A Javanese jewel located in Indonesia, Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogjakarta), also called Yogya, is the heart and soul of the Javanese people. Rich in culture and history, Yogya is a place, which should be on top of the list of anyone who is a lover of arts and culture.
Yogya is the perfect juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient. It balances, ever so carefully, the onslaught of phones and other modern technology with the tradition of the old ways.
Yogya is the premier tourist city of Java. It has numerous hotels, restaurants, and cafes. It is also the home to two of the world’s most beautiful and most important archaeological sites, Borobudur and Prambanan.
When planning a trip to Yogya, it is important to take into account the best months for sightseeing. Yogyakarta has a tropical monsoon climate and the best months to visit are from July to September. Wet season runs from October to June.
Currency in Yogya is Indonesian Rupiah.
I am based in Singapore and this is a very good thing because numerous budget airlines have several trips going to and from Yogyaevery week. For our trip last February, we booked AirAsia. The round trip fare was less than USD $150 for each of us.
GETTING AROUND YOGYAKARTA
Getting around Yogya is not that difficult. Because it is not as well developed as other major cities, there is less traffic and you can get to your destination in a much easier way and in a much shorter time. There are public buses in Yogya, which are not only cheap but also easy. However, since my friend and I were only there for the weekend, we chose to hire a private car to take us to all the nice places.
Private cars. Private cars cost around USD $40 for a day. The drivers are very friendly and speak good English. You can book with one of the many car companies before your trip. If you have forgotten to do so, you do not need to worry as there are many private cars for hire in the airport.
Bus. Yogya’s Giwangan bus terminal is located just 5km southeast of the city center. Buses run from Giwangan to all parts of Java and also to Bali. Regular air-conditioned buses cost from USD $1. For long trips, it is best to take luxury buses. Tickets are also cheaper if you buy from the bus terminal. Fares start from USD $16.
Train. Tugu train station is located centrally and fares start from USD $9.
WHERE TO STAY
Being the heart of Javanese art, history and culture, it is not difficult to find decent lodgings in Yogyakarta. I am personally a fan of hostels as it allows me to meet a lot of new people so on my trip to Yogya we stayed in Venezia Garden Homestay. It was a quiet place near Prambanan and the airport. My friend and I stayed in a bungalow with AC, cable TV, bathroom with hot and cold shower, as well as a queen size bed. The room cost us USD $16.
Other top hostels in Yogya are Cabin Hotel F77, Bamboo Bamboo Homestay and Aloha Hotel Yogyakarta.
WHAT TO EAT
Javanese cuisine is something to look forward too. Add to that the fact that food in yogya is so cheap. For USD $40, my friend and I feasted in Sekhar Kedaton. That amount is tantamount to a KFC meal of fastfood in Singapore. My heart was just delighted!
- Fried duck with rice
Two words, duck and fried. If it does not get your appetite rolling, I don’t know what will. Some people may find duck a little too much for their taste, you can always order ayam penyet, instead.
2. Ayam Penyet
Ayam Penyet means smashed fried chicken. it is a dish which consists of fried chicken smashed with the pestle against the mortar to make it softer. It is usually served with fried tofu, sliced cucumbers and sambal, a spicy sauce.
3. Nasi campur
Nasi campur is mixed rice and it is also called nasi rames in Indonesia. It is a dish with a scoop of white rice with small portions of other dishes such as vegetables, peanuts, and various meats.
WHAT TO SEE
Candi Prambanan, also known as Candi Rara Jonggrang is a Hindu temple which is second only to Borobudur in popularity. Built during the 9th century as an expression to the gods Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma, it is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Entrance fee to Prambanan is USD $18 for foreign adults.
Any trip to Yogyakarta would be incomplete without setting your sights on the beautiful Borobudur or Candi Borobudur. It is best to go to the temple early to catch the first rays of light as the sight is spectacular! One of the largest Buddhist temples in the world, it has 6 square platforms and 504 Buddha status, some without heads. Thousands of Buddhists go on a pilgrimage to Borobudur annually.
Entrance fee to Borobudur is USD $20 for foreign adults.
Malioboro is where you can purchase plenty of souvenirs and gifts for friends. Malioboro is also the more modern part of Yogyakarta with malls and cafes.
Kraton served as the palace of the many sultans who ruled Yogyakarta. It has a unique architecture which houses various heirlooms from its past days of glory. If you want to understand the culture and history of Yogyakarta, t is a must to visit this place.
5. Mt. Merapi
Mt. Merapi is a volcano which recently erupted in 2010 leaving devastation in its wake. During your short hike to the mountain, you will see damaged houses which have been abandoned since.