Travel to Yogyakarta, the center of Javanese culture, to see one of world’s heritage sites and one of world’s wonders, Borobudur and Prambanan. Being a special region, it remains the only province in Indonesia that is governed by a sultan.
You don’t need to visit something as big as Borobudur to realize how rich this city is in Javanese culture and traditional expressions. Just take a walk down Malioboro Street and you will understand. On both sides of the road there are numerous shops selling batik, the traditional Indonesian art of colorful and hand-painted clothing. Keep wandering around and you’ll discover more at the Beringharjo market, and surprisingly better models in different communities and craft workshops throughout the city.
Usually on Saturdays, you can visit the Kraton to witness a performance of wayang kulit, a regular shadow puppet show joined by a melodic company known as gamelan. Another interesting art is the Ramayana Ballet, a theatrical performance of the epic Ramayana adventure. It has been performed on different stages throughout the city, however the best is in Prambanan.
Spend a couple of days here and you will get the feeling that Yogyakarta is on the defensive of its ceremonies and customs. From various perspectives, it resembles the guardian of authentic Javanese culture.
Like its friends in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season is normally from April to October, so it is considered the best time to go. However, it is also nice to travel to Yogyakarta during the rainy season, as it usually rains in the afternoon and there is not much sun during the day.
April-October: Temperatures are consistently stable, so it’s appropriate to visit around this time when you can.
November-March: This is Yogyakarta’s rainy season. Most of the rains and humidity occur from December through March, with about 15 days of rain each month.
Yogyakarta offers plenty of options for finding a place to rest, from a small guest house to luxurious five-star accommodation. Most special are the options of small guest houses with friendly hosts. During the time when the travel industry was initially created in Yogya, visitors were drawn to two main areas: one revolved around Jalan Sosrowijayan near Jalan Malioboro in the city center, and the other south of the city around Jalan Prawirotaman.
Although the two areas are still full of visitors now, similar options can be found in more areas now, with more new accommodations created to the north near a large number of Yogya colleges, usually occupied by students. Our recommendation would be to base yourselves around the Kraton, as it is close to most of the city center attractions and can be reached on foot or by becak (tricycle ride). Be on the lookout for peak season from July to August when accommodation costs are typically much higher.
Most of the popular attractions are within the city area, so you can generally get around on foot. Although sunny days can be exhausting. If you need some trips, you can use the Grab or Gojek travel service app to get around.
If it is okay to ride a bike, you can use the Grab Bike service. It’s cheaper, faster, and fun!
To get to other attractions outside the city such as the famous temples, Mt. Merapi or Jomblang Cave, it is better to use a guided tour or a private car. We can arrange one for you, so don’t hesitate to contact us.
The public bus option is also available. You can use Google Maps to find out the route, it is quite accurate.
Yogyakarta is home to the largest Buddhist temple in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. There are many beaches, mountains to climb, local delicacies, and shops to entertain.
Witness the daily activities surrounding the Kraton or Keraton (Sultan’s Palace), wander around Alun Alun, to learning the process of silverwork in Kotagede, and indulge in shopping on Malioboro Street.
Chasing the sunrises in Prambanan and Borobudur in the neighboring city of Magelang, are just one part of the many more things that are never sold out in this moderately small but bustling city.
Check out some of our itineraries in Yogyakarta, to get an idea of what the routes tend to be like.
From many recommendations online, most tourists would go for Mulia Money Changer as they give best rates in Yogyakarta.
If you don’t like to bring a lot of cash to Indonesia, you have the option to withdraw some in IDR from ATMs. Sometimes you will find that the rates are better than at home. Make sure you let your bank knows that you are going to use it abroad so you won’t have issues.
Yogyakarta is not very expensive when it comes to decent food and accommodation. But the temples are located outside the city so you might spend most of your budget on transportation.
Here’s some expenses that you may think about:
This may be different according to your preferences and number of the group. Decent accommodation cost you around USD 40 per night. You can expect to pay less if you stay in a smaller hotel.
Food is cheap in Yogyakarta. For daily meals especially of local food, it should be around USD 5-7 per person per day. If you have already been traveling for a few days and you want to take a break from rice and eat in a western restaurant, you can spend around from USD 20-25 daily.
Borobudur and Prambanan are usually combined as one entry ticket and it costs USD 45/adult (2021). With transportation of private car rental, you may be looking at around USD 75 to visit the temples. Our tours include these tickets as well as transportation.
Local internet plan including the SIM card costs around USD 7-10 for a 2-week plan.
Gudeg is an important Yogyakarta dish worth trying, made of stewed jackfruit. Here is the best restaurant we can recommend to find Gudeg as well as other unique local cuisine when you travel to Yogyakarta.
1. Gudeg Pawon
Gudeg Pawon is not actually a real restaurant, but a house that serves savory Gudeg. Opening hours are from 10pm to midnight, or when food is run out, whichever comes first.
2. Warung Handayani
This is one of the best places to try Brongkos, a gudeg-like dish. It’s basically a very brothful rice dish with greasy beef slices and crackers. If you don’t like meat, you can try nasi brongkos telur served with boiled eggs, tofu and black-eyed beans.
3. Yammie Pathuk
This is a good place to enjoy Bakso. Bakso is an Indonesian meatball made from meat, which can be beef, chicken or fish. It is one of the most popular street food in Indonesia and can also be found nationwide in high-end restaurants. In Yammie Pathuk you can try a bowl of Chinese style chicken noodle with siomay (fish steamed dumplings) and bakso soup.
4. Pempek Ny. Kamto
Pempek Ny. Kamto is the best restaurant to try pempek, a salty fish cake from Palembang in southern Sumatra. Pempek is usually served in a sweet-sour sauce and is often eaten with noodles.
There are many versions of pempek, but one of the versions sold here is the pempek kapal selam, or literally the submarine pempek. Interesting name, it’s a kind of pempek full of eggs. In addition to the pempek served with noodles, you can try other side dishes.
5. Rujak Es Krim Pak Nardi
Rujak Es Krim is literally translated to “Ice Cream Rujak”. Rujak is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad usually with peanut sauce dressing, popular in Indonesia. It certainly sounds weird when adding ice cream on it, but it’s not a combination of flavors found every day.
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There are so many things to do with kids in Yogyakarta that you can easily find a day full of exciting things to see. Here are some attraction options for kids when you travel to Yogyakarta.
1. Sinduku Suma Edu Park
A small theme park located on 7 hectares. Definitely not Disneyland or a European park, but enough to keep your kids entertained for hours. You pay a small entrance fee and pay per ride. The park includes a large ferris wheel, dodgem car, segway, rope course and 8D cinema.
You can find more information on the Sinduku Suma Edu Park website.
2. Jogja Bay Pirates Adventure Waterpark
Jogja Bay Waterpark is set on 10+ hectares with more than 15 water rides, slides and attractions. There are nine different types of waves in the wave pool, and there are educational elements on “how to survive tsunamis and earthquakes”. Jogja Bay has numerous facilities such as restaurants, souvenir shops, gazebos, pool bars, locker room rentals, towel rentals, photo services, pirate ships, lighthouses, prayer rooms, toilets and parking spaces.
You can find more information on the Jogja Bay Pirates Adventure Waterpark website.
Don’t worry if you haven’t researched what to take in this ancient city. In addition to batik garments and dresses with a wide variety of choices from simple to exotic, here is a list of other top picks to hunt for as lovely Yogyakarta souvenirs.
1. Silver jewelry and miniature landmarks
Yogyakarta’s Kotagede is known for its silver artisans. Like Ubud in Bali, here you’ll find sterling silver trinkets from earrings, necklaces, brooches, rings, bracelets, and stunning three-dimensional miniatures of iconic items. In the studio you can see how these adorable silver trinkets are made.
2. High quality leather bag
Yogyakarta is also known for its high-quality leather goods. Bags, shoes, belts, suitcases and wearable jewelry are just a few of the many creative products made by local artisans. There are many places to buy, but Kaula Leather is special because it gives you the opportunity to participate in a leather making workshop, so you can create your own leather products. There are many course options depending on what you want to learn and how long you are staying in Yogyakarta.
3. Wooden Batik Masterpiece
Batik is a symbol of Javanese tradition. Its form depends on time and skill. However, the Crebe villagers specialize in the production of wooden batik. They turn a variety of carved wood items into unique, luxurious and adorable batik masterpieces. Most are used for everyday items such as dining sets, trays and tissue boxes, as well as centerpieces in home decor.
4. Lurik’s weaving
In addition to batik, Yogyakarta is also famous for Lurik. It can be seen as a long-sleeved coat of outerwear worn by some Andong carriage riders along Malioboro Street. The classic black and brown stripes made of rough cotton were used as Javanese attire for local residents in town. Today they are available in a wide variety of color choices and luxury fabrics, maintaining the principle of thin striped motive. These days, ornate lurik pieces are used as accents in suits, bags, upholstery and even wedding dresses. Some are still made with traditional eco-friendly natural dyes and high-quality handmade weaves, while others use a variety of fabrics that are lighter, softer and more comfortable to wear.
5. Chocolate Bar
Indonesia is the third largest producer of cocoa in the world, and in 2001 a Belgian gentleman saw the opportunity to make quality chocolates in Yogyakarta, mixed with the unique flavor of local ingredients. Together with Indonesia’s creative minds and entrepreneurs, they founded Coklat Monggo, a brand that symbolizes Yogyakarta’s friendly gestures in 2005. They invented a unique recipe like Rendang Chocolate.
Tourists are advised to always carry their belongings with them. If you have a secret pouch, Yogyakarta is the best place to test your responsibilities.
1. Dangers & Annoyances
Yogya is a safe city, but batik salespeople who speak softly can be annoying. Some becak drivers are scammed by compulsory visits to batik showrooms and offering ‘special rates’ for an hour.
Batik salesmen converse as if acting as a guide and take unfortunate visitors to ‘art student exhibitions’ or ‘government stores.’ Some of these salesmen hang around Kraton and tell visitors that Kraton is closed or there is no performance. This is usually a prelude to the ‘royal’ batik showroom invitation instead.
The tourism commission is accepting complaints about these on-commission hustlers and it works. Now the approach has become more cautious, and in-store sales are gone to the extent that real customers don’t know what to buy.
2. Tips before arriving
• Use Grab or Gojek (a ride app like Uber) to get around the city as it is cheaper and more reliable.
• Horse carriages (Delman) usually cost IDR 30,000 – 40,000 or USD 2-3, so make sure you are not overcharged.
• To avoid overcharging and fraud, do not exchange money at small exchange offices. Mulia Currency Exchange is one of the most reliable money exchangers.
• Becak (tricycle ride) may be cheaper, but drivers sometimes take passengers to the store to collect a fee.
• Don’t be hooked on random tour guides saying attractions are closing soon. You are tricking them to follow. Always check information online.
• Some batiks are not genuine (hand painted). Batik can also be printed, which can be viewed as a quality of motive that is too perfect for hand painting. Take the time to compare prices between stores and do not trust strangers who claim to be batik experts.
• Be aware of traffic conditions when driving or walking, but don’t panic. The streets seem confusing, but local drivers usually keep pedestrians in mind.
• Dress appropriately and respect the local culture. Dress code when entering temples, museums and friends’ homes: Bottoms cover your knees, tops cover your arms, and shorter ones are aggressive.
• Learn some essential words in Indonesian Bahasa or Javanese. Everyone will appreciate it, and even get you a little discount!
• Experience true Yogyakarta’s Javanese hospitality while staying at a local homestay.
1. Capital of Indonesia
Yogyakarta was once the capital of Indonesia between 1946 and 1949. At that time, Jakarta was occupied by the Netherlands, and Yogyakarta was the center of the revolution. Later the capital was transferred to Jakarta and remains to this day.
2. Many nicknames
The word Yogyakarta has been cut and cut in several ways to reveal a unique nickname for this city each time. It is called Jogja, Yogya, Djogja, Yoga, or even Ngayogyakarta.
3. Temple buried in ashes
Candi Sambisari, widely known as the Sambisari Temple, has been buried under tons of ashes for hundreds of years. Found in the 60s, excavated and restored. It is now a major tourist attraction.
4. Two lucky trees
Exciting myths surrounding banyan trees circulate in Yogyakarta. Two banyan trees are south of Southern Park. According to legend, if a person can walk between two trees, his/her wish will come true. This seemingly simple task has its own variations. Anyone who wants to try this myth must blindfold and walk between two trees!
5. Yoga Sandboarding
It sounds like a joke when someone tells you that you can find sand dunes on the island. After all, everyone knows that sand dunes need deserts like Africa or the Middle East. But obviously not if you are in Yogyakarta. The view of Gumuk Pasir Parangkusumo in Yogyakarta during the summer will give you the feeling of moving on an Arabian night. Buy a sandboard and enjoy sandboarding!
6. Under the pool
Yogyakarta has many natural and man-made wonders. One of them is Umbul Ponggok. At first glance, it looks like a large swimming pool. But the real surprise is under the water. The pool floor is decorated with real props such as TVs, scooters, etc. So take your camera out and get a unique click.
7. Offering to the sea
Of all the events in Yogyakarta, Labuhan is the most unique. At this event, offerings are made to the goddess of the sea. The offering consists of her food, claws and finger cuts, hair, and the Sultan’s new and abandoned clothes!
8. Waisak Day
Waisak Day is celebrated by Buddhists around the world and in different ways. In Indonesia, the core of the festival takes place at the Borobudur Temple in solemn ceremony on the full moon in May. Vesak is celebrated as the day of birth, death, and the time when Siddhartha Gautama attains the highest wisdom to become Shakyamuni Buddha. If you are here during the Festival, do not hesitate to ask us how to participate.
France Consular Agency in Jogjakarta, Institute Franco-Indonesien Jl. Sagan 3 No. 1, Yogyakarta 55223, ☎ +62 274 566520, +62 274 547409.
Enjoy your travel to Yogyakarta!
Amazing Prambanan Temple
Magnificent Mount Bromo
Climbing the Ijen Crater
Dropoff in your hotel in Bali
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