23 Tourist Attractions and Best Things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
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After almost a decade, I finally revisited Yogyakarta. Also known as Jogja – Yogyakarta is a city on the Indonesian island of Java that is popularly known for its traditional arts and cultural heritage. Along with fellow travel bloggers and online content creators from the Philippines, I joined a familiarization trip initiated by Cebu Pacific and the Tourism Ministry of Indonesia to Yogyakarta on December 8 – 12.
Indonesia is one of the countries in the ASEAN Region that is gathering more attention and interest from Asian and Western travelers. It comes to no surprise given that the country has a lot of hidden gems that are worth seeing in person. One of the cities that you shouldn’t miss out on is the city of Yogyakarta.
Yogyakarta is the city famous for many iconic sights and as well the rich culture of Javanese People. Planning to visit Yogyakarta, Indonesia for your next vacation? Here are some of the activities and places we visited during our recent trip:
Experience Kereta Wisata Luxury Train to Yogyakarta
After staying overnight at Aryaduta Hotel in Jakarta (hotel info), we left early morning and headed to Gambir Station in Central Jakarta for our 8-hour train ride to Yogyakarta. Kereta Wisata Luxury Train is an airconditioned Business Class train that is being used by the Indonesian President and VVIP state guests. The train complete with a kitchen dining area, a karaoke lounge, movie room, luggage area, and a clean toilet. The train also offers buffet lunch, traditional snacks, coffee, and tea. The entire coach is good for up to 22 passengers and is also available for booking. Overall, it was a fun and comfortable train ride. I love the scenic view of some Javanese towns, rice fields and lush greeneries from our glass windows. It costs $1000-$1600 per trip and departs from Gambir Station in Jakarta.
Watch Sunrise at Borobudur Temple
Located in the neighboring town Magelang about an hour ride from Yogyakarta, Borobudur is the top tourist attraction that you shouldn’t miss when you visit Yogyakarta. We left Plataran Heritage Borobudur Hotel (hotel info) at around 4:30am to experience sunrise at Borobudur Temple. We had to leave early to secure the best spot in the temple and to achieve our IG goals 🙂
Borobudur or Barabudur for locals is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple located in Central Java, Indonesia. Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and ranks with Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia as one of the great archeological sites of Southeast Asia. The pyramidal base temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a monumental stupa. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. The heritage site was restored in the 1970’2 with the help of UNESCO.
Explore the Borobudur Village by Andong
After our Borobudur Temple Sunrise tour, our next activity was a cultural immersion tour at one of the nearby village called Desa Bahasa. What made this tour more interesting was the fact that we are riding an Andong while exploring the village. Just like our Kalesa, Andong is a kind of a horse-drawn carriage that is now used as a tourist transport around Borobudur and Yogyakarta. It’s like traveling back in time, not to mention that it’s a good cultural experience too. During our Andong tour, we visited a Tahu (tofu) factory, a Javanese sugar maker, Pawon Temple, and Pawon Luwak Coffee Shop. After exploring the village, we continued our Andong tour back to the hotel.
Lunch at Plataran Borobudur Resort & Spa
After our Andong tour and a quick visit to Villa Borobudur Resort, we proceeded to Plataran Borobudur Resort and Spa for another resort inspection and Lunch. We explored some of the facilities of the resort including their PADMA Spa – a spa with a beautiful interior and a fantastic view of the Borobudur Temple. Our tour was followed by an authentic Yogyakarta lunch at STUPA Restaurant – the resort’s in-house restaurant. The food served well represented the Javanese cuisine. Each dish was cooked perfectly, well seasoned, beautifully garnished, and tasted wonderful!
Try the Balinese and Javanese Cuisine at Iga Sapi Bali
One of my favorite meals during our stay Yogyarta was our dinner at Iga Sapi Bali. The restaurant is quite far from our hotel but the trip was well worth it. While waiting for our food, we sampled different types of Krupuk (Kropek in PH). Each table has a different variety of Krupuk and everybody went crazy table hopping to sample the different varieties. I love their beef ribs, its tender and not too spicy. Don’t get me wrong, I truly love spicy food, in fact, I have all kinds of Sambals in my kitchen. I appreciated the ribs for not being too spicy since all the dishes served were all extremely spicy.
Drink a Glass of Jamu
Your total Javanese experience will not be complete without sampling a local food or two but how about a local drink During our breakfast at Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel (hotel info), I got curious when I saw a unique looking drink at the buffet table. I asked one of the staff and she said its called Jamu. Jamu is a traditional Indonesian medicinal juice with honey, milk, flowers extracts, tree barks, and other natural ingredients. The locals said that this medicinal drink can cure an upset stomach, enhancing stamina and its a good aphrodisiac too. It tasted really bitter and a bit weird since I only added a small amount of honey but overall, it’s not really bad at all.
While having breakfast at Plataran Heritage Hotel, we were able to sample some of the famous Yogyakarta dishes like Gudeg. The iconic dish of Yogyakarta, Gudeg is a dish based on jackfruit but cooked in a savory style way that is served with rice. It is a very delicious dish that truly exemplifies the culture of the city. It is very similar to Ginataang Langka of the Philippines.
Stop by at the Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple (Loro Jonggrang) is a UNESCO world heritage site which has 240 temples built during the 9th century. Due to a major earthquake in the 16th century, the temple complex was abandoned for hundreds of years until it was discovered in 1811. Prambanan Temple was restored by Dutch conservationists in 1918 and through the help of the Indonesian Government and UNESCO, a major restoration was done between 1975 and 1982. Several years after its partial restoration, the monument was finally included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1991.
Considered as the Most Beautiful Hindu Temple in the World, Prambanan features a well-maintained park and clean facilities making this a pleasant place for local and foreign visitors.
You can also visit the temple to see the sunrise or sunset and watch a ballet performance at night in an open-air setting with the temples as the background.
Prambanan Entrance Fee: USD$25
Make Batik at Batik Rara Djonggrang Yogyakarta
Batik textiles are native to Indonesia although it’s also widely popular in other ASEAN countries like Singapore and Malaysia. The word batik is Javanese in origin and the best way to learn about this wonderful fabric is by visiting a Batik making shop in Yogyakarta. Connected to the city’s history, to appreciate the beauty of it, it can be admired, or you can even create one on your own at Batik Rara Djonggrang Yogyakarta. They also have a shop where you can buy quality and handmade Batik products.
Address: Jl. Tirtodipuran No.18, Mantrijeron, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55143, Indonesia
Hours: 8:00am to 8:00pm
Telephone: +62 274 375209
Shopping at Malioboro Street
Malioboro is a one-stop shopping destination and the most popular street in Yogyakarta. Sidewalks on both sides of Malioboro Street are crowded with small stalls selling a variety of goods. From fine silver, local handicrafts, jewelry, bags, delicacies, and all types of Batik products, Malioboro is the perfect place for you to bargain and buy local souvenirs for a cheaper price. Try out your haggling skills to get the best prices.
If you are looking for a perfect food to take home, but a box of Bakpia – a round-shaped sweet rolls filled with different flavors similar to Hopia in PH.
Try Out Jogja Street Food
To know a country’s culture, you must try their food. The street food in Yogyakarta are ones tourists shouldn’t miss out on, most especially the famous noodles and meatballs. During our short visit to the famous Malioboro Street, I saw a lot of interesting street foods to sample but due to very limited time, we chose to spend our allotted hour shopping.
Visit Keraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat
The Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat is a palace complex in the city of Yogyakarta. It is the seat of the reigning Sultan of Yogyakarta and his family. The complex is a center of Javanese culture and contains a museum displaying royal artifacts. It is guarded by the Yogyakarta Kraton Guards. Most of the buildings inside the complex are made of wood and constructed with a Javanese architectural design, decorated with flora, fauna, or nature motifs.
The palace hosts gamelan, dance, macapat and wayang performances for the visiting guests. Visitors will be provided with an in-house tour guide.
Entrance fee: Rp15,000 for foreign tourists and additional Rp1,000 fee if you will bring a camera inside the palace.
Lunch at Bela Raos Kraton Yogyakarta
Spectacular setting behind the Sultan’s palace, with traditional open air, beautiful architecture and decor. Relatively few westerners. Dishes identified as favorites of various Sultans, with photos and English explanations of the menu. For the appetizer, we sampled their Salad Mangga and Soup Ikan which was perfectly paired with their Ginger Lime welcome drink. For the main course, we had Nasi Gurih, Ayam Terik, Dendeng Kelem, Roll Daun Pepaya and Tofu Balado. And for dessert, we had Rondo Kepomo.
Watch Sunset at Ratu Boko
Situated atop of a hill 195.97 above sea level. Ratu Boko is not a temple but a palace ruins. Ratu Baka is often called Kraton Ratu Boko. There are viewpoints in the complex that provides a nice panoramic view of the city. Ratu Boko is also a great place to experience sunset from the top of the hill.
If you purchase a combo entrance ticket at Prambanan Temple, you can avail of the free shuttle bus to Ratu Boko after exploring Prambanan Temple Complex.
Ratu Boko Entrance Fee: US$25
Ratu Boko + Prambanan Combo ticket: $40 for adult and $25 for kids (3-10 years old) the ticket is inclusive of free bus shuttle service between Ratu Boko and Prambanan.
Experience Sunset Dinner at Abhayagiri Restaurant
After our Ratu Boko sunset experience, we proceeded to the nearby Abhayagiri Restaurant for dinner. Abhayagiri is a restaurant located in Sumberwatu Village, Prambanan. With a startling view of Mount Merapi, Prambanan, and Sojiwan Temple, this restaurant is one of the most romantic dining spots in Yogyakarta.
Address: Sumberwatu Heritage Resort, Dusun Sumberwatu, Yogyakarta, 55511, Indonesia
Hours: Open from Sunday – Saturday from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
There’s so many activities to do and places to visit in Jogja and since we were there for just a few days, we were not able to explore and experience some of it.
Here is the list of amazing things to do in Yogyakarta that you should also include on your bucket list:
See the Goa Jomblang Caves
It is a unique cave system that was formed through a geological process that occurs when the soil and vegetation break up. The cave itself has three parts: a sinkhole, a tunnel, and the Goa Grubog (which is the central cave). Discover the different environment that you will see when visiting a cave.
Visit Mount Merapi Museum
The trip began on the second day, with a journey on a four-wheel drive up to Merapi Mountain at Kaliurang where a village was recently devastated by a volcanic eruption. In memory of what has happened, a Merapi Volcano Museum was established on the mountain which has become a center of information, research, education, and tourism on volcanoes.
Hike Mount Merapi
If you’re not in the mood for a heavy hike, then the hike to Mount Merapi is one you’d enjoy. It is an easy hike (according to pros) but with a great view. Read this helpful guide on hiking Mount Merapi.
Ride A Colorful Bicycle Car
Its colorful lights and cool beats make it an object that no person can miss out on. Bicycle cars such as these add more vibrancy and life to the place, it would be great to take part in it.
Try the Gondola Ride at Timang Beach
Timang Beach is located in Gunung Kidul region, a 3-hour drive from Yogyakarta. Famous for its crazy waves from the treacherous waters of the Indian Ocean, Timang Beach is popular for another activity — beach gondola! It is both fun and exhilarating activity.
Slide Down Gumuk Pasir
The sand dunes of Gumuk Pasir provides yet another exciting activity, try out sandboarding then slide and race the mounds of the sands of Gumuk Pasir!
Attend A Show at the Wayang Theater
Wayang means shadow puppets in Javanese. By its name, expect to watch a show of shadow puppets along with an orchestra. This is one of the best highlights in the whole of Indonesia!
Discover Towns Through A Becak
Becak, also known as a rickshaw, can be a different way for you to get around the city; definitely a unique experience. Most of the time, the fare is cheap, you just have to agree on it and haggle if you feel like it’s needed.
How to Get to Yogyakarta
- Cebu Pacific has daily flights to Jakarta from NAIA Terminal 3.
- From Jakarta, you can fly to Yogyakarta (1 hour and 10 minutes) or take a train from Gambir Station (8 hours)
Yogyakarta Travel and Tour Packages
Find Hotels in Yogyakarta, Indonesia according to your budget via Agoda.
Have you been to Yogyakarta? Please help us improve this travel guide by sharing more travel tips, interesting things to do and personal recommendations.
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