Destination Guide #7: Yogyakarta

If you intend to go for a quick weekend getaway without blowing away too much of your travel budget, I think Yogyakarta is a pretty neat idea.

The cost of food and services there is very affordable, and you can find a daily flight in and out of Singapore. The city is a base for tourists who are keen to step foot in Borobudur Temple, the world’s largest Buddhist Temple, although there are some other sights to visit in the area.

Borobudur Temple, Central Java

Information on Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is today, the only Indonesian royal city still ruled by a monarchy. The city traces roots for its influence in classical Javanese fine arts and culture such as ballet, batik textiles, silversmithing and wayang puppetry.

Yogyakarta (or Jogja as affectionately known by locals) is home to a number of geoheritage sites such as Prambanan, Gunung Kidul (Jomblang cave, Tiang Beach) and an active volcano, Mount Merapi.

Mount Merapi
Found a quiet spot at Prambanan, an historic Hindu temple and UNESCO Heritage Site.

Brief Rundown and Highlights of our Trip

  • We spent 4 days in Yogyakarta and felt that this was more than sufficient to explore the key sights.
  • We did not intend to rush from one attraction to another, and we did not want to suffer from traveler’s fatigue after seeing similar architecture at different places. Therefore, we did some research and shortlisted the places we wanted to go.
  • For example, we went to Prambanan but decided to skip Plaosan Temple. Prambanan – a historic Hindu temple and an UNESCO Heritage Site has a huge compound. Other than the Prambanan area flooded with tourists, do take a free train to Candi Sewu. Candi Sewu is an eighth-century Buddhist temple and is known to be the second largest complex in Indonesia.
  • We also skipped some attractions that we didn’t feel excited about – such as Timang Beach, Gumuk Pasir sand dunes, Parangtritis Beach, Jomblang cave etc.
  • We enjoyed walking around Jalan Prawirotaman which has a few hipster establishments.
  • We hired a driver for the day and each day started at around 5.30am or 6am. Sunrise in Yogyakarta is around 4am, so the city is bright and sunny by 6-7am. We did our sightseeing till afternoon and then head back to the hotel to rest, and avoid the hot weather outside. We headed out for dinner and shopping in the evening via Grab, which is very affordable in Yogyakarta.
Candi Sewu
Taman Sari Water Castle – this was the summer castle of the Sultan
Hutan Pinus Becici – the ultimate Instagram spot. This place was a fruit farm but entrepeurial farmers turned this to an attraction.
Couldn’t get enough of Borobudur.

Our Itinerary and some Tips

  • We stayed at Swiss-Belboutique Hotel, which was great. All the front desk staff speak good English (which is not a given at Yogyakarta) and the hotel packed a wholesome breakfast box for us every morning at our request.
  • We engaged Pak Donny (+62 87839259234) who was very helpful and spoke good English as well. He charged us Rp 450,000 per day including petrol, but excluding car park charges.

Day 1

  • Landed at around noon.
  • Spent the afternoon walking around Jalan Malioboro
  • Dinner at MediterraneaThey serve delicious and affordable European cuisine!

Day 2

  • Left hotel at 6am for Mount Merapi Jeep Tour arranged by our driver, Pak Donny. The Jeep Tour provider was Kaliurang Jeep Adventure and our guide was Pak Wanto. Cost of this Jeep Tour was Rp 350,000 per jeep. It costs Rp 450,000 if you are there for sunrise.
  • Prambanan Temple, and took the train to Candi Sewu
  • Visited Bakpia factory at Bakpia Panthuk 25. The Bakpia (pastry filled with green bean) from this factory was really delicious, with every piece feeling piping hot when we savoured from the box.
  • Dinner at CantingThis was very near our hotel. The restaurant was located at the rooftop of a shopping mall, and it served high quality Western and Fusion fare.
Chicken Church, or Bukit Rhema. The structure was meant to be a dove but the crown on the dove’s head caused everyone to misinterpret as Chicken.

Day 3

  • Left hotel at 5.30am for Borobudur Temple – we chose to be there post sun-rise which we read would be less crowded.
  • Visited Chicken Church which was located near Borobudur.
  • Taman Sari Water Castle and Kampong Cyber
  • Jalan Prawirotaman
  • Dinner at Sate Bar 81 which was at Jalan Prawirotaman
Dinner at Sate Bar

Day 4

  • This was Instagram day where we checked out all the Instagrammable spots. Left hotel at 6am for Kebun Buah Mangunan. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great that day and we didn’t get to see the moving clouds.
  • Next to Jurang Tembulan followed by Hutan Pinus Pengger and Hutan Pinus Becici.
  • Visited Jalan Malioboro again in the afternoon
  • Dinner at Maximilian 

What we skipped:

  • Kalibiru (another Instagram selfie point)
  • Timang Beach
  • Gumuk Pasir Sand Dunes
  • Jomblang Cave

Hope you find the information here helpful! Let us know if you have any tips for Yogyakarta too!

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