Most suggested itineraries for Java, Indonesia, completely skip over Pangandaran. This is such a big mistake!
Not only is Pangandaran a chilled out place to hang out for a couple of days, but one of the most spectacularly beautiful sights of Indonesia can be found not far from here.
Green Canyon and Green Valley in Pangandaran absolutely HAVE to make it onto your Java, Indonesia itinerary.
In the 4 months we’ve been on the road so far, the Green Valley and Green Canyon in Pangandaran has been our absolute favourite day trip by far!
I will preempt this by saying it would be quite difficult to do this trip independently.
While you can no doubt rent a scooter and follow Google Maps, having a local guide take you around takes the stress out of it and allows you to enjoy the day fully.
We had also looked at trying to book a tour before we arrived but found that there weren’t really any to be found online.
Rest assured, there are plenty of Green Valley and/or Green Canyon tour options in Pangandaran once you get there. Just ask at your hotel and they’ll help to organise a trip for you.
A final note before we jump into the details. We hadn’t realised this but Green Canyon and Green Valley are two separate locations. The names might sound similar but they are not in any way linked and are actually about an hour’s drive from each other.
My recommendation is that you include both the Green Canyon and the Green Valley in your day trip from Pangandaran. You will be so happy you did!
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How To Get To Pangandaran
Pangandaran is located in West Java province, on the south coast of the island. It is approximately 355km from Jakarta and 245km from Yogyakarta.
I’ll admit that it isn’t easy to find a lot of information about public buses online, and so it’s not super straight-forward to get to Pangandaran. Maybe this is why so many people skip it altogether.
The cheapest way to get to Pangandaran is by bus. Some information can be found on the Jadwalbis website although it is only available in Indonesian (Top Tip: Use Chrome and let Google translate the page for you!)
We headed to Pangandaran from Jakarta and caught the bus from Rambutan bus terminal in south-east Jakarta. Really the only way to get to Rambutan from central Jakarta is by Grab (approx Rp 90,000).
Rambutan bus terminal is messy at best and I’m not sure exactly what the “normal” process is here 😅A lot of people will ask you where you’re going and it’s all a bit hectic. But, simply say Pangandran and people will point you in the right direction. The bonus is that buses seem (for the most part) to have big signs on their windscreens indicating where they’re going and via what route so you’re unlikely to get on the wrong bus!
As luck would have it, a bus was just leaving as we got to the bus station and we were able to get right on it (around 10:30am).
We went with Merdeka – a blue bus with the company name in yellow.
The cost was Rp 100,000 per person, and the total journey took about 9 hours.
There is only a very short break to grab some food and make a toilet stop, so I’d suggest you bring some food with you or buy some off the many vendors that will be jumping on and off the bus as it leaves Jakarta.
The other alternative is to catch the train from Jakarta Gambir station to Banjar and then catch a bus the rest of the way (about another hour, depending on traffic). You can find train ticket information online at tiket.com but personally, I found it more relaxing to simply get on one bus and stay on it for the duration. It is definitely much cheaper although of course the train is likely more comfortable.
Where To Stay In Pangandaran
We initially booked just one night at Ahlen Pangandaran. Based on experience, we tend to just book a night or two in a new place and see whether or not we like it there before committing to more.
In the end, we stayed at Ahlen for 4 nights.
We felt so welcome there! The staff went above and beyond for us on multiple occasions, including giving us a lift to the bus station on the back of two scooters on our last morning, saving us a 20 minute walk with heavy packs!
The room was large (although they did give us a complimentary upgrade!) and breakfast was included which is always a bonus.
The other benefit of staying at Ahlen is that we met our tour guide to-be, Purnama, there. He works with Ahlen and besides taking tourists on day trips, he also runs a surf school and is happy to be the go-between since the staff at Ahlen don’t speak a lot of English.
When To Visit Green Canyon and Green Valley Pangandaran
Although it was low season when we visited, Purnama still recommended going to Green Valley and Green Canyon on a weekday to avoid the crowds. It might be low season when it comes to Western tourists, but Indonesian tourists still flock here on weekends.
We took his advice and are so glad we did! We really felt like we were (almost) the only ones there!
Going on a private trip is a bit of a splurge for us. Obviously we are being really budget conscious in order to make our money last for the two years we’ve given ourselves to travel around South East Asia. This often means cheap and cheerful accommodations and rice three times a day 😅
We’ve also had our fair share of average (at best) group tours. So, when Purnama offered us a private tour for not much more than a group tour, we decided to go for it!
All I can say is Wow!! We are SO happy we did!
If you’re looking to go on a private tour like we did, contact Purnama on WhatsApp (+62 813 1376 4535) and let him know I sent you – I promise you won’t regret it!
Green Valley And Green Canyon Pangandaran Day Trip Cost:
We paid a total of IDR1,200,000 for the two of us (approx €80).
- A full day out (9am – 5pm) to visit Green Canyon and Green Valley, Pangandaran
- Scooter rental, helmets and fuel
- Entrance fees to Green Valley and Green Canyon
- Boat transfers into Green Canyon (20 minute long-tail boat ride)
- People to look after your stuff while you’re swimming and exploring, as well as take photos and videos for you!
- Little extras like visiting local krupuk and tempe producers as well as a turtle sanctuary
Note: You can opt to go by car instead if you prefer, but I’d recommend scooters if you’re at all comfortable with driving them (I tend to let Omer do the driving – he’s more than happy to and it allows me to soak in the scenery as the passenger on the back!) Scooters allow you to go on smaller roads meaning you’ll see more of the true local countryside. Plus, you’ll feel like royalty driving through small villages – absolutely everyone will wave at you! 😆
Lunch – Purnama organised a delicious local lunch for us for after our swim at Green Valley. This included rice, roasted chicken, tempe, tofu, vegetables, krupuk and tea. We paid IDR 75,000 in total.
Gratuities – We made a small donation at the turtle sanctuary as it is a voluntary organisation.
We also tipped Purnama at the end of the tour as we had such an amazing day. (Let me tell you that this means we had a truly incredible day!! Living in Ireland, we’re not used to tipping and rarely do so unless something really stands out. We’ll be generous when we do tip but it has to be something really special). Of course, all of this is entirely up to you!
Green Canyon And Green Valley Tour Overview
- 9am – We left Ahlen Pangandaran after we’d enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Purnama went on one scooter and we shared the other with Omer driving and me on the back.
- 9:30am – Our first stop was at a family run local tempe (tofu variation) producer followed by a krupuk (prawn cracker) producer. These were unexpected additions but a lovely insight into local life that we would never normally have experienced. Following these stops, we drove through the countryside and rice fields, stopping occasionally for photo opportunities. Although the fields were mostly brown due to dry season, it was still beautiful!
- 11am – Arrival Green Valley. We had a short coffee break here before heading into Green Valley, where we spent about an hour and a half enjoying the spectacular surroundings
- 12:30pm – A delicious lunch at a local warung (small local restaurant)
- 1:30pm – Back on the scooters headed towards Green Canyon
- 2.30pm – A boat took us down the river to Green Canyon and again we spent about an hour and a half there. Although this might not sound all that long, we never felt rushed at all.
- 4pm – Departure from Green Canyon
- 4.30pm – Final stop at turtle sanctuary about half an hour before returning back to Pangandaran
- 5pm – Return to Ahlen Pangandaran
Green Valley – Citumang
We arrived at Citumang Green Valley around 11am. Just in time for a short coffee break!
From the entrance to Green Valley, it’s a short (10 or so minute) walk to river.
We stopped off at a fish pond first, to “enjoy” (?!) some fish therapy. This basically meant having our feet nibbled at by small fish! Such an odd sensation!! Not sore but I’m super ticklish on my feet so it was hard to let them…
After this we jumped into the river which was cool but actually not as cold as I had expected (=dreaded!)
There are some fish in the water here too, but not nearly as many as in the pond. I’m actually glad we had the pond experience first though, so I knew what was having a go at my feet! Ha! 😬
We had a quick explore in the cave that’s just there before slowly making our way downstream. There’s the opportunity to do a few jumps into the river from varying heights if you’re willing and able. Please be careful though!!
The water is simply spectacular.
It is so clear and has the most amazingly vivid turquoise green colour! It felt like another world!
I’m so glad my iPhone 7 is waterproof so I was able to swim with it and take photos in the river although Purnama had organised a guy to carry our stuff for us who was also more than happy to snap away some pictures for us and video our jumping attempts.
If you have a waterproof camera, make sure you bring it along!
We spent a good amount of time lazing in the cool river, swimming downstream until we came back to where we had parked the scooters.
Green Canyon – Cukang Taneuh
After lunch we drove on to Green Canyon – Cukang Taneuh.
As I mentioned, and contrary to what we initially thought, Green Valley and Green Canyon are not one and the same. They are actually not that close to each other at all. In fact, they’re not even part of the same river system! Make sure you get the opportunity to visit both.
On arrival, Purnama organised a boat transfer up river for us and we were on our way before long.
There were some other people around but we had our own private boat. Apparently, Purnama had called ahead to check whether it was busy or not, to make sure we weren’t stuck in the midst of a big tour. We practically had the place to ourselves once again!
Green Canyon is quite different to Green Valley but no less beautiful.
The 3km stretch of river narrows as it nears the cave-like entrance, and you might spot a monitor lizard or two swimming in the cool water.
Towards the end of your long-tail boat journey, you’ll be sandwiched between high cliff faces with beautiful stalagmite and stalactite formations.
As you climb over the rocks into the canyon, water drips down the side creating the illusion of rain. Depending on what time of day you arrive, the sun will stream through creating beautiful rainbows.
You’ll be able to swim up the canyon a bit, although there is plenty of wading too! Luckily it is easy to see where you’re stepping in the crystal clear turquoise water.
Once again the water is cool but not too cold.
If you’re game, you can clamber up a high rock formation and jump 7 or so metres into the water below!
A bit of an adrenalin rush but please be careful and obviously only do this if you feel comfortable! Make sure you listen to your guide about how to climb up the rock and where to jump into the river.
Note: Green Canyon only opens from 1pm on Fridays, after Friday prayers (Java is primarily Muslim). All other days it is open between 7am and 5pm.
What To Wear/Bring To Green Valley & Green Canyon
- Non restrictive clothes that you can easily change in and out of
- Swimwear! (I’d suggest simply wearing this under your clothes – you’ll dry up quick enough in the Indonesian heat)
- Plenty of water
- Dry bag to put your things into while you swim
- Camera! A waterproof one if you have it, to allow you to take photos whilst swimming
- Some money for lunch and gratuities
Important Things To Note
- If you’re not a swimmer, you can borrow life vests for the swims so you can still enjoy the trip to the fullest. Also, both Green Valley and Green Canyon have ropes stretched through the river in the deeper parts so you can pull yourself along if you’re not super confident.
- Make sure you’re comfortable on a scooter before you commit to doing a day trip on one! Also, you might want to double check with your insurance that you’re covered in case of any mishaps on the bike.
- There are tour packages from Pangandaran to the Green Canyon only, which will allow you to see more of the canyon than we did. But, it would mean that you miss out on Green Valley, which you definitely don’t want to do!
The Green Canyon and Green Valley in Pangandaran are very different to each other and each one is indescribably beautiful in its own regard.
Make sure you get a tour that will take you to both!
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