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Visit These 8 Old Towns in Indonesia for a Vintage Atmosphere

by Vina Krisna Yanti
Old Town in Indonesia

It’s always great to feel a new vibe everytime you visit a place. And if you are looking for a new atmosphere for a wonderful holiday, then Indonesia offers a list of old towns that you can visit for a vintage, oldies, and retro atmosphere.

Looking back to the fact that Indonesia was colonialized before its independence in 1945, it only makes sense that there are some areas that still have the buildings with the architectural influence from the colonials era. These areas are known as old towns or kota tua in Bahasa Indonesia.

The old towns offer a new way to enjoy the beauty of Indonesia, where you can sense a vintage, retro, oldies atmosphere from the buildings in the areas. Amazingly, there are many old towns that are still well-preserved in Indonesia.

If you are curious of how they look like, here is a list of 8 old towns to visit in Indonesia for a vintage atmosphere.

1. Medan Old Town

Medan Old Town

The old town in Medan, North Sumatra offers a sense of the life back in the colonial era. The region in Medan that has many vintage, oldies atmosphere is Kesawan. There are some buildings that still stand firmly and there are even some that can still function properly.

One of the building that still functions properly and is literally used for business is London Sumatra building in Kesawan area. The building was build in 1906 and is called so since it has western architectural influence but is located in Sumatra, so it goes as London Sumatra building.

London Sumatra was the first 5 floors building that had a lift. It is now used as an office under the name of London Sumatra Plantation Company. Another building is the house of Chong A Fie, a Chinese entrepreneur back in the era.

If you want to know more about the historical sides of Indonesia in Medan, then you can check these Medan historical sites attractions.

2. Padang Old Town, West Sumatra

Padang Old Town

This old town area is locally known as Padang Lama, meaning that it is an old version of Padang. Padang was used as the center of plantation during the colonial era. There are many picturesque vintage, oldies buildings that you can find in the area.

Some buildings are the governmental offices used by the Dutch in organizing their colonial works, while others are cafes that feature vintage and retro concepts. Visiting this old town will give you a vivid sense of how the life was back in the colonial era.

3. Ampenan Old Town, Mataram

Ampenan Old Town

Ampenan Old Town is full of old European nuance with buildings decorated in oldies and vintage styles. This makes the old town becomes a great spot for any photography sessions including pre-wedding session.

The buildings in the area are standing firmly despite the years they have been through. There are many other things that can accomodate your holiday here from wide culinary selection to traditional transportation that will ease your mobility.

4. Hongkong Market, Singkawang

Hongkong Market, Singkawang

Different from most of the old towns in this list that showcase the architecture of the Dutch colonial era, the buildings in Hongkong Market, Singkawang, West Kalimantan are identical to the Chinese atmosphere years ago. The buildings are shops used by immigrant Chinese sellers.

The buildings are standing firmly up to this day and the most iconic building among all is Tri Dharma Bumi Raya Temple used by Buddhist to pray, that is located in the middle of the town. Another iconic building is the old house of Tjhia family which portrays Chinese vintage architecture.

5. Asia Afrika Street and Braga Area, Bandung, West Java

Bandung Old Town

Bandung, West Java, is a region in Indonesia that has many historical stories related to Indonesia’s independence. The old town area in Bandung is around Asia Afrika Street and Braga, where the important event of the Asia-African Conference was held on 18-24 April 1955.

It was an important event that indicates the rise of Indonesian foreign policy in formulating common concerns of how colonialized countries can fight for their independence, which is stated in Dasasila Bandung, the product of the conference. Through this conference, Indonesia could take parts in promoting world peace.

You can walk along the street and find all the buildings that are decorated in vintage and retro atmosphere. The area is now used as shopping and culinary destination with the retro and vintage style as the main attraction. This makes the area becomes a must-visit destination if you want to feel something new from your holiday.

6. Semarang Old Town, Central Java

Semarang Old Town

The vintage slash oldies atmosphere offered by Semarang Old Town is one of the reasons why you should visit Semarang. The icon of Semarang Old Town is Blenduk Church which has unique achitecture where the dome is designed like the one in mosque.

There are many other buildings which have unique vintage architecture. There are also cafes with vintage vibes spreading over several locations, which adds more vintage atmosphere towards the old town.

For a more vintage, oldies experience, you can also visit Lawang Sewu as one of the best museums in Semarang. Lawang Sewu also has a haunted spooky atmosphere within it which makes it included into the list of spooky and haunted tourist destinations in Indonesia

7. Gede City and Yogyakarta Palace Area

Yogyakarta Old Town

As a city that has many historical stories, Yogyakarta surely has many to offer in its old town. The vintage atmosphere of the old town can be sensed from Jenderal Sudirman Street to Jogja zero point, where many historical buildings stand firmly creating a nuance.

The historical buildings include Bank Indonesia’s building, Post Office, Bank BNI, and Agung building. The buildings in Gede City are well-managed that they still have great looks and steadily stand as old buildings.

8. Jakarta Old Town

Jakarta Old Town

Since it is located in the center of the capital city, Jakarta Old Town has become a popular spot for weekend in Jakarta where people could enjoy a new ambience of vintage and oldies atmosphere.

The buildings are the remaining from Batavia, the capital city of the Dutch East Indies. And since it was the capital city, there are many buildings that are well-preserved which perfectly picture the life of the people in the colonial era. The European architecture can be clearly seen on every inch of the buildings.

The icon of Jakarta Old Town is Fatahilah Museum that stands steadily in the center of the old town area. There are also Wayang Museum, a museum showcasing Indonesia’s traditional flat puppets, Bank Indonesia Museum, Kota Intan Bridgem and many more.

You can go around the town enjoying the vibe and architecture on foot or you can also rent a classic bicycle, called sepeda ontel, and go around the city. There are many picturesque spots in the area and many delicious food vendors that you can try. You will surely enjoy your time in this old town.

Besides Jakarta Old Town, the capital city of Indonesia also has many other historical sites that could attract you more, such as Gambir and Pluit. Check out these articles to see things to do in Gambir, Jakarta and things to do in Pluit, Jakarta.

The ambience created by the vintage, oldies, retro architecture is so picturesque and instagrammable, so make sure you have dressed in your best outfits and have prepared anything you need to catch the moment. Visiting these old towns is highly recommended if you want to feel something different from your usual holiday.

So, which old town do you want to visit first?

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