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Expat Living in Malang, East Java

East Java FriendsWelcome to East Java! We’re glad that you found us and hope that you will come by for a visit so that we can get to know you. Are you interested in visiting us to explore for a new home or maybe just a tourist visit? Contact Joe Kirk at [email protected] and let us know what questions you have. See you soon!

Community: Our community stretches from Blitarand Gunung Kawi to Malang, Lawang, and Batu with many places in-between. They’re all home to us and we welcome new arrivals. East Java Friends is a community of international citizenswho live in in East Java that support each other in adjusting to Indonesian culture and complying with Indonesian law. There are currently 126 families from 22 countries making a total of 334 members and we are still growing.

This is an active community that regularly meets every Tuesday for lunch and has monthly family gatherings and special occasions. There is an annual community festival featuring a parade, a picnic meal, and fireworks. You’ll find many good neighbors in our community that will help you adjust to the laws and culture as well as solve everyday issues.

Necessities: Malang and Batu are large enough to have the amenities that you need but small enough to enjoy living here. There are adequate schools, medical facilities, and shopping in a small city environment that makes it accessible not traffic jammed. Malang has domestic air service while Surabaya offers international air service, just 2 hours away from Malang. There is a train service from Malang to the rest of Java. Government services for Immigration, Civil Registry and Police are helpful and encourage “self-service” and not agents. Malang is known as a “resort area” due to its cooler climiate than other areas, with theme parks, rafting, restaurants, mountains and beaches. Our advantage is that this area is very popular during weekends/holidays and our disadvantage is that this area is very popular during weekends/holidays

Getting here:  Abdul Rachman Saleh airport (MLG) serves Malang with Citilink, Garuda, Batik, Sriwijaya and Wings scheduling flights between Malang and Jakarta or Denpasar. Being a city airport in the mountainous area of Malang it is subject to closings due to weather conditions and volcanic activity. For those who prefer regional airports, Bandara Juanda, Surabaya, (SUB) is a 2 ½+ hour drive from Malang.

PT. Kereta Api has several trains with service to Jakarta-Gambir, Yogyakarta and Bandung with connections to cities along those routes and executive and economy service. There is executive class service from Malang on those routes that is less expensive than air travel. For less stress I prefer the train over driving between Malang and Surabaya.

East Java FriendsExpat Life: Malang’s big attraction is the moderate weather and relatively slower pace here as Malang is cool and quiet. For recreational activities, you can play a round of golf, hike in Malang's mountain ranges, visit one of the Agrowisata Hotels in Batu, make a day or weekend trip to the beaches at the south or north coast, explore the Bromo - Bertiri National Park or the Baluran National Park, experience one of the local waterfalls, go white-water rafting or tour the tea plantations near Singosari and Lawang. The landscape in East Java offers many possibilities for a day trip and also many culturally interesting places that could be visited such as ancient Hindu temples. Search www.holiday-or-living-in-malang.com for more information about day trips and guest houses. Explore some of the villages and discover Indonesian home industry where they produce leather ware, stone reliefs and statues, bronze statues, or furniture.  There are many wedding receptions, Javanese ceremonies, city festivals, Wayang-Kulit or dance performances that you can attend. Your social calendar can be filled with social activities once you get in contact with the Indonesian people who will invite you to these festivities as a newcomer. Expat life in Malang is much more integrated in the community life of the Indonesian people than it is in other larger Indonesian cities.

If you are interested in living in Malang and want additional, specific information, contact Joe Kirk at [email protected]. If you are an expatriate living in Malang let me know at that email and we will provide information about joining East Java Friends (EJF), a social network for expatriates living in Malang.

Temporary Housing: There are many hotels in the Malang area so check one of the rating websites such as Tripadvisor for a listing of favorite hotels or guest houses with reviews and more information. I have a couple of favorites; Hotel Tugu www.tuguhotels.com and The Shalimar Hotel www.theshalimarhotel.co.id both owned by friends and have been in Malang for many years. Tugu is traditional Javanese and features an extensive collection of antiques and several choices for dining while also having a collection of activities that will introduce you to the culture of Malang. The Shalimar, formerly named Graha Cakra, is a Javanese boutique hotel with a friendly and attentive staff and located in an area with several great dining choices. Both have swimming pools, warm and courteous staff, their own charm and will be glad to help you find your way around Malang.

If you would like something more like home, try a guest house that offers fewer services but a more intimate setting. There are many Guest Houses in Malang and each has its own charm. Again check rating services such as Tripadvisor for reviews and more information.

REast Java Housingesident Housing: You can find what you are looking for here whether it is a large villa or a private home in an orchard as we have members that have done just that. There are available lots in Malang and Batu as well as the surrounding area. You’ll find plenty of guesthouses, apartments, hotels, and rental houses. East Java has a mild climate that makes living here enjoyable.

Resident housing is much like you would find anywhere around the world. Some expats live in a large house with a spacious garden while some prefer a house with their own pool. There is a good selection of houses available for rent or purchase in Malang or in the mountain area of Batu and there are housing communities (perumahans) such as Istana Dieng, Araya and Tidar that feature various conveniences. For example Istana Dieng features paved streets, underground utilities and a club house with cafés, bowling, billiards, swimming pool, children’s play area, Atlas gym and indoor tennis. The majority of rentals are handled by the owner and not real estate agents so the best method of locating houses for rent or sale is to drive through a housing area that you like and look for “sewa” or “dijual” signs with contact information. Rental contracts are typically for 2 years with full rental payment in advance.

Schools: There are two international schools in Malang; Wesley School (WIS) and Bina Bangsa School. WS, Jalan Simpang Kwoka 1 Phone 586-410, email at [email protected], website at www.wesleyinterschool.org, is accredited with the Association of Christian Schools International and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has a curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12. Bina Bangsa School, www.binabangsaschool.com, at Jl. Ahmad Yani Utara Riverside Blok AA No. 1, Malang 65125, is a fully English based school with Mandarin and Indonesia as second languages. Charis National Academy is a national SPK school that offers classes for preschool through grade 12.

For playgroups and kindergartens there is My Little Island, Oasis, Wonder Bridge, Happy Kids, Smart Kids, and Kidsland. All of these have a good curriculum and offer varying level of language introduction such as Mandarin or English.

Living in Malang is enhanced if you can speak some Indonesian language since many local people don’t speak English or other foreign languages. There are several good language schools in Malang that can accommodate your schedule; KPN Language Exchange, www.indonesianlanguageschool.com, Worldbridge Language Center, www.wblcindo.com, ILP International Language Programs, ilp-malang.blogspot.com, and Universitas Negeri Malang.

Health Care: For routine health care issues, you can find adequate professional service in Malang. Some expats schedule exams and periodic checkups while in their home country on holiday or vacation and for more serious cases, use the larger facilities in Surabaya, Jakarta or Singapore. We rely on personal recommendations and use “second opinions” for more serious cases.

The following contacts are provided as a starter list:
Hospital Emergency Rooms: Panti Nirmala 362-459, Baptist in Batu 594-161, RKZ366-033 and Syaifal Anwar 362-101
General Family: Dr. Hendra, Jalan Esberg 1, 561-605
Pediatrician: Dr. Chandra, Jalan Raya Dieng 26, 568-247
Ear-Nose-Throat: Dr. Puji Soeprapto, Jalan Simpang Taman Agung 18, 563-603
Dentist: Dr. Ilham Setiabudi, Jalan Istana Dieng Raya II #15, 0813-3007-0055.
Orthodontist: Dr. Chandra Wigati, Jalan Burung 51, 363-415
Medical Lab: Prodia Lab, Jalan Merbabu 10, 366-042, 6am-9pm
Pharmacy: Pelita Sari, Jalan Letjen Sutoyo 31A, 493-625, 495-271.

Doctors’ schedules vary of course but it is not uncommon to see a doctor after 7pm and many schedule their regular office hours as 6-11pm..

Shopping: Malang features two malls; Malang Town Square (MATOS) and Mal Olympic Garden (MOG) that will handle the major share of your shopping needs. There are also local plazas such as Cyber Mall and Araya Plaza for your convenience. At MATOS, Hypermart is an anchor tenant and is organized like a Super Wal-Mart with dry goods as well as the grocery market. Giant is about the same for MOG. You can buy fruits, vegetables and spices in the local markets in good quality and at less cost. Best traditional market for fresh vegetables, fruits, chicken, meat and fish is Pasar Oro Oro Dowo, at the intersection of Jalan Guntur and Jalan Brigjen Slamet Riyadi. Hypermart in MATOS and Giant at MOG also have a good selection of fresh fish. For those “hard to find” grocery items, there is Lai-Lai Fruit Market on Jalan Semeru which has made its reputation on providing for the expats and UD Sukses Jaya at Jalan Bandahara 7. Sukses Jaya is a meat and supplies distributor to restaurants and offers such things as baby back ribs, Australian beef and frozen foods to private customers as well. Indoguna Meats, phone (031) 911-70493, is a delivery service from Surabaya that supplies hotels and restaurants but takes individual orders also for meat, cheese and spices. There are bakeries at Hypermart (Matos) and Giant (MOG) but Holland Bakery, Jalan Wilis and other locations, is the most convenient.

Clothing is not a problem in Malang. If your size is not available in the stores, you can get it tailor-made in good quality. It is possible to have tailor made clothes using a clipping from a magazine. Swimsuits and shoes for ladies in bigger sizes can be a problem, however.

There are several large book stores in Malang of which Gramedia (books, newspapers, stationary, sports, music) is the leader and has several locations. If you want a newspaper in English, Jakarta Post offers subscriptions and delivery.

There are many shops for building supplies but if you want something more familiar, there’s Ace Hardware in Mal Olympic Garden. Depo Bangunan at Jalan Raya Karanglo 69 is a large building supplies store that carries tools, home repair materials and home accessories.

If you need household items, stationery, toys, school supplies, sandals and shoes, try Toko Lancar Jaya, on Jalan Danau Toba in Sawojajar. The vast selection changes frequently and their prices are unbelievably cheaper than most other stores

Looking for Malang specific items? Try PKK Corner, Jalan Tangkuban Perahu 1 in the Kartini Imperil Building, for jewelry, batik, ceramics, leather goods, masks, toys and snacks. This is a great place to shop for those souvenirs for your visit back home.

If something is not available in Malang, sometimes it can be found in Surabaya, which is 2-1/2+ hour’s drive. Many expats go to Jakarta or Singapore for business reasons and these trips are always a good opportunity to stock up on missing necessities.

Culture, Recreation and Entertainment: Part of the advantage of living in Malang is being able to explore the culture and these excursions will make family memories for a lifetime. If interested in “things to do” in Malang, check out www.holiday-or-living-in-malang.com, a website by a friend that has information about Malang from a local’s viewpoint. You can also check TripAdvisor.

Malang has facilities for golf, tennis, swimming and aerobic exercise. With a small town environment, several expats use bicycles for their primary means of transportation blending exercise with their daily schedules. Klub Bunga, a resort in Batu, provides a fitness club with gymnasium, pool, sauna, spa, massage, tennis courts, basketball court, and beach volley ball field. Also in Batu is Jawa Timur Park www.jawatimurpark.com, Batu Night Spectacular and Museum Angkut, all good family recreation venues. There are golf courses in Malang at Araya and in Padaan at Taman Dayu and Fina Golf & Country Club. There are several fitness centers here with Atlas Fitness Center as a good example having aerobic, step and yoga classes in the mornings and evenings. There are Hash House Harrier groups in Malang, so you can choose the most convenient time during the week or weekends. Contact Pak Poedji, Jalan Jagung Suprapto 7, and phone 325-888 or 361-996 for more details.

The beaches are 2-3 hours’ drive to the south coast; Sedangbiru, Balekambang, and Ngliyep. Unfortunately there are only basic accommodations available and you cannot find a nice restaurant. If you go, prepare for a picnic on the beach. Swimming can be dangerous at the south coast so ask the locals for a safe place to swim.

For water parks there is the new Hawai in Malang at Jalan Graha Kencan Raya that will provide hours of wet enjoyment for your family. Outside of Malang there is Waterworld, a modern water park in Citraland, Surabaya and Taman Dayu half-way between Malang and Surabaya.

There is a children’s playground next to MATOS. It is an extension of the Derumah housing complex but is open to public. They have 2 swimming pools for small and older children as well as plenty of kiddies’ rides and indoor football fields and a playground with white beach sand.

Malang has several movie theaters with choice of 3-4 films.

Want to try something a little different or new for your family? Make an evening of karaoke with the family. Get a private room and just enjoy singing and being together. There are many family karaoke facilities in Malang.

Restaurants: Restaurants are abundant in Malang and you can make a quest out of finding that special place to eat. Check restaurant rating services such as TripAdvisor to see their reviews.

There are several places that are favorites for us and others in Malang:

Café Bunga Bali, European style restaurant, has a warm and cozy atmosphere, serves good steaks, specializes in Swiss Roesti and has live music on weekends. Inggil’s, a Javanese restaurant, features local food, atmosphere and entertainment with their specialties of grilled or fried fish, sate’ and fried rice and while the portions are ample, the price is very reasonable. Niki Kopitiam is a restaurant resulting from its successful catering business. Located at Jalan Bondowoso 8, it features Indonesian and Chinese cuisine. Batavia has fresh seafood, Chinese and Javanese dishes ina comfortable setting. Malibu features wood-fired oven pizza but has a variety of other dishes. Try their outstanding onion rings. Harmoni is a family oriented restaurant with children’s play area and good local food. KDS is the most well-known Chinese restaurant in town and offers traditional dishes at reasonable prices. Taman Indie River View Resto features a romantic location and good Indonesian food. Kantri, Javanese restaurant at Jalan Raya Singoasari, features great beef, chicken and goat sate’. Also there are two gigantic dining tables with chairs, a record size wooden wall screen and antique carriages to see while there. Hachi Hachi in MX Mal is Japanese fusion but has several dishes that will suit just about any taste. . J Co and Starbucks at Malang City Point feature coffee and snacks with a relaxing sitting area. For a special treat, try Rotiboy in Mal Olympic Garden (MOG) for a unique pastry bun.

The larger hotels, Hotel Tugu, Shalimar, Santika, Regent’s Park and Kartika Graha have dining facilities as well.

Looking for something fast and familiar? Try an American chain restaurant: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut or A&W Root Beer. Pizza Hut has an extensive pasta menu in addition to its famous pizzas. For extra convenience, most of these have delivery service.

There are always new restaurants opening such as Signora Pasta. This is truly Italian as Pino and his wife Maria are there as chefs and owners. Fun place with great food.

Personal services: While you will want to find the personal services best for you in terms of convenience and price, there are a few places that we recommend. For salons that offer a full range of services such as hairstyle, manicure, pedicure and makeup try Pacific, Jonathan’s, Tinara or Gester. For a great hairstylist there’s Hengky’s Salon, Jl. Simpang Bondowoso 15-17. For a nice massage there’s Djemari at Jl. Raya Tidar 40 or Zen Pijat.

If you need help in finding specific goods or services in Malang contact Joe Kirk at [email protected]. Our thanks to Joe for his generous contribution of information on Malang over the years!

Last updated January 6, 2020