When I told my friends I was off to Yogyakarta, they gave me a puzzled look, “where?” they replied. Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogjakarta and also known as Jogja) is a city in Indonesia best known for its cultural heritage. From UNESCO World Heritage sites like Borobudur, Prambanan temple to natural wonders and local art traditions, this is a city you should definitely put on your bucket list.
What to See
Borobudur Temple at Sunrise
The 4:30am start may put you off visiting so early but it’s definitely worth watching the sunrise atop the world’s largest Buddhist temple. Constructed in the 9th century, Borobudur temple is now protected by UNESCO. I’d recommend hiring a driver to take you to Borobudur, it’s around a 60-90 minute drive from the city centre. Entry to the temple costs 450,000 IDR (approx US$34) per person.
Magnificent and mystical, the Hindu temples of Prambanan were built between the 8th and 10th centuries AD and are a must visit. The best time to go is just before sunset (magic hour) then head to nearby Abhayagiri for dinner.
One of the natural highlights of Yogyakarta, these caves are located 90-minutes drive from the city. You must descend 60 metres by rope into a sinkhole to reach the opening of the cave through a forest. Inside is a vertical cave with a hole where you can see what people refer to as ‘light from heaven’.
Taman Sari Water Castle
A former royal garden for the sultan and his entourage. Go early to avoid crowds then explore the villages little alleyways, mosque and maze of underground tunnels.
Mt Merapi Lava Tour
This tour was loads of fun, taking an off-road vintage jeep around Mt. Merapi. Be warned, it’s dusty, bumpy and you’ll most likely get wet from crossing the river but it’s all part of the excitement.
Alun Alun Selaton
If you are stuck for things to do in the evening, you can check out this square where locals and tourists like to hang out. Rent one of the VW style peddle cars that are pimped out with hundreds of lights and pumping music and ride into the night.
Where to Eat
Perched atop a hill inside the Sumberwatu Heritage Resort you’ll have panoramic views over the city. The restaurant serves Indonesian and International dishes.
Great for a drink and nibble after dinner with a live band on certain nights.
Live music, cocktails and an outdoor terrace makes this a good spot for dinner.
An instagrammable monochromatic cafe, perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up drink and snack.
Where to Shop
This family-owned store sells everything from batik clothing, postcards, shoes, tea to kitchenware. A great place to stock up on gifts for family and friends.
2km in length and home to hundreds of shops and street stalls offering various kind of handicrafts, t-shirts and batik clothing.
Where to stay
Clean, affordable and modern with Javanese touches. In a great location, within walking distance to cafes and shops.