Most people on holidays to Indonesia never look past Bali. For Australian travellers, it is a hot destination and people flock to Bali all year round for a relaxing holiday that is close to home. Most travellers to Indonesia, on the other hand, like to visit more than one Indonesian destination during their trip if they can. For us, one of these extra places within Indonesia was Yogyakarta.
Yogyakarta is the capital of the Yogyakarta Special Region and served as the Indonesian capital from 1946 to 1948. Yogjakarta (or Jogja as the locals will call it) is a popular destination for travellers looking past Bali, due to it being a little more out of the way and not so much like home!
There are 2 famous Indonesia landmarks just near Yogjakarta that are the biggest drawcards to the area. Let us explore a Jogjakarta itinerary for solo, couples and family travellers that will make you want to visit on your next Indonesian holiday.
Any Jogjakarta itinerary must include the 2 famous Indonesia landmarks Prambanan and Borobudur.
Borobudur or Barabudur is a 9th-century Buddhist temple complex, not far from Yogjakarta. Borobudur is the largest Buddist temple complex in the world. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site open to visitors.
The world’s largest Buddhist temple is made up of five large square terraces, with three circular platforms on top of them, and then a magnificent stupa at the very top. The temples were lost to us for over 500 years and were overgrown by the surrounding forests.
From a distance it is stunning but the closer you get the more outstanding it becomes. The intricate carvings on the walls come into focus. The carvings tell the story of the teachings and life of the Buddha, and of the environment and culture of Java at the time the temple was constructed.
Watching the sunrise over Borobudur is an extremely popular activity. Borobudur should be one of the first places to visit in Jogjakarta and on any Jogjakarta Itinerary.
How much does it cost to get into Borobudur?
Tickets to the Borobudur temple complex are what I would consider very expensive $25 USD for people aged over 11 years and $10USD for kids aged 3-10 years.
How to get to Borobudur Temple
Borobudur is in Magelang, 40 km northwest of Yogyakarta. The journey takes about one and a half hours by car, slightly longer by public bus. Borobudur terminal is a 10-minute walk from the Borobudur temple complex. The last bus back from Borobudur is at 4 pm.
Built in the 9th century the Prambanan temple compound is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. Originally there were 240 temples at Prambanan. The 224 small temples are now mainly just piles or rocks waiting to be rebuilt at some stage.
The three biggest temples, called Trimurti, are dedicated to the three Hindu Gods Siva, Vishnu and Bramha. There are 3 adjacent sites also featuring temples to be explored if you have time. This Java Tourist attraction should be the 2nd destination on your Yogjakarta itinerary.
How do I get to Prambanan
Prambanan is 16 kilometers from the centre of Yogyakarta. The easiest way to access the site is by organized tour or get yourself a driver. This can be doem through numerous companies or get a Grab (the Asian Uber).
How much does it cost to get into Prambanan?
Tickets to the Prambanan temple complex are what I would consider very expensive $25 USD for people aged over 11 years and $10USD for kids aged 3-10 years.
Where can I see Ramayana Ballet Performance?
The Ramayana Ballet is performed at the Prambanan Temple complex.
The story begins when Prabu Janaka held a contest to determine the would-be husband for Shinta, his daughter. Rama was chosen as a suitor. Shintra was kidnapped by Rawana who believed Shinta was a reincarnation of goddess Widowati. Shinta was rescued by a powerful monkey.
When she was returned to Rama he considered Shinta disgraced. In order to prove her virginity and holiness, Shinta was asked to burn herself, when the flame would not burn her Rama accepted her and they lived happily ever after.
There is an open-air venue that holds 1200-1500 people per performance. The performance involves 200 local artisans, dancers and musicians. You can book dinner and show combination. Inside the main temples, people can see the Hindu story of Krishnayana and Ramayana.
When is the Ramayana Ballet on?
The ballet is on during the dry season May to October 4 nights a week.
Book your tickets for the Ramayana Ballet >>Right here<<
The Kraton (also spelled Keraton or Karaton) or the Palace of Yogyakarta, is a grand complex. Sultan Hamengku Buwono laid the foundation for the Keratons construction in 1755-1756. This Palace was designed to be more than just a royal residence. It was built to be a focal point of the Sultan’s entire kingdom.
The complex is home to many traditional buildings and museums. You will find The Hamengku Buwono IX museum displaying personal items that belong to the Sultans family. The Painting museum, Regalia museum, and Royal Carriage museum all help show what the life of the Sultan was like.
Where is the Keraton?
Jl. Rotowijayan Blok No. 1, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
Royal Water Palace (Taman Sari)
The Royal Water Palace was built as a type of holiday house for the Sultan. This Palace was built in the late 17th century. The original complex consisted of 59 different building but as of today only the bathing Palace remains restored for public viewing. The Bathing Palace is surrounded by high walls. It was here the Sultan would peer out of the tower out of site and pick his next wife who would be bathing and lounging
Markets in Yogjakarta
There are a couple of markets in Yogyakarta for you to wander through and get some items for you to take home from your trip to Yogyakarta.
The Beringharjo Market
Traditional Javanese market in the Keraton area of Yogjakarta. This Jogjakarta market is the oldest in the city and has been running since the 1700’s. If you are looking for a Batik this is the place to come. You will find traditional food, crafts and antiques being sold in The Beringharjo Market Yogjakarta.
Location of the Beringharjo Market is Jl. Margo Mulyo No.16, Ngupasan, Gondomanan, Kota Yogyakarta
Klithikan Pakuncen Market
Second-hand goods, Great place for hunting clothes, bags and accessories with cheap price. Lots of foreigners walking around checking out the bargains.
Location of Klithikan Pakuncen Market – Kuncen, Jl. HOS Cokroaminoto No.34, Yogyakarta
Caturtunggal Traditional Market
Traditional market located close to the city centre. Selling meats, vegetables, fruits and snacks. Locals say it’s overpriced because of its location.
Location of Caturtunggal Traditional Market – Jl. Nologaten No.326, RW.02, Yogjakarta
Things for kids to do in Yogjakarta
There are so many things to do in Yogyakarta with kids that you will easily find your days filled with exciting things to see. Here are some of our top sposts to see in Yogyakarta.
Sindu Kusuma Edupark
Small Theme Park located on 7 hectares of land. It’s certainly no Disneyland or Europe Park but there is enough there to keep the kids occupied for a few hours of fun. You pay a small entrance fee then pay per ride. The park features a big Ferris Wheel, dodgem cars, Segways, a ropes course and 8D cinema and more.
You can find more information on the Sindu Kusuma Edupark website
Sindu Kusuma Edupark Address is Jl. Jambon, Kragilan, Sinduadi, Mlati, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55284, Indonesia
Jogja Bay Pirates Adventure Waterpark
Jogja Bay Waterpark is set on 11 hectares and 19 water rides, slides and attractions. The water park is divided into 2 sections, 1 for adrenaline junkies and 1 for all ages. The wave pool has 9 different kinds of waves and has an educational component on “how to survive in tsunami and earthquake”. Jogja Bay has a tonne of facilities such as restaurants, souvenirs store, gazebo, pool bar, locker room rental, towel rental, photo services, pirates ship, lighthouse, prayer room, toilets and car parking space.
You can find more information at Jogja Bay Pirates Adventure Waterpark website.
Jogja Bay Pirates Adventure Waterpark address: North Stadium Street, Maguwoharjo, Depok, Jenengan, Maguwoharjo, Kec. Depok, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia
Mosquito’s can sometimes be an issue in Indonesia with its warm and wet weather. We used PARA’KITO mosquito bands while we were in Indonesia. The bands are filled with essential oils that kept the mozzies at bay.
Places to stay in Yogjakarta
There are so many places to stay in Yogyakarta that you will definitely find somewhere to call home for your stay in Yogyakarta.
Budget hotels of Yogjakarta
Zest Yogjakarta is a modern 2-star budget hotel. Located close to the city featuring double and queen rooms for couples and families. Rooms feature air conditioning and cable Tv channels. There is a pool on site to cool down from the hot and humid Indonesian days. Each booking comes with a complimentary breakfast and airport transfers are available. Read our full reviews of Zest Yogyakarta today
Rating a 7.6 from 153 reviews and starting at $30US per night for a Zest twin room. Zest Yogyakarta has a location score of 7.6 on booking com and offers on-site dining, buffet breakfast, outdoor pool, room service, wi-fi and airport shuttle.
For more information and booking options click >HERE<
Dusan Jogja Village Inn
The boutique hotel’s 24 rooms and suite are designed in such a naturally tranquil compound, adopting the concept of Javanese ‘Dusun’ or village. Featuring a saltwater pool, spa and messages, movie room, bar and restaurant. There are 3 types of rooms to choose from such as Deluxe room, Superior room and junior suite to choose from. Read our full review of the Jogja Village Inn here.
Rating a 9.2 from 258 reviews and starting at $65US per night for a deluxe room. Jogja Village Inn has a location score of 8.6 and offers on-site dining at the Secang Restaurant, buffet breakfast, outdoor pool, room service, wi-fi, terrace, spa and wellness center
For more information and booking options click >HERE<
Best time to visit Indonesia and Yogjakarta
Weather in Indonesia can be split into two seasons, The wet and dry season. The subtropical warm temperatures average 28°C during the day all throughout the year. In most regions, the dry season spans from May to September, with the rains falling between October and April. The dry season is the best time of year to visit Indonesia between May and September when the days are dry and sunny.
In the wet season, temperatures remain high and rainfall comes in the short intense downpours that last for a few minutes to a few hours. The rain will only affect your trip if you are getting off road using dirt tracks etc. The rain may actually be a relief from the constant heat. So is there a best time to visit Indonesia, not really as the temperature stays constant all year around.
What to wear in Yogjakarta
Indonesia is a Muslim country, as in most Muslim countries one needs to be aware of what to wear when out in public. Here are some tips for appropriate dress in Jogjakarta.
notwear clothes that are too tight
- Shorts are acceptable but should be knee length
- Shoulders need to be covered when visiting temples.
- Avoid tanktop and singlets
- Bathing suits even bikini’s are ok at touristy beaches
- Be aware of what other people are wearing in Yogjakarta and dress from that. Tourists are best just to dress as they are but avoid overly revealing clothes
Shopping Malls in Jogjakarta
For those who love a dose of retail therapy, Jogjakarta will not disappoint with its markets, shops and shopping malls. Shopping in Jogjakarta is for everyone.
Plaza Ambarrukmo – 7 floors with more than 230 exclusive international and local brands. A wide range of dining and entertainment options are available.
Malioboro Mall – 6 floors and over 80 specialty stores.
Jogja City Mall – is a unique design fronted with Roman pillars. Spread across multiple floors featuring Indonesian and International brands.
What to eat in Jogjakarta
Indonesia and Jogjakarta have an amazing variety of traditional food available for you to try in Yogjakarta. Some to the traditional food to eat in Yogjakrta will include:
- Jadah Tempe – rice or white Ketan in a rolled bite-size portion with a savoury flavour
- Oseng-Oseng Mercon – Spicy cows feet, Mercon means fireworks and this dish has been to make people cry.
- Gudeg – is made from young unripe jack fruit stewed for several hours with palm sugar, and coconut milk.
Krechek– is a traditional Javanese cattle skin spicy stew dish
Amazing day trips from Yogjakarta
There a few popular activities to do outside of Jogjakarta. The beaches of Java and cave tubing are fun things to do in the region.
Pindul Cave is highly popular and can become crowded. Strap on your life jacket, get your tyre tube and get ready to let the flow of the river take you on a journey int the darkness of the cave. Experience the bats and the beauty of stalactite and stalagmite formations created over thousands of years.
There are some popular beaches that people love to visit when getting out of the city. Some of the best beaches are
- Indrayanti Beach – It is a nice white sand beach with cafes, restaurants and accommodations available.
- Siung Beach – is surrounded by a cliff that is popular with rock climbers. Coral Reefs for diving and snorkelling are alive with fish.
- Krakal Beach – popular for surfing with a good reef break and safe enough for swimming. Cafe’s and accommodation are close by.
Beaches in Jogjakarta area are a great attraction for beach lovers. Bali is not the only spot in Indonesia with great beaches.
Yogyakarta Airport is located just 6 kilometres from the city centre near the Prambanan temples complex. Yogyakarta Airport is mainly served by low-cost budget Asian Airlines like AirAsia, Lion Air, Silk Air and Indonesia’s main airline Garuda.
As the airport is located so close to the city a taxi is a great option for getting to your hotel. Alternatively, Trans Jogja is a rapid transit bus system that ferries passengers from the airport to a number of downtown Jogjakarta locations. For more information on the trans rapid system click here
Money in Indonesia
The official National Currency in Indonesia is the Rupiah (rp). They come in 1,000 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000 Rupiah banknotes as well as 100, 200, 500 and 1000 coins. We always recommend exchanging money at a reputable bank and double check the amount you are given. If the exchange rate is too good to be true it normally is!
We really hope you enjoy your time in Yogyakarta. Our family trip to Yogyakarta was full of surprises with some of the most amazing temples we have every seen and so much relaxing!
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About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, husband and traveller. Having been to over 30 countries worldwide I think I know a thing or 2 about travelling with kids. I have been writing about travel on our website for the last 4 years and have featured on numerous other websites. When I am not talking, dreaming and planning travel I can be found working in disability support .