Yogyakarta means “a city that is fit to prosper”. This lesser known city in Indonesia is the heart of education, classical Javanese fine arts and culture. It is only a 2 hour 10 minutes flight away from Singapore. YES!!! Really near to Singapore!
P.S. Yogyakarta is 1 hour behind Singapore time!
1. Immerse yourself in their rich culture!
Credit: clumsy kristel on Flickr
First up! Here in Yogyakarta you are able to see batik almost everywhere. It is a MUST to visit one of the batik factories for a tour and witness how these delicate pieces are being made by hand. Every single piece goes through a long demeaning process of construction by the staff at the factory. From dyeing the fabric to hand painting the designs and drying the cloth.
Credit: Stephen Kennedy on Flickr
For families or friends travelling in a group, you can sign up for the Batik Workshop and make your very own unique piece of batik at Batik Winotosastro!
Address: Jl. Tirtodipuran No.54, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55143, Indonesia
Admission: Rupiah 50,000 / USD 4 (per person, for a 2-3 hour short course)
Opening Hours: Factory opens daily, 9am to 5pm; Workshop runs from 9am to 2pm
Another important culture that still remains in Yogyakarta is the leather puppet shadow show, or also known as ‘Wayang Kulit’ to the locals. This puppet show is different from the normal ones. You will be watching the shadows of the puppets on a screen rather than seeing the actual puppets themselves. You can catch this special 2-hour long shadow puppet show at the Sonobudoyo Museum.
Credit: Rebecca Marshall on Flickr
Credit: Arian Zwegers on Flickr
Address: No 6, Jl. Pangurakan Yogyakarta, Gondomanan, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55122, Indonesia
Admission: Rupiah 20,000 / USD 1.50 (per person)
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, at 8pm (Closed on Sundays and Public holidays)
2. Eat all the food!!!
What is visiting a city without eating their delicacies? Yogyakarta offers so many delicious dishes; even we wished that we could try all of them. Here is the top 3 MUST-TRY!
This is a traditional Javanese dish made from young unripen jackfruit that is being boiled for hours with palm sugar and coconut milk. Usually it is served with white steam rice, chicken or fried chicken, telur pindang (hardboiled egg in spices), tempeh (traditional soy product) and sambal goreng krechek (stew made of crisp beef skins).
Credit: Cumi Bunting
This is the popular Indonesian Chinese-influenced sweet roll. They are usually small and round in shape, and it comes with a variety of fillings like mung bean, red bean, yam and even cheese. Many tourists buy them as souvenirs back home for family and friends. These are commonly sold in shops in Yogyakarta.
Rujak Es Krim (Ice Cream Rojak)
This is a popular dessert in Yogyakarta. It combines the elements of sweet, spicy and salty, but yet is delicious. The main ingredients are cucumber, papaya, yam bean, mango and pineapple. The ingredients are then mixed with sambal rojak and palm sugar, and finally topped with coconut milk based ice cream.
3. Shop till you drop!
When you talk about Indonesia, the first thing that comes to your mind definitely would be the street shopping! (LADIES REMEMBER TO BRING BIG SUITCASES!)
Malioboro Street is the place for clothes, bags, shoes and souvenir shopping. If you are buying many items at once from a single stall, do not hesitate to bargain for a lower price! Along this street are also some shops that sell batik clothing if you are looking to buy them.
Credit: Martin Heider on Flickr
Credit: Danumurthi Mahendra on Flickr
Another popular place for shopping is Pasar Beringharjo!
Credit: Balisolo on Flickr
This is the perfect place if you want to get your Hari Raya baju or even get the fabric to custom make your festive clothing. They open from 8am to 5pm, but most shops closes at about 4 pm. It is almost equivalent to an indoor shopping mall so do not worry if you are looking to visit on a rainy day. The old section of this very traditional market is filled with stalls selling huge variety of fruits and vegetables.
Credit: Balisolo on Flickr
Credit: eko susanto on Flickr
Address: Jalan Ahmad Yani No.16, Ngupasan, Gondomanan, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55122, Indonesia
Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm
4. Santai at the Pantais! (Relax at the beaches!)
After spending so much time experiencing the city life of Yogyakarta, it is time to unwind at the beach! A good place to visit is Drini Beach. This beach is a 2-hour drive away from the city.
Credit: Adhi Anindyajati on Flickr
This white sand beach is one of the special beaches along the coastal line of Gunungkidul. Right now it is still considered as a lesser-known place of attraction to tourists. It has a small coral island dividing the beach into two parts. The name of the beach originates from the santigi tree that grows on the island, and locals refer to it as drini. When the tides are low, you will be able to cross over to the island. Climb up the concrete stairs up to the top of the reef to see the amazing view of the whole Drini Beach!
Credit: Beach Indonesia
What’s after a white sand beach? A black sand beach of course!
Pantai Parantritis (Parangtritis Beach) is a popular tourist beach but it is not suitable for swimming due to the strong currents and waves. You can hire horse/pony carts for a ride along the beach during sunset to capture amazing photographs.
Parangtritis is said to be the place to meet the legendary Nyai Loro Kidul or “Queen of the South”. Local folklore warns visitors not to be dressed in green, as the Queen will lure the wearer into the ocean to drown them. (SCARY!!! But you may choose to believe it or not.)
Credit: Life now in the making
Address: Parangtritis, Kretek, Parangtritis, Kec. Kretek, Bantul, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55772, Indonesia
5. Experience the wrath of Mount Merapi!
When talking about Yogyakarta, one of the main landmarks will definitely be the active volcano- Mount Merapi!
The majestic bird’s eye view of Mount Merapi
Credit: John Stenmayer
Mount Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia, is located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta. It is located about 28 kilometres north of Yogyakarta and it had just erupted as recent as March 2014!
You can enquire about the Lava Tour with most travel agencies or even from drivers. The tour will bring you to Kali Adem village that had suffered massive destruction from the eruption. On board a 4-wheel drive, you will stop by 2 lava ravine landforms caused by the eruptions and also a visit to the Sisa Hartaku Museum. At the museum is a display of a destroyed house and items that had been damaged by the eruptions.
Address: Desa Kepuharjo, Kecamatan Cangkringan, Kabupaten Sleman, Provinsi Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
Admission: Depending on the tour package you get
6. Wrap yourself in the history and architecture of the Temples!
There are 2 renowned temples in Yogyakarta and they are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These temples are rich in history and both were badly affected by the earthquakes during the eruptions of Mount Merapi. Till today, many structures of both the temples are still in the midst of reconstruction.
First up is the Borobudur Temple.
This is a Buddhist temple and it consists of 6 levels of square platforms followed by 3 levels of circular platform and lastly the main platform. The platforms have Buddhist statues and structures all around and 72 Buddha statues seated inside stupas surround the main dome.
This temple offers a package to watch the sunrise from the main dome. And we bet the view will be stunning. Do check it out!
Admission: Rupiah 280,000/ USD 22 (per person)
Opening Hours: 6am to 5pm
The next temple is called the Prambanan Temple.
Credit: Ronald Tagra on Flickr
There is also an interesting thing to do while you are at this temple. You can watch the Javanese dance performance of the great Hindu epic Ramayana on 4 nights during each full moon between May and October. This performance is only available on Tuesday and Thursdays nights at 7.30pm.
#HHWT Tip: You are able to purchase a combined entrance ticket for both the Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple at IDR 420,000 (USD 32)!
Opening Hours: 6am to 6pm
Admission: Rupiah 252,000 / USD 19 (per person)
7. Take a break with Mother Nature!
Yogyakarta really has many hidden treasures. From volcanoes to beaches and now there is even a desert! That’s right, you do not have to fly all the way to the Middle East to see them.
At Yogyakarta, there is Gumuk Pasir Parangkusumo! This desert is about 30 kilometres from Yogyakarta and it was formed from the volcanic materials of Mount Merapi. Rocks and sand from the eruption were carried into the southern sea of Java, and the strong currents erode them into grains and carried them onto the mainland. Ta-Dah! That was how the sand dunes were formed.
While many people head there to take wedding photographs, youngsters who seek the thrills, you can try out the sand boarding! (Boards are available for rental at a small price over there)
Credit: Wisata Bagus
Address: Jalan Pantai Parangkusumo, Parangtritis, Kretek, Parangtritis, Kec. Kretek, Bantul, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55772, Indonesia
Opening Hours: 6am to 7pm
The greeneries in Indonesia are of course one of the best in Asia.
One more unique place to visit is Hutan Pinus Imogiri or in English – the Pine Forest. This beautiful forest is just a 45 minutes drive from the city centre. It has been a hot spot for visitors who want to take a good selfie as well as amateur or professional photographers who want to do a photo shoot. We are sure that any photos taken from here are Instagram worthy! This is also the perfect place to chill out with your friends on the hammocks provided or you can even do a picnic.
The best time to visit the Pine Forest is in the morning when the heat has not peaked and lighting isn’t as glaring. The forest lies at the altitude and a third degree viewing post was built to allow visitors to overlook the views of the hills that lies at the south of Yogyakarta. This is definitely a good place to relax your mind and body, while taking in the fresh air and absorbing the wonderful view you get to see here.
Credit: Cahya Legawa on Flickr
Address: Pine Forest, Imogiri, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Java
Admission: Free entry, only a small charge on vehicles. 4WD – Rupiah 4000 / USD 0.30 ; Motorcycles – Rupiah 2000 / USD 0.15
8. Go on an once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
What’s visiting Yogyakarta without exploring the hidden treasures? Especially if you are travelling with your group of friends, these amazing activities are perfect for bonding.
Many people only know Yogyakarta for their culture, temples and Mount Merapi lava tours. Little did they know that this small city offers experiences that you will cherish for the lifetime!
- Underground cave tubing at Goa Pindul
Credit: Vibrant Traveller
At Goa Pindul, you get to relax on a rubber tube and the lazy river will bring you into the cave where you get to see a lot of beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. This lazy river originates from Gedong Tujuh Spring and it is so calm that even children are allowed to do this activity! To have the best experience, it is recommended to begin the activity in the morning at 9am to 10am.
Address: Dusun Gelaran 1, Desa Bejiharjo, Karangmojo, Kabupaten Gunung Kidul, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Website: http://goapindul.com/ (Hit Google translate as this page is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Admission: Rupiah 50,000 / USD 4 (per person, inclusive of a guide, insurance and all gears)
Opening Hours: 7am to 5pm
- Kalibiru National Park
Located about 1-2 hours west of the city, lies this stunning National Park. It has been built and ran by the local residents since 2009. Wisata alam Kalibiru is chilly and quiet, perfect for a getaway from the buzzing city life! Worried that there’s nothing much to do? Fret not! Kalibiru offers a fully scaled rock climbing and high elements facility. Plus, it comes with the amazing view of the landscape below. When you complete the trail with the flying fox, you’ll land at a platform that overlooks Lake Sermo!
Remember not to visit the park too late as the famous tree spot for photo taking usually closes at 4pm or 5pm (subjected to weather too). Due to the geography of the park, it rains almost everyday! The best time to go will be in the early morning where you get plenty of ‘sun-time’.
#HHWT Tip: You will need to pay for photo taking at the spots in the park, check with the visitor booth for more information about the prices!
Address: Kalibiru, Hargowilis, Kokap, Kulon Progo, Yogyakarta 55561, Indonesia
Admission: Entrance per person – Rupiah 5000 / USD 0.40 (Weekday); Rupiah 10,000 / USD 0.80 (Weekend)
Outbound Package – Rupiah 35,000 / USD 3 (Climbing + Spyder web + Sling + Hanging Bridge + Zip-Line)
Opening Hours: 6am to 6pm
With so many amazing reasons to visit Yogyakarta, it is definitely the next popular spot for wanderlusters like you! Hesitate no more and book your next flight out soon. Take a break from the city life and enjoy the culture, food and adventure that this wonderful city offers!
P.S. Silk Air and Air Asia are two of the airlines that fly to Yogyakarta!