Witness the magnificent spectacles of Candi Borobudur and Candi Prambanan, the icons of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. Explore the amazing Keraton and Taman Sari, the residences and ultimate getaway place for the Sultan and his entourage.
I recommend you to read INDONESIA 101 page to familiarize yourself with the country, transport info, and other cultural things to note about Indonesia.
Piye kabare! Today we will be exploring Djogjakarta also known as Yogyakarta or Jogja, a city in central Java renowned for its majestic temples, fine Javanese arts and unique cultural and traditional heritage. Yogyakarta, the soul of Indonesia, is a bustling town of approximately half a million people. The town, located in central of Java, is a hub of art and education, fiercely independent and protective of its customs led by Sultan, offers tremendous range of shopping and tourist facilities.
This trip assumes group travel, private car rental of 6 passengers. Outbound and inbound flights, souvenirs & personal expenses are not included.
Total damage to the Piggy Bank per person: IDR2,000,000-2,300,000 (USD$150-200)
IDR120,000 (USD$10) Car rental+driver+fuel day 1
IDR100,000 (USD$8) Driver’s meal and accomodation day 1
IDR30,000 (USD$3) Breakfast
IDR430,000 (USD$32) Candi Borobodur + Prambanan fees
IDR40,000 (USD$4) Kalibiru fees
IDR40,000 (USD$4) Lunch
IDR50,000 (USD$5) Dinner
IDR900,000 (USD$70) Accommodation at Tentrem
IDR120,000 (USD$10) Car rental+driver+fuel day 2
IDR50,000 (USD$4) Driver’s meal day 2
IDR20,000 (USD$2) Keraton entrance fee
IDR40,000 (USD$4) Taman Sari entrance fee
IDR40,000 (USD$3) Misc parking for 2 days
IDR100,000 (USD$8) Driver’s tips optional
IDR40,000 (USD$4) Lunch
IDR50,000 (USD$5) Dinner
HOW TO GET TO YOGYAKARTA?
The city’s international airport is called Adisutjipto International Airport, servicing both domestic and international services. For airlines operating within the airport please check the website. Alternatively, for more frequent services, you can fly to nearest city Surabaya Djuanda International airport and catch a bus/train/private car to Djogjakarta.
Best time to visit is during the dry season: July to September with average temperature of 25-29 degrees celcius. Wet season is from October until June, with November and December as peak rainy season; average temperature of 20-25degrees celcius.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN YOGYAKARTA?
You can hire motorbike for IDR60,000/day if you are just exploring the city. You may also travel on foot as pedestrians paths are quite decent. Take note on the heat though if you are travelling in the summer periods.
If you are in groups, using a private car is the most economical and efficient option. For Toyota Innova including driver (excluding tips and meals) will roughly cost you IDR450,000/day.
48 HOURS ITINERARY IN A JIZZ!
0630-1200. Candi Borobudur
1300-1500. Wisata Alam Kalibiru
1730-1900. Jalan Malioboro
D A Y O N E
06.00-12.00 – Candi Borobudur (Borobudur Temple)
Most photographed and most well known temple in Indonesia, and one of UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991, a visit to the spectacular Candi Borobudur is definitely MANDATORY. Set in an unspoiled green valley surrounded by majestic mountains, you will enjoy an astonishing experience of the world’s biggest Buddhist monument which survived 1,200 years of natural and man-made disasters. Whether you go during sunrise or sunset, it definitely is one of those breathtaking experience.
Borobudur temple represents many layers of Buddhist theory. From a bird’s eye view, the temple is in the shape of a traditional Buddhist mandala. A mandala is central to a great deal of Buddhist and Hindu art, which depicts Budhhist cosmology and representatives of human thoughts and stage of life. The walls of Candi Borobudur is decorated with approximately 1,460 relics of 2metres panels which depicts the three zones of consciousness, with the central sphere representing unconsciousness or Nirvana.
Candi Borobudur has 10 storeys comprised of 6 squares and 3 round-shaped with main stupa at its peak. There are 72 stupa in total, each with Buddha statue inside if not destroyed. Candi Borobudur follows a typical basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas which is a square with four entry points, and a circular centre point. On the side of each four entry points are gates and stairs leading up to the top in a form of pyramid. This depicts Buddhist philosophy of origination of life that comes from stone. Stone turns into sand, plants, insects, wild animals and then evolve into human form. This is called reincarnation, whereby the last stage the soul will enter nirvana heaven. Each of this life stages is drawn at the relics and carved stones all over Candi Borobudur.
Every year on full moon around May/June, Buddhist all over Indonesia celebrate Waisak, to commemorate the birth, death, and the day Siddartha Gautama achieved its Buddha state. The last moments before the full moon, Buddhists will gather to circle the temple. It is believed that the supernatural power is at its peak and image of Buddha will appear at the top of mountain in the south.
12.00-18.00 – Kali Biru / Waduk Sermo
Kalibiru is one of the favourite spot to visit in Kulon Progo, 40km from Yogyakarta. It is once an abandoned village due to deforestation from fire. However, the effort from villagers to restore the nature and surroundings, Kalibiru now is one of the upcoming tourist spot that has enhanced the economy for the surrounding populations.
Kalibiru has a cooling weather with peaceful atmosphere and tranquil vibe. You will bypass a long winding road with thick pine forest before arriving at the car park of ‘Wisata Alam Kalibiru‘ entrance. There are 3 photo spots to see the Waduk Sermo (Sermo reservoir) and Pegunungan Menoreh (Menoreh Hills), with the first stop being the best view or most instagram-worthy view.
Apart from the magnificent view, you can also experience adrenaline rush with the outbound activities provided , such as high rope and flying fox. You can climb the rock, tread on the net and walk in single rope to reach the photo spot. If you can, try not to visit during weekends as the queue would be long! There is an optional photograph session by the professional they charge IDR5,000 per photo or you can just get some of your friends to take photos for FREE.
18.00-24.00 – Jalan Malioboro
In Jogjakarta, Jalan Malioboro’s street shopping is probably Indonesia’s answer to Bangkok’s street shopping scene where you can find everything from local markets to sophisticated malls. The location of Jalan Malioboro Street is smack center of Jogjakarta where the length of the street is around 1.3 kilometers long, so best way to explore is on foot. You can also take an Andong (Horse Drawn Carriage) and Becak (Trishaw with rider at the back) for more local experience.
The street are full of vendors selling all variety of handmade products such as hand-made crafts and batiks, also sandals, sarongs, hats and bags all made from leather, dry plants, shellfish, coconuts, and rattan. PS: you may bargain the price for crafts and batiks at often half the original asking price. In the side alleys of Malioboro Street, you will find many hotels, restaurants, more shops, tour agencies and massage places.
For food at Jalan Malioboro street, you have quite a number of options where if you have an iron stomach, I would easily recommend trying some of the very local Jogja dishes from the restaurants at the side lane such as: Rawon, Pempek and so the famous Lesehan. For those wanting some proper restaurant food, try the Indische Koffie Cafe at the end of Jalan Malioboro where the Fort Vredeburg Museum is located. On weekends, the place gets jam-packed with thousands of locals and tourist who are seen all over the shopping streets here.
A tourist information center is located in the half way point of the street, for those seeking more information or there are many travel agents who will act on their behalf to sell you other places to visit in Indonesia.
D A Y T W O
06.00-12.00 – Keraton Yogyakarta, Istana Taman Sari
Keraton Yogyakarta, is a grand Palace complex that was meticulously planned to reflect the Javanese cosmos. The unique point of the Keraton is the distinct embedded Javanese infrastructure and concepts with three sections – the top represents where the Gods reside, middle for the human-beings, and bottom as where the evil spirits stay.
The Keraton is built facing directly north towards the majestic Mt. Merapi with to its south backing the Indian Ocean which is believed to be the abode of Kanjeng Ratu Loro Kidul, the Queen of the South Seas and the mystical consort of the Sultan. A green square called alun-alun front the palace and serves as the first outer layer. The front yard is called Alun-alun Utara (the North Square), and the back yard is called Alun-alun Selatan (the South Square). In the middle of the square are two large trees. According to local legends, if you can walk between the trees blindfolded then you will have a lucky year.
The second layer which is slightly elevated called Siti Hinggil, with north and south side. The palace meeting hall is called Pagelaran, where formal meetings of palace officials are held, while the “Manguntur Tingkil” hall is the place where the Sultan is seated. The south side is used to train the guards. Kemandhungan is the third layer of the Keraton which has both north and south. It is the transition to reach the centre of the Keraton, which has dual function as a waiting room to see the Sultan as well as a court room.
Visitors can enjoy the atmosphere of the Keraton in former times by visiting the life-size diorama of wedding ceremonies on the palace meeting hall, performed by puppets, which are intentionally arranged to create such an atmosphere. Sets of Javanese musical instruments called gamelan, antiques and heirlooms have made the palace of Yogyakarta worth to visit. Aim to see the traditional Java ‘Serimpi’ dance and other royal dance performances accompanied by magical gamelan musical.
After Palace exploration, another favourite place of mine to visit is the Taman Sari (Water Castle). Upon paying the entrance fees, you will be greeted with bunch of tour guide offering their services to take you to ‘hidden places’ aka the famous mosque underneath. Give them a tip of 30,000 Rupiah for their service.
Taman Sari, once served as a bathing and resting places for the Sultan and his entourage. It contains approximately 47 complexes, ranging from man-made pond, bathing pools, manmade island, park, underground tunnels, water canal, mosque, resting rooms that are designed by world-wide architects.
I recommend you visit the bathing and resting place of the Sultan and his Princesses, called Umbul Pasiraman. According to the story, the Sultan has a keen interest in hunting and The Umbul Pasiraman was designed to appease the Sultan of that desire. 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 40+ concubines and once caught they are to bathe together. Sounds…..crowded?
Other than the Umbul Pasiraman, another mandatory visit is the underground tunnel to the mosque. You won’t believe that the 1.25metres thickness of the mosque’s wall are made up bricks glued from egg whites! To be able to enter the mosque you must pass a gate that has two storeys. In the olden days, the upper storey is used by the Sultan to oversee his concubines whilst bathing in one of the pond.
12.00-18.00 –Candi Prambanan (Prambanan Temple)
Candi Prambanan is an extraordinarily beautiful Hindu temple constructed in the 9th century and is known locally as Roro Jonggrang, coming from the legend of the ‘slender virgin’. There is a legend that Javanese people always tell about this temple. As the story tells, there was a man named Bandung Bondowoso who loved Roro Jonggrang. To refuse his love, Jonggrang asked Bondowoso to make her a temple with 1,000 statues only in one-night time. The request was nearly fulfilled when Jonggrang asked the villagers to pound rice and to set a fire in order to look like morning had broken. Feeling to be cheated, Bondowoso who only completed 999 statues cursed Jonggrang to be the thousandth statue.
Candi Prambanan is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991 like its cousin Candi Borobodur. The fact that the two coexist in Yogyakarta proves the harmonious relationship between the Buddhist and Hindu.
Rising above the centre of the concentric squares are three temples decorated with reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities – Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma – and three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them. 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 Vishnu, 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.
As you go towards the exit, Candi Prambanan complex also include a large park with a small amount of deers who looks malnourished. We stopped for about 15-20minutes or so just to feed them.
18.00-24.00 – Chill at House of Raminten
As a culinary city, one must visit the ‘House of Raminten’, a unique casual dining place that promotes traditional Javenese food and lesehan / angkringan way of dining. The name of the restaurant is inspired from ‘Raminten’, the sitcom TV character played by the restaurant owner Bapak Hamzah during his days in soap opera. During Saturday at the Mirota Branch, you may catch this drag queen cabaret show re-enacted by performers.
The restaurant has a strong concept of Javanese wisdom, including the ambience of Bunga setaman (a local fragrant flower) and gamelan (a traditional Javanese music ensemble). The decoration will definitely raise few eyes, with statue of Mother Mary, side-by-side Buddha and Ganesh sculptures, and a mushola (prayer room for Muslims) nearby.
Food quality is decent (I wouldn’t call it great) and definitely unique. Some of the recommended dishes:
- Susu Perawan Tancep, a spiced milk drink served in the aforementioned mammary gland-shaped cups, is a pun on the word perawan, meaning virgin in Indonesian.
- Ayam Koteka, a combination of chicken and eggs baked inside a koteka, the male genital gourd worn by some indigenous ethnic groups in Papua, is one of the restaurant’s most attractive dishes.
WHAT TO EAT?
Get brongkos koyor at Warung Handayani or Warung Bu Padmo, a beef dish made from combination of coconut, kecap manis (dark, thick and sweet soy sauce), lemongrass, galangal, ginger, and other Indonesian spices, often accompanied with egg and tofu.
Must try dish is gudeg, a jackfruit stew with palm sugar and coconut milk. The most famous joints is Guded Yu Djum, their franchise joints are scattered throughout town. Gudeg has a sweet taste (like any other Jogja typical dish), in its original preparation, the dish, which is served with spicy krecek (beef skin) is cooked slowly using an anglo (traditional Javanese firewood stove). Other accompaniments include telur pindang (sweet egg) or tempeh bacem (sweet tofu or tempeh cake)
Indulge yourself with local Javanese food at House of Raminten. Some of the recommended dishes are the Nasi Kucing, Ayam Koteka, Sego Kucing…..well maybe you should just order the entire menu 🙂 Portion is small, so you can order lots to share.
WHERE TO STAY?
My favourite stay is Hotel Tentrem, which is owned by Sidomuncul Group, the biggest Jamu (herbal medicine) producer in Indonesia. The accommodation is totally worth the value ($130USD for twin room), comfortable, clean, and the buffet has amazing selection! Opt for the Tolak angin (jamu flavour) ice cream!!!!
RANI’S TRAVEL TIPS:
- Check sunrise and sunset timings for Borobudur and Prambanan Temples respectively. Get the combo ticket as it is cheaper.
- Due to the heat, sunglasses may be useful. Appropriate clothing upon entering the temples are advised.