieng, such as via Bawang and Temanggung from the north, and Wonosobo from the south. Of these three alternatives, the road via Bawang offers the most breathtaking view. However, I would not recommend it, since it is a narrow road with steep inclines all the way to Dieng. Plus, the unpredictable fog comes and goes on this mountain, which often limits visibility to just a few meters ahead. You need a vehicle in excellent condition and a skillful driver to go through this road.

The beginning of the road from Bawang to Dieng Plateau. From here on, the road becomes more challenging.The beginning of the road from Bawang to Dieng Plateau. From here on, the road becomes more challenging.

The second option is to drive via Temanggung and pass through the Tambi tea plantation. Dieng, known for being the best potato producer in Indonesia, also has tea plantations, although not as extensive as those in Pangalengan, Ciwidey, and Lembang-Subang, Bandung. Roads in Tambi are provincial roads, so they are wider with gentle slopes compared to the roads in Bawang. From Temanggung, you can continue north to Semarang or south to Magelang and Yogyakarta.

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