The city of Yogyakarta in Java is known as one of the cultural gems of Indonesia and is also the jumping off point for the amazing Borobudur and Prambanan temples.
Yogyakarta (often simply referred to as Yogya or Jogya) is also a university town and as such, has a laid back student vibe and a wealth of interesting places to visit including vibrant cafes and eateries.
Yogyakarta is also popular for its batik production and if you want to pick up some new clothes then this is a great place to do it. The city is also the seat of the sultan of Yogyakarta who lives in his famous palace called the Kraton, so Surabaya is a great pick if you want to see an authentic Indonesian city in action without the tourist crowds that you will find in Bali and other areas. Families, solo travelers, and groups will all find something of interest in Yogya, and this is one of the more pleasant cities in Java and well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Despite the fact that tourists don’t travel here in great numbers (compared to many other places) there are a huge range of attractions to enjoy in Yogyakarta.
Borobudur is technically located in Magelang, Central Java, but most people visit it from Yogyakarta. This is a Buddhist temple that dates from the 9th century and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is made up of 72 statues of Buddha and is considered as the largest Buddhist temple in the world. One of Borobudur’s highlights is climbing up the central platform and enjoying the views that stretch as far as the eye can see in every direction.
Candi Prambanan is anthe other temple complex close to Yogyakarta and also dates from the 9th century. Whereas Borobudur is a Buddhist temple, Candi Prambanan is Hindu, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the largest Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia and one of the great joys here is to explore the small shrines, winding corridors, and exquisite galleries dedicated to the different gods.
Jalan Malioboro is the main artery of the city and is a great place to start when you arrive. It has a range of hotels and eateries as well as a number of shops. Yogyakarta is known for its batik – a technique of printing patterns on fabric using wax and then different coloured dyes. You can visit several batik factories in Yogyakarta but if you just want to pick up a few pieces as a souvenir then Jalan Malioboro is an ideal stop.
It is easy to visit Yogyakarta due to its central location in Java and its good transportation links, so you can visit the city:
By Air: Yogyakarta Adisucipto International Airport is both a regional and an international hub, so you can fly here from domestic airports and internationally from Singapore and Malaysia. If you don’t have much time then this is often the best option and domestic tickets in particular are inexpensive to purchase.
By Train: Yogyakarta Train Station is the main train station in the city and has connections all over Java. If you want to do experience traveling by train in Indonesia, then this is a great place to try and experience it by traveling either to or from the capital city of Jakarta in around 8 hours. Ticket prices vary according to the train class and schedules can change without notice so it is best to make your way to the train station that’s at the top of Jalan Malioboro and inquire in person.
By Bus: The main bus station in Yogyakarta is called Giwangan and has routes all over Java, Bali, and Sumatra, which also requires you to travel by ferry. Yogyakarta to Jakarta takes 12 hours by bus and 20 hours to Denpasar in Bali. It’s best to inquire in person for the latest schedules and fares.
It is relatively easy to access funds in Yogyakarta, as it is a big city. International access ATMs and large banks are plentiful around the city. You will also find money changers although it is best to shop around for the best rates.
It is always hot in Yogyakarta and it can hit 30 degrees Celsius regularly. The rainy season runs from November to April across Java and it can rain every day. This usually takes the form of short but heavy showers so make sure to factor this in if you want to explore outdoor attractions like Borobudur or Prambanan.
Yogyakarta is one of the easier cities in Indonesia to navigate although don’t expect a fantastic bus system or a subway. Instead you will have to make do with becak – motorized trishaws that will take you all over the city and cost around IDR 10,000 (USD 0.70) for a short trip. You can also use Gojek in Yogyakarta, which are motorbike taxis, or you can get traditional taxis such as the Bluebird group with fares that start at around IDR 30,000 (USD 2.10).
Yogyakarta has made a name for itself in recent years thanks to its culinary tourism so with this in mind know that there are plenty of options if you are feeling hungry. Jalan Malioboro has the biggest concentration of eateries and you will find a huge range of warungs or local cafes selling local bites. One of the specialties in Yogyakarta is Gudeg, a kind of curry made from jackfruit and teak leaves, and you will find this all over the city.
In malls you will find the usual Western fast food chains and some international restaurants.
Yogyakarta is one of the nicest cities in Java, and manages to find a balance between catering to visitors and not being overly touristy. There are a wide variety of attractions to enjoy here including some of the biggest hits in Indonesia such as Borobudur and Candi Prambanan. Given how easy it is to travel here, a trip to this part of Java is definitely not to be left off the itinerary.