Top 5 Things to Do in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Having thousand of islands, each area in Indonesia has its own unique culture and ritual. Tana Toraja in Sulawesi is one which has the said unique feature. Tana Toraja means simply Toraja Land. To get here, you have to first get into Makassar, which is a capital city of South Sulawesi. There is no flight going to this area. That is why you would have to take a private car or bus from Daya Terminal in Makassar to get to Tana Toraja. It takes around 8 to 10 hours driving from Makassar to Toraja.

Most people make their way to this remote location to take part and view the famous ancient burial rites. Death is an important part of the Toraja culture and their funeral rites are definitely worth an experience. Besides this fascinating activity, here are our suggested things to do while you are in Tana Toraja.

Rambu Solo death ritual, Tana Toraja in Sulawesi, Indonesia
People gather around to have the most awaited ritual, Rambu Solo. Picture by : Marina & Enrique

Watch the ancient funeral ceremony

First of all, we must check out the funeral ceremony or burial rites of the Toraja people. It is, after all, the most intriguing part this mountainous region. The local people called this mortuary death ritual Rambu Solo. The history of this ancient rite go way back and the concept of death is deeply entrenched in the people of Toraja.

They believe that a dead person is just someone who is sick and not completely dead until his/her family conduct the ritual. Since a lot of money is required to set a Rambu Solo, many wait for a while until they can afford the buffalos and pigs for the ceremony. Consequently, Rambu Solo also becomes a tool to classify people based on their social structure. The more sacrificial animals they can afford, the more people will discover that a family belongs to the upper social class. The people in Toraja always help one other to run this sacred and obligatory ritual, whether in terms of cost or labour. There is no exact date for Rambu Solo but mostly the rituals are carried out in June, July, and August. Come to Tana Toraja during these months to have a chance to participate in this ritual.

Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia Map
Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia Map

Visit the amazing Graves of Lemo

Visiting graves is surprisingly one of the exciting activities in Indonesia. Take walks around the place to visit various gravesites or other popular sites, normally around 1 – 3 hours walk. If walking is not your thing, you may try taking short bemo (minibus) rides from Rantepao. The most popular and photographed are the graves carved into the wall of the natural rocks at Lemo.

Graves at Lemo, Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Graves at Lemo. Photo by Arian Zwegers

Marvel at the traditional Tongkonan houses

These houses with upward-sloping roofs are decorated with intricate design, and they have been used as a center for Aluktodolo (an old Toraja people’s religion or belief) rites. The Aluktodolo rites are like storing harvest in a carved rice barns or water buffaloes slaughter for ceremonies. Places with houses, granaries and/or ceremonial grounds and burials are Pallawa, Bori Parinding, Kande Api, Nanggala, Buntu Pune, Londo, Lemo and Tumakke.

Tongkonan House at Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Tongkonan House. Photo by Arian Zwegers

Visit Ke’te Kesu village

This village is nominated for having a completed settlement in Tana Toraja. It has houses, granaries, burial place, ceremonial ground, rice fields and water buffalo pasture.

Learn The Traditional Spinning Process in Sa’dan Village

Learn how to spin the cotton with its traditional spinning process here in Sa’dan Village. Although not so well known by tourists, this is one of the must do things here. Grandma Panggau, one of few old people who is still strong and healthy, will teach you how to spin the cotton ball into a yarn. She is here with the support of government through Culture and Tourism Department to demonstrate this rare spinning process to tourists.

After that, buy some local-made woven fabrics to take home. All the fabrics here are directly distributed by the makers around Sa’dan. You may easily find many weavers in Toraja since almost all locals also rely on this job to earn some money. But it is now rare to find someone who can still process the yarn itself for the materials as per traditions.

Traditional Spinning Process in Sa’dan Village, Toraja, Indonesia
Traditional Spinning Process in Sa’dan Village, Toraja. Photo by Isti

View The Highest Statue of Jesus

Everyone knows about the world famous statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the height of 38 m. But few know about this other statue of Christ the Redeemer here in Toraja. Touted to be at the height of 40m, this may be the higher statue of the two!

Get yourself ready to climb the steep stairs 1km uphill to this statue. It is also good to spend your evening here to watch the amazing sunset. It is a picturesque viewpoint with the statue against the violet sky. Do be careful when you go downhill since this place does not provide proper lights along the pathway yet.

Highest statue of Jesus, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia
The Highest statue of Jesus at Tana Toraja. Photo by Isti

Take a bath at the Tilanga Spring Water

If you wish to keep yourself away from the crowd, then this place is for you. Tilanga spring water is a natural pool away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This pristine lake is nestled between rocks surrounded by the lush trees and natural sounds. The deepest part is about 5 meters down.

This destination is located at Sarira Village, Makale, about 15 km south of Rantepao. You can reach this place without any trekking. A parking area is provided. A fun thing to do here is to throw coins into the lake, as the local children here will excitedly jump into the water to catch them.

Take a bath at the Tilanga Spring Water, Toraja, Indonesia
A kiddo is trying to look for coins inside the water. Photo by Isti

Catch The Land Above The Sky

Wake up in the early morning to catch the most beautiful sunrise in Toraja. This place is located 1400 meters above the sea level in North Toraja. Lolai is the name of this place, also known to the people as “The Land Above The Sky”. To get the great view up here, you have to arrive here at least at 4.30 AM. As the sun rises, you will be awed by the light up clouds beneath your feet.

A travel tip is to take your own motorbike here. Please be careful though since the road access to here is narrow with limited street lighting. Drive slowly and stay alert when facing oncoming vehicles down the hill.

Catch The Land Above The Sky, Toraja, Indonesia
Catch The Land Above The Sky of Tana Toraja. Photo by Isti

Toraja is such an exotic destination, not only for its rich culture and unique ritual of generations but also its relatively unknown nature and tourist attractions. Motorbike is the best option here to explore the area. You can rent a motorbike with only IDR 150,000-200,000/day. Also, stay in the tourist area at Rantepao, so that you can easily find everything that you might need there.


Where to stay at Tana Toraja

Most travellers will choose to stay at Rantepao * as it is the most convenient. Popular hotels here are The Heritage Hotel * and Toraja Misiliana Hotel *.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Tana Toraja with Booking.com *

Related articles:
Guide to Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
Top 10 Must Visit Places in Sulawesi
Sulawesi Travel Guide

Top 10 Best Restaurants in Jakarta – Locals’ favourite

Indonesia has been known well for its thousand kinds of local food. In Jakarta itself, you can find all the food from around Indonesia ranging from street food to restaurants. We locals love to eat out too in search of our own favourite foods and here are our very own best restaurants in Jakarta. The restaurants here are mainly from Javanese and Balinese influence.

Eating out in Jakarta will definitely delight your palate with sweet and spicy dishes such as turmeric fish, fried duck with green chillies, mixed rice with all sorts of dishes, meat skewers and much more.

Here is a list of the top 10 locals’ best restaurants in Jakarta that you should try:

Café Batavia

This restaurant is located in the Kota Tua (Old Town) of Jakarta. Do not be surprised if see more foreigners than Indonesian people here. This restaurant preserved its colonial design and structure since 1837. Enjoy your seating in the classy wooden chairs with your selected local food such as Soto Betawi, Nasi Campur, or their signature Batavia Fried Rice.

Address: Jl. Lada No.14, RT.7/RW.7, Pinangsia, Tamansari, Jakarta Barat 11230

Café Batavia, Pinangsia, Tamansari, Jakarta, Barat
When foreigners and locals are hunting the same kind of cuisine at Cafe Batavia. Photo by Isti

Omah Sendok

Taken out from the Javanese language, Omah Sendok literally means “House of Spoon”. This restaurant used to be a house which has been turned into a restaurant. That is why you will find the authentic home ornaments such as its wooden chairs and tables. There is also a view of the pool while you enjoy your meal. I recommend to try Bandeng Priyayi, a dish made with milkfish with a touch of turmeric inside, covered with eggs on the outside, and served with crunchy crisps on the top.

Address: Jl. Taman MPU Sendok No.45, RT.8/RW.3, Selong, Kby. Baru, Kota Jakarta Selatan 12190

Bandeng Priyayi, Omah Sendok Baru, Kota, Jakarta, Selatan
The delicious Bandeng Priyayi. Photo by Omah Sendok

Bebek Kaleyo

If you ask the people in Jakarta about the best place to eat duck in Jakarta, they will definitely answer “Bebek Kaleyo!”. This place is especially for those who love spicy meals. The duck which can be a kind of tough meat can be found tenderly cooked here, with the taste of spices perfectly absorbed deep within. The favourite dish here is Bebek Goreng Cabe Hijau (Fried Duck with Green Chili). But if you still cannot live without red chillis, don’t worry as they are always ready on each table.

Address: Jalan Lapangan Roos No.49, RT.4/RW.1, Tebet Timur, Tebet, RT.4/RW.1, Tebet Timur,  Jakarta Selatan 12840

Best place to eat Duck Bebek Kaleyo, Tebet Timur, Jakarta Selatan
Spacious restaurant around Tebet. AC room is available at the corner of this restaurant. Photo by Isti

Smarapura Resto

Balinese food does not have to be enjoyed in Bali. It can be found in this capital city of Jakarta too. Just located not far from Bebek Kaleyo, Smarapura Resto has a homey ambience with a local touch of Bali. There are 4 wooden gazeboes adorned with typical Balinese fabric in its surrounding. The waiter and waitress here also wear a traditional Balinese suit. A famous dish from Bali you must try is Nasi Ayam Betutu. Another good option is Nasi Campur Bali.

Address: Jalan Tebet Timur Dalam II No.43, Tebet, RT.3/RW.3, Tebet Timur, Jakarta Selatan, 12820

Smarapura-Resto-Tebet-Timur-Jakarta-Selatan
Ayam Betutu, a grilled spiced chicken. Photo by Smarapura Resto Tebet

Mbah Jingkrak

From Bali, we move then to Java. Mbah Jingkrak is a restaurant which serves many kinds of Javanese dish with the typical taste of sweeti and spicy. The menu is displayed in the front and you may choose your own favourites here. There is also a live Javanese music called Keroncong every day starting from 7 PM until 9 PM here. Mbah Jingkrak is located in an ancient Javanese concept house. There is also a pool at the corner that contains colourful balls that you can use for your photo background.
Address: Jl. Setiabudi Tengah No.11, RT.1/RW.1, Setia Budi, Setiabudi, Jakarta Selatan 10220

Javanese food at Mbah Jingkrak, Setia Budi, Setiabudi, Jakarta
Mangut, fish spiced up with coconut milk and chili at Mbah Jingkrak. Photo by Andreas Surya

Dapur Solo

This is another Javanese restaurant which specifically serves a variety of dishes from Solo, Central Java. As the other Javanese restaurant, dishes at Dapur Solo comes laden with sweet and spicy. One of the most renowned food from Solo is Nasi Liwet or in Javanese, we call it Sego Liwet. Nasi Liwet is a kind of rice cooked with coconut milk and Indonesian herbs added with shredded chicken, cooked squash, boiled egg, and of course, sambal (chilli sauce).

Javanese restaurant at Dapur Solo, Melawai, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta, Selatan
Nasi Liwet in Javanese Restaurant Dapur Solo. Photo by @dapursolo1988

Address: This restaurant has few branches. One of them is located in Jl. Panglima Polim Raya No.1, RT.3/RW.6, Melawai, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan

Bunga Rampai

For some more Indonesian local cuisine, you should give this A-class restaurant which a Dutch architecture a visit. This restaurant is very popular among the expats around Jakarta. You will find the entire restaurant filled with luxurious furniture and wallpaper. For the food, you can try Nasi Buketan, a big portion of green rice accompanied with meat skewers, sweet fried potato, diced omelette, and chilli sauce.

A classy dutch style restaurant, Bunga Rampai, Menteng Kota, Jakarta, Pusat
Classy Dutch styled Indonesian restaurant, Bunga Rampai. Photo by Isti

Address: Jalan Cik Ditiro No.35, Menteng, RT.10/RW.5, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, 10310

Bebek Bengil

Adopted from The Balinese language which means Dirty Duck, Bebek Bengil has been here in Jakarta since 2009. The first branch is originally located in Ubud, Bali. Their concept is actually to bring the Balinese ambience to this city. The signature dish here is the Crispy Duck served with stir-fried of string bean and bean sprouts. Don’t worry, the chilli sauce has been included in the package.

Address: The Ubud Building, Jl. H. Agus Salim No. 132, RT.1/RW.5, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat 10310

Bebek Bengil, Menteng Kota, Jakarta, Pusat
Get used to the chili sauce just like the locals. Photo by Naotake Murayama

Sate Khas Senayan

This is one of the restaurants that has opened a lot of branches in Jakarta since 1974. Just like its name, Sate, meat skewers, is their main dish here. The decoration is dominantly filled with the Javanese touches such as the Wayang characters framed on each branch. Wayang is a popular puppet-shadow show in Java. If you visit Sate Khas Senayan, you should order Sate Ayam Campur which serves you chicken skewer layered with good fat and served with peanut sauce.

Address: They open so many branches in Jakarta. One of them is in Jl. Salemba Raya No. 59, Kenari Senen, RT.9/RW.5, Paseban, Senen, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10440

Sate Khas, Senayan Paseban, Senen Kota, Jakarta, Pusat
Chicken satay is placed above the compressed rice cakes. Photo by Aulia Masna

Kedai Tiga Nyonya

When we recall in memory of our grandmother’s cooking, we would go to Kedai Tiga Nyonya. Before you even enter the restaurant, you will see a window styled in typical traditional windows of Batavia (the previous name of Jakarta). You will also find some pictures of old generations framed on the wall with a touch of sepia colour. The recommended food from Kedai Tiga Nyonya is Ayam Siao. It is a chicken dish cooked with ketchup and a touch of kluwak (one of the typical herbs which can only be grown in Southeast Asia)

Address: TIS Square Kav. 8-9, Jl Mt Haryono, Tebet, RT.11/RW.5, Tebet Barat, Jakarta Selatan  12810

Kedai Tiga, Nyonya, Tebet Barat, Jakarta, Selatan
Grilled Gurame accompanied with Stir-Fried Swamp Cabbage and Some Sambal. Photo by : Rollan Budi

As previously mentioned, Indonesia has plentiful of local cuisine, so it might not be enough to just visit one restaurant to have a representative of the Indonesian food. So, get your stomach ready and choose what typical local cuisine you prefer. Do not forget to always order sambal, which is really mandatory to accompany any kind of Indonesian food.

Related articles:
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Top 10 Best Coffee Places in Jakarta – Locals’ favourite picks
Top 8 Vegetarian Food to Eat in Indonesia
3 days Itinerary in Jakarta

Top 10 Day Trips from Jakarta

Jakarta city may be really fun to visit itself, but if you have enough days, doing some day trips out of Jakarta would just be what you need. There a lot of opportunities to discover new sights or explore a new culture, all within the range of a day from Jakarta.

Our day trips from Jakarta covers from historical sites to tasting Indonesian food to exploring nature, be it mountains or the sea, from must visit tourist attractions to simple but fun local activities.

Here are our recommended day trips from Jakarta for you:

Enjoy Indonesian food in Central Bogor

Located 53 km south of Jakarta, Bogor will offer you with a wide range of Indonesian food. Recently, many new cafes and restaurants are mushrooming on the narrow streets of Bogor. Drop by the area of Taman Kencana, Central Bogor where you can find a row of great restaurants lined up along in one alley. There is a famous Kedai Kita restaurant which people go for their famed BBQ Grilled Pizza (Pizza Bakar BBQ). After that, don’t forget to get delicious desserts at Death by Chocolate or Klapertaart Huis.

How to get there: Take the train to Bogor station then you can take the public minivan (angkot). Pay IDR 4,000 and get off in Taman Kencana.

-> Check out our Travel Guide to Bogor
-> Read our Day trip from Jakarta – Bogor’s Botanical Garden, Cimory and Taman Safari

Grilled Pizza, Kedai Kita, Bogor, Jakarta, Indonesia
Grilled Pizza, the Signature Dish at Kedai Kita Bogor. Photo by Angels

Visit The Historical Sites in Cirebon

Another place in the West Java you have to visit is Cirebon. Cirebon offers you the richness of their culture and history. Visit Kasepuhan Cirebon Palace to see the relics from the Islamic Kingdom in Cirebon.

Also, satisfy your cravings by having a bowl of Empal Gentong which you can easily find around this city. Also before heading back to Jakarta, buuy some colourful Batik patterns in Trusmi Batik Village as souvenirs.

How to get there: You can take a car or simply take the train and have three hours journey from Jakarta. There are Cirebon Express and Argo Jati. Both are departing from Gambir Station. The ticket is only IDR 85,000.

-> Check out our One Day Trip to Cirebon from Jakarta guide

Kasepuhan Cirebon Palace, Keraton, Jakarta, Indonesia
Kasepuhan Palace in Cirebon

Shop and get around in Bandung

This city is quickly becoming one of the most popular places to visit in Java. Especially with the number of restaurant, café, factory outlet, and boutique that are growing rapidly in Bandung nowadays. Stroll along Jalan Riau where most of the boutiques are located. After that, head to Jalan Braga and Jalan Asia Afrika to dwell in old city ambience. Alternatively, get closer to nature with Bandung’s tourist attractions such as Situ Patenggang Lake, Tangkuban Perahu, and Keraton Cliff (Tebing Keraton).

How to get there: So many bus options can take you to Bandung. If you want to sit more comfortable and private, you may choose to use elf. The price is considered to be still affordable with around IDR 90,000-IDR 100,000.

-> Read our Travel Guide to Bandung, Java
-> Check out Top 10 Things to Do and Must See in Bandung
-> Don’t miss out Top 10 Best Food to Eat in Bandung

Tebing Keraton, Bandung, Jakarta, Indonesia
Great Morning View from Tebing Keraton at Bandung. Photo by Isti

Find beautiful beaches in Banten

Banten is another area that is easy to reach, with approximately 3 hours drive from Jakarta. Since Banten is located in the lowlands, there are several beaches you can visit. Our favourites are the Sawarna Beach, Tanjung Lesung Beach, and Sangiang Island. After getting your skin tanned at the beach, you can move on to learn some history in Old Banten (Banten Lama). Here, visit the Keraton Kaibon which was built in 1815 and then destroyed by the Dutch in 1832.

How to get there: Take a bus going to Merak or Cilegon, Jakarta to Serang from only IDR 28,000 (as of 2017).

The Ruins of Keraton Kaibon, Banten, Jakarta, Indonesia
The ruins of Keraton Kaibon in Banten. Photo by Isti

Dive and snorkel at Thousand Island

Thousand Island (Pulau Seribu) does not literally consist of thousand of islands, it has approximately 342 islands. One of the most visited islands here is Pulau Harapan, which 4 hours away by ship from Jakarta. People say this island has the best snorkeling spot in Thousand Island. If you find snorkeling is not enough, then you have to explore more by diving deep under where you will find underwater paradise. You can also visit turtles in a sanctuary in Pulau Kelapa Dua and eagle care in Pulau Klotok.

How to get there: You can depart from Muara Angke by paying IDR 50,000 only or from Marina Ancol using a more luxurious boat with a more expensive ticket.

Pulau Harapan, Pulau Seribum Thousand Islands, Indonesia
Pulau Harapan of Thousand Island (Pulau Seribu). Photo by B10m

Explore the unique Baduy Tribe

Baduy is located in Lebak Regency. This tribe decided to live without electricity or any vehicles. They also do not use shampoo or soap. They chose to stay by these rules and not follow any form of modernity. Baduy is divided into two area, Inner Baduy (Baduy Dalam) and Outer Baduy (Baduy Luar). If you want to experience this unique way of living without modernity, then you should take a look to Baduy Dalam. Baduy Luar is the gateway to Baduy Dalam.

How to get there: You can take the train to Rangkasbitung from Jakarta’s Tanah Abang station. Then transit at Aweh Terminal and continue your journey to Ciboleger Terminal, the entrance gate to Baduy Tribe

Traditional House, Sulah Nyanda, Baduy, Lebak Regency, Jakarta, Indonesia
Traditional House, Sulah Nyanda in Baduy. Photo by Hendry Sudarman

Take amazing photos at Gunung Pancar

Gunung Pancar is an area surrounded by pine trees in Sentul, West Java. You can also camp and enjoy your leisure time by hammocking here. If you venture further into the national park, you will find spring water which is one of the source of clean drinking water for the local people.

How to get there: It takes only two hours drive from Jakarta city. Use Jagorawi toll road and exit in South Sentul. A direction map will take you easily to reach Gunung Pancar.

Tall Pine trees in Sentul, West Java, Indonesia
Pine trees of Gunung Pancar, West Java. Photo by Isti

Head up to Puncak (The Peak) for tea plantations or paragliding

Puncak might be the destination where most of the local people go on the weekend. Therefore, a tip is to know when the one-way road system is conducted. Usually, starting from 09.00-11.30, it will be only one-way direction up to Puncak while the one way down back to Jakarta is from 15.00-17.00. Enjoy the vast view of tea plantations or visit the strawberry garden at Berry Farm. For those who like a more challenging experience, try paragliding here!

How to get there: It will be simple to take a car. Use a long toll road and exit in Ciawi.

Tea plantations, Green View, Puncak, Jakarta, Indonesia
Tea plantations at Puncak. Photo by Irman Fauzi

Picnic at Selabintana

Another place which can be reached just 120 km from Jakarta is located at the foot of the Pangrango Mountain. Surrounded by big pine trees, it is really fun to picnic here in the greens. Roll out your picnic blanket and bring some of your own favourite snacks. Else you can also try the popular food from West Java here called Cuanki, a dish consists of tofu, meatball, and dumplings.

How to get there: Get on the bus heading to Sukabumi Terminal and then take angkot number 15. You will arrive right in front of the entrance of Selabintana.

The tasty Cuanki at Selabintana, West Java, Indonesia
Get one of the tasty Cuanki at Selabitana. Photo by Budi Nusyirwan

Fishing or boating at Situ Gunung

Another charm of West Java nearby Jakarta is this artificial lake called Situ Gunung. You can go for fishing and boating here to enjoy its tranquillity. You can also just sit at the lakeside and observe how local people pull in the trawl to trap the fishes. If you are feeling active, you can jog uphill for 4 km to Curug Sawer. Be prepared to get some swimming in too under the waterfall.

How to get there: Go to Bogor Station to take the train to Sukabumi. Get off at Cisaat Station. It is advisable to rent a public minivan to reach Situ Gunung for convenience, at estimated price of about IDR 80,000. A minivan can take up to 8 people.

A Man Fishing with Traditional Net, Situ Gunung, West Java, Indonesia
A local fishing with the traditional net at Situ Gunung. Photo by CIFOR

Making a journey to these places near Jakarta will is definitely a good idea to get away from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta city. It is sometimes a welcome break or sometimes a much sought for adventure. These places are easily visited in a day from Jakarta and much recommended!

Related articles:
Top 10 Things to Do and Must See in Jakarta
Jakarta Travel Guide
Top 10 Things to Do in Java Island
Itinerary for one week from Jakarta around Java

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 much more things to do in Yogyakarta. There are always reasons to return to visit this area of Java Island of Indonesia.


Best Accommodations in Yogyakarta

Booking.com is a good choice as most of the bookings can be cancelled right up to the trip, allowing flexibility. In Yogyakarta, staying in the city center would help to save time in visiting all the must-visit places, but if you are looking for also some relaxation, just a little off center to north or south are some great choices. 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 *

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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