Yogyakarta City (Local people called it Jogja or Jogjakarta) is the capital of the Yogyakarta Special Region and was the Indonesian capital during the Indonesian National Revolution from 1945 to 1949, with Gedung Agung as the president’s office.
Yogyakarta is a bustling town of some half a million people and the most popular tourist destination on Java, largely thanks to its proximity to the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. The town is a hub of art and education, offers some good shopping and has a wide range of tourist facilities.
Yogyakarta lies in one of the most seismically active parts of Java and has thus repeatedly been struck by earthquakes and volcano eruptions. The worst in recent times was the earthquake of 27 May 2006, which killed over 6,000 people and flattened over 300,000 houses. However, the epicentre was 25km north of the city, which thus avoided the worst of the quake, and a surprisingly effective disaster recovery effort saw most of the physical damage repaired quite quickly.
What to see:
Tugu Monument, A well known landmark located in the center of downtown Yogyakarta. Built by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono VI, the top spire was originally a round sphere which represents the universe. During the colonial era, the spire was replaced with a golden cylinder.
Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa and temple complex in Central Java, Indonesia dating from the 8th century, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of world’s truly great ancient monuments, the single largest Buddhist structure anywhere on earth, and few who visit fail to be taken by both the scale of place, and the remarkable attention to detail that went into the construction. Set as it is in the heart of the verdant Kedu Plain, the backdrop of mighty active volcanoes only enhances the sense of awe and drama.
Prambanan is a collection of massive Hindu temples (candi) built by the Mataram Kingdom, rulers of central Java and defeaters of the Sailendra Dynasty. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, in almost any other country a magnificent ancient monument on the scale of Prambanan would quickly be designated a national symbol. In Indonesia though it is somewhat overshadowed by the even more awe-inspiring nature of nearby Borobudur. The two sites are quite different in style with Hindu Prambanan being a collection of sharp, jaggedly sculpted towers in contrast to the vast horizontal bulk of Buddhist Borobudur.
What to do:
Sunrise at Borobudur: You can see the sun rise from Borobudur temple and it will give you some great opportunity to take some magnificent photographs. The site is open to public entrance from 6AM-5PM. However, the Manohara Hotel (see Sleep) runs a daily Borobudur Sunrise Tour ] for Rp 450,000 for foreigners (Rp 250,000 if you are a hotel guest) and Rp 270,000 for Indonesians, which gets you a flashlight and an escort to the temple gate at 4:30AM. This is in time to see the sunrise, and to explore for an hour and a half before the hordes arrive. This is well worth the money if the sky is clear; otherwise arriving around 5:45am would make no difference. The sun rises in the same direction as the entrance you used to gain access to the temple. The top few levels offer a great view wherever you position yourself. If you’re so inclined, grab a private spot facing East and enjoy your own precious few minutes of reflection (or photography).
But you can visit any time during the day. For normal entry, the entrance fees are as below,
- US$22/Rp 325,000 for adult non-Indonesians.
- US$10/Rp 190,000 for non-Indonesian registered students (proof, e.g. ISIC or university card is required).
- Rp 30,000 for Indonesian adults or foreign holders of an Indonesian work permit.
Ramayana Play: An open-air theatre inside the park, just west of Candi Prambanan right across the Opak river, has ballet Javanese dance performances of the great Hindu epic Ramayana on four nights during each full moon between May and October (dry season). The performance involved 200 artisans; dancers and gamelan musicians, and only performed in Tuesday, Thursday nights at 7:30pm (performance schedule. This performance, set against the starry sky and the lit back drop of Prambanan, is quite spell-binding. Enquire at travel agents locally or at your hotel for tickets and times. On rainy season (November to April) the performance moved to smaller indoor Trimurti theatre. Tickets are available near the gate.
A short trip around Mount Merapi: There are three options available for the Merapi Lava Tour. These are the short, medium and long route. The short route consists of an 1,5 – 2 hours journey around Merapi. It costs Rp350,000 to rent the jeep. Each jeep can comfortably fit three passengers, but you can squeeze in up to five passengers if you need to. The trip have three destinations which are Museum Sisa Hartaku, Alien stone and Bunker. Museum Sisa Hartaku is a modest museum that was established by a small family (Mr. Kimin and Mrs. Wati). The museum is actually within their house. This house was affected by the Merapi eruption in 2010. The family (initiated by their first child) created this museum to inform people about the last Merapi eruption. Various personal things that were owned by the family are displayed at the museum such as: motorcycles, clothing, cutlery, furniture, pets, television and much more. Alien stone is one big stone that is called Alien stone (Batu Alien) that was hurled out of the volcano during the eruption. The surroundings here are picturesque. During the Merapi Lava Tour you will come to the edge of a cliff where you can see one of the massive rivers around Merapi. Bunker is located in Kaliadem and is no longer used anymore. Two people were found dead inside this bunker in 2006 (eruption). They tried to save themselves by entering the bunker and were trapped by debris from the eruption of Mount Merapi.
Where to Eat:
You will find all famous restaurants near Malioboro area. But shops mostly close at 10 PM. So, you have to hurry to finish your dinner and supper. There are plenty of options including few local dishes like Gudeg, Ayam goreng Mbok Berek, Nasi langgi, locally known as sego langgi etc.
Where to shop:
Malioboro area is famous for shopping specially for tourists. You will find gift items, batik cloths, local handicrafts. But you have to bargain very hard.