Yogyakarta attractions: how to enjoy time & save money

If you are planning to visit Yogyakarta city in Java island most probably you already know what you want to see there? If not, you will find suggestions to visit famous Hindu temple Prambanan and Buddhist Borobudur temple, Sultan palace and Water castle, Malioboro street and etc. But there are more Yogyakarta attractions which you can visit if you have just a bit more than 2 days to stay here.

Here are some practical tips for visiting Yogyakarta attractions. Hope it can help you to save some money, avoid scammers and enjoy Yogyakarta tour.

Most popular Yogyakarta attractions

Borobudur, Prambanan, Ratu Boko temples

        • If you have possibility, don’t plan to visit these temples during weekends or Indonesian holidays. Then you can avoid mass of people and especially Indonesians, who will ask take a picture with you. If you have time and it gives fun for you – then don’t think about which days to visit, just go when you can.
        • It’s worth to visit Borobudur temple during Vesak day. First of all you will see beautiful Buddhist ceremony which will end with lanterns in the sky. Second, if you will donate money (what is ~100 000 Rp – ~6 USD), you will get lantern and free entrance to Borobudur (that usually costs 20 USD). But if you want to enjoy whole ceremony you should plan whole day to stay Borobudur area, like ceremony starts in the morning and end in the late night ~1-3 am. During day time, you can visit Mendut, Pawon temples as well. And don’t be shy to go inside monastery beside Mendut temple, the atmosphere there so magical.

Candi Prambanan

        • Some people go to see sunrise in Borobudur temple (more expensive entrance ticket). But you can come exactly at 6 am buy regular ticket and be in a hurry to go to the top of the temple. You will still see sunrise. Just not all the time sunrises are breathtaking that you can see in the pictures – it’s nature, that you can’t predict. So why buy more expensive ticket? As well to see sunrise people goes not far from Borobudur on Setumbu hill from which you can see small silhouette of Borobudur, enjoy nature view and if interested visit Chicken church.
        • If you will visit Prambanan temple in the evening, check if they have Ramayana performance there. Somebody thinks that it’s too boring, but it’s a part of Indonesian culture. See this performance in Prambanan open theater and especially during full moon something magnificent.

Buddha statue in Vesak day

        • If you will buy Borobudur, Prambanan tour from travel agency (certificated one) you can get tickets with discount. But those 2 temples you should visit during 2 days with the same agent.
        • Not far from Prambanan temple you can visit Twin and Ratu Boko temples. To see sunset in Ratu Boko temple cost more than daytime ticket but as well you can buy package of Prambanan and Ratu Boko, that in total will cost you less.
Ratu Boko sunset
Waiting for the sunset.

You may be interested to check Erika’s from Erika’s travel blog story about visiting Borobudur and Prambanan temples.

Kraton – Sultan palace

        • Each day in Kraton there are different performances that you can enjoy: traditional dance, wayang kulit (shadow theater), gamelan and etc. So you can check what is more interesting for you and visit Kraton on exact day.
        • Inside Kraton there are no English descriptions, so you should make “homework” and read about it before if you want to understand everything or hire local Kraton guide, who will explain all the things for you.

Yogyakarta attractions - Kraton

Taman sari – Water castle

        • Like in Kraton, here you won’t find any descriptions in English, so you should make again “homework” or hire local guide who will tell you everything.
        • Usually the guides standing in front of entry and suggesting their services. The price depends how good you are in negotiation. Before taking a tour, agree clearly the amount of money that you will pay. Please don’t forget that salary in Indonesia is low and people try to earn money. Don’t negotiate the price too low, give a chance them to earn for their work.
        • Taman Sari has 2 entrances. 1 is for free but you won’t see there anything just ruins, where youngsters like to date during the evening and 2 the main one (paid entrance). Free entrance you can recognize by the market in front, main entrance has big parking area in front.

Yogyakarta tour - Taman sari

Malioboro street, Beringharjo market, “lady boys” performance

    • Malioboro street is the main street where you can buy souvenirs, batik clothes, see “lady boys” (“waria”) in “Mirota Batik” performance, try street food, exchange money in good rates (in “Mulia money exchange”, inside “Garuda” hotel area).
    • If you want to see “lady boys” performance and have better places to sit, come at least ~1 hours before (like many people goes there). But don’t expect too much. By the time I was there, most of the songs were Indonesian and only Indonesian people understood the jokes. As well sometimes the separate performances not so quality (I think in Thailand they are much better but more expensive as well).

Malioboro st. during daytime

  • Malioboro street becomes like crazy in the evenings because many people hang out there, as well there are many hotels around. But more crowded and interesting there during some holidays. For example: Chinese New Year, Javanese New Year and etc.
  • Even if common that in markets the prices should be cheaper but I found that buying batik in Beringharjo market is more expensive than in shops opposite this market. Probably because of the name (like its touristic attraction) they put higher prices. And not all batik is handmade, mostly made in factory. In opposite shops you can find as well the same variety or batik things and a bit cheaper.

Scammers

        • If you don’t take local guide in Water castle, local people inside can just come by the way to you and start to tell some things about object. You should know that later they will ask money for that. So if you don’t wan have not nice situation – first say for a person that you don’t need his service or if you will decide that he can be useful, agree about the price before continuing the tour.
        • Many becak/ojeck drivers near Water castle or Sultan palace will suggest you a drive from one place to another. But honestly distance between these objects is maximum 15 min. by walk. You can just have a walk or use their services, but again before start the trip agree about the price. It can cost ~10 000 – 20 000 Rp depends if you will choose ojeck with motor or becak (pedicap).
        • Some scammers will say that they can lead you to secret entrances and etc. for extra money. But there are no secret entrances, only main entrances.

Other Yogyakarta attractions

It’s just couple of things that sometimes people choose to see, do or at least thinking about it.

Parangtritis beach

It’s ~ 1 hour from Yogyakarta city center. But honestly it’s quite dirty beach with grey sand and without possibility to swim there. But most of the time sunsets there amazing. If you are extreme lover, you can try sand-boarding (really fun, I tried) or paragliding there (if you have time).

A photo posted by I’m Ria – (@lifeinbigtent) on

I’m trying sand-boarding

Trekking in Merapi volcano

Most of the travelers trekking there during the night to see sunrise. It’s possible to organize the trip by yourself but better take a tour – will be faster and easier (especially if you don’t have too much time). As well after sunrise some goes to Kaliurang and have lava jeep tour around area. If you want to do all these things you will need almost whole day for it.

First colors of sunrise in back of mount Merapi

What else to do in Yogyakarta?

Try dishes from cobra meat

I have been in Kobra Imperial Kitchen (Jalan Hayam Wuruk 19, Yogyakarta). The place not fancy, very simple but they have quite a lot of different dishes from cobra meat, drinks as well Chinese food. The price is good and food delicious.

Try in Yogyakarta - cobra meat

Try your luck going between twin Beringin trees

It’s located at South alun-alun (Sultan’s square). People say if you can pass between these tress with closed eyes your wish will come true. I tried twice, but not succeeded. But I found in internet some information about how works our brains about such kind of walks.

Have a night drive around Alun-Alun selatan Kraton

It’s quite busy place in the evenings, full of Indonesian people, street food vendors. You can have fun riding with sparkling and loud music car.

Yogyakarta night drive

 

Yogyakarta attractions pinterest
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Of course there are much more Yogyakarta attractions: Kota Gede (area of silver making), rafting in Elo or Progo rivers, Tugu Yogya, workshops of batik, silver, poetry, leather, beaches in Gunung Kidul and etc. Everything depends just on you, how much time you have and what is your interests.

In any case if you are visiting Yogyakarta, check events, to attend them could be quite interesting experience.

 

Are you planning to visit Yogyakarta soon? Do you know what you would like to do there? Maybe have been here and would like to suggest your discovered Yogyakarta attractions?

 

 

If you need somebody to lead you in Yogyakarta, drive somewhere, you can contact Hendra (trustful guide).


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Yogyakarta – “temple day”

Mostly people plan to stay in Yogyakarta only 2 days: visit famous UNESCO heritage temples Borobudur and Prambanan. If they have interest – climb the Merapi volcano at night or visit Merapi area – Kaliurang during the day time (rent a jeep for volcano tour). As well if they have free time – visit Kraton (“Sultane palace”), Taman Sari (“Water castle”), Malioboro street (“Jl. Malioboro”), Beringharjo market (Pasar Beringharjo) and some other places.

But in Yogyakarta area, not far from the city center are more interesting places to see :). I and my friend made 1 day trip (with motorbike) visiting temples (including famous ones), different local village and waterfall. We didn’t plan to visit only temples, but started to search what possible to see around all places it became like a trip – “temple day”:). Here is itinerary and some my impressions for those who would like to explore more of Yogyakarta are:

Teletubbies village (Teletubbies desa) – Twin waterfall in Wukirharjo village (Air terjun Kembar Wukirharjo) – Twin temple (Candi Plaosan) – Prambanan temple (Candi Prambanan) – Ratu Boko temple (Candi Ratu Boko).

We started the journey at 11.30 am from Yogyakarta south (Kasongan).

Dome house
Dome houses

First we visited Teletubbies (Teletubbies desa) – the dome houses. It took us ~1 hour of drive from Yogyakarta to the village. I read article about this village disaster and how people managed to continue the life in the unique houses. The uniqueness is dome-shaped houses, namely round semicircle. They look like the homes of people eskimo and nothing common with Javanese houses. And it’s the only such houses in all Indonesia. These houses were built after the earthquake that had occurred in the hamlet of Sengir, Sumberharjo, Yogyakarta in 2006. We visited this village already 9 years after the earthquake and village doesn’t look like the same when it was built and the view that I saw in the photos. Naturally after so many years, all area now green again, people started to build additional house beside dome houses, build shops in Javanese style houses and etc. just continued to live like they were used to before earthquake. Some of the houses already repaired, colored and empty. The village view no more so impressive but is worth to visit. Just to see how such shape houses looks in Indonesian nature, even to see how Indonesian people understand and how to get used to live in such houses – the round shape is not in their “blood” for sure :). As well it’s possible there to climb small hills and visit other, more traditional villages and see nice panoramic view from the top (we didn’t do it this time, but I heard this from my local friends). Some travel agencies even suggesting travel tours to this village, but not many foreigners comes here, so people not so used to see them. Till I was making some pictures, passed two girls on motorbike, when they saw me – they stopped just in the middle of the street. They were so excited and with a bit “broken” English asked if they can make picture with me. Like after living in Indonesia I was a bit tired every time to take a picture with locals and I said myself that never again will do that, those girls were so honest and happy – that I couldn’t resist to say “maaf, tidak” (“sorry, no”). After making photos with me, maybe 10 min., they were jumping around with happiness and joy :). Sometimes for Indonesians doesn’t need a lot to feel happy :).

 

Twin waterfall
At visiting time, some local kids were playing there, swimming.

Next our stop was – Twin waterfall (Air terjun Kembar Wukirharjo) – it takes ~10-15 min. from Teletubbies village. Near waterfall there are quite vertical part of route. Unfortunately not all bikes are strong enough and can go up with two people. We were not exclusion. I get down from motorbike and walked up by foot (it’s not long way) and my friend very slowly was going up with motorbike. So we had not enough strong motorbike :). The view from the parking area quite nice – possible to see some hills in horizon illuminate with sun. There are two paths to go to waterfall – one through waterfall opening and second from down part. In any case which route you will take, you can go around waterfall from up to down or conversely (just you need pass over stones – there is no clear path to go around). The path is a bit slippery and clayey, maybe because we went there when couple days before was a bit rain. In dry season should be drier but in rainy – can be a bit more difficult to pass the path. The waterfall not so big and the flow not so strong, but those two streams look nice. There were no more people (like we went during the week day, most probably during the weekend you can meet there more local people enjoying the view) just few kids who were swimming and playing there (even if the water is quite dirty and you can see some trashes around), so atmosphere was very peaceful. A bit further we saw other kids who were searching for stones and making round shapes for rings. Some of the people just like how the stone looks in the ring, others believes that it can give some power. So the kids collecting those stones and can sell each for ~ 10 000 Rp. We stayed there for ~30-40 min. and continued our trip.

 

Twin templeLater we went to see Twin temple (Candi Plaosan) – it took us ~30-40 min. ride from waterfall. On the way you will see road sign to Ratu Boko temple, but we planned to visit it for sunset (if you want to save some time, you can visit this temple first and end the trip in Prambanan). The way to this temple surrounded by plenty of rice fields and small hills, we enjoyed this ride part.
Even if this temple stands near famous Prambanan temple, not a lot of people go to visit it. This Buddhist temple is divided into two parts, Plaosan Lor (“north”) and Plaosan Kidul (“south”). It’s estimated to be built in the beginning of the 9th century during Rakai Pikatan reign and surrounded by rice fields.
We stopped before entering the temple to make some pictures from further, were you can see both of the temples in front. If you are lucky enough, you can have much better view, when the people work in rice field. Even if there is no admission fee (no price tables), they expect you to donate some money for entrance. I came to entrance gate where security was sitting and showed my KITAS (limited stay permit, that sometimes gives discount or entrance fee like for local people) they asked from me 3 000 Rp for entrance. Its’ not big but cute temple, surrounded by the remains. If you will walk through it, on the ground you can see some patterns, sculptures. When I was visiting this temple there were some Indonesian people, mostly youth couples that was making many pictures in different poses and in each corner, some of them just hiding for have some privacy. So don’t be scared if some of the couple suddenly will come out from the tiny entrance of the temple fence. We spend here ~20 min.

Like we went for the trip during day time, it was quite hot, so we stopped to drink some cold drinks. From Twin temple to Prambanan temple on the way you will see many small “warung’s”. Closer to Prambanan more expensive drinks, so if you are thirsty stop in the middle between both temples.

Candi PrambananFamous Prambanan temple (Candi Prambanan) is located ~ 10 min. from Twin temple. Even it was working day (I thought I will avoid Indonesians to asking pictures with me) but I didn’t know that it was celebration day (Ascension Day) – “red date” event. So I even didn’t enter the temple when three local girls asked a favor me to speak with them in English for English lesson. One girl was filming the conversation with phone, another reading the question and third one just assisting. Like the girls were quite polite, I spend with them ~15 min. and went inside. It was already ~2.30 pm but it was numerous amounts of people – mostly locals and few tourists. Usually during the weekends and celebrations, locals from all around Yogyakarta visiting temples and other places. I was a bit in a hurry because wanted to go ahead all those people, but when I just entered the complex some of the youth groups from school, young couples started to ask picture with me – and usually they don’t ask one picture, they want each separately have one picture with foreigner. One of the guys were more polite, others grabbing my hand and asking “selfy” – so depends on how they came to me I decided to spend time with them or not. Even if the place very beautiful I didn’t enjoy it – because of the people who were asking pictures and don’t let me to see everything properly. So instead of maybe hours of walk around in whole complex – I spend ~ 30 min. The all complex area is quite big, not in a hurry and visiting other smaller temple that is under construction now, you can spend there till two hours for sure :).

 

Ratu BokoAnd after ~15 min. way from Prambanan temple we reached our last destination – Ratu Boko temple (Candi Ratu Boko). Like we wanted to go there to see the spectacular sunset (everywhere this temple presented like this :)), we arrived there ~4 pm. From 3 pm the entrance fee is raised 5 000 Rp, because it’s “sunset time”. In many beautiful places, Indonesians divide the entrance fee for sunrise/sunset and usual hours.

On the way climbing the stairs to the temple on left side you can see Prambanan. Ratu Boko temple area is quite big and nice to walk around. Inside you can go a bit on the hill to see the entire complex. After small walk around I just sit on the land in front of temple and started to wait for sunset. That time not so many people came, but all temple was crowded of people who were making pictures, so to have photos without people – not possible. But even with less people (comparing with Prambanan temple) – here I got attention as well – families with kids were asking pictures, teenagers and etc. At least here were more polite people – before asking the picture with me, asked who I’m, what I’m doing in Yogyakarta and etc. The time passed quickly – and the sun started to come down. The view was really beautiful but I believe that can be even more spectacular. Lately was cloudy so we decided to leave ~5.30 pm but I saw still many people were coming, probably they came with daily Yogyakarta tours after Prambanan temple and I can say they missed the most beautiful view, left only dark clouds :). I heard that it’s possible to get to the temple from another side, but you need to know locals, who would show you the way and as well maybe pay a bit money, but not the same amount like entrance fee.
On the way back in front of the stairs was possible to see the Merapi volcano. Like I left till the sun didn’t get down totally I haven’t seen how the city is lighted, but if you want you can wait more and then you will see nice lightening of Prambanan in the horizon.

So after ~1 hour driving back we reached our home and finished the trip :).

Even if it was quite hot and local people attention to me annoyed a lot but I really enjoy the trip – different views of the land, nature, temples, daily local people life – Indonesia always have what to show.

Have you been in these places? Did you enjoy?:)

PRACTICAL INFORMATION:

Route map

Time – ~7 hours
We spend (2 people) – 175 000 Rp.
Tips

If you need a guide in Yogyakarta and around I can recommend – Hendra


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What to expect from Indonesian concert?

Sometimes, when we are traveling, we can’t feel that close connection with local people or be a part of their daily life. But if you will ever have possibility, try to visit any local show (I’m not talking about those which is organized for tourists but those – which knows only local people :)) – do it!

If I have chance, I always try to attend local events, especially in Yogyakarta, where I live. I have been in many Indonesian concerts, exhibitions, events, festivals and other celebrations which were organized by local people or participants were only Indonesians. So I have a small “image” about Indonesian events.

Earthernity Fest poster

This time I want to share the discoveries of Indonesian concert, which I see really different from European ones. Even if past some time after visiting one of Indonesian concert in Yogyakarta – “Earthernity fest” (annual concert dedicated to celebrate earth day), the impression still lives in my mind. Probably this concert can be that one, which had all Indonesian events “attributes” :D.

Why this Indonesian concert was so special that I decided to go there?

First of all, I came here just because of Indonesian band “Payung Teduh”, I felt in love with their music already before coming to Indonesia :). Second, because of singer “frau”. Both of these artists in one place? I just needed to go! And for a big surprise – I discovered here new Indonesian group – TIK! TOK!.

So what you can expect from Indonesian concert?

Organizers performance

It will be late

and you can’t take inside your food or drinks (the security will take it from you) – but where it’s not happen? So this not counted like “unique” :D.

Sitting on the floor

Indonesians have sitting on the floor culture (when they are visiting people, eating, doing other things). So nothing surprising, just come to the concert and sit on the floor. People takes off their shoes, like at home :). For me – it’s not usual. If there are no chairs – you stand, in open area or very cozy place where is not enough seats – yeah you sit on the ground, but it’s not must. In this case, to sit 5 hours on the floor – some of the lower body parts really hurts :D. Nobody warn me that I need to take sitting pillow to the concert :D.

Long talks of “masters of the ceremony” (MC)

Almost none of the event (concert as well) won’t be real without MC’s. 1 – 3 people who tries to interact audience before the concert, during it. The funniest thing that MC’s speaking sometimes longer than performers stays on the stage (for example the band plays 10 min. – MC’s talks 20 min.):). Usually they just make some jokes (sometimes not funny at all), interactions with the prizes and a lot of self talks with the partner on the stage. Some of the event hires better MC’s, others takes amateurs. Because of MC’s interruption, this concert lasted 5 hours :D. How to be patient and wait for the last band the most important performer ?:)

Audience singing louder than the band on the stage

If Indonesians really like some songs, they will scream (imitating the singing) louder than the band on the stage. Even when you will ask them a bit make lower voice, because of their scream not possible to hear real singers – they won’t stop. In such way they express themselves.

Young couples dating

You can imagine how hard for teenagers and not marriage couples in the Muslim country to express their relationship? :). If they have a chance to be a little bit in private with the partner, they will try to go where is dark and a lot of people, because no one will be in attention of them. In this concert was the same – darkest corners was busy with couples: holding hands, touching shoulders. More braver was sitting in the crowed and hugging each other from the back.

Instant noodles

Most local people habit – eat instant noodles everywhere, even in the concert. Sellers even have more instant noodles types than other snacks. First I didn’t understood from where the smell of noodles is coming, just turn around and saw one guy eating them, then another girt in front, other guy in left. It’s looked that nothing can satisfy Indonesians stomach like “sambal” and instant noodles. Noodles “must” to be in every event.

Funny facts:

  • even if organizers didn’t deal properly with sound and lighten, but they didn’t forget to take out the brands labels from the water bottles which singers where drinking on the stage.
  • guess who was the “security” leading famous band out of the backstage? Girls with hijab :). Wondering why? In Muslim country none of the men can touch women with hijab (if it’s not your family member). So, even if somebody would like attack or do something, by the religion it’s not allowed :). Clever, yeah?
  • as well, I was the only one foreigner in the concert – so you can imagine how “popular” I was there :). Guessing who got more attention, people on the stage or me :D.

 

About all unsuccessful things during the concert I won’t write. Organizers, guests and bands probably already saw it. I hope for the next year concert, organizers will fix it or at least won’t do the same mistakes.

Some moments from Indonesian concert:

 

Have you been in any local performance during your trips? What was the most impressive thing or differences from what you used to?


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