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10 Amazing Experiences in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta was known with the slogan of “Jogja The Never ending Asia“ for its endless appeals. Today, it is also renowned as “ Jogja Istimewa “, a tagline that elaborates its special values.

Some people say that Yogyakarta is a city that is “trapped in the past”, but in reality, it’s just a place where the people value and maintain their tradition in a respectful manner. No wonder you will find so many recreational spots with old-school design and characteristics here. You know what else? The locals know how to have fun. Believe it when we say that you will get so many memorable things if you spend your holiday in this City of Scholars. Need some guidance? Here are 10-holiday ideas on how to create an unforgettable experience in Yogyakarta!

Top 10 Things To Do In Yogyakarta

1. Explore Borobudur Temple

Located on the island of Java, the magnificent Borobudur temple is one of Indonesia’s most valuable gems and most appealing tourist destinations for locals and foreign tourists. Borobudur temple is the world’s biggest Buddhist monument you must visit at least once in your lifetime. The area is surrounded by beautiful scenery of Central Java’s nature that you can only find there.

It covers a total surface area of around 2,500 m2 of Kedu Valley, the southern part of Central Java. The monument is a marvel of design, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and originally 504 Buddha statues, surrounded by green area. The architecture and stonework of this temple have no equal. It was built without using any cement or mortar. The structure is like a set of massive interlocking Lego blocks held together without any glue. It is no wonder that Borobudur is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The temple has remained strong even through ten centuries of neglect. It was rediscovered in 1814 under the order of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. In the 1970s, the Indonesian Government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former majesty. The restoration took eight years to complete, making Borobudur one of Indonesia’s most valuable treasures. That is the reason why you will find a number of restrictions to touch or sit on the Borobudur Site when you visit it. The locals really want to keep the beauty of this temple as it tells the story of their history.

As one of the best-preserved ancient monuments, this trip is bound to be unforgettable. With an extraordinary architectural style, this is surely the best view you can choose to accompany your view of the sunrise. Make sure to take lots of shots of the scenery because there is really nothing like the Borobudur temple. Book a trip now all the way to Borobudur, a trip worth every memory.

borobudur temple
Borobudur Temple
borobudur temple
Borobudur Temple

2. Visit Prambanan, the Most Beautiful Hindu Temple

Prambanan is a magnificent spectacle and an icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. The temples at Prambanan were built in the 9th century and is known locally as Roro Jonggrang, coming from the legend of the ‘slender virgin’.

The biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva – the destroyer, and the two smaller ones which sit on its right and left are dedicated to Brahma, the creator, and Wisnhu, the sustainer. The tallest temple of Prambanan is a staggering 47 meters high. Its peak visible from far away and rises high above the ruins of the other temples.

After hundreds of years of neglect, the Prambanan temple was rediscovered by CA Lons, a Dutchman, in 1733. Since then, this temple has been revitalized and today is widely regarded as the most beautiful and graceful Hindu temple in Indonesia. The grandeur, complexity, and integrated architectural concept of Prambanan makes this a truly amazing structure. As a unique cultural and architectural marvel, Prambanan was declared a World Heritage site in 1991 by UNESCO.

Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple

3. Visit Taman Sari Water Castle

Taman Sari Water Castle was also known as the garden for the Sultan of Yogyakarta. Tamansari was originally built for multiple purposes yet now only several buildings remain. Some of its original functions were a place to rest, to meditate, to work, to hide and to defend the Sultan’s family.  In this present day, some of its buildings have now become homes for local residents and only the mosque, resting and bathing space, and underground tunnels are accessible by tourists.

With its combination of eastern and western style building, this unique escape of the royal family has its own appeal and story. The most famous place in Tamansari is the bathing and resting place of the Sultan and his Princesses named Umbul Pasiraman. Most tourists find this place interesting as there is a unique story behind its origins.

The Sultan loves to go hunting during his free time and The Umbul Pasiraman was designed to appease the Sultan of that desire. Different from the Panggung Krapyak which was designed to hunt deer, the Umbul Pasiraman (which means a place to take a bath) was designed for the Princesses to take a bath and for the Sultan to relax and ‘hunt’ for a wife.

To catch his ‘two-legged prey’, it is said that the Sultan would throw a rose from the high tower on the south of the pool and the Princess who caught that rose will be his ‘wife’. Usually, the ones who would catch the rose would either be the Queen or his concubines. There are three different pools at Umbul Pasiraman namely Umbul Binangun, Umbul Muncar and Blumbang Kuras each a different area for the daughters of Sultan and his potential wives to bathe.

Other than the Umbul Pasiraman, visitors can also explore an underground tunnel and  mosque. The tunnel was once a hideout but now is not functional as it is partially used for local residences. Unlike most mosques, the mosque on this premise is a unique circle shaped building, with Sumur Gumilang beneath which was a place for the Sultan to pray.

Taman Sari Yogyakarta
Taman Sari Water Castle
Taman Sari Water Castle

4. Explore The Kraton, Palace of Yogyakarta

The Kraton (also spelled keraton or karaton) or the Palace of Yogyakarta, is a grand complex that was meticulously planned to reflect the Javanese cosmos.

Home of the Sultan of Yogyakarta and his family, this palace has been passed from generation to generation. The history and architecture of the Yogyakarta Palace attract various kinds of travelers. It also has a museum displaying collections of royal artifacts. It’s a popular attraction that you cannot miss on your trip to Yogyakarta.

This elegant complex of pavilions was constructed based on ancient beliefs, of the connection between the God, human and the natural realms. Each feature holds a special symbolic meaning related to the Javanese worldview, who consider the importance of Mount Merapi and The Indian Ocean.

The Kraton was built in the center, facing directly north towards the majestic Mount Merapi. Its south side was built facing the Indian Ocean, believed to be the abode of Kanjeng Ratu Loro Kidul, the Queen of the South Seas and the mystical consort of the Sultan. This splendid example of traditional Javanese architecture has no equal. The basic and original layout of the main building of The Kraton began its construction during the reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwono I, 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. When a sultan passed away, the cortege will leave by the southern gate and head its way to the royal cemetery located in Imogiri.

Today, the Kraton is a piece of living history and tradition. It continues to be used, both as a home of the Sultan as well as for other important ceremonial and cultural functions of the Yogyakarta court.

Palace of Yogyakarta
Palace of Yogyakarta
Palace of Yogyakarta

5. Mount Merapi Volcano Jeep Tour

Mt Merapi, located near Yogyakarta, is one of the most active volcanoes on earth. It is one of some 500 volcanoes in Indonesia, from which at least 129 are active in the volcanic arc spread along the Asia-Pacific islands called the Ring of Fire.

Living in the shadows of an active volcano is like sitting on a time bomb, especially when it is called the Fire Mountain or Mount Merapi, the volcano that dominates the center of the island of Java.

Despite its frequent eruptions, Mt. Merapi is very central to the lives of the Javanese people and kings. For through its eruptions Merapi spews lava, ash, and minerals to the surrounding areas. These provide nutrients to the soil, making this one of the most fertile areas in the world, and consequently the most densely populated.

The Merapi volcano also plays a central part in the accepted cosmos of the Javanese sultans. The Keraton of Yogyakarta faces the mountain in one direct line. Merapi is also guarded by spiritual “guards” who give offerings to the mountain.

Local people respect the awesome power of this volcano. Annually, on the anniversary of the Sultan’s coronation, offerings (Labuhan) are brought from the Keraton of Yogya to Mt. Merapi, together with similar offerings carried to the Indian Ocean to the south, to appease the spirits of the mountain and the sea, in order to bring welfare to the inhabitants of Java.

If you are very adventurous and are dying to know how a volcano erupts and see for yourself its dire aftermath, take the Lava Jeep Tour up Mt. Merapi and follow in the lava’s deadly path. You will find many Jeep communities at Kaliadem who can offer you an off-road adventure of the devastated area covered by ash and lava in the last eruption. The tour will always be led by professional drivers who double as guides. The rushing feeling of adrenaline will keep in as your Jeep zig-zags over the trail. If you have children consider acquiring safety equipment before departing as some roads are quite steep and bumpy, which can accommodate a maximum of four people to go through the dusty road.

The tour usually includes visits to important landmarks such as the Mini Museum “Sisa Hartaku” (translated meaning: My Remaining Treasure Museum) that serves to inform about the impact made on the people living in the area during Merapi’s the latest eruption in 2010.

Mount Merapi Volcano
Mount Merapi Volcano
Mount Merapi Volcano

6. Explore Goa Jomblang (Jomblang Cave)

Come to Goa Jomblang (Jomblang Cave), an enormous vertical cave located in Jetis Wetan Village, Yogyakarta. The first 15 meters of this 80-meter deep cave can be traversed on foot as you descend into the cave through its mouth. Beginners will be given directions by a cave guide. Inside, the Jomblang Cave is beautified by karst formations and plants, including stalagmites, stalactites, crystal stones, and ferns. There is also a swift-flowing river here. Furthermore, there is a spectacular light coming in from the crevices and mouth of the cave that will surely sweep you off your feet.

Be awed by the sinkhole’s lush ancient forest as you rappel down the vertical Jomblang Cave. Observe the interesting stalagmites and stalactites formations as you reach the end of a dark tunnel to see the extraordinary spectacle of light entering through the roof of Grubung Cave.

Jomblang Cave
Jomblang Cave

7. Visit Timang Beach

Timang Beach is a stunning coastal destination located in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and thrilling experiences.

Immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty as we showcase the picturesque cliffs, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and the iconic Timang Bridge – a daring suspension bridge that connects two towering cliffs. Hop on a traditional wooden gondola and be pulled across the roaring waves below, offering an adrenaline-pumping adventure.

Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures or simply yearning for a tranquil escape, Timang Beach has it all. From exploring hidden caves and secret beaches to indulging in delicious local cuisine!

Unwind and soak up the sun on the sandy shores of Timang Beach. Take a leisurely stroll along the beach, simply relax and listen to the soothing sound of the waves

Timang Beach
Timang Beach

8. Learn how to make Batik and try on traditional Javanese clothes

Visit a local batik workshop to learn about the traditional art of Batik Making, and try your hand at creating your own batik artwork.Batik is the national treasure based on the Javanese word of “amba” and “titik”, meaning to write the dots. It is an art of decorating fabric using wax and dyeing process.

Yogyakarta is the first place that comes to mind when you think of batik and Giriloyo Handmade Batik Center is one of the largest centers for hand-drawn batik in Kraton, Yogyakarta. With almost 90 percent of the residents being batik craftsmen, Giriloyo Handmade Batik Center is the ideal place to explore this iconic cultural heritage. Just like any other batik village, you can witness the process of making batik via workshop tour packages that are offered here.

It wouldn’t be a cultural trip without learning how to make Batik in Yogyakarta. This beautiful piece of art is crafted using wax and dyes to create dots widely arranged with stunning patterns. Though many tourists buy intricate traditional batik as souvenirs, a handful of others prefer making batik to add to their cultural tourism journey.

To add to your cultural experience, you can also have a photoshoot wearing traditional Javanese costumes at Yogyakarta’s famous batik store, Hamzah Batik. The traditional nuance of classical Javanese in this store is perfect for capturing memorable moments. So after having a shopping spree in Malioboro Street, you can go to its photo studio while wearing your newly owned batik.

9. Borobudur Villages Cycling Tour

Cycling adventure village tour or ride a vintage Volkswage (VW Car) exploring the beauty of villages surrounding Borobudur. It include a visit to local villages, rice fields, and other points of interest along the way. You can enjoy the beautiful landscapes while cycling at a leisurely pace. It’s a great way to explore the area and get closer to the local culture.

10. Stroll Around Malioboro Street

Malioboro Street, Yogyakarta, is a popular destination among domestic and international tourists because they love the magical atmosphere of Malioboro. This spot can be easily accessed by private or public transportation and is considered safe for solo travelers. Take an evening stroll, buy batik and souvenirs from the street vendors, or simply sit and enjoy the atmosphere. You can also try some traditional food here. Ride an Odong-odong ( 2 -3 km) at Alun-Alun Kidul to enjoy Yogyakarta cultural scene at night.

What you might haven’t known about Borobudur temple in Indonesia (no date) Indonesia Travel. Available at: https://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/destinations/java/magelang-regency/borobudur (Accessed: 28 December 2023).

Rural bliss: 4 unique yogyakarta getaway experiences – indonesia travel (no date) Rural Bliss: 4 Unique Yogyakarta Getaway Experiences – Indonesia Travel. Available at: https://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/trip-ideas/4special-things-to-experience-on-a-rural-getaway-around-yogyakarta (Accessed: 28 December 2023).

Rural bliss: 4 unique yogyakarta getaway experiences – indonesia travel (no date) Rural Bliss: 4 Unique Yogyakarta Getaway Experiences – Indonesia Travel. Available at: https://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/trip-ideas/4special-things-to-experience-on-a-rural-getaway-around-yogyakarta (Accessed: 28 December 2023).

Experience a cultural trip to Central Java and Yogyakarta – Indonesia Travel (no date) Experience a Cultural Trip to Central Java and Yogyakarta – Indonesia Travel. Available at: https://www.indonesia.travel/sg/en/trip-ideas/get-the-exciting-adventure-and-cultural-experience-in-central-java-and-yogyakarta (Accessed: 28 December 2023).

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