Batu is a city in East Java.
The cool, fresh hill town of Batu was a retreat for the Dutch in colonial days. Similarly, these days wealthy local business people from Surabaya and Malang have weekend houses up here whilst the less fortunate visit on a more casual basis. The area is also a major agricultural centre with apple orchards everywhere and a large number of orchid nurseries.
Until 2001, Batu was administratively part of Malang but since that time it has been a municipal town in its own right.
Batu and the nearby town of Selecta (specifically constructed as a tourism venue in 1928) sit on the slopes of Mount Welirang and Mount Arjuna (Gunung Welirang and Arjuna) about 20 km to the west of Malang. Batu, Selecta and the surrounding villages make for a charming place with much that will appeal to visitors and a couple of days exploring this beautiful area is a worthy part of any vist to Java.
The Batu area is at 800 to 1,100 metres so it is pleasantly cool here compared to lowland East Java. Typical day time temperatures are 17 to 20 °C. Night-time temperatures on the high peaks at 3,000m+ are regularly as low as 3 to 4 °C.
It is an easy 30 minute drive from Malang to Batu.
Regular shuttle buses and bemos ply the route, departing from Malang's Landung Sari bus terminal.
The better hotels in the area are open to arranging to collect you from Malang. If you are not driving yourself, try to get this as part of your accommodation package.
A word of warning that it does get very crowded in Batu at weekends and during school holidays with trippers from Malang and Surabaya. Avoid those periods if at all possible.
The area lends itself very well to walking. There are regular local bemo services and all of the better hotels offer tours and/or private transport to the main sights.
Climb Mount Arjuna and Mount Welirang. This is a tough 3 day expedition for experienced trekkers only. These two mountains combine to form a volcanic massif. Dormant Arjuna is at 3,338 m and active Welirang at 3,156m and the two are joined by huge saddle ridge. There are several ways to approach the trek but the best start point is at Selecta, 4 km north of Batu. You will need a guide and these are best found in Selecta village. If you are staying in Batu your hotel may also be able to help with connecting you to a good guide. Plan for two nights on the mountains in temperatures which can approach freezing. There is no need to cart tents as there are simple hut shelters used by the local sulphur workers and all guides will know the locations. You will need a warm sleeping bag and appropriate clothing though.
The lower slopes are lush but this gives way to a high terrain which more recalls the Andes or Tibet than tropical Indonesia! The same is true of the basic shelters in which you will be sleeping. The route from Selecta tackles Arjuna first and the views from the top are stunning - the whole volcanic spine of East Java stretches before you. The following day, Welirang offers similar magnificence with the added thrill of a steaming, sulphurous active crater. Be very careful on Welirang and take no risks - this Mountain is classed as a very active A-type by geologists. This is a very rewarding trek with views as good, if not better, than from any of Java's volcanic peaks.
Walk. The area in and around Batu and Selecta is very scenic indeed and lends itself well to casual walking as well as more strenuous treks.
Eat apples. They are everywhere and you can hardly not.
Apples again. This is the nation's major apple producing centre and aside from the delicious fresh produce, try:
There are good quality restaurants attached to all of the main hotels.
Unsurprisingly, there are several local variations on Apple juice, both pure and laced with different syrups.
There are a lot of quite highly priced hotels in Batu these days which were set up to cater for the wealthy local weekend market. If you are visiting Batu on a weekday outside of the school holiday season you can very likely get a nice deal at one of these higher end hotels.
Simpler budget accommodation is also available and if you visit on weekdays without a reservation you will almost certainly find plenty of available options.