Main industries of the Pangalengan district include dairy farming and tourism, the latter arising from the popularity of the many traditional villages and natural attractions such as lakes, ponds, hot springs and waterfalls in the district. The area is an important centre of activity for the tea industry in Indonesia. There is also considerable interest in the potential for the use of geothermal sites in the region for the production of electricity. The Wayang Windu plant, the largest geothermal plant in Indonesia with a capacity of 227 megawatts, is located to the east of Pangalengan on the slopes of the Wayang Windu volcano. The site has been jointly developed by Star Energy  and PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy, a subsidiary of the large state-owned oil company Pertamina. The activity has not been without controversy however and local people near the site have sometimes protested about certain aspects of the development.
Pangalengan became a major site for the placement of refugees (internally displaced persons, or IDPs) after the large West Java earthquake in September 2009. Following the earthquake, it was estimated that 50,000 homes had been destroyed in the area, 80,000 people had been left homeless, and around 250,000 people had been displaced.
Some of the tea estates in the area provide good facilities for tourists to stay overnight, walk through tracks in the tea plantations, and bath in nearby hot springs.
Main tourism sites near Pangalengan include the following.
- Cultural or historical sites such as the Cikondang traditional village, and the gravesite of the Dutchman K.A.R. Bosscha who played a key role in helping develop the tea industry in the area.
- Tea and quinine estates such as the Malabar estate and estates at Kertamanah, Purbasari, Pasir Junghunh, Pasirmalang, Cukul, and the Indonesian Research Institute for Tea and Quinine at Gambang.
- Various lakes, of which the most well-known is Lake Cileunca.
- Numerous hot springs and waterfalls.
- Reva Sasistiya, 'Star Energy to Push PLN for Big Hike in Price of Geothermal Energy' Archived 2012-07-13 at the Wayback Machine, The Jakarta Globe, 15 September 2009.
- Yuli Tri Suwarni, 'Villagers want geothermal power plant suspended', The Jakarta Post, 31 October 2009.
- Wendy Bruere, 'The Quake Indonesia Forgot' Archived 2012-09-28 at the Wayback Machine, The Jakarta Globe, 1 December 2009.
- Rana Akbari Fitriawan, 'Bad infrastructure blamed for slow growth', The Jakarta Post, 20 February 2010.
- Debra Pangestu, 'Drink In an Indonesian Highland Tea Tour' Archived 2011-08-16 at the Wayback Machine, The Jakarta Globe, 19 July 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-08-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)