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Exploring Yogyakarta in Indonesia
The best way to efficiently explore Yogyakarta, which is dotted with attractions, is to stay overnight around the Borobudur Temple in the suburbs and stay in Yogyakarta for the rest. It is a 60-90 minute drive from the city of Yogyakarta to the Borobudur Temple. The popular “Sunrise Tour” at the Borobudur Temple will meet at 4:30 in the early morning. We stayed at the Manohara Hotel at the Borobudur Temple and at the Melia Purosani Hotel and Sheraton Mustika in Yogyakarta, and we were able to see the sights smoothly.
About Yogyakarta (Jogjakarta or Jogja)
Indonesia’s Yogyakarta is a city that flourished as a center of Java for a long time. The traditional culture of the court is still inherited, and you can get a glimpse of the vestiges of those days at the Kraton Royal Palace and Taman Sari. And in the suburbs, there are two world heritage sites, “Borobudur Ruins” and “Prambanan Ruins”, which are attracting attention as a travel destination with a spectacular view that you should see once in a lifetime.
Yogyakarta is full of attractive tourist destinations, but each spot is scattered around, so the point is how efficiently you can go sightseeing. Therefore, this time, we have carefully selected 12 recommended sightseeing spots in Yogyakarta that we would like to keep in mind. We will introduce the number of days required for sightseeing, a map of recommended sightseeing spots, and a model course that goes around in 3 days, which we found by actually sightseeing in Yogyakarta.
How many days are needed to explore Yogyakarta?
Yogyakarta is about an hour’s flight from the world-famous resort island of Bali. Therefore, many people travel with Bali, and there are many cases where the bullet schedule is about 1 night and 2 days. However, Yogyakarta is a fascinating city to visit on a forced schedule. The highlights are scattered throughout the city and suburbs, so you’ll want three days to enjoy sightseeing . As a guide, the schedule is one day around the Borobudur ruins, one day around the Prambanan ruins, and one day in the center of Yogyakarta.
If you also visit the ancient capital of the neighboring town, Solo (Surakarta), you will need another 1-2 days. If you really don’t have the time, keep the Borobudur and Prambanan ruins at a minimum. In Yogyakarta, where prices are low, hotel charges are surprisingly reasonable. Staying at luxury hotels such as Hyatt, Melia, and Sheraton at a bargain price is the real pleasure of sightseeing in Yogyakarta, so you’ll want to spend a relaxing time and enjoy your hotel life.
Map of the best tourist attractions in Yogyakarta
The highlights introduced this time can be enjoyed by visiting each of the following areas.
Near Prambanan Temple
Yogyakarta City Center
- Taman Sari
- Kraton Royal Palace - or the South Palace
- Malioboro Street
Near Borobudur Temple
First of all, I would like to introduce you to the tourist spots around the Borobudur Temple, which can be said to be the centerpiece of sightseeing in Yogyakarta. On the way from Yogyakarta city to Borobudur ruins, there are related ruins “Mundu Temple” and “Pawon Temple”, so it is a good idea to visit them together. We chartered a taxi at Rp.300,000 and headed directly from the airport to the Borobudur Temple.
Mendut Temple is a Buddhist temple built around the 8th-9th centuries around the same time as the Borobudur Temple. It’s a small temple, but it’s well preserved, so it was quite spectacular. Beautiful reliefs are engraved on the outer wall and platform, and the same makara (sea dragon) and carla (demon) as the Borobudur ruins are displayed on the staircase.
And the highlight is the three statues, which are said to be the masterpieces of Javanese art . The three statues are enshrined inside the main hall, with “Shaka Nyorai” in the center, “Kannon Bodhisattva” on the left, and “Kongo Te Bodhisattva” on the right. It’s amazing that it remains almost perfect even after many years.
On the grounds of Moundou Temple, there is also a giant banyan tree that seems to be powerful. Is it 2000 years old at this size? By the way, the entrance fee to Mendut Temple is Rp.3,500 (parking fee is Rp.5,000), which is a common ticket with Pawon Temple.
A 5-minute drive from Mendut Temple, you will find the Buddhist temple Pawon Temple. In fact, Mendut Temple, Pawon Temple, and Borobudur Temple are all in a straight line on the map. There is a theory that the three temples were once connected by the approach. Unfortunately, it was under construction this time, but the relief of “Tara Bodhisattva” with lotus flowers carved on the outer wall is a must-see.
Borobudur Temple Ruins
A further 5 minutes drive from Pawon Temple, you will find the Borobudur Temple Compounds, one of the three major Buddhist archaeological sites in the world . It is a magnificent scale ruin that represents the world of Buddhism, and its details are still shrouded in many mysteries. You can experience wonderful Buddhist art such as the corridor with delicate murals and the round platform with stupas. There are too many highlights to introduce, so please see the following page for details.
Around Prambanan Ruins
Next, I will introduce the tourist spots around Prambanan Temple that cannot be overlooked as much as Borobudur Temple. On the way from the center of Yogyakarta to the Prambanan archaeological site, there are several related archaeological sites, so it is a good idea to visit them together. We chartered a taxi for half a day at Rp.250,000 and went around the Sheraton Hotel → Sambisari Temple → Kalasan Temple → Sari Temple → Plaosan Temple → Prambanan Ruins where we stayed.
Sambisari Temple is a Hindu temple located in a peaceful rural area, about 2 km north of the main road. Is there an archaeological site in such a place? The location is a little worrisome (laughs) It’s no wonder that the farmer found this site during the reclamation. The entrance fee is Rp.10,000 and the parking fee is Rp.5,000.
The Sambisari Temple is located 6m below the surface of the earth, but it was actually buried in the eruption of Mt. Merapi around the 10th century! You can see how big the eruption was. The surrounding shrines remained collapsed, but only the main shrine remained clean.
A 10-minute drive from Sambisari Temple will bring you to the towering Kalasan Temple. Known for the excavation of the precious “Kalasan Inscription”, it is a unique temple that combines Hinduism and Buddhism. Admission is Rp.10,000.
Just steps from Kalasan Temple, Sari Temple is a Buddhist temple known for its beautiful reliefs. The two-story, massive hall is divided into three rooms, which look like a mansion that is a little different from other temples. That should be that, it was once used as a monastery. Admission is Rp.10,000 which is not even 1 US Dollar.
Plaosan Temple, located about 5 minutes by car from Prambanan Ruins, is a Buddhist temple located in a peaceful rural area. It is believed to have been built for the princess who married from a Buddhist country around the 9th century, the same time as the completion of the Prambanan ruins. Standing in front of the Buddhist temple is the statue of Kubera, the guardian deity. Admission is Rp.3,000 and parking is Rp.5,000.
In the large grounds of Plaosan Temple, in addition to the Northern and Southern Buddhist temples, only a few small shrines (Perwara) were rebuilt , and the rest was a mountain of debris. Originally, the Buddhist temple was surrounded by hundreds of stupas and Perwara. If all of these are restored, it will be the largest of the Prambanan-related archaeological sites.
Prambanan Temple Ruins
Another highlight of Yogyakarta tourism is the Prambanan Temple archaeological site, which is said to be the masterpiece of Javanese architecture . There are many Buddhist temples in the area, and it is a ruin that tells us that Hinduism and Buddhism once coexisted here. The temple towering toward the heavens and the beautiful reliefs of the ancient epic “Ramayana” attract viewers. Please see the following page for detailed highlights.
Yogyakarta City Center
Here there are some of the highlights of Yogyakarta City, where the good old culture remains. The first is the Kraton Royal Palace, which can be reached on foot or by taxi from the central Malioboro Street. However, Yogyakarta is hot, so it is recommended to take a taxi if possible. We used the ride-hailing app UBER and could go for a good price.
Kraton Royal Palace (or the South Palace)
The Kraton Royal Palace is divided into the South Palace and the North Palace, and the main royal palace visited by tourists is the South Palace . The road around the royal palace is a little difficult to understand, but the entrance gate to the Nangu is in front of the court restaurant “Gadrirest”.
At the ticket office, pay the entrance fee Rp.15,000 and the camera carry-on fee Rp.1,000. If you pay a separate fee, you can have a Japanese guide guide you. By the way, please note that you cannot enter the royal palace with rough clothes such as shorts and tank tops.
Traditional performing arts such as court dance and folk music are performed in the morning at the “ceremonial room” in the royal palace . The performances that take place vary from day of week to day of the week, and when we visited it was a gamelan performance.
The Kraton Royal Palace was built in the 18th century as the residence of the first Sultan (King) of the Yogyakarta dynasty. The royal palace is an elegant space where you can not feel the hustle and bustle of the town.
When walking in the royal palace, we often see men in traditional Javanese costumes. They are descendants of the Sultan’s vassals and are still defending guardians of the royal palace. A traditional Indonesian sword called “Chris” is stored on the waist.
A 10-minute walk from the Kraton Royal Palace is the Water Palace Tamansari . It is a detached palace built around the same time as the Kraton Royal Palace as a bathing place for the lady-in-waiters who serve the Sultan.
At the ticket office, pay the entrance fee Rp.15,000 and the camera carry-on fee Rp.3,000. I’m glad that the entrance fee to the tourist spots in Yogyakarta is cheap.
Last but not least, Malioboro Street is the main street in the center of Yogyakarta. The well-maintained street is lined with souvenir shops and is always crowded with tourists. Malioboro is special and you’ll find people singing and dancing on the street in this area. It is actually small bands of performers trying to make a few bucks. It is a beautiful area.
And the landmark of Malioboro Street is Malioboro Mall, a large shopping mall . It is a shopping mall for foreigners and wealthy people, and there are various tenants in the 4-story mall. Especially recommended is the HERO supermarket in the basement. There are items such as sweets, seasonings, coffee, and tea that are likely to be souvenirs, so it is a perfect supermarket for your last shopping. But if you’re like me, you’ll find that the traditional markets are much more interesting than a shopping mall.
Other places on Malioboro including famous restaurants including LN Fortunate Coffee and D’SkyBar Restaurant and Bar at Ibis Styles, fantastic spa and Yogyakarta massage facilities, and classic hotels such as Marriott Yogyakarta, Grand Aston and Melia Purosani. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly I could recommend Jambuluwuk on Gajah Mada. Though I can’t recommend the Jambuluwuk new boutique hotel in Jakarta. A good place to find massage in Yogyakarta is the Pijat Pangillan website with many listing, massage therapists, and the option to book online on the Android app or even contacting the users on WhatsApp. The other website to find massage in Jakarta is the MassagePrices.com where you can find lots and lots of reviews and price lists. And that is valid not only for Indonesia but many other countries in Asia.
Other sights in Indonesia
Indonesia is a country with vast natural and historical treasures. We plan on covering most regions that we’ve personally traveled to. The next in line should be NTT (East Nusa Negara) which is almost the last frontier. Please read our short article on Kupang in West Timor and let us know your thoughts on this beautiful but isolated part of the world.