Yogyakarta (also ‘Jogjakarta’ or ‘Jogja’ in short) is a city on the island of Java in Indonesia. Renowned for its classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows, Yogyakarta is without a doubt the soul of Java. Yogyakarta is fiercely independent and protective of its customs which date back to centuries ago as the city is governed independently by a traditional Sultanate system. Despite that, it is not stopping the city from evolving in to a metropolitan city decked with new malls and fast-food chains while at the same time staying true to Javanese arts, culture and traditions of batik, gamelan and ritual.
From well-known historical and cultural landmarks to breathtaking natural landscapes, Yogyakarta provides a perfect dose of balance for today’s travellers. You can get started on your Jogja adventure with this list:
1. Go on a Gondola Ride at Timang Beach
Image credit: Pandora Voon
Home to beautiful beaches of Yogyakarta, the Gunungkidul Region has plenty to offer. This includes Timang Beach, where travellers can catch a glimpse of white waves crashing into cliffs and coral stones in the distance.
Plus, if you’re a thrill seeker, put your limits to a test by crossing onto the nearby Watu Panjang Island via a wooden gondola that’s held together by fabric rope on pulleys. You’d find yourselves crossing strong currents and treacherous waves beneath you. The gondola was originally used as a mode of transportation by the local lobster fishermen.
Address: Tepus, Gunung Kidul, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55881
2. Hike Up Mount Merapi
Mount Merapi (or Gunung Merapi), which literally translates to Fire Mountain in Indonesian and Javanese, is the most active stratovolcano in Indonesia. Situated on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces, the volcano has erupted regularly since 1548.
If you’re both an adventurer as well as an early riser, try catching the sunrise from the peak of Mount Merapi and take in the breathtaking panoramic vistas at the same time as the sun’s rays unfold across the horizon. Alternatively, sign yourselves up for the Merapi Lava tour. Get on board a jeep to visit areas such as the Museum Sisa Hartaku and learn more about the volcano’s 2010 eruption.
3. Catch the Sunrise at Borobudur
Image credit: Justine Hong
A 9th century architectural marvel, Borobudur is a Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang Regency. Did you know that the temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the world’s largest Buddhist temple consisting of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular and topped off with a central dome. The temple is also decorated with over 2,600 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.
There’s no better way to experience the temple than to catch the sun rise over the temple grounds with the mesmerizing views of the surrounding nature in the backdrop.
Address: Borobudur Park, Magelang, Central Java
4. Visit Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple is a 9th century Hindu temple compound in the Special Region of Yogyakarta dedicated to Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The temple compound has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia.
Catch the daily Ramayana Ballet Performance from 7.30pm – 9.30pm, a traditional dance based on a Hindu epic of King Rama. Take this opportunity to learn more about the local Javanese culture, style and music.
Address: Kranggan, Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia
5. Have a Go at Cave Tubing
Image credit: Cave Tubing Goa Pindul Website
Take a break from the usual waterparks and get yourselves onto a tube at Goa Pindul. Here you can drift across the river while admiring the natural stalactite and stalagmite rock formations carved on the walls centuries ago.
Combine both your love for nature and your thirst for adventure by exploring the caves on a rubber tube along the water channels within the cave. Keep a lookout for the resident bats while you’re floating by!
Address: Dusun Gelaran 1, Desa Bejiharjo, Karangmojo, Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta
The Yogyakarta Adisucipto International Airport (JOG) lies northwest to the city, 10km away from the town centre.
There are direct international flights twice a day from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and once a day from Singapore with AirAsia, and five times a week from Singapore with Silk Air. Alternatively, Garuda, AirAsia and Lion Air operate the domestic routes from Jakarta and Bali to Yogyakarta as well.