Written by Adelina Luft
Edited by Jiayi Ng

When a place is called the Special Region, you better be sure that it’s gonna be really special!

Yogyakarta, or as locals would call it – Jogja – is a wonderful destination in Indonesia that has pretty much everything a traveller would look for! With everything from culture, arts and history to well preserved local traditions and adventurous natural spots, the only things that could make your vacation better are the mouthwatering food stalls and street food.

It’s a welcoming place for everyone, but beware: you might get ‘trapped’ in Jogja’s rich culture and wish you’d never have to leave! And why would you, when everyone here is so kind and friendly?

When you travel here for the first time, you’ll definitely be amazed and taken aback by the social contrasts and splendour of the famous landmarks in and outside the city. And we’re here for you, here’s all the things to do and best recommendations from the locals!

So step right into our Yogyakarta one-stop guide, and you’re all set for a vacation of a lifetime!

P.S. Did you know? Yogyakarta is known as a Special Region as it’s the only region in Indonesia that is still governed by a pre-colonial monarchy, the Sultan of Yogyakarta!

A. Getting to Yogyakarta

This post is made possible by Indonesia Tourism Board

From SingaporeFrom Malaysia (tap here to view)From Jakarta (tap here to view)

Take AirAsia, SilkAir,  Singapore Airlines, or Garuda Indonesia from Singapore Changi Airport to Yogyakarta Adisutjipto International Airport. (Flight Time: ~2h 30 min)

Direct Flight (total cost from SGD 76)

Take AirAsia or SilkAir from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Yogyakarta Adisutjipto International Airport. (Flight Time: ~2h 30 min)

Direct Flight (total cost from RM 256)

1. Flights

Fare starts at Rp. 350,000 (USD 26) via Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, AirAsia (1 hour 10 minutes flight)

2. Train

a. Executive: starts at Rp. 285,000 (USD 21)
– Depart from Gambir Station (Central Jakarta), and arrive at Tugu Station (City Center of Yogyakarta, about a 7-hour ride)

b. Economy: starts at Rp. 145,000 (USD 11) – Seats are cramped, and not recommended
– Depart from Pasar Senen Station, and arrive at Lempuyangan Station (about a 7-hour ride)

This story would not have been possible without the support of Indonesia Tourism Board. For more information, check out Yogyakarta’s official website.

B. Overview of main areas

Yogyakarta is a rather small city with around 4 million people. When you first arrive, be sure to familiarise yourself with the four coordinates that the city is separated into – North, South, East, West – as people will give you directions based on these! The North and South axes are the most important.

From Keraton Palace as the centre, North Yogyakarta comprises of Kaliurang, Palagan and Merapi, while the South is home to the touristic area of Prawirotaman, all the way to Parangtritis and the ocean.

Other than the iconic landmarks, North is mostly known for its cooler weather, residential and urban areas, as well as youth crowds (generally college students), while the South tries to keep traditional, artsy (with galleries, batik and local handicrafts), humble and conservative.

Depending on what you want to experience, these are the main areas (South to North) to explore for your first visit to Yogyakarta:

Photo Via Yu_akiyamaa, Mslovenjoyer, Malioboro_insta, Lisannejansen, Ari_prastowo, Dionmuharom
Gunung Kidul: Exotic beaches and crashing waves

This is where you can feel the ocean breeze and visit fishing villages. With unspoiled nature and ocean views, the shutter-happy you will love the ocean’s grandeur, complete with scenic photo spots or thrilling adventures at exotic beaches!

Kasongan: Land of arts and crafts

If you’re interested in learning about and purchasing local products, or admiring the the locals’ skills in creating exotic arts and crafts, here’s your Holy Land! Filled with shops and studios, this area is great for spending a whole afternoon hopping from one shop to another (and burning a hole in your wallet).

Mantrijeron: Hunt for art, batik and antiques

Mantrijeron is the neighbouring area of Mergangsan. Just beside Prawirotaman is Tirtodipuran, where you’ll find various batik and antique shops within walking distance.

This artsy fartsy area is known for its art gallery spaces and a few good restaurants. If you’re up for more hipster, the neighbouring Nitiprayan and Bantul areas house many artist studios – and even the famous Bird Market!

Malioboro: Local shopping haven with street food

This is the old centre of Yogyakarta for those searching for a local, traditional experience. Get your shopping bags ready, for this is a crowded neighbourhood where shopping is king.

From street food to souvenirs and craft shops, this is where you train your bargaining skills to a Level 10. Convenience is also a 10 here – Vredeburg museum is close by, the train station is two minutes away, and Prawirotaman is only 10 minutes away!

Jalan Kaliurang: Where the college students gather

if you want to feel young again. Close to the biggest universities, Kaliurang is a rather crowded student area, especially at night. Jump back into your schooling days at some of the best coffee shops in town as you chill out in a cool and vibrant atmosphere!

If you wanna see how youngsters hang out in milk bars and check out some restaurants with a view, you can choose this area for a night or two.

Palagan: Upclass expat district with cooler weather

Palagan is the closest to Hyatt and closer to Borobudur. North of Kaliurang, Palagan Tentara Pelajar is a long area with off-street housing compounds for the middle and upper classes.

Run away to this expat neighbourhood and enjoy slightly cooler weather, along with a large collection of both classy and traditional restaurants, hotels and places to hang out at! If you have high expectations or have children around, Palagan is The One for you.

Mergangsan/Prawirotaman: Tourist village with restaurants, bars, hotels, everything!

This is your village. No, seriously, this is the “bule” (term for foreigners) village in Yogyakarta, home to mixed Asian-Western restaurants where you can grab some drinks with your friends, and meet new local and foreign people!

Everything is here, from restaurants and bars to hotels, boutiques, and nightlife. As the “centre” for tourists, you’ll find various tours and travel services here, and Malioboro is merely 10 minutes away!

Magelang: Scenic area around Borobudur temple in Yogyakarta’s outskirts

Technically located outside of Yogyakarta region, most people travel to the famous Borobudur temple from Yogyakarta. If you only have a day to spend in Yogyakarta, checking in near Borobudur might be a good option for you to enjoy the sunrise before heading back to the city airport.

If you have less than 3 days to spend, we recommend staying in Mergangsan/Prawirotaman, Mantrijeron, or Malioboro area, and make trips to Borobudur temple, Gunung Kidul, Kaliurang or Palagan.

C. Yogyakarta classics you don’t want to miss

Culture, Adventure, and Food!

1. The Must-go icons of Yogyakarta

Don’t tell us you’ve been to Yogyakarta unless you’ve visited Borobudur, Prambanan and Merapi. Although you might not have time for all three in one day, it’s definitely worth the effort to at least experience one of these amazing sceneries.

No matter what you choose, make sure the weather is on your side, and enjoy these views at their fullest (send us a picture!).

Photo Via Dametraveler, Courtneysolinger, Tunggalsatuajak

Borobudur Temple: Catch the sunrise at Borobudur temple (Website | More info)
Prambanan Temple: Prepare your camera for a sunset at Prambanan (Website | More info)
Bukit Klangon, Merapi: Witness the majesty of Merapi from Bukit Klangon (More info)

2. Unique Attractions in Yogyakarta

Are you a city girl or guy? Are you a beach-loving free spirit?

Yogyakarta doesn’t care, because it combines these two elements, playfully bringing entertainment and the open air together for unique local experiences. Stonehenge in the tropics? Ancient ruins? These urban gems are undoubtedly not your typical tourist spots.

Photo Via Krdkrnck, Anggameiggie, Alyshaicha, Ivoaprtsr

Taman Sari: Explore the mysterious grounds of a 18th-Century water castle (More info)
Seribu Batu Songgo Langit: Enter a fairytale world right amongst nature (More info)
The Lost World Castle:
Snap away in a magical wonderland (Website | More info)

3. Marvel at the Sea of Clouds

If you’ve ever wondered what the expression “head in the clouds” would actually look like, well… these two spots in Yogyakarta will show you! Both places are above a sea of clouds in which you can swim endlessly (not literally, but good enough).

Photo Via Ihsanudn, Linctraveller

Kebun Buah Mangunan: Dance in a garden in the skies (More info)
Bukit Panguk Kediwung, Dlingo: Let Pegasus fly you over the clouds (More info)

4. Restaurants with a View

Say goodbye to enclosed spaces and nasty brick walls – you can finally have a chance to feel for yourself the sweet taste of dining amongst nature.

While everything in Yogyakarta is set horizontally, restaurants can freely open up for acres and offer guests views that stretch endlessly. If you’re travelling with friends or family, don’t miss out on these restaurants for the most authentic Yogyakarta dining experience!

Photo Via Nanda_iwanp, Mslovenjoyer, Norel08

Westlake Resto at The Westlake Resort: Feast on fish and seafood by a scenic lake (Website | More info)
D’Padukan Pie & Resto: Indulge your sweet tooth by rice paddy fields (Website | More info)
Joglo Pari Sewu:
Hang out with nature, cuddly friends and Doraemon (Website | More info)
The Manglung Café:
Look out to sweeping views and starry nights (Website | More info)

5. Yogyakarta’s Best Beaches

If you’re a wild child with a thirst for adventure, the beautiful beaches laying on the South coast of Yogyakarta will be your best friends. The two-hour drive from the city to the beaches is already an adventure in itself, and the wild destinations will impress you with their rawness and sense of liberty.

Adventurous sports are readily available, so if you’re ready to make your friends scream, it’s time to pack your bags!

Photo Via Yangchang28, Rezha_patty, Jagadhj, Enok.susi_.natalegawa_

Timang Beach: Zoom past rolling waves on a cable cart (More info)
Sinden Beach & Kalong Island: Test your courage with a suspension bridge across the sea (More info)
Watu Lumbung Beach:
Marvel at the ocean through a rocky lense (More info)
Jogan Beach:
Admire the waterfall that flows into the ocean (More info)

6. Unique Local Souvenirs

What’s a trip without souvenirs to prove you’ve really been there? Shake off your family’s “Photoshop” suspicions with these uniquely Yogyakarta souvenirs, the perfect bookend to your trip!

Photo Via Dnrphotos, Batikseno_jogja, Titip.ku, Pasarsenigabusanbantul

Beringharjo Market: Bargain for batik, local snacks and Javanese herbs (Coordinates here)
Batik and Antiques: Splurge on high quality batik, antique furniture and accessories.
a. Batik Plentong (Website)
b. Danar Hadi (Website)
c. Seno’s Batik (Website)
d. Hamzah Batik (Website)
Kasongan: Hunt for local woodwork and handicrafts
Krebet Village: Witness the creation of batik on wood (Coordinates here)

7. Scenic Cave Adventures

Did you know, Yogyakarta has perhaps more caves than petrol stations?

With over 600 caves recorded in the area, they date back to a time before indigenous people even settled in the island of Java. From serving as war time hiding spots to recreation destinations for adventures, these caves haven’t changed in one way – they still evoke a sense of adventure!

Photo Via Zexsen-Xie, Erlandorikki, Cubatefa, Nurulsanesrina

Jomblang Cave: Explore the largest underground cave forest (More info)
Langse Cave: Challenge yourself with high adrenaline treks (More info) (Warning: This trek is only recommended for very experienced climbers!)
Goa Cerme:
Trek through water and stalactites to a mysterious cave (More info)
Goa Kalisuci:
Go on an underground cave tubing adventure (More info)

8. Best Local Street Food

It’s all too easy to miss out on truly authentic food when you’re busy trying to experience everything a city has to offer. Thankfully, you have us – don’t miss out on these representative dishes, which will wow you with their unique taste and selection of ingredients!

Photo Via Eatandstillhungry, Passportsinhand, Brojajan, Nanina_meilyana

Pecel Solo: Munch on authentic Indonesian cuisine (Website)
Gudeg Pawon: Enjoy a local Yogyakartan dish fresh from the kitchen! (More info in Bahasa Indonesia)
Waroeng Kopi Klotok:
Don’t miss this – one of the best and authentic local cuisine!
Mie Ayam Bu Tumini:
Savour delicious chicken noodles in sweet gravy (More info in Bahasa Indonesia)

9. Most Scenic Natural Waterfalls

Everyone knows about the gorgeous, unspoilt nature of Yogyakarta’s surroundings, and waterfalls are a proud member of this family. If the crowded city is getting a little too hot for you, these beautiful works of nature are the perfect escape for a refreshing time!

Photo Via Iqbal_musawa, Atinwa72, Totohandoko

Luweng Sampang: Be seduced by beautiful rock formations (More info)
Sri Gethuk Waterfall: Swim, have fun, and enjoy a tiny corner of paradise (More info)
Kedung Kandang: Walk across rice paddies and cascading waterfalls (More info)

D. Where to Stay in the Most Welcoming City

1. Affordable stays with gorgeous views of nature (More info)

Photo via Gunawanwicaksana28

2. Live like a Javanese royal at affordable costs (More info)

Photo via Yu_Akiyamaa

3. Budget stays to share with your friends (More info)

Photo via Nibrasay_

E. Getting Around (Made Easy!)

Rent a car with a driver/tour guide

Travelling around is much less of a hassle when you’ve got your own driver to take you wherever you want!

Rental packages usually include fuel, toll fees, parking, and the driver’s meals throughout the day (make sure these things are communicated and discussed clearly with the driver/company before making a booking). Most operators will offer similar prices, with a general range of below Rp. 500,000 per day (USD $37) for 4-6 passengers.

Our recommendation?

Mr. Ukhi has built a very good reputation over the years, and has now launched his own website. He speaks English fluently and can arrange the trip according to your requirements.

Best of all, he knows all the best spots around town, and his vehicle of choice is usually the Toyota Avanza – a 7-seater that gives most groups more than enough room! (But he can definitely make arrangements for larger groups as well!)

Mr Ukhi, Yogya Driver

Price: Rp. 450,000 per day (USD $34), but may vary according to the destinations and days planned
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +62-81-2158-9136


F. Best Time to Travel to Yogyakarta

If you’re travelling here for the first time, we recommend that you visit the city during the months of March, April and early May, as it is right after the rainy season.

During May, many students will arrive in the city for college applications, and Eid Al-Fitr (Islamic Celebration) also takes place during around May till June, so you’ll get to enjoy the most vibrant side of Yogyakarta!

The peak season is from June to mid-August, and December to early February, so enter at your own risk!

September to November is also a good time to travel, but the weather will be rather hot (you have the waterfalls to help you with that).

G. Recommended Length of Stay

  • Exploring only the culture and local food in the city: 2 days

  • Travelling to Borobudur, Prambanan, and other places out of town: 3 days

  • For adventurers who want to hike Merapi, trek into caves, etc: 3-4 days

H. Tips and Scams You Need to Know Before Arriving

This post is made possible by Indonesia Tourism Board

PLEASE NOTE: All the above information is correct at the date of publication. If you come across any changes or updates, please let us know and we will update the information accordingly. Thank you!
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