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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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