Walking on Jalan Cihampelas

Last April, I paid my first visit to Jl. Cihampelas and discovered that the street, known for its jeans shops, had changed a lot.

I parked my car in front of IBC, a shop that used to be famous as a place to go to find your perfect pair of locally made jeans at a very affordable price.

Inside, other than extremely huge pairs of jeans and extra large t-shirts, I did not find anything particularly as interesting as I used to. As a matter of fact, I felt that the shop has lost its old jeans shop atmosphere and changed to that of a factory outlet.

Back in mid 1990s, the IBC shop sold iconic white animal t-shirts that were very sought after by teenagers. Even visitors and local celebrities came for that fun t-shirt series. But now, I felt the shop not longer offered something truly unique and locally made like it used to.

Exiting the shop, I began my journey walking up Jalan Cihampelas. The traffic went rather slow as usual due to its heavy load of private vehicles, big tourist buses, angkot (public minivans), passersby walking in groups, and street sellers, selling souvenir such as food and t-shirts.

According to my research, Cihampelas began being the center for jeans in the late 1980s when a shop selling locally made jeans opened for the first time.

Having enjoyed a good income, the owner of this shop then led his fellow businessman to open similar ones, thus more residences in Cihampelas were bought or rented and changed into shops.

These shops sport extravagant facades, almost like those in theme-parks, donned with popular icons such as superheroes and cartoon characters. In the early 1990s, Cihampelas had established itself as a jeans hub and tourists shopping destination with a bonus of unique outdoor décor and architecture.

Perhaps due to nostalgia, I found walking and exploring Jalan Cihampelas that day to be quite pleasant. The mood was relaxed and easy, in contrast to the bustling street.

My favorite findings from this visit include Purezento’s corner, which is a locally made array of souvenirs in the style of Anime (Japanese animation) promoting Bandung’s tourism, and the collection of Bandung souvenir t-shirts at Kelompok Pecinta Kaos (KPK), which means the t-shirt lovers’ group.

The t-shirts are quite affordable, with the starting price of Rp 18,000 per piece (USD $ 1.85) and have a variety of great designs on them.

Female t-shirts made by local brand Gionino, sold in Perahu shop, captured my heart thanks to their feminine silhouettes and cute, dreamy prints.

I found well-made handbags with good designs in the Laba-Laba shop, which offers leather goods and an interesting souvenir snack shop Putera, where one can watch the process of making the thinly sliced, crispy banana fritters.

Although I found Cihampelas’s shops have shifted from being a jeans center into one filled with factory outlets, the street still offers a great bargain of branded, good quality items at much lower prices than ones in other factory outlets.

Here are some tips to make your visit a pleasant one:

Many cars belonging to ‘travel’ companies that offer transportation in the form of travel shuttles from one province to another, and in particular for Jakarta-Bandung routes and base themselves in Jalan Cihampelas. Therefore, it is quite convenient to travel here from Jakarta.

If you are driving, it is best to arrive there before 12 a.m as it will be easier to find parking spot.

I recommend you go all the way down and park near the end of Jalan Cihampelas (nearby Sapu Lidi restaurant) and go all the way up against the traffic on foot to explore. This arrangement will give you time to experience taking angkot to go back to your parking spot. It is safe but stay alert. As it is quite a short trip coming down, pay around Rp 1,500 -2,000 per adult.

Alternatively, you can park at CiWalk (Cihampelas Walk), the mall located at Jalan Cihampelas, but the parking fee increases by the hour.

CiWalk offers a lot of eating places from Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, to Western cuisines, as well as coffee break spots. But if you want to really experience Cihampelas’ food experience, try the nearby restaurants of Dapoer Cihampelas, Warung Laos which offer good Italian dishes, Sapu Lidi or Ayam Jakarta. My vote goes for Warung Laos in this case.

Items sold by street sellers are not fixed price, so bargaining is recommended. Do prepare enough cash.

Practice extra safety for your belongings and gadgets all the time.

If wish to give your old jeans a makeover, this is a good place to go to. Tailors here can alter or re-touch at very affordable prices. In front of some shops are tailors ready to do on-the-spot alterations with prices starting from Rp 10,000 a pair.

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