Written by Junanto Xu
Edited by Jiayi Ng
Always raring to go on a new adventure? You’ll likely find it in Yogyakarta, a land of miracles rich in culture and history – where Mother Nature remains in all her untouched glory.
With Merapi in the north and Gunung Kidul in the south, this land is blessed with many natural wonders that are perfect for all adrenaline junkies who are seeking the adventure of a lifetime.
In addition to the preserved cultural remains, Yogyakarta is where nature and culture blend perfectly into breathtaking sights.
Getting around the natural attractions can be rather difficult though, so we’ve crafted a unique 5D4N adventure itinerary (with routes plotted) for you!
Ready for your next big adventure (and your next viral blog post ;))?
On the first night of your trip, why not challenge yourself by conquering the most active mountain in Asia, Mount Merapi? On the next day, get ready for an ultimate cultural escape by visiting two UNESCO inscribed temples. And last but not least, fulfil your love for thrill with adrenaline pumping adventure sites before ending your trip in Yogyakarta city.
With a combination of mind blowing nature and authentic culture, we ensure you an unforgettable (and affordable) adventure of a lifetime!
Here’s a quick overview of this thrilling adventure itinerary (tap to scroll to the relevant section):
Day 1: Kick off the trip with droolworthy authentic cuisine and a breathtaking waterfall
Day 2: Conquer one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mount Merapi
Day 3: Get in touch with your inner Indiana Jones at the majestic ruins of an ancient dynasty
Day 4: Feel the excitement at Yogya’s most awe-inspiring natural sites
Day 5: Kick and scream because you don’t want to go home
Kick off the trip with authentic cuisine and a breathtaking waterfall
Sugeng Rawuh, Yogya, welcomes you.
On the first day, we’ll take you to enjoy the breathtaking scenery at Luweng Sampang and continue with some healthy dinner and adorable dessert before heading to the Merapi. But a hungry traveller is a grumpy traveller, so let’s fill up your empty stomach with some authentic local cuisine first.
There’s no better place to start off your trip in Yogya than at the legendary House of Raminten. Here, everything from the cuisine, interior, tableware to atmosphere contains a thick Javanese vibe that marks the perfect beginning to a wonderful trip!
Don’t miss out on their bamboo splinter chicken known as the “koteka”, something truly Indonesian that can’t be found anywhere else.
Photo Via Adecheers
Well traveller, it’s time to officially begin the journey by paying a visit to the secluded yet exotic Luweng Sampang waterfall, otherwise known as a miniature Grand Canyon!
Here, you’ll be totally fascinated by the stunning terrains that have been carved for centuries by the natural process of water erosion. Remember to soak up in the cold, crisp water to wash out all your tiredness after the long flight.
Photo Via Iqbal_musawa
Go green for a taste of nature at Milas (1-1.5 hours)
Come feast at a garden restaurant that serves only green and organic food, a wise choice to refresh your mind and recharge your stomach.
Their Milas Salad and Gado-gado will definitely surprise you, because even without MSG and other flavour enhancers, the fresh veggie and delectable food here will still satisfy even the pickiest tongue.
Photo Via Masstyoo,Mojo703
Your dessert time can’t get any cuter with all the bears in the house! Remember to treat yourself to exquisite desserts such as the chocolate richies and bear latte before heading onto the next leg of your adventure.
If you’re feeling fatigued already, the furry friends here are all ready to give you a hug to recharge.
Photo Via Mangajunreny
Other option for desserts: Tempo De Gelato
Head to New Selo and gear yourself up to hike Mount Merapi (start at 10 pm)
Are you wondering why we need to start the trip at 10pm? That’s because we’re aiming to arrive at the peak when dawn breaks!
Before you start rubbing your eyes and climbing back into bed, read Firsta’s story here to find out more.
You’ll definitely see that one sleepless night is oh so worth it.
Photo Via Wisatajateng
Day 1 route
Conquer one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mount Merapi
Now that you’ve filled your stomachs, it’s time to mark one of the most noteworthy moments of your life by conquering the most active volcano in Asia. After that, simply enjoy the view in Kalibiru National Park and end the day with a relaxing massage – those sore muscles will definitely need it!
Test your mettle by hiking to the Peak of Merapi (10pm-10am)
Standing 2,900 metres above sea level and surrounded by four other mountains, you can witness a magnificent view stretching for miles. And you’ll also have a breathtaking backdrop of the sun pushing its way up the dark sky! We won’t be surprised if the sheer beauty of this place erases all your exhaustion. Four hours of hiking, definitely worth it!
Photo Via Knuga88
Recharge and relax with lunch at Kelapa Resto (1-1.5 hours)
You would think nothing can beat that feeling of satisfaction as you look over the sweeping vista from the top of Mount Merapi. Well, an awesome seafood celebration meal at Kelapa Resto is about to change your mind.
At Kelapa Resto, soak yourself in the soothing ambience by dining in a traditional pavilion with a great view of the lake in the centre. It’s not just about the view – their famous and fresh fried shrimp and sweet and sour fish will not disappoint you as well!
With top notch seafood and a relaxed atmosphere, your tiredness will slowly fade away.
Photo Via Nanda_iwanp
Located on the West of Yogya, Kalibiru offers a stunning view with a chilly breeze on the top of a mountain, perfect for chilling out and enjoying a marvellous sunset view.
If the long hike to the top of Merapi hasn’t worn you out, you could push your limit by doing some rock climbing, flying fox and even tightrope walking!
Photo Via Tegariman
Enjoy a fusion dinner at Kepik Sawah (1-1.5 hours)
Lighten your mood and give your stomach a treat in this uplifting restaurant that fuses modern perspective and classic traditional culture into one. With a scenic green paddy field surrounding the resto, you can be sure that your dinner will be a yummy and beautiful experience.
We recommend their gadon (minced beef wrapped in banana leaf), garang asem (Indonesian chicken curry) and grilled fish, local dishes loved by everyone.
Photo Via Kepik Sawah
Save your dying muscles at Monggo Relax (2 hours)
After two long days of adventure, what could you need more than a good and relaxing traditional Javanese massage to relieve all those stiff muscles?
Photo Via Junanto Xu
Get in touch with your inner Indiana Jones at the majestic ruins of an ancient dynasty
Yogyakarta is known for its beautiful landscapes, but that’s definitely not the only thing this place has to offer! Let’s take a day off from the nature and embark on a cultural escape.
View a majestic sunrise at Borobudur (3.30am until 8am)
At the world’s greatest Buddhist temple that was constructed a thousand years ago, it seems only natural that the sunrise will look unrealistically magnificent.
Take your time to savour this gorgeous view of the rising sun casting rays of light over the historic structures.
After being mind-blown, we encourage you to hire a guide and find out the historical significance and hidden stories behind this masterpiece, just so you can fully appraise and appreciate it.
Photo Via Marc Schmittbuhl
If you prefer a more affordable choice when it comes to watching the sunrise, you’ll find The One for you just 4 kilometres away. Puntuk Setumbu Hill offers the same stunning views from a different perspective, and at a fraction of the price!
Photo Via Aussieandry
Uncover the hidden past at Prambanan Complex (1.5-2.5 hours)
Yogyakarta is indeed full of surprises! 50 kilometres away from the largest Buddhist monument lies a massive Hindu temple that was built centuries ago.
Not only are the Prambanan Temple’s impressive structures evidence of the brilliant minds of the past, they also showcase many reliefs that illustrate the ancient Hindu religion. There’s so much to unpack, don’t forget to find a guide who can share the story behind this magnificent temple!
Photo Via Courtneysolinger
Have a taste of luxury with spectacular views only at the Abhayagiri Restaurant! Here, the view of Mount Merapi and Prambanan from a distance will surely upgrade your whole dining experience.
Their collection of traditional food with a modern touch never fails to amaze anyone. Don’t believe us? Do try out the roasted salmon and mutton rica-rica here.
Photo Via Blardanaa
Go back in time at Tebing Breksi (1 hour)
Before you head to Ratu Boko for some gorgeous sunset views, take a short visit to this ancient mining site, just 3 kilometres away from the Abhayagiri Restaurant.
The timeworn sculptures here are carved to impress and the old-fashioned atmosphere will definitely enchant you.
Photo Via Devigusman_
There’s nowhere better to appreciate the sensational view of the setting sun in Yogyakarta other than at Ratu Boko, a true blue ancient palace! It’s definitely no wonder that the sunset appears ever so much more glorious here.
Photo Via Iren_ayd
Don’t underestimate this place just because it seems to be a normal cottage in the middle of nowhere. Brace yourself, for Joglo Pari Sewu has lots of impressive things to offer.
From a Doraemon-themed room to a cute bear house and vast green court with amazing views, nothing’s impossible here. Not to mention their amazing Indonesian dishes like Nasi Pecel and Ayam Woku-woku – everything here is simply refreshing and delightful!
Photo Via Norel08
Fancy some local beer before ending the day? If you haven’t had the chance to down drinks in an abandoned house, head on to Taphouse Beer Garden, a unique watering hole that is housed inside what looks like an abandoned building.
While you bask in the (slightly eerie) vibe of the place, you can even catch some local musicians showcasing their talent live!
Photo Via Evancalisto
Feel the excitement at Yogya’s most awe-inspiring natural sites
Now that we’re done delving into Yogya’s rich culture, let’s get back to nature and get your adrenaline pumping! Never let it be said that we don’t give you enough choices – two different options have been specially designed, so pick your path!
Have your morning “snake” at Mi Casa Es Tu Casa (1-1.5 hours)
Start your morning in this heartwarming restaurant that aims to make you feel right at home!
You can opt for authentic Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine, or choose the thug life and go for fried or curried cobra and python meat!
Photo Via Bearishybear,Huihui2601
Explore mysterious caves at Kalisuci Cave Tubing (3-4 hours)
For once, let loose and let nature take the reins! Follow the current of the river on a floating tube and enter mysterious dark caves where you’ll find irregular formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
Photo Via Cubatefa
Be a daredevil at Timang Beach (1-2 hours)
Before the sensational view of white sea waves crashing onto coral and a bright blue sky, you can hop onto the wooden cable cart to test out how brave you truly are!
Photo Via Yangchang28
Not up for any physical activities? Soak yourself into the relaxing natural pond on this dazzling beach while waiting for the sun to slowly sink into the horizon.
Photo Via Syiwaaaank
Want to know where the royal family used to dine?
Well, you may not be able to dine at the same spot, but here in Bale Raos, you can taste the same royal cuisine that was served for the Sultan’s family.
Bestik Tongue (thick cow tongue cooked with herbs and served with potatoes and vegetables) and Baked Goat (baked mutton served with vegetable curry and sauces) are definitely must tries here!
The wide variation of local cuisine and unique atmosphere here will surely captivate you as you dig into a feast fit for a king… literally.
Photo Via Abiananthra,A2photography_indra,Andi_n_s,Pingkolie
To end the last night, take a walk in Malioboro to feel the liveliness of a night in Yogya. Filled with street performers, music, food and so much more, this busy street is where you can see the truly genuine side of this city.
And while in Malioboro, don’t miss out on Mirota Batik, the souvenir haven that offers tons of affordable and whacky stuff. After accomplishing so much in Yogya, how can you return home without something to remember your adventures by? A cup of charcoal dipped Javanese coffee (Kopi Joss) sounds pretty decent too!
Photo Via Savina_wong82_,Anggirika27
Kick and scream because you don’t want to go home
Enjoy your last breakfast in Yogya in this fun and colourful resto that serves up great food and a fun spirit!
Via Via is famous for their wide collection of artisan breads, and for good reason – the falafel pita and melt in the sun sandwich will definitely make your day!
Photo Via Liapicauly aristya_vita
Before heading to the airport, make a short visit to Yogya’s oldest traditional market, Beringharjo. This market (almost a century old!) offers tons of traditional handicraft, merchandise and garments that will more than satisfy any last minute shopping cravings.
Photo Via Riyan.astono
Day 5 route
Although public transportation is available in Yogyakarta, it is not recommended since its schedule is not what you would call reliable. The stops also do not extend as far as many of the destinations you might want to visit. If you haven’t had your transportation arranged, here are a few options you might want to consider;
1 Rent a car with a driver/tour guide
Packages usually include fuel, toll fees, parking, and the driver’s meal throughout the day (make sure these things are made clear before making a booking). Most operators will offer similar prices ranged below Rp. 500,000 per day (USD 37) for 4-6 passengers.
Mr. Ukhi has built an excellent reputation over the years on the interwebs, and has now launched his own website. He speaks English fluently and can arrange the trip according to your requirement. Best of all, he knows all the best spots around town, and his vehicle of choice is usually the Toyota Avanza. (However, he can definitely make arrangements for larger groups as well!)
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, Yogyakarta is not too difficult to navigate. (Do note that it would most definitely be a good idea to preload your GPS maps, or get a physical map. Mobile service can be unreliable in many parts of the Gunungkidul area).
Most rental services offer a Toyota Avanza (7-seater) at around Rp. 350,000 per day (USD 26). However, we’ve found that Cahaya Transport, the cheapest and one of the most equipped operators offers them at Rp. 250,000 per day (USD 19).
3. Rent a motorcycle
Have the most fun (and biggest bang for your buck) getting around on two wheels. Not only are they cheap to rent, they are also cheaper to run on gasoline as well as parking fees.
Bening transport offers delivery services for their motorcycles anywhere in Yogyakarta. All you have to do is provide three forms of identification, and you will be given the keys and a pair of helmets.
Recommended places to stay
1. Back to nature: Greenhost Boutique Hotel Prawirotaman
Photo via adhyatama, algaartalidia
2. Playful and classy: Adhisthana hotel
3. The luxurious palace: Grand Palace hotel