Yogjakarta is located at Central Java and is most famous for its oldest and biggest temple that used to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Borobudur Temple. Yogjakarta use to be a proud yet down-to-earth kingdom (still is but no longer active) hence it is rich in culture and history. Besides being the location of the most stunning stone temples of Indonesia, it also near Bromo mountain, another breathtaking spot to see the sunrise. Yogjakarta is the city of Indonesia where people are very polite, well-mannered, patient, creative and has a flair for beauty and art. Other than that, price of everything is considerably low here comparing to other bigger cities in Indonesia. It is also well-known for producing Batik, a hand painted decorative traditional textile authentic to Indonesia.
Things to visit and do in Yogjakarta
1. Visiting temples
There are a number of temples in Yogjakarta. These are referred as Candi in Indonesian. The two most famous and absolutely must visit are:
Candi Borobudur is a Buddhist temple and is one of the oldest in temple build on the 9th Century (This is much older than Angkor Wat). This is easily the no.1 top main attraction of Yogjakarta. During Vesak day (Buddha Birthday) a very important and beautiful ceremony takes place here where Buddhist from all over the world would come dress in white and release lanterns. This sight is definitely on my festival bucket list.
Tips: There is a cute camera house near here called Camera House Borobudur that is worth checking out.
Candi Prambadan is a Hindu temple. Within the complex of Candi Perambanan you can visit as many other smaller candi there as you like.
2. Off-road adventure at Merapi Volcano
We explore this active volcano mountain with a 4 wheel drive which felt like a roller coaster ride. The Last time this mountain erupted was 4 years ago. There are still remnants of the damage caused by it and in the tour we made a number of stops including: Eruption Museum, Inactive Safe House, smoke hole and something that fell as a result of the eruption called the alien stone.
3. Alun-alun Beringin
Alun-Alun is basically a park and beringin is a type of tree. There are 2 Beringin Tree in this park – myth has it that if you pass through the middle of the space in between the tree with your eyes closed, your wish will come true. If you and your partner both cross the couple tree in between them with your eyes close that means you are destined with each other and will be together forever. Come here during dawn so when the sky gets dark you can ride on this funky ride decorated with excessive neon lights complete with a karaoke machine inside! Cost Rp 30K (Low Season) to Rp 50K (High Season) to ride.
4. Taman Sari
Taman Sari is a beautiful water castle that comes with an enchanting history. This used to be the King retreat place or like a villa to him and his mistresses. Now there is no more water and citizen build suburb on and around the premises. You can still explore the tunnels that was build secretly to hold secret meetings where the King would discuss strategy against the enemy with his peers. This tunnel used to be under water.
Yogjakarta has a number of home-grown heroes originated from Yogjakarta which include General Soedirman and Diponegoro Prince. Taman Sari was designed by the King of Yogjakarta himself with the inspiration from his European Architect friend – hence the architecture is a mix of European and Javanese. This place is stunning and the history behind it is fascinating. Within it, there’s a prayer room with unique staircase that often becomes the location for photo shoots. The tunnel was used as location for Java Heat movie.
For Rp 25K you can hire guide that will tell you the proud history of Taman Sari, the King and his mistress and the secret tunnels and prayer rooms that otherwise will be challenging to find/ explore.
Out of all of the places I found this one to be the most packed with tourist – Local (groups of students in a fieldtrip) and international. Keraton is the Royal Family Palace. To this day it is still serves that purpose and only certain parts are accessible to public and has been turned to Museums.
6. Museum Affandi
Affandi is a distinguish painter of Indonesia famous with his expressionistic style. His body of art has been acknowledged internationally and has been awarded by Indonesia Government numerous times with patriotic medals for his contribution in art. Here you can see his work from during the war. When all materials were so scarce he collected any medium to be his painting tools, be it to join any papers he can find and paint with mud. He is the epic role model for living doing the things you love despite any limitation.
7. Gunung Kidul
Do some water and nature-bound activities here. We choose the easiest option which is to go across cave sitting on a rubber tyre. It was a great fun!
8. Pantai Ngandong
Pantai Ngandong is a beach nearby to Gunung Kidul. It is secluded, clean and peaceful beach to find some serenity.
9. Air Terjun Sri Gethuk
Sri Gethuk is a waterfall near Gunung Kidul is surrounded by vast greenery. People have compared its beauty to the Grand Canyon in the US.
Dagadu is a famous local Tshirt brand in Yogjakarta.
11. Museum Vrederburg
Like the name suggested, this building is build by the Dutch. It is their head quarter when they were trying to colonise the city. This day they have turned it into a museum. You can see from the buildings that Dutch architecture is strikingly different to Javanese.
Malioboro is the town of Yogjakarta. There are shopping malls, lots of restaurants, street vendors and also where many of Yogja attraction such as Museum Vrederburg, Keraton and Pasar Beringharjo are located. There are a lot of hotels and accommodations in Malioboro since it is the best place to stay in town.
13. Pasar Beringharjo
Time shop till you drop at Pasar Beringharjo. It’s very satisfying to shop here but first you need to learn how to bargain. I’m encouraging you to ask for ruthless bargain but be light mannered about it. Here we got casual Jogja top for 15K, necklace for 10K, kid dress for 25K, batik blouse for 60K, I get a canvas handbag for 15K, a bracelet for 1K, and many other. It’s cheap shopping paradise. These are price you can never get in Jakarta and many of the goods are ethnic handcrafted with incorporation of batik that I adore.
14. Goa Jomblang
Goa Jomblang si far more advance than the gunung kidul activity. You will be dropped slowly with a secured rope into a cave hole where the sun rays shine on you like the light from heaven. It is stunning and must-do activity for adventure seeker.
Pacitan is a district near Yogyakarta. You can find a number of pristine beaches and other natural attractions like caves and waterfall.
Visit Pantai nglambor and other snorkelling spots in Monosari for those who love the water and pristine beaches.
17. Cikunir – Dieng
Climb the Cikunir Hill in Dieng to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise. This place is also known as the city above the cloud.
18. Day Trip from Wonosobo Dieng – Bromo – Yogjakarta
For those who don’t want to miss a thing, you can have a extended roadtrip starting from Dieng Plateau all the way to Yogjakarta.
Unique places in Yogjakarta
Camera House Borobudur:
Wisata Alam Kalibiru:
I didn’t know of this place until recently but here you can go to a tree top ‘house’ and see beautiful view from the top. Definitely on my to do list as it looks amazing.
Yogjakarta like most city in Central Java, Indonesia is a great city for culinary tour. The following is what we get to indulge.
1. Soto Kadipiro
Our first stop in Yogja is to try the Soto Kadipiro. Soto suppose to be a runny mild curry but this is more like clear and light vegetables and meat soup. I think it was just okay yet it is quite popular.
Address: JL Wates, No.33, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Phone:+62 274 618722
2. Jadah Mbah Carik
Jadah is delicacy that originated from the Mount Merapi villages. It is glutinous rice ball served with sweet soy sauce braised soya bean cake which local callesd Tahu and Tempe Bacem. Take a quick stop here while visiting Merapi Mountain.
Address: Jl. Astamulya Kaliurang, Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Phone:+62 274 4464277
Jejamuran is a restaurant that I was so excited about when I heard of it. Mushroom is my favourite vegetable and jejamuran means many-many mushroom. The restaurant serves mushroom cooked in many different ways that people can mistake it as meat but they are really mushrooms. They have all sort of mushroom varieties that I guarantee some you’ve never seen in your life. You’ll love this if you love mushroom. If that’s not enough the place is very cozy with a courtyard and live band playing at the main area. They do have non-mushroom menu so there’s something for everyone.
Address: Jl. Magelang KM. 11 RT. 01 RW. 20, Desa Niron, Pandowoharjo, Tridadi, Kec. Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55512, Indonesia
Phone:+62 274 868170
4. Mi Jawa Pak Pele
Mi Jawa Pak Pele is located at the alun-alun beringin. Mi Jawa is a must-eat in Yogjakarta. And Oh boy, the queue was unbelievable. I never see customers willing to wait and sit themselves down to somewhere that are totally out of the place to eat this. We had the soup and the fried noodle. The fried noodle taste the best. I suggest you try the fried rice too. The portion was small and re-order will be crazy because you won’t want to wait for another 2 hours, believe me. Mi Jawa is one of the specialty of Yogjakarta, other than Pak Pele which is obviously popular, I heard that there are others that are even more popular and you need to wait insanely longer. Unfortunately the only Mi Jawa worth trying is the ones that are wait-worthy. If the place is quiet, forget about it or at least that is what our driver has told us.
Address: JL. Pojok Tenggara Alun-Alun Utara , Panembahan , Kraton , Yogyakarta , Daerah Istimewa Yogyakart, Indonesia
5. Ayam Goreng Mbo Berek
Yogja fried chicken is cooked with traditional recipe that involve slow cooking the chicken in seasoned brine before frying. The result is very tender and flavourful fried Chicken. You have to give it a try.
Address: Jl. Solo No. 109 Depok Yogyakarta
Phone : (0274) 496298
6. Ayam Goreng Ny Suharti
Similar to Mbo Berek Fried Chicken, they have tender, crispy and flavoursome fried chicken as the signature dish.
Address: Jl. Gedong Kuning No.187, Rejowinangun, Kota Gede, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55171, Indonesia
Phone:+62 274 384926
7. Gathot Tiwul Yu Tum
Gathot Tiwul is Gunung Kidul delicacy made up of cassava. Cassava is a very popular food item here because of their hardy nature – it can survive drought/adverse weather and is very easy to grow. Gathot Tiwul may look unusual but I think it taste great. Make a stop to try this while visiting Gunung Kidul.
Branch 1: Jl. Pramuka No.36 Wonosari Gunungkidul 55812 Yk Ph 0274 7889300 – 081 328 741792
Branch 2: Jl Wonosari – Yogya Km 3.5 Siyono Tengah Yk Ph 0274 300 1164
Branch 3: Jl Baron Km. 04 Dunggubah Duwet Wonosari Gunungkidul Yk (depan balai Desa duwet). Phone 081228188595
See more at its official website
8. Telap Twelep
We had instant noodles in a restaurant. At Telap Twelep you don’t get served just instant noodle. The noodles are topped to look just like the packaging. What do I think? Do they really look just like the packaging? It certainly doesn’t taste like how you imagined when you look at the packaging and I won’t be back to pay multiple times the price of instant noodle for it.
Address: Jl Pandean (Kusumanegara), Yogyakarta, DI Yogyakarta, Indonesia
9. Bakpia Agi
Bakpia is the most famous delicacies / souvenirs (as well as for your own consumption) from Yogjakarta. It is bite sized pie that lasted 10 days max depending of what kind of filling. I vote for the mungbean filling as the best. Bakpia is everywhere in Yogjakarta. We think this shop is a bit overpriced Rp 35K a box but they are good nonetheless. I kept nibbling on this little treats back home instead of letting my family has it so my advice, buy more.
Address: Jalan Bhayangkara No.67-69, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55261, Indonesia
Phone:+62 274 562969
10. House of Raminten
Raminten is a character of Javanese theater and this restaurant is owned by the actor who plays the role of iconic and amusing Javanese women called Raminten. The place is almost mystical with traditional music playing at the background and the whole wooden house theme thing. This house is open 24 hour, very packed to the point that they segregate a comfortable waiting area complete with entertainment (TV). What sells this place is definitely the atmosphere and on top of it, everything they serve is very generous portion.
Address: Jalan Faridan Muridan Noto No. 7, Gondo Kusuman, Kota Baru, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55224, Indonesia
Phone:+62 274 547315
11. Gudeg Yu Djum
Gudeg is a specialty of Yogja which is a dish made up of combination of rice, skin crackle stew, jackfruit stew, chicken poached in coconut and sweet soy sauce and other condiments like tahu and tempe bacem.
Address: Jalan Wijilan No.167, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55131, Indonesia
Phone:+62 274 7860204
Wedang is one of my favourite traditional drink. A little Indonesian traditional drink lesson: traditional drink of Indonesia usually consist of some mixture of coconut and ginger. It is great as a pick me up, warm your body and strengthen the immune system. To name a few the more popular traditional drink are bajigur, wedang, and bandrek. I discover a type of new version of wedang here which is weddang sampah. Wedang sampah was brewed with a lot of different herbs and spices hence the name sampah(=rubbish).
The best way to get around in Yogja like any other city in Indonesia is by private car/taxi. Though for fun you can try to ride the horse chariot in Malioboro (Delman we call it) or the man-powered tricycle (Becak we call it)
We have arranged our transport (driver, car and fuel inclusive) for Rp 500,000 a day ($50) for a 7 seater car. We were picked up by our driver from the airport and to save cost use taxi just to go to the airport from our hotel on the last day. I highly recommend this service; the driver is super kind and recommended us a lot of trips and food along the way.
Malioboro – Malioboro is the pulse of Yogjakarta and is a one stop shop for most things.
Pasar Beringharjo – Pasar translate to market. This market located in Malioboro is where you can but cheap batik clothing and souvenirs it’s so cheap you can afford to buy for all of your loved ones plus your neighbours.
Lokal Id is the hype boutique hotel in Yogjakarta attracting hipster with their artsy-unique guest rooms and hip restaurant/café.
We stay at Jentra Hotel at Dagen. There are rows and rows of hotel in this area and I highly recommend staying in this area in Malioboro as it is super convenient to go anywhere and walking distance to many places.
*Subject to change
When to go
Indonesia is hot and humid all year around with chance of rain the highest during end and beginning of the year. Come during July to September for dry season.
Is there anything about Yogjakarta you’d like to add? I’d like to hear them!