Yogyakarta 5 Days / 4 Nights Itinerary Blog

Yogyakarta has long been my must-visit place in Java, Indonesia. It is also known as Jogjakarta or Jogja or Yogya (you decide!) by travelers and locals alike. From all the places you must visit in Java, this is the one place you cannot miss.

If you have 5 days to spend in Yogyakarta, your itinerary can include a city tour, visiting the two famous temples Borobudur and Prambanan and also some nature trip nearby. Here is my own itinerary in Yogyakarta for 5 days and 4 nights.

Day 1 : Yogyakarta city center tour

It is good to stay near the city center, as it helps for quick access to all the tourist attractions in Yogyakarta. It also offers to experience the hustle and bustle of every day from the morning till night. If you just arrive early in the morning from the overnight train, you can grab a typical breakfast of either Soto, Jenang, Nasi Liwet, or Pecel. All of those food mongers are spread along the Malioboro Street and Pasar Beringharjo (Beringharjo Market). You can easily find some souvenirs at Pasar Beringharjo too. Do not forget to test your bargaining skill here. Also, a tip is to not easily agree with the first price they offer. You can start bargaining with 50% markdown.

A lady sells Pecel, traditional cuisine, Beringharjo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
A lady sells Pecel, traditional cuisine which combines some vegetables and served with peanut sauce dressing. Photo by : Manogamo

If you are already tired from walking, you can choose to take the “becak” (local trishaw) to go around the city. You should also bargain so that it would not be overpriced.  They will start with IDR 10,000 to visit some stores like Bakpia and clothes store but be aware that they will be unhappy if you end up not buying anything at the store. This is because they are hoping to get some percentage from the things you buy at certain stores. Therefore, it is better for you to confirm from the beginning whether if you would want to shop for bakpia and clothes. If you are not, then you can bargain for a more reasonable price to go around the area (maybe around IDR 30,000). You just need to tell them where you want to go.

-> Check out Top 10 Things to Do in Yogyakarta

Do not forget to tell the becak driver to take you to visit the popular tourist attractions in Yogyakarta, such as the Royal Palace (Keraton). It has an open pavilion extravagantly decorated with the golden colored ornaments. There are also galleries which keep treasures of the royal family and also showcased of historical batik fabrics.

After that, head to Taman Sari (Water Castle). Only a step away from the palace, this castle used to be a historical bathing complex for the royals. It is built by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I but finished by Sultan Hamengkubuwono II. Since this place is aimed at resting and relaxing, its four areas are consist of an artificial lake, pavilion, and the bathing complex itself.

Bathing pool at Taman Sari, Yogyakarta

Bathing pool at Taman Sari, Yogyakarta

Since Javanese is well known with its Batik, you may also want to try a Batik workshop, just stop by in one of the small alleys around Taman Sari. Here, you can learn how to make all kinds of stuff using Batik patterns such as bags, purses, or any other accessories.

Creativeness in making batik pattern, Taman Sari, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Show your creativeness by trying make any batik pattern as you wish. Photo by : Martijn Nijenhuls

Then it is time to test your luck. When the night comes, go to Alun-Alun Kidul (South Square park) in Yogyakarta. An urban legend has said that those who can successfully cross between the two huge banyan trees blindfolded will have their wishes come true. The amazing thing is apparently most people failed at that attempt, even though the gap is substantially big enough between the trees.

Urban legend about Banyan trees, Alun-Alun, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Close your eyes, get twirled around by your friends, and walk following your intuition. Photo by Isti

Day 2 : Art Museum, Bling-bling Car, Charcoal Coffee

Today you can expand your knowledge of art by visiting museums. Start your day enjoying art paintings at Affandi Museum, which consists of three galleries. This place is located at Jalan Laksda Adisucipto 167. Take a look at the work of Indonesia’s legendary painter, Affandi. This is also the place where he spent most of his life, produced many of his masterpieces and kept them all away from other painters.

-> Check out the Best Places to Stay in Yogyakarta

Another museum to visit is the Sonobudoyo Museum, located at Jalan Pangurakan Yogyakarta No. 6, Ngupasan, Gondomanan. Do not let your visit here go by without watching the special leather puppet show. The show is available every day from 8 PM – 10 PM. Accompanied by Javanese Gamelan music and Javanese language, this show is the epitome of the art and culture of Yogyakarta. While you are waiting for the show, you can take a look at the collection of artefacts and collections of batik, keris, wayang, and antique weapons.

Special leather puppet show at Sonobudoyo Museum, Jalan Pangurakan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
When the show is on, a Dalang is controlling all the puppet chraracters. Photo by : Hermitianta Prasetya Putra

On this night, go back again to the hip main square from yesterday. Again at Alun-Alun Kidul, you will find a bling-bling car decorated with bold lightings. Although it is such a small car, the lights will bring you to it from afar. The loud music makes the car even livelier. The price is IDR 15,000 for one loop of the ride.

Bling bling car, Alun-alun Kidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Bling-bling car at Alun-Alun Kidul, Yogyakarta, each swith its own different characters. Photo by : Adnan Ali

For supper, we head to a traditional food stall. Heading north from the direction of Malioboro Street, you will find a small alley where Angkringan Lik Man is located. Angkringan is a typical roadside stall in Yogyakarta and I bet can find it in almost every corner of the city. But this one is special since Lik Man has an anti-mainstream coffee to warm up your night. This place will introduce you to a coffee served with the flaming charcoal. You must also try Nasi Kucing and other side dishes such as chicken intestines satay, chicken gizzard satay, quail eggs and satay here.

Coffee with flaming charcoal, Angkringan Lik Man, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Challenge yourself to drink a glass of charcoal coffee. Photo by Ivan Lanin

Day 3  – Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple

Borobudur Temple is not actually located in Yogyakarta but in the Magelang Regency, two hours drive away from the main city area. It is designated as a World Heritage by UNESCO. and consists of 72 stupas, each with statues of Buddha. Borobudur is built based on Buddhism, depicting three levels of the universe (Kamadhatu, Ruphadatu, and Arupadhatu).

-> Read our Guide to Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple Compounds upclose

Borobudur Temple Compounds upclose

Another must visit historical temple other than Borobudur is the Prambanan Temple. The most suggested thing to do here is to watch the Javanese culture show, the Ramayana Ballet, preserved since the olden days. The show is available indoor at Trimurti Theater and it is also possible to watch in an open air theatre. Do not forget to check the schedule online because the show is not performed every day. The ticket price starts from IDR 125,000 and the show begins at 19.30. Ramayana Ballet will showcase 200 artists combining their skills to play a role and dance along with the classical Javanese music.

-> Read our Guide to Prambanan Temple

The Ramayana Ballet, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
When the spotlight makes the show even more beautiful. Photo by Deep Goswami

Day 4 – Day Trip from Yogyakarta with Mountain peak, Caves and Beach

Now it’s time to escape the city of Yogyakarta to look for some dose of nature. We will be visiting Gunung Kidul, about 40 km west of the city of Yogyakarta. We will start at Ancient Volcano of Nglanggeran. If you are quite a fit hiker, you may need only 1 to 1.5 hours to reach the peak. While walking uphill, do not forget to enjoy the serene surroundings and the fresh air. The cold breeze here is great as it is located approximately 700 meters above the sea level

Ancient Volcano of Nglanggeran, Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
A place for serenity and you can feel togetherness here more.. Photo by Isti

Next on our day trip from Yogyakarta is the Goa Jamblang (Jamblang Cave). This vertical cave is typically known as a collapsed doline, formed from a geologist process resulting in a sinkhole about 50 meters square. It is advisable to get a guided tour here to explore the caves. This guided tour will cost you around IDR 600,000-700,000 per person (including all the equipment rental cost). You need at least 2-3 hours to finish this caving adventure. The best time to explore Jamblang Cave is in the morning, finishing before lunch. You will meet a beautiful sunlight trickling onto the stone down at the cave.

The vertical Jamblang cave, Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Follow the light, that’s where you can find a way out. Photo by M. Reza Faisal

After a tiring morning of trekking and caving, it is time for you to just sit and relax, waiting for the sun to set at Indrayanti Beach. Located still in Gunung Kidul Area, this beach offers you a panoramic beauty which is completed by the white sand, majestic hills of coral rocks and sparkling blue sea. If you are a water sports lover, you can try jet ski here, costing IDR 250,000 per 15 minutes.

The panoramic beauty of Indrayanti beach, Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Beach is such a best place to catch the sunset. Photo by Indra Kurniawan

Day 5 – Mangunan Fruit Garden before leaving

Have a visit to the increasingly famous Mangunan Fruit Garden. It is in the area of Bantul, which is 35 km away from the city center. Here you can learn about various kinds of fruits. All fruits are placed in accordance with the slope of its area such as durian, mango, orange, rose apple, orange, and mangosteen. You will also find a beautiful view here on the viewing dock, surrounded by the pine trees. This is one amazing spot for some selfies! Just stand up at the edge of the dock for the backdrop of greenery hills.

The Fruit Garden, Mangunan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Morning mist will welcome you above the clouds. Photo by Yopi Priatna

After this visit, head on back to Yogyakarta for your onward journey. Although you may have done quite a bit here for 5 days, there are always still many more things to do in Yogyakarta. There are always reasons to return to visit this area of Java Island of Indonesia.

Next destinations:
Malang – pitstop to Mount Bromo, with beautiful landscape and some more ancient temples
Mount Bromo – the most popular volcano crater in Indonesia, particularly for its breathtaking sunrise

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Prambanan Temple Compounds, Yogyakarta

Candi Prambanan or Prambanan Temple Compounds, also known as Candi Rara Jonggrang is a well known ancient Hindu Temple in Java, Indonesia. This 9th-century temple built by Trimurti as an expression that God is the Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu) and also the Destroyer (Shiva) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most travelers will gape at its magnificence as they approach the temple from the walkway as it loomed nearer. This is one structure to be noted with, being one of the the biggest Hindu Temple in Southeast Asia. It towers at 47 m high with a wide compound surrounding it inclusive with many temples arranged all around.

Entering to Prambanan Temple Compounds, Yogyakarta

Entering to Prambanan Temple Compounds, Yogyakarta

History and facts

Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple in ancient Java and this royal temple is probably built during the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty. Historian suggests that this temple marks the return of the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty to power in Central Java after almost a century of Buddhist Sailendra Dynasty domination. It also signifies the focus from Mahayana Buddhism to Shivaist Hinduism.

Upclose with Prambanan, Yogyakarta

Upclose with Prambanan, Yogyakarta

In the Prambanan Temple compounds, there are 3 Trimurti temples – Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, 3 Vahana temples – Nandi, Garuda and Hamsa, 2 Apit temples , 4 Kelir temples, 4 Patol Temples and 224 Pervara temples. There are also many reliefs on the walls of these temple that depicts many ancient stories.

This temple is also known for the Rara Jonggrang legend, where it is said that Prince Bandung Bondowoso fell in love with Princess Rara Jonggrang, daughter of King Boko. The princess rejected his marriage proposal because he had killed her father but after his insistence, gave him an impossible condition – to build thousands of temples in one night. With the help of supernatural beings, the prince managed to build 999 temples but the princess fearing his success, had the village maids to began pounding rice and set a fire in the East to fake the sunrise thus cheating the spiritual helpers to leave. The prince was furious about the trick and cursed Rara Jonggrang into a stone which she became the last and most beautiful of the thousand statues. According to the legend, this last unfinished thousand temple is the Sewu temple (means thousands) nearby to Prambanan and the Princess statue is in the north cell of the Shiva temple in Prambanan.

Where is it

Prambanan Temple compound is located 18 km east of Yogyakarta in Central Java, Indonesia.

Why visit

For the magnificence of one of the largest Hindu Temple in Southeast Asia and the rich legend behind these foreboding temples of ancient times.

Reliefs / carvings on Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta

Reliefs / carvings on Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta

When is the best time to go

Most times is good for visiting Prambanan, whether it is the dry season (April – October) or wet season (November – March) of the two seasoned Indonesia.

Dry season will have a peak of tourists and also can be really hot while wet season will see rain later in the day so go early for your visit.

Where to Stay

It is best to stay at Yogyakarta and do a trip here to visit Prambanan temple. Read our Where to Stay at Yogyakarta guide.

Fees

The entry fees for Prambanan is 30,000 Rp for Indonesian adult and 12,5000 Rp for children. For foreigners it is 18 USD for adult and 9 USD for children under 6 (as of 2016).

Opening Times

6am to 6pm daily.

Inside Prambanan Temple Compounds, Yogyakarta

Inside Prambanan Temple Compounds, Yogyakarta

Get in and get around

Best way to get here is first fly to Yogyakarta, and then use the Transjogja public bus to visit Prambanan. You can also hire a car from Yogyakarta to Prambanan and stop by various temples on the way.

Nearby tourist attractions

Candi Sewu – just 10-15 minutes walk from the Prambanan temple, it is worth a visit as the temple ruins are eerily captivating and as a good respite from the crowds in Prambanan.

Candi Sambisari – a good stopover temple on the way to Prambanan, it had been buried underground for more hundred years before the discovery in 1966. Reconstructed, it now stands as a testament to archeologists efforts to restore the glory of the past.

Borobudur Temple Compounds – A 9th-century Buddhist temple is the largest Buddhist structure in the world and is an Indonesia UNESCO Heritage site. It consists of six square platforms with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha status.

Yogyakarta – packed with all the intricacies of a good travel place with hidden treasures of bygone days, narrow alleys and main streets of delights, large array of delicious food to try, arts and cultures dotted everywhere and rich in history.

Prambanan Temple Compounds, Yogyakarta

Prambanan Temple Compounds, Yogyakarta

Travel Tips

Just like Borobudur, it is best to enjoy it at earliest hour possible to simply admire the grandeur in peace and quiet.

At night there might be a performance of Hindu Ramayana in the temple, you may check with the place you stay for an arranged tour.

-> Find the best Yogyakarta hotel deals at Booking.com *

Related Articles:
Yogyakarta Travel Guide
Borobudur Temple Compounds
Top 10 Things to Do in Yogyakarta

Encountering the Heart of Yogyakarta

Lola and I were on a one-month expedition across Indonesia to explore its timeless identity. A cornerstone of the journey would be witnessing Vesak / Waisak at the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur, near Yogyakarta.

Each year on the full moon of the 5th lunar month, thousands of Buddhist monks gather at this Indonesia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site to perform a colorful, spiritual ceremony that celebrates the Enlightenment of the Buddha. The ritual climaxes in the lighting and release of over a thousand lanterns from the 8th Century temple into the moonlit night.

Though only 1% of Indonesia is Buddhist, this wonderful spectacle in this unique setting promised to reveal another key to understanding Indonesia’s fascinating history and identity; I set our sights for Yogyakarta so we would not miss it. The Universe then collaborated by connecting us to a Yogyakarta woman who invited us to join her and her friends for the ceremony. We were to meet at her house, number 10C, at 11 a.m. on 25 May 2013.

Waisak in Borobudur, Indonesia

Waisak in Borobudur, Indonesia

On the morning of the ceremony, I rose at 4 a.m. unable to chill my excitement. Until Lola woke up, I studied the pictures and read the histories of Vesak / Waisak of Borobudur, of the Buddha–everything I could Google. I triple checked the camera, the memory cards, and the battery life. At 9 a.m. I pushed us out the door in case we should get lost.

The taxi dropped us in front of a broad one-story house that was once white. It sat amid a neighbourhood of apartments but had a spacious corner lot overgrown with knee-high weeds. A great banyan tree, fat and intricate with fateful roots dangling from its branches, obscured the house. Separating the property and the street was a cement and rusted metal fence. We walked up the side street to the gate and read the address, “10.”

Statues and Street Arts, Yogyakarta Indonesia

Statues and Street Arts, Yogyakarta

Back on the main street, we searched for 10C without success. We walked three blocks and with sputtering English asked a shop attendant. He shook his head. We pointed to the address on the torn paper where I had scribbled it. He shook his head again, pointed to his address, “22B,” and pointed back toward the squat, obscured house. The clock’s minute hand rolled on.

Back at the dilapidated house, I pushed the squeaky gate open and went to the door. Green algae grew on the stone entrance. Cobwebs covered the door’s hinges. I knocked, waited, and knocked again. Nothing. Lola said we should check the back.

I dodged the hanging banyan roots and turned the corner to the opposite side. It was all weeds and grasses, clouded windows, and vigilant lizards. There were no side entrances, no mailboxes, and no 10C. Vesak was floating into the sky without us.

Fruit sellers, Yogyakarta Indonesia

Fruit sellers, Yogyakarta

As we rounded the corner to return to the street, a small hunched woman with tan skin and the sun shining on her white, pulled-back hair stood with her hand on the gate. Seeing us, her crinkled face showed confusion. We stopped, put our hands together at our noses, and bowed our heads. “So sorry,” I said. “Excuse us; we are lost.”

A warm smile overcame the tan face. Bahasa words came from her mouth.

“So sorry,” I said again, bowing my head, “no Bahasa.”

Her smile brightened. “What are you looking for?” she said in crisp English.

A gentle and inviting presence seemed to surround her. We approached with smiles of our own. The strong tropical sun rays reflected a pale blue tint in her cataracts. Her thin, delicate hands embraced our forearms as though she wished to speak through them. Her name was Anna.

She asked our names and origins and reasons for being in Indonesia. As she spoke, she looked up at us, smiled, laughed, and squeezed our forearms. “Is this your daughter?” Anna asked.

“She’s my wife!” I said laughing.

Lola said, “Thank you so much!”

Anna covered her mouth and laughed. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but she looks so young.”

“And I look so old?” I said with a smile.

“No, no,” said Anna, laughing, smiling, squeezing our arms. “Oh, please, won’t you come inside?”

People of Yogyakarta Indonesia

People of Yogyakarta

Anna sat us in her main room upon solid ornate wooden chairs. The floor was rose marbles that desired a polishing. The yellowing plaster walls had carved-wood art and photographs of children and men in suits from the 70s. The house seemed to hold stories and memories of a happy home of children and parties.

Soon the radiant Anna returned with a wooden tray and tea for us three. She asked about our families and how we met and told us about herself, always smiling and reaching those thin, delicate hands toward us. Anna would get going on a topic and mid-sentence forget the English word. Then she would bend over laughing, and when she sat up, she would wave her hand and ask a different question.

She told us about her travels as a young woman with her husband, an English Literature lecturer, through Europe and Australia and America. She spoke five languages, including Japanese, which she had learned during the Japanese occupation, a time she disliked recalling. Her three children were married, and each had children of their own in Jakarta, Melbourne, and “Ohio…maybe Ohio…I never can remember the name of that city.”

More people of Yogyakarta Indonesia

More people of Yogyakarta

When we finished our tea, Anna asked again what we were seeking. “Address 10C,” said Lola. Anna waved a hand and said it must be near because she was number 10. Then she stood and escorted us to the gate.

We thanked her a dozen times. Lola hugged her and asked if we could take her picture.

Anna covered her hair and forehead. “Oh, no,” she said smiling, “I’m not made up.” Then she grabbed our forearms once more and said, “I think you’re a lovely couple. You will last a long, long time.” Lola hugged her again. We thanked her once more and stepped outside the gate.

As we walked toward the main street, Anna waved both of her thin, delicate hands goodbyes. Then she returned to her house.

It was almost noon, and we still had not found 10C. The only place left was the alley down the side of Anna’s house. At the end of the alley was an apartment complex. The mailboxes read “10A-S.”

Our host, Zita, waved off our apologies because the group was still incomplete. Two others had not arrived from Bandung.

Tubers at Pindul Caves, Yogyakarta Indonesia

Tubers at Pindul Caves, Yogyakarta

At 1:30, the others arrived, but we had to drive across town to get them. At 2:30 we were finally leaving Yogyakarta, heading away from Borobudur. Zita and her friends wanted to take us to the Pindul Caves first.

A heavy rain started to fall as we mounted inner-tubes and floated a river through the bat-friendly cave. At 6 p.m. we headed down the mountain in the driving rain. We cleared the traffic-choked Yogyakarta at 7 p.m.

At 8 p.m., still in traffic, still listening to the tropical downpour on the car windows, Zita received word that the ceremony had been cancelled due to rain.

The next morning Lola drooped her sympathetic eyes and asked if missing Vesak had upset me. “Vesak happens every year,” I said. “Yesterday, Yogyakarta showed us its heart through the kindness of a lovely woman.”

A traveler can get caught up on the bucket list. The temples, the palaces, the shows–they can display a place’s majesty and tradition, but its soul can only be found in unanticipated encounters with its unique people.

“So what should we do today?” I said.

“Wander and get lost,” said Lola.

Eva Indonesia Travel Guide
M. Myers Griffith writes fiction, poetry, and travel literature. His published work includes poems, contemplative essays, and travel tales. Mr. Griffith earned a B.A. in Latin American Literature and a Master of Public Health. His decade as an international public health professional makes him uniquely adept at understanding and describing social and cultural phenomena. M. Myers Griffith can be found at Asia Sketches.

Photo credits from top: Carl Ottersen, Lola Pava, Lola Pava, Jonathan Lin, Jonathan Lin, Lola Pava

-> Find the best hotel deals in Yogyakarta *

Related articles:
Borobudur Temple Compounds
Waisak at Borobudur
Yogyakarta Travel Guide
Top 10 Things to Do in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta (Jogja), Java Travel Guide

Yogyakarta had long been a must-visit place in Java, Indonesia. It is also interchangeably known as Jogjakarta or Jogja or Yogya (you decide!) by travelers and locals alike. From all the places you must visit in Java, this is the one place you cannot miss.

Yogyakarta is packed with all the intricacies of a good travel place with hidden treasures of bygone days, narrow alleys and main streets of delights, a vast array of delicious food to try, arts and cultures dotted everywhere, and rich histories. Most importantly it is near to two of the largest ancient temples of Buddhist and Hindhu, both equally magnificent and humbling in its own way. Being a city of half a million people, Yogyakarta is further packed in with travellers from all around the world, thanks to the tourist attractions that it offers. Come here and find out what it means by truly travelling Indonesia.

-> Find Where to Stay in Yogyakarta

Map of Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia

Map of Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia

Where is it

Yogyakarta is located in Central Java, just slightly at the south with

Why go

Come here to discover the two ancient temple which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Indonesia – a foreboding unique circular Buddhist temple Borobudur and a magnificent legendary Prambanan. Not to mention the city is filled with arts and cultures and rich in history with Kraton Palace and the Water Castle. Plus the food here is the epitome of Javanese cuisine. The people is nice and the place well connected with the Transjogja bus.

Borobudur at Central Java Indonesia

Borobudur at Central Java

When is the best time to go

Best time to go to Yogyakarta would be the dry season which is generally April to October so that you can get the best out of your time without having rain dampening your activities. But it is still possible to travel in the rainy season for it usually only rains in the evening so you can still do everything in the day. The day starts really early here with the city bustling by 6 am.

What to see

Being one of the top tourist place, Yogyakarta have many tourist attractions around the city. Here is some of what I thought the best tourist attractions you must see in Jogja.

Prambanan – well known ancient Hindu temple built in the 9th century for Trimurti as an expression that God is the Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu) and also the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound lies just 18km east of Yogyakarta and can be easily reached with the Transjogja public bus, which is by far the cheapest and best option to visit Prambanan. It is one of the Indonesia UNESCO World Heritage Site, being one of the largest Hindu temple architecture in Southeast Asia.

Reading at Kraton Palace, Yogyakarta

Reading at Kraton Palace, Yogyakarta

Kraton Palace– This is a palace from the days of the Sultans of Yogyakarta, with its own unique architecture and many heirlooms of the glory days. Be sure to get a guide to walk you through the palace (it’s free) so that you will understand and appreciate better the history and culture of Jogja.

Taman Sari (Water Castle) – This castle is a massive complex served as a former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta and it has its various functions including a surreal bathing place. The blue pool stands starkly against the pink buildings making it almost surreal.

Candi Sambisari – among the many Candi (temples) scattered around Yogyakarta, this one stands out as it used to be buried five metres underground for hundred of years until the first slab of stone was discovered in 1966 and it had been slowly reconstructed since then. Moreover it is a good stopover on the way to Prambanan.

Bathing pool at Taman Sari, Yogyakarta

Bathing pool at Taman Sari, Yogyakarta

What to do

Shopping – Shopping in Yogyakarta will be a delight with the likes of shops along Jalan Malioboro and Pasar Beringharjo that offers so much of Indonesian goods like rattan products, silver jewelries, food, household items and handmade products.

Golf – Many tout that this is the finest place to play golf in Indonesia, with the famous 18 holes golf course located at the slopes of Mount Merapi. You can enjoy the scenic view of the mountains while playing golf, somewhat of a golfer’s paradise. This famous golf course is designed by the international firm Thomson Wolveridge & Perret.

Golf with Mount Merapi as backdrop, Yogyakarta

Golf with Mount Merapi as backdrop, Yogyakarta

Where to stay

There are literally hundreds of luxury, boutique and budget hotels in Yogyakarta to choose from thanks to its popularity. You can find good quality backpackers place and also boutique hotels surrounding the main Malioboro Street *. It is a strategic location to stay being in the centre of all the tourist attractions. But if you are looking for also some relaxation, just a little off center to north or south are some great choices.

Booking.com is my favourite site to book a place when I am planning my trip. The main reason is that most of the bookings can be cancelled right up to the trip, allowing flexibility. Here are a few of the best accommodations that we recommend to stay in Yogyakarta:

    Luxury (from 150 USD)

  • Rosseno Villa
    For those who want tranquillity and privacy, this villa lies just 15 minutes south of the city center surrounded by rice fields. It comes not only with a private pool, but also all meals provided and an all-day use of a car and driver! Well worth the splurge here. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
  • Phoenix Hotel – McGallery by Sofitel
    Run by the well known Sofitel, this hotel is for those who wants their luxury in the center of Yogyakarta. The hotel’s interior comes with a blend of grand Asian and European decor, with the rooms terraces overlooking a courtyard and pool. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
    Mid-range (50 – 150 USD)

  • Novotel Yogyakarta
    For those who seek a well known brand and comfort, this hotel is located strategically to visit the tourist attractions. You can expect clean modern rooms with wide range of delicious breakfast. It also comes with a pool. Definitely value for money. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
  • Dusun Jogja Village Inn
    For those looking for a nature getaway and some tranquility, this hotel is like an oasis in the middle of the city. Surrounded by tropical gardens of palm trees around a beautiful pool. It is also well located, just south to the main attractions area. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
    Budget (below 50 USD)

  • Griya Wijilan
    Just nestled next to the Keraton Palace, this small and Javanese designed boutique hotel is for those who knows a good deal. The location is hard to beat! There is also nice terrace and garden for those who hang to rest in between the hustle and bustle. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
  • Rumah Mertua Boutique Hotel
    For those looking for a boutique hotel, combining comfort with budget, this hotel comes wih Javanese decorated rooms and a pool surrounded by romantic gardens. It is located 20 minutes drive north from the city center in a tranquil setting. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *

What and where to eat

Gudeg – touted as the City of Gudeg, this dish is a must to try. It is an unique Indonesian dish is a stew made from young jackfruit (nangka) with palm sugar, coconut milk, meat, garlic and spices. The special taste came from the slow melding of flavours and textures to the right perfection. Get a taste of gudeg at the longest standing establishment – Gudeg Yu Djum.

Ayam Goreng – also famous for its fried chicken/ Free range chicken are meld with flavours of garlic and coriander and then fried to perfection. A place to try this is Ayam Goreng Mbok Berek

Gudeg Yu Djum, Yogyakarta

Gudeg Yu Djum, Yogyakarta

Nasi Langgi – it is something that locals eat most of the time, warm rice served with various dishes which you can choose your own. Get them at the small stall in Gandekan Street.

Angkringan – used to be sold by people using a hopper as storage, now it can be found in restaurants. This humble dish consisted of a small serving of rice with sambal and wrapped inside a banana leaf. The most popular angkringan is Angkringan Lik Man, also known as Angkringan Tugu as it is located near the Tugu station.

Kopi Joss – don’t forget also to try out this Javanase espresso dipped with burning coal, Indonesia’s answer to a good old coffee.

For slightly higher budget but worth it, you should try out Gajah Wong. I have to say the food here is up to standard and I might even go as far to name it the best restaurant in Yogyakarta. You can find the finest Javanese cuisine here. If you are at the right time, you may also be accompanied by the Javanese gamelan music which would be performed live.

Food at Gajah Wong, Yogyakarta

Food at Gajah Wong, Yogyakarta

How to get there

By flight
Fly into Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport, just 8km east of town, it is one of the very convenient airport hub. Garuda serve many frequent flights to here and also connects to Denpasar few times a day. Other Indonesian domestic airlines also fly here from Jakarta, Denpasar, Surabaya and other major cities. International flights like Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines flies to Yogyakarta from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Air Asia also fly from Singapore to Yogyakarta.

How to get around

Taxi – most taxis here are metered and normally trustworthy to use in comparison to Jakarta. Most fare around town would not cost more than 15,000 Rp.

Becak (Trishaw)
One of the novel way to get around Yogyakarta is on a Becak, which you can feel the city as you go by. Remember to haggle the price before getting on.

Becak (trishaw), Yogyakarta

Becak (trishaw), Yogyakarta

Bus
The best bus to take here is Transjogja, which connects nearly every corner of Yogyakarta and even up to Prambanan. Look out for the bus stops, scattered around the town, to get on one. For the routes, you can always ask the attendant at the stop for assistance. A single trip usually cost around 3,000 Rp. When you are ready to get off, either flag at the driver/helper or else just knock on the windows like the locals do.

Ojek (motorbike taxi)
Many people are walking around especially on Malioboro, who would want to service you with their motorbike, just remember to haggle for the price before getting on any. It is a good choice to avoid traffic during rush hour.

Car
You can always rent a car with a driver here, driving is not really recommended with the crazy Indonesian traffic. Rental may varies around 400,000 Rp for a full day.

Transjogja and its bus stop, Yogyakarta

Transjogja and its bus stop, Yogyakarta

Where to go nearby

Borobudur– 1 hour drive from Yogyakarta, this 9th century temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and is one of Indonesia UNESCO Heritage site. It consists of six square platforms with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha status. Thousands of Buddhists does their pilgrimage here in Borobudur during Waisak day.

Surakata (Solo) – a nearby town famous for its Batik.

Parangtritis beach – the nearest beach to Yogyakarta, the locals flock here during the weekend.

Surabaya – next major city from Yogyakarta, here you will use it as a springboard to many other places with the second major airport of Indonesia. You can also make way to Mount Bromo from here.

Prambanan  at Yogyakarta

Prambanan at Yogyakarta

Travel Tips

Stay safe here as petty crimes are rampant with such like pickpocket, especially on local bus. Also, watch out for many scams that prey on tourists here, the most famous it the one that tries to get you to see how students make batik in an art centre and then try to sell to you at crazy prices.

Photo credits from top: Burmesedays, Rachel (x4), yudha aria putra, Rachel, Rachel, viajar24h.com, Bowo Prasetyo and Rachel.

Related articles:
Top 10 Things To Do in Yogyakarta
Top 10 Things to Do in Java
Hiking Mount Bromo