Undiscerning, Purwokerto lies in the heart of the main island of Java in Indonesia. Often overshadowed by popular places like Jakarta and Yogyakarta, it is one of the hidden treasure of Java. Off the usual beaten path, if you have the time between Jakarta and Yogyakarta, do stop by this quaint and relaxing little place.
Where is it
Purwokerto is right in between Jakarta and Yogyakarta, serving as also one of the major train hub connecting to north or south Java train lines. It is in Central Java, Indonesia.
Here you can go back to where a real city would be like in Java before it get over-saturated as a jaded city, with its little park (alun-alun), good food, laid-back atmosphere, surrounded by many natural wonders and most of all the fun and friendly people.
What to seeAlun-alun – somewhat quiet little park in the middle of the city where you can see families with kids and local lovers hanging around at night. It is also dotted with various snacks stalls like barbecue corn (jagung).
Walk around the city and soak in the atmosphere while enjoying various local architectures of historical building, such as the Pendopo Si Panji, Railway Station and Museum.
What to doThese are the few recommended must do in Purwokerto by the locals:
Swim in one of the world’s most amazing waterfall in Baturaden – Curug Belot.
Eat the local Soto and Mendoan.
Watch Grebeg Suran (shadow puppet show) if you are in the right season (generally around Hari Raya – Muslim new year of Indonesia festival)
Hike into Pancuran tujuh through beautiful forest and then soak your tired feet after in the natural hot springs.
What and where to eat
This place is famous for many street food and snacks, one of the best is the mendoan, which is fried tempe. The mendoan version here is one of the best in compare to the other versions in Java. Also don’t forget its local specialty of Soto Purwokerto, which unlike other soto in the region it comes doused with some peanut sauce, definitely a must try. The best Soto Purwokerto is at the Jalan Bank – Haji Loso. Also, try the traditional rice flour cake, hot off the pan for breakfast, you may find a really good one outside of the Satria sports stadium. Try also the Es Duren if you are brave enough to eat the king of fruits, this one doused with ice shavings, coconut milk and cendol.
Where to stay
Few budget choices and many mid-range to high end, you can see Purwokerto may yet to be the locals favourite getaway places. For backpackers you may still have choices yet but no frills and simple small hotel. You may want to choose to stay in Baturaden for a cooling respite, and also for its many nature hikes and waterfalls that are best visited during the morning.
How to get there
Fly to Jakarta or Yogyakarta from anywhere around the world with various international airlines to Indonesia.
From Jakarta or Yogyakarta:
Hop on the train connecting between Jakarta and Yogyakarta and hop off in Purwokerto station, note that you would have to pay the full fare, though. You may take Argo train which is more popular with tourist for its condition but may be more expensive than the others. Refer to train travel in Indonesia for more information on the trains. The train ride is about 5 hours from Jakarta or 2 hours from Yogyakarta.
You may also catch various buses that serve to this transportation hub, Terminal Bus Purwokerto is big and comfortable, located about 4km from town. The recommended bus would be Sinar Jaya connecting to Jakarta in 9 hours or Yogyakarta in 4-5 hours.
How to get around
Purwokerto is a relatively small city therefore if you have the time (and strength) you may cover the place by foot, else there are the ubiquitous angkot (minibus) for a quick round the city and costing only 3000 Rp per person. If you want to go more traditional and more slowly for sightseeing, you may take the local trishaw call becak, but you have to haggle for the nonfixed price. There are also taxis around if you need.
Where to go nearby
Baturaden – take a dip at one of the many breathtaking waterfalls, hike in the forests and relax and many natural hot water springs and lakes.
Banyumas – the popular attraction here is the Puppet Museum, showcasing various puppets and cultural items and photos.
Dieng Plateau – Up in the highlands with less travelers around, explore the rolling hills of greens and discover really ancient temples.
Map credit to Burmesedays
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