If Jakarta is the geographical capital, then Yogyakarta must be Indonesia’s cultural capital. This city makes you feel relaxed and peaceful, like the true culture of the island of Java. That beauty is partly due to Yogyakarta being a university city, bringing a different, calm atmosphere. The nightlife here is also much better than most other Indonesian cities.
1. How to get to Yogyakarta?
From all the main cities in Indonesia as well as international destinations such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur you can take a plane to Yogyakarta.
If you depart from Jakarta, the best way is the train. There are night trains, but if you can arrange the itinerary, we recommend travel by train during the daytime. It will be a beautiful trip, which will take about 8 – 10 hours. From Solo to Yogyakarta, there are many train lines but it only takes 1 hour.
Buses are available daily from most cities in Java to Yogyakarta. Departing from Solo takes 2 hours, Bandung takes 10 hours and from Jakarta is about 12 hours.
In addition, there is another means of transportation – the minivan, which runs faster than a bus but costs a bit more. You can book a ticket at a hostel or local travel agent.
2. The ideal time to visit Yogyakarta
To experience Yogyakarta more fully, do not forget to visit the city during the dry season from July to September.
3. What to visit in Yogjakarta?
Borobudur and Prambanan
Most tourists come to Yogyakarta to see Borobudur – the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Thousands of people were needed to build this great complex. This wonder also shares the same fate as Angkor Wat, falling into centuries of oblivion and being awakened, discovered from a few centuries ago. Borobudur lies in the arms of the deep forest, about 40 km from Yogyakarta. Trees and weeds grow faster (even when rain falls), which Borobudur has long ago lost. There are always security guards in place to make sure visitors do not climb or touch inside the statues. This action is not really nice; however, it seems that because touching the statue will bring good luck, regardless of protection, many ban signs, you still see a lot of people want to “break the rule”.
Near Yogyakarta, there is also the Prambanan temple area which is a famous sightseeing spot not to be missed. This is the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia with 244 temples. Both Borobudur and Prambanan are easily accessible by bus.
Visit the primeval forest in the cave
Formed thousands of years ago after a major earthquake, the Jomblang cave is a rare natural wonder of Yogyakarta. With a depth of more than 60 m, it’s hard to imagine having a flora population at the bottom of the cave. Great trees, mushrooms, and ferns live here and are almost untouched by humans. You should go through this cave, cross a dark tunnel about 250 m to reach Grubug cave. Sunlight shines through the mouth of the cave and illuminates the entire stalactite. To be able to take pictures of this amazing phenomenon, you should come here between 10 and 12 o’clock.
Another option for nature lovers is Kalibiru National Park, located on the Menoreh mountain range, with pristine, majestic scenery. To freely view the scenery from above, visitors can climb or walk through the challenges of hanging ropes in the air. The rope will take you to a table placed on the trunk, from which, you can zoom in to see the natural landscape with Sermo Lake or white waves in the southern sea.
Immerse yourself in the Water Castle
Being a gift from the Portuguese people to the royal family, the Taman Sari castle consists of many lakes and artificial oases, and this was also the place where the king of Yogyakarta and his royal concubines relaxed. Walk along the main corridor to the castle’s watchtower, where you will have the opportunity to admire the entire scenery of the city or visit the Tajug – a system of underground bunkers.
Ngayogyakarta Imperial Palace
Located between Winogo and the Code River, experiencing many ups and downs of history, the Ngayogyakarta Imperial Palace still retains its unique architecture and culture. If the beauty of the Dutch stained glass windows makes you excited, overwhelmed, the intricate decorative roof and marble floor are worth admiring. It is also the residence of the royal family and contains many secrets about the life and activities of the monarchy in Java.
Admire the art of Batik
The residents of Yogyakarta are famous for being extremely skilled craftsmen, so you will easily find the art workshops. Batik art was originally formed in Southeast Asian countries and focused on the use of candle wax, coloring, and a variety of different fabric materials. You can completely draw your own textures on a canvas using a tool called tjanting.
Located 25 km from the city, Parangtritis is the nearest beach. Come and experience for yourself the special black sand formed by volcanic ash. Activities such as off-road riding, horse riding, or even sandboarding are available. Not far from the beach is Gumuk Pasir sand dune – a suitable place to take photos and take part in sand sliding. If you do not like to go to the beach, go to the surrounding swimming pools and enjoy your life. This is also an ideal location for sunset photography.
You definitely will not miss the Sinden beach on your trip to Yogyakarta. Unlike many fine white sand beaches with soft waves, Sinden was somewhat more intense, each silver head wave rushing against the back of a massive high cliff. Therefore, the most interesting experience here is crossing a suspension bridge, surfing on the top of the waves, and exploring the rich flora on Kalong Island.
You want to take a relaxing in the sea, but don’t want to be bothered by the waves? Come to Wedi Ombo in Gunungkidul. Here, you can enjoy soaking in the water to watch the sunset. The water here is so gentle because it is surrounded by large coral rocks neatly arranged.
Walking around South Square at night
Yogyakarta has two large squares, North and South. For tourists, going to South Square is a more reasonable option. Performing arts activities, buskers, or street food stalls will start operating in the evening. You can try to participate in a local spiritual activity. Close your eyes and walk between banyan trees. If you can walk through it means your future will be very bright, if not … this is just a fun activity.
Watch the art show
If you like this activity, come to Ramayana. The dancers will perform a dance to tell you an ancient Hindu legend about Rama and Sita. This is an outdoor art show with more than 200 participants.
Shopping in Jalan Malioboro
In the heart of Yogyakarta, you will find Jalan Malioboro shopping street. This is an ideal starting point to explore the city. Both sides of the road are filled with souvenir shops at extremely affordable prices. You can also have dinner on this street or the surrounding areas, in restaurants, shopping centers, or simply on the roadside.