Food, hotels, and things to do in Banyuwangi

Located at the eastern tip of Java Island, Banyuwangi has become the final pit stop of plenty of backpackers before hitching a ferry to Bali just across the horizon. While that’s completely fine, we feel that Banyuwangi itself is worth an extended stay once you’ve seen what the region has in store.

From the world-famous blue flames of Kawah Ijen to the towering monkeypod trees of De Djawatan Forest, there are more than enough distractions here to keep you occupied. To help you fill up your itinerary, this guide on what to eat, where to stay, and things to do in Banyuwangi should help you find your inspiration.

– Things to do in Banyuwangi –

1. See the mesmerizing blue flames of the world-famous Kawah Ijen

kawah ijen blue flame banyuwangi
Down at the sulfur mine where the blue flames are most visible, wearing a gas mask is mandatory and even then, you can’t stay there for too long.

Image credit: @aniss011

It’s not in any way hyperbolic to say that Kawah Ijen, or Ijen Crater, is what helped put Banyuwangi on the global tourism map. Once featured in a National Geographic story, Ijen is famous for its otherworldly blue flames by the crater lake, a result of high-temperature sulfur gas being exposed to oxygen, presenting a sight you can scarcely see anywhere else.

kawah ijenView of the turquoise crater lake from the crater rim. Mount Raung is just barely visible in the background.
Image credit: @jo_hantz

While it’s as mesmerizing as advertised, you’d have to be comfortable with the idea of night hiking as that’s the only time this blue flame phenomenon is visible. Hikers typically start their journey from the Paltuding Base Camp after midnight, hoping to catch sight of the blue flames before bookending the trip with Ijen’s equally gorgeous sunrise views.

mount raung
Hikers typically hang around Ijen until sunrise when the crater’s gorgeous twilight views begin to emerge

Image credit: @fen_gourmetventure

The 3km hike to the top of the caldera is fairly easy even for first-time hikers and there are wheelbarrow taxi services available if you feel you won’t be able to make it alone. The catch is your chance to see the blue flame from there is a bit of a lottery as there are nights when the smoke gets too thick for anyone to see past them.

In those times, you’ll have to make your way down to the sulfur mine and soldier through the toxic sulfur gas armed with gas masks available to rent from the basecamp. Even if you don’t have a history of breathing problems, this hike down and up back to the base of the crater is dangerous and hiring a guide to help you navigate the trail is a must.

kawah ijen miners
With a life expectancy of around 50, Ijen’s sulfur miners have one of the most hazardous jobs in the world. When you see them on your hike, treat them with respect.

Image credit: @kawahijenindonesia

Along the way, you’re probably going to see some sulfur miners carrying around 70kg of sulfur on the narrow trail and it’s important that you give them the right of way. Mining toxic sulfur, nicknamed the “Devil’s Gold” for a reason, is a tough way to make a living and the least you could do is to show them proper respect.

kawah ijen lake
Ijen’s sulfuric crater lake is fatally dangerous

Image credit: @arti_n_a.h

From the mine, you can also head over to the caldera lake. While the turquoise hot water might seem perfect for a bath, it’s highly acidic and you should always keep your distance, let alone try to dip your toes in.

Address: Paltuding Base Camp, Curah Macan, Tamansari, Licin, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68454
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Admission fee: Rp. 100,000 (~USD7.11) on weekdays and Rp. 150,000 (~USD10.67) on weekends for foreigners,
Rp. 15,000 (~USD1.67) on weekdays and Rp. 25,000 (~USD1.78) on weekends for locals


2. Take a stroll under De Djawatan Forest’s ancient, towering monkeypod trees

de djawatan forest
Being under De Djawatan’s towering monkeypod trees will make you feel as if you’ve just stepped inside a living Tolkien book

Image credit: @dianlestari9029

Roughly a one-hour drive away from the city center, De Djawatan Forest is another lovely spot in Banyuwangi if you’re looking to escape the tropical heat. The gigantic monkeypod trees, here called trembesi, provide plenty of shade from the sun whether you’re having a picnic or simply taking a stroll through the woods.

If you don’t feel like walking, you can always hitch a ride with one of the ATVs for rent inside the forest. Do be careful when riding one though, as the forest’s ATV routes are also popular among families and shutterbugs looking to capture the forest’s unique sights on foot.

de djawatan
There are some tables set up inside where you can unpack your lunch and have a picnic
Image credit: @_k.kio

Locals like to think of the forest and its towering trees as if it’s a film set straight out of the Lord of the Rings. While that comparison is a bit of a stretch, there’re still plenty of great sights to be found here and the rays of sunlight penetrating the forest’s thick canopies are guaranteed to melt your heart.

Address: Purwosari, Benculuk, Cluring, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68482
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 8AM-5PM | Closed Mondays
Admission fee: Rp. 5,000 (~USD0.36)

3. Swim with actual baby sharks at Bangsring Underwater

bangsring underwater
Bangsring Underwater pier with a floating house visible in the background

Image credit: @selaambarita

Started by an environmentally conscious community of fishermen, Bangsring Underwater is a marine conservatory area that is slowly becoming one of Banyuwangi’s most unique spots. This is probably the only time we’d recommend you to actually ditch the beach and head offshore as that’s where the fun begins.

bangsring underwater sharks
While the baby sharks are mostly harmless, their teeth are quite sharp and you have to treat them with care

Image credit: @abd_harizt

The Bangsring Floating House is visible from the shore and while it’s possible to swim all the way there if you’ve got the guts, we’d prefer the comfort of the boat. This is where they hold the shark conservatory program and you can partake in a shark-feeding activity or jump down directly and swim alongside the adorable baby sharks.

These baby sharks are those that had found their way into fishermen’s nets by mistake, and that are then brought here to be nursed back to health before being released into the wild once more.

bangsring underwater diver
The conservation area around the floating house now has a thriving population of anemones and clownfish

Image credit: @abdur.rosyd

Not to worry, they’re completely harmless but if you’d rather not take the chance, the surrounding water has plenty of equally cool sights to see. Dive to the bottom and you’ll find coral restoration projects all over the area with clownfish among the surrounding anemones.

Address: Jl. Situbondo – Banyuwangi, Bangsring, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur
Opening hours: 7AM-6PM, Daily
Admission fee: Rp. 5,000 (~USD0.36)

4. Take in the serenity of the uninhabited Tabuhan Island

tabuhan island
The diminutive Tabuhan Island

Image credit: Ririn Ambar

While there’s enough fun to be had in Bangsring Beach, those looking for a more pristine spot to relax on might want to look just a little further. Just 15 minutes away by boat is the uninhabited Tabuhan Island, although islet is the proper term, and we can hardly find a better beach to sit idly by on than this quiet enclave.

tabuhan island beach
Smoke from the Ijen Crater makes for a perfect backdrop for Tabuhan Island

Image credit: @shellansp

There’s little to do here on the island except to take in the serenity and it’s this almost nothingness that makes Tabuhan so appealing. Simply circling the beach and sitting down at the secluded island with the Ijen Crater visible across the horizon is a pleasure in and of itself.

tabuhan island snorkeling
As with Bangsring Underwater, the shallow and clear waters of Tabuhan are a prime spot for some snorkeling

Image credit: @maulsean

As it is an uninhabited island, there’s no place to get some food or relieve yourself on the island so you might want to make sure everything’s sorted out back at Bangsring Beach.

In the same vein, we recommend carrying a bag to store your trash in when going to Tabuhan – as with a lack of waste recycling facilities here, it’s up to us to maintain the island’s pristine beauty.

5. Pose with the dancer sculptures of Terracotta Gandrung Park

terracotta gandrung park
There are apparently a total of 1,000 terracotta dancers in the park if you’re in a counting mood

Image credit: @fit2_

While not quite at the scale of China’s famed Terracotta Army, the terracotta dancers in Terracotta Gandrung Park are definitely giving them a run for their money. Shaped after gandrung dancers, who practice the traditional Javanese dance popular in Banyuwangi, these sculptures imbue the place with an almost surreal beauty.

terracotta gandrung park dancers
From terracotta dancers to actual, living dancers, the park is committed to preserving the legacy of
Image credit: @gandrung.terakota

They start to make sense when you consider the park’s main goal though, which is to preserve the legacy of gandrung itself. To that end, the park regularly holds gandrung dance performances in the amphitheatre, surrounded by picturesque rice fields and the pleasantly chill atmosphere of the Licin neighborhood right at the foot of Mount Ijen.

terracotta gandrung park amphitheater
Even when there’s no performance scheduled, the park’s amphitheater is a nice place to visit to catch your breath
Image credit: @agrininda

As the park shares a space with the Jiwa Jawa Resort complex, it’s one of the few spots in Banyuwangi where you can expect relatively luxurious amenities. There are plenty of dining options to choose from and in contrast to some of Indonesia’s more rural attractions, you can relieve yourself with little worry in the park’s relatively well-maintained bathrooms.

Address: Krajan, Tamansari, Licin, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68454
Opening hours: Tue–Thu 8AM-4PM, Fri – Sun 7AM-5PM | Closed Mondays
Admission fee: Rp. 10,000 (~USD0.72)


6. Sip freshly roasted coffee on your hike of the Kalibendo Plantation

kalibendo coffee beans
In Kalibendo, coffee beans are roasted the old-fashioned way, using a wok.

Image credit: @ntshcw_

For those who enjoy the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans, Kalibendo Plantation might just tickle your fancy. Located just a short drive away from the Terracotta Gandrung Park, this agritourism destination also has a walking trail where you can sip fresh, homegrown coffee before enjoying the surrounding greenery.

kalibendo plantation visitor
The rubber plantation is just one of several Instagram-worthy spots along the walking trail.

Image credit: @ecotourismkalibendo

While the coffee’s pretty great, the main attraction in the plantation can be found further along into the trail, past the rows of rubber trees dotted around the plantation. Once you’ve come across the river you know you’re close as just upstream is the Kalibendo Waterfall that marks the midpoint of the trail.

kalibendo waterfall
The treehouse and nearby waterfall are the main reasons why you’d want to walk the trail

Image credit: @febriprras

At the waterfall, you can either wet your feet by dipping them into the clear spring water or take in the serenity from the treehouse right across. For hikers worn out after their midnight hike of Ijen, the relaxing walk and the sight of the tranquil waterfall might just be exactly what they need to soothe those weary bones.

kalibendo coffee workers
Inside the plant, coffee beans are filtered manually to separate the defective beans from the good ones.

Image credit: @ecotourismkalibendo

The trail eventually circles back to the processing plant where commodities from the plantation are further processed before being sold. The building itself dates back to the Dutch occupation era and you can still find artifacts left over from that time still preserved in the building.

kalibendo coffee 1911 cafe
Other than espressos, 1911 also serves manual brews for more discerning caffeine addicts.

Image credit: @ecotourismkalibendo

To cap off your visit, we recommend taking a load off at the 1911 Cafe just down the road from the processing plant. If you can’t get enough of the coffee, there are coffee beans here for sale for you to brew back at home or if you just want a little Banyuwangi souvenir.

Address: Dusun Kalibendo, Kampung Anyar, Glagah, Banyuwangi Regency, East Java 68432
Opening hours: 6.30AM-10.30PM, Daily
Admission fee: Rp. 5,000 (~USD0.36)


7. Explore the natural beauty of Alas Purwo National Park

alas purwo national park
Alas Purwo might have a bit of an infamous reputation but the tree-lined road just past the entrance is downright inviting
Image credit: @elyagstina

With a size of around two-thirds of Jakarta, Alas Purwo National Park and all it has to offer will take you an entire week to see. This nature reserve that’s a ninety-minute drive away to the south of the city center is so expansive that we recommend coming up with a detailed itinerary of all the places you want to check out beforehand.

sadengan savannah
Sadengan’s watch tower is the prime spot if you’re into animal-watching

Image credit: @dyahfqh

Just a few minutes’ drive from the entrance is the lovely Sadengan Savannah where you can spot dozens of species, including bulls, deer, and peacocks, roaming the lands. This is a prime spot for animal-watching, so bring your own binoculars to the watchtower here where you can see how the animals behave in their own habitat.

sadengan savannah picnic table
Alternatively, you could unpack your lunch at the picnic table downstairs

Image credit: @nrlshafira

It’s the atmosphere that makes the savannah special though as such landscapes are pretty rare in this side of the world. We’re more than happy to just unpack our lunch and take in the surroundings from the picnic tables set up around the tower, but the friendly park rangers are usually also available for a conversation or two if you’re looking for company.

jati papak mangrove trail
The wooden walkway of Jati Papak Mangrove Trail opens up dramatically to the ocean

Image credit: @walaitijudin

Lesser known but just as rewarding is the Jati Papak Mangrove Trail that snakes through a mangrove plantation and ends at a picturesque platform that opens up to the Bali Sea. The trail is an ideal place to get some off-the-grid downtime, but do be warned that there’s practically no shade along the scenic wooden walkway.

plengkung beach g-land surfing
The waves at G-Land can get to up 8 meters high

Image credit: @mamet.0

For those with a taste for extreme sports, Alas Purwo is also home to the Plengkung Beach, or as the surfing community calls it, G-Land. The beach has one of the best surf breaks in the world and you can find several surf camps set up along the southern end of the beach where you can swap stories with surfers looking to take a crack at the waves.

Do note that Alas Purwo has a reputation among some superstitious locals as a hotbed of mystical activities – so just to be on the safe side, we recommend finding some company and to mind your behavior once you’re inside the park.

Address: Jl. Kalipait, Gempoldampit, Kedungwungu, Tegaldlimo, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68484
Opening hours: Mon–Fri 7.30AM-4PM | Closed Sat and Sun
Admission fee: Rp. 150,000 (~USD10.68) for foreigners, Rp. 5,000 (~USD0.36) for locals

8. Take a road trip to Baluran National Park for its savannah

baluran national park
The sheer expansiveness of the Bekol Savannah is downright otherworldly

Image credit: @den_ardhy

It speaks to the charm of Banyuwangi that it has not only one but two savannas in the region, the other being the Bekol Savannah inside Baluran National Park. Locals dub the savannah as the country’s ‘little Africa’ and for once, that comparison is actually pretty spot-on.

baluran national park savannah
The savannah in Baluran stretches as far as the eye can see

Image credit: @dindaanovitap

Much more expansive with much less greenery compared to the one in Alas Purwo, the Bekol Savannah consistently draws in budding photographers and social media celebrities hoping to use the foreign-looking Baluran to glam up their portfolio – and we can hardly blame them.

baluran national park peacocks
During the dry season, the peacocks of Baluran go out to mate

Image credit: @ayoketamannasional_official

Because of the size, finding the herds of buffalo and deer that call the savanna home is actually harder here, with the monkeys being the only exception. Try to have a picnic under the tree by the side of the road and the monkeys can, and will, mess up your lunch plans. Always take care of your belongings when stepping out of your car.

bama beach
The Bama Beach coastline marks the end of Baluran National Park

Image credit: Pity Pitt

While it’s not as biologically diverse as Alas Purwo, with only the Bama Beach being the sole other point of interest, Baluran is easier to reach. It’s only a forty-five minute drive away from the city center and you’re unlikely to get lost inside, as there’s only a single road that stretches through the savanna before ending at the beach.

Address: Jl. Entry Taman Nasional Baluran, Randu Agung, Wonorejo, Kec. Banyuputih, Kabupaten Situbondo, Jawa Timur 68374
Opening hours: 8AM-4PM, Daily
Admission fee: Rp. 150,000 (~USD10.70) on weekdays and Rp. 225,000 (~USD16.05) on weekends for foreigners,
Rp. 15,000 (~USD1.07) on weekdays and Rp. 17,500 (~USD1.25) on weekends for locals

9. Catch the gorgeous sunset at Pulau Merah Beach

pulau merah beach
The view of the solitary hill of Red Island is what makes the beach unique

Image credit: Ikho Swie

Gorgeous sunset views in Banyuwangi, nicknamed the Sunrise of Java for a reason, might sound like an oxymoron but that’s exactly what Pulau Merah Beach has in store. Located to the south of the city, this beach is one of the few sunset-viewing spots in the region.

pulau merah beach sunset
As one of the few places in Banyuwangi where you can catch the sunset, Red Island Beach continues to be one of the most popular beaches in the region.

Image credit: Andrew Utomo

Relatively untouched by civilization, Pulau Merah Beach, or the Red Island Beach, is named after the hilly island directly across from the beach. While it’s now covered in trees, the island itself was once covered in red soil, hence the name.

During low tide, it is actually possible to wade through the shallow waters and reach the island by foot, like Banyuwangi’s very own Tanah Lot. Do note that the rocks around the area is home to a population of starfishes and sea urchins so make sure you’re wearing proper footwear before making the trip.

wedi ireng beach
The untapped beauty of Wedi Ireng Beach is one of Banyuwangi’s best-kept secrets

Image credit: @fridaulisr_

If you’ve got time, check out the more secluded Wedi Ireng Beach just a few kilometers to the west. It’s considerably more difficult to reach, accessible only by boat or a hike through the forest path, but the stunning vista is worth all the effort.

Address: Dusun Pancer, Sumberagung, Pesanggaran, Banyuwangi Regency, East Java 68488
Opening hours: 7AM-7PM, Daily
Admission fee: Rp. 10,000 (~USD0.71)

10. Help care for newly hatched baby turtles at Sukamade Beach

sukamade beach
In the morning after mama turtle lays her eggs, visitors get to release the newly-hatched baby turtles back into the ocean.

Image credit: @myvetlife

Reaching the far-off Sukamade Beach from Banyuwangi city center requires a roughly five-hour journey through rough terrain, including wading through several actual rivers. Only the toughest four-by-fours can survive the trip, so you’re going to have to rent one together with hiring a driver, but we promise you that the beach is worth all the hassle.

sukamade beach turtle
Watching the baby turtles scramble into the ocean with their tiny legs will melt your heart

Image credit: @emmanuel.kido

This stretch of sand inside the Meru Betiri National Park is home to the country’s premier turtle conservation program. At peak season from November to March, plenty of turtles make their way to the shore at night to lay eggs and it’s the park rangers’ duty to safeguard the eggs from predators by moving them to the park’s hatchery.

sukamade beach turtles
If you’d like, you can also drop by the park’s turtle hatchery and learn more about the conservation program from the on-site rangers.

Image credit: @myvetlife

The next morning, the newly hatched baby turtles are released back into the ocean and you can observe these two magical experiences firsthand. The joy that comes from seeing the adorable baby turtles as they race to the ocean is enough to melt even the most cynical among us.

green bay beach near sukamade
Green Bay Beach is so secluded that it can sometimes feel like your very own private beach

Image credit: @ririh.zikriah

Accommodation around the beach is pretty basic but it’s the experience, not the luxury, you’re here for after all. As reaching the area takes quite a bit of an effort, a visit to Sukamade is usually bundled together with a short trip to the hidden, untouched paradise of Green Bay Beach to the east of Sukamade.

Do note that we highly recommend booking a tour if you’re looking to visit Sukamade as the area is isolated from civilization. There’s barely any cell phone reception in the area and unless you have an inside line to the rangers, sorting out your visit and finding accommodation in the area require plenty of prior planning.

Address: Jln. Sukamade No. 99, Dusun Sukamande, Sarongan, Pesanggaran, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68488
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Admission fee: Rp. 20,000 (~USD1.43) for entry to the national park

11. See the many, many festivals of Banyuwangi

gandrung sewu festival
The scale of 1,000 gandrung dancers is a bit hard to wrap around your head until you’re staring at them directly

Image credit: @illirahotelbanyuwangi

There’s never a bad time to visit Banyuwangi but if you’re looking to get the most out of your stay, try to coincide your visit with the excess of annual festivals in the region. The headliners are the Gandrung Sewu Festival and the Banyuwangi Ethno Carnival but with hundreds held throughout the year, you’re going to be spoilt for choice.

Gandrung Sewu translates to ‘a thousand gandrung’ and during the event, thousands of gandrung dancers flock to Banyuwangi’s Boom Beach to perform. The dancers are usually accompanied by a special public performance, which portrays the various struggles of the people of Banyuwangi against the Dutch colonials in the past.

banyuwangi ethno carnival
The theme for 2019’s Carnival was the ancient Kingdom of Blambangan, known for their nautical prowess and represented with ship motifs in performers’ costumes.

Image credit: @annisabanyuwangi

The Banyuwangi Ethno Carnival, meanwhile, is the region’s take on the famed Rio Carnival where participants take to the streets in elaborately colorful costumes. With unique themes in place each year, no two festivals will ever be the same but the level of fabulousness thankfully remains constant throughout.

– What to eat in Banyuwangi –

1. Rujak Soto – spicy fruit salad mixed with beef soup

rujak soto
Rujak Soto Losari’s take on the dish uses
soto babat, where beef is mixed in with babat, a local treat made of cow innards
Image credit: Puji Maryono

For those well-versed in the world of Indonesian cuisine, the union of the spicy fruit salad rujak and the soup-based dish soto is sure to raise eyebrows. But hear us out first because as unconventional as it might seem, Banyuwangi’s rujak soto is much more than the sum of its parts.

Essentially, the dish uses rujak mixed with lontong rice cakes as a base, which is then drowned in broth from the soto daging, or beef soto. The end result leaves diners with a dizzying mix of rujak’s fresh spiciness and the savory taste of the soto and it’s this explosion of flavor that has tourists coming back for more.

In Banyuwangi, it is considered tradition to pair rujak soto with a refreshing glass of es temulawak, an iced drink made from the extract of Javanese ginger. These days, you can find rujak soto stalls all over the city but the one shop locals regularly flock to is the Rujak Soto Losari just off the street of the same name.

Address: Jln.Sukamade No.99, Dusun Sukamande, Sarongan, Pesanggaran, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68488
Opening hours: 9AM-3PM, Daily
Price range: Rp. 20,000-Rp. 25,000 (~USD1.43-USD1.78)

2. Pecel Rawon – vegetable salad in peanut sauce mixed with a different beef soup

pecel rawon
Banyuwangi’s Pecel Rawon is served with rice and is a crowd favorite for both breakfast and lunch

Image credit: @endahdwi.ekowati

The Ijen Crater isn’t the only kind of adventure you’ll have in Banyuwangi as their cuisine is just as daring, with the region known for their eclectic fusion dishes. Luckily for us, they’re two for two so far because their pecel rawon, a union of the Indonesian salad pecel and the black beef soup rawon, is another winner.

Like before, the dish uses pecel as a base which is then mixed with rawon, the beef soup that gets its signature dark colour from the black nut seasoning known as kluwek. The resulting combo is then served with additional side dishes ranging from salted duck egg to rempeyek kacang, or Javanese nut crackers, adding much needed crunchiness to the dish.

Usually paired with a plate of rice, pecel rawon has an even more eclectic flavor profile with spiciness, saltiness, and just a hint of sweetness of the rawon mixed all over. If you’re looking to have a taste, locals typically name Rumah Makan Pecel Ayu as the best warung pecel in town.

Address: Jl. Adi Sucipto No.76, Sobo, Kec. Banyuwangi, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68418
Opening hours: 6.30AM-8.30PM, Daily
Price range: Rp. 15,000-Rp. 25,000 (~USD1.07-~USD1.78)

3. Sego Tempong – mixed rice dish with a devilishly spicy chili sauce

sego tempong
Here, the
sego tempong is served with tempeh, cuttlefish, and fried chicken
Image credit: @hushuscorona

In Javanese, the word sego means ‘rice’ while tempong is the local slang for ‘to slap’ and sego tempong is named so because eating one feels like being slapped in the face. This is courtesy of the chilli sauce used in the dish and as Indonesians never mess around when it comes to their sambal, you know the name means business.

The dish comes from the Osing people of Banyuwangi and typically consists of rice, boiled vegetables, sambal, and as many side dishes as you like. Each sego tempong stall usually has its own recipe for the sambal with the only common theme being just how spicy they are.

One of the more well-known variations comes from Sego Tempong Mbok Wah, which adds a wrinkled breed of tomato known as ranti with the chili sauce for a touch of freshness. If this is your first time, ask for the chili sauce to be served on a separate plate or we won’t be held responsible for what it’ll do to your bowels.

Address: Jl. Gembrung No.220, Lingkungan Watu Ulo R, Bakungan, Glagah, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68431
Opening hours: 6.30AM-8.30PM, Daily
Price range: Rp. 20,000-Rp. 25,000 (~USD1.43-~USD1.78)

4. Ayam Pedas – grilled chicken marinated in spiced coconut milk broth

ayam pedas
For first-timers, have the Ayam Pedas in broth and rice on separate plates

Image credit: @ifnu.bima

If your taste buds still haven’t been burned off by Mbok Wah’s plate of sego tempong, why not come back for round two with the region’s ayam pedas? The name is Indonesian for spicy chicken and the dish is exactly what it says on the tin.

The chicken is grilled first before being marinated in spiced coconut milk for hours and it’s this latter process that allows all the spice to soak all the way through the chicken’s bones. It is then served together with the broth like a juiced-up, extra-hot variation of the Indonesian staple opor ayam.

ayam pedas santan
This marinating process in the spiced coconut milk, known as
santan, is how Ayam Pedas earns its name
Image credit: @ritmahalim.instafood

Today, there are plenty of warungs serving their own take of the dish but our pick still goes to the OG Ayam Pedas Haji Siti Ratinem. Having been around since the 70s, this family business’ torch has now been picked up by the younger generation but luckily, the ayam pedas is just as good, and as gloriously spicy, as ever.

Address: Dusun Krajan, Genteng Kulon, Genteng, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68465
Opening hours: 12AM-3AM, 4PM-12AM, Daily
Price range: Rp. 35,000-Rp. 50,000 (~USD2.50-USD3.57)

5. Tahu Walik – inside-out tofu filled with meat served with sambal petis

tahu walik
The sambal petis is just as important a part of the dish as the tofu itself

Image credit: @tahuwalik_osing

For Indonesians, gorengan, or fritters, aren’t just food, but a way of life. Plenty of regions have their own takes on gorengan and for the people of Banyuwangi, tahu walik is what they choose to bring to the calorie-filled table.

Tahu walik is a slang term for tahu dibalik which literally translates to inside-out tofu and refers to how the food is prepared. The tofu is first sliced open and turned inside out before being stuffed with a chicken and vegetable filing. It is then deep-fried to golden, crispy perfection before being served with a side of sambal petis.

In Banyuwangi’s cool climate, tahu walik stalls usually open past sunset, catering for locals looking for a warm evening snack. You can find them being served all over the city but the gold standard is said to be Tahu Walik Ibu Atun, also a favored late-night haunt for locals.

Address: Jl. Letjen Di. Panjaitan No.49, Kampungmandar, Lateng, Kec. Banyuwangi, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68412
Opening hours: 4PM-10PM, Daily
Price range: Rp. 12,000-Rp. 30,000 (~USD0.86-~USD2.14)

– Where to stay in Banyuwangi –

1. Dialoog Banyuwangi – luxurious beachfront hotel with an open-air restaurant

dialoog banyuwangi resort
Once you’re done exploring the region, Dialoog’s infinity pool is the perfect place to unwind

Image credit: @phannoviyanti

Banyuwangi might not be as well-developed as Bali just yet but in terms of luxurious accommodations, the region isn’t that far behind. The beachfront hotel Dialoog Banyuwangi is proof of that, with amenities such as a gym, a spa, and a sublime infinity pool as you’d expect from a contemporary luxurious property.

dialoog banyuwangi resort cabana
Dialoog’s romantic seaside cabana has borne witness to several wedding ceremonies

Image credit: @dialoogbanyuwangi

What makes Dialoog so dear to our hearts though is the poolside, open-air Casabanyu Restaurant where the food is just as stimulating as the view. Right next to the restaurant sits the hotel’s romantic cabana where we imagine plenty of ‘I do’s have been declared throughout the years.

dialoog banyuwangi resort room
The Suite room has a private balcony for you to soak in Banyuwangi’s famed sunrise

Image credit: Agoda/Dialoog Banyuwangi

The Deluxe King Room starts at Rp. 1,650,000 (~USD117.71) and comes with a king size bed and a private balcony with a daybed. For couples on a romantic getaway, we recommend splurging on the Suite (Rp. 2,050,000, ~USD146.25) with scenic ocean views, a lounge area, and of course, a bathtub.

Address: Jalan Yos Sudarso, Klatak, Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68421
Telephone: 333 2800 999

2. Jiwa Jawa Ijen – serene abode at the foot of Mount Ijen

jiwa jawa ijen
After your hike of Ijen Crater, this breakfast view awaits at Jiwa Jawa Ijen’s Belanga Restaurant

Image credit:

Before and after your hike to the Ijen Crater, you’d want to make sure you’re well-rested and there’s no better place for that than the Jiwa Jawa Ijen resort. Located in Licin at the foot of Mount Ijen, the serene greenery surrounding the resort is just what you need to bookend your overnight trip to the crater.

galeri java banana ijen
The art gallery in the resort has a permanent photography exhibition showcasing Banyuwangi

Image credit: @javabananaijen

Even if you don’t feel like staying put, there are plenty of activities to be found nearby, from the Terracotta Gandrung Park next door to the Kalibendo Plantation just minutes away. The resort itself houses a small art gallery that houses a photography exhibit showcasing the Ijen Crater and the cultures of Banyuwangi.

jiwa jawa ijen room
The Deluxe Room, here with a pair of twin beds

Image credit: Agoda

The Deluxe Room starts at Rp. 1,250,000 (~USD89.17), available with a king-sized bed or a pair of twin beds. For larger groups, we recommend the two-story Family Studio Room (Rp. 4,700,000, ~USD335.29) with a maximum of four occupants, coming with a private balcony and a luxurious round bathtub.

Address: Jalan Blimbing Sari, Desa Taman Sari, Licin, Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68454
Telephone: 0811 303 818

3. Villa So Long Banyuwangi – beachfront cottages designed after Osing’s traditional houses

villa so long banyuwangi
The cottage’s modest, Osing-influenced facade hides a luxurious interior

Image credit: @villasolongbanyuwangi

Designed in the style of the traditional house of the Osing people, with a luxurious interior, Villa So Long Banyuwangi is the very definition of modern meets traditional. With coconut trees all around and the gentle waves of the Bali Strait directly outside, the property ranks pretty high on our tranquility quotient too, perfect for a quiet beach getaway.

villa so long banyuwangi yoga
The Sunrise Yoga sessions are held every Sunday morning

Image credit: @villasolongbanyuwangi

Bean bags and hammocks are strewn across the complex so when you’re done exploring the region, take an entire day off just to lazily lounge by the beach. We do recommend you waking up early for the sunrise though, especially on Sundays when So Long’s weekly early morning yoga classes are in session.

villa so long banyuwangi room
The Superior Room comes with a lounger on the small terrace outside

Image credit: @villasolongbanyuwangi

The basic Superior Room starts at Rp. 990,000 (~USD70.63) with a queen-size bed and a private lounger outside. If you’re looking to wake up with the sunlight streaming through the window, check out the Premier Cottage Ocean (Rp. 1,650,000 (~USD117.71) which as the name suggests, directly faces the ocean to the east.

Address: Klatak, Kalipuro, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68421
Telephone: 333 446 6340

4. Aston Banyuwangi Hotel & Conference Center – right in the heart of the city

aston banyuwangi
The hotel’s swimming pool sits by the restaurant, ideal if you prefer to have a poolside dining session

Image credit: Aston Hotels International

For travelers looking for easier access to all of the region’s attractions, Aston Banyuwangi’s strategic location near the city center is exactly what you need. While a quiet, remote getaway is all well and good, there is pleasure in knowing that there’re always plenty of dining options and minimarts within walking distance.

aston banyuwangi room
All rooms come with a mural depicting the local culture

Image credit: Aston Hotels International

The Superior Room starts at Rp. 450,000 (~USD32.10), available with a king-size bed or a pair of twin beds. As is customary with modern hotels, there’s a swimming pool, a spa, and even a gelato bar for when you feel like taking a break from Banyuwangi’s spicy cuisine.

Address: Jalan Brawijaya, Mojopanggung, Giri, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68425
Telephone: 333 338 3192

5. Sahid Osing Kemiren Banyuwangi – modern accommodation inside a traditional village

sahid osing kemiren banyuwangi
The hotel’s garden villas are surrounded by lush greenery

Image credit: @meitriana5

Located inside the Osing Kemiren Village, you’re never too far away from the local culture when staying in Sahid Osing Kemiren Banyuwangi. Every Sunday, the village holds a morning market where you can try out traditional Osing cuisine such as kucur cakes made from fried rice flour and brown sugar.

osing village
The Osing Village morning market is just a couple minutes away by foot from the hotel

Image credit: @pasarkampoengosing

Once you’ve done tasting the local flavor, burn off the extra calories by walking through the hotel’s forest-like footpaths. We especially like how despite the modern amenities, the hotel manages to retain its serene, village-like natural atmosphere, blending in perfectly with the surrounding rice fields.

sahid osing kemiren banyuwangi room
The Deluxe Room has a view of the surrounding rice fields

Image credit: @sahidosingbanyuwangi

The basic Deluxe Room starts at Rp. 300,000 (~USD21.40) available with a double bed or a pair of twin beds. We highly recommend stepping up to the Suite Villa (Rp. 400,000, ~USD28.54) though – with a bathtub inside your very own private villa, where you can have your breakfast delivered straight to your room if you want to.

Address: Desa Kemiren, Kecamatan Glagah, RT 02 RW 02 Ds Krajan, Kabupaten Banyuwangi. Jawa Timur 68454
Telephone: 333 338 3192

6. Backpacker Kawah Ijen – meeting ground for Ijen Crater hikers

backpacker kawah ijen
The hostel’s communal area is for swapping stories and recommendations with other hikers

Image credit: @backpackerkawahijen

For those simply looking for a place to crash and swap stories with fellow like-minded hikers, head for Backpacker Kawah Ijen. Foreign and local hikers alike traffick the hostel and the English-speaking staff can also arrange your trip to the Ijen Crater or other places of interest in the region.

backpacker kawah ijen room
The shared dorms are basic but perfectly comfortable

Image credit: @backpackerkawahijen

Shared room Dorm Beds start at Rp. 70,000 (~USD4.99) while a Private Room for Two starts at Rp. 150,000 (~USD10.70). Do note that aircons are only available in Private Rooms and there’s no hot water in the showers, but those are superfluous amenities we’re more than happy to give up in exchange for the price.

Address: Jl. K.H. Agus Salim No.3A, Sobo, Kec. Banyuwangi, Kabupaten Banyuwangi, Jawa Timur 68148
Telephone: 0813 5843 1145

Where to eat, stay, and things to do in Banyuwangi

With highly diverse attractions ranging from a crater with unique blue flames to an African-like savannah, Banyuwangi’s appeal deserves to be spoken in the same breath as Bali’s.

The next time you’re hankering to go on another trip to Bali for the umpteenth time, try to make time to hop across the strait to its less-explored neighbor Banyuwangi too.

For more interesting places to visit in Indonesia, check out these stories:

Cover image adapted from @den_ardhy, @jo_hantz, and @shellansp

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