15 fantastic things to do in Yogyakarta and where to find them

Welcome to 2017, guys!

Have you already thought about places to trot around in this new year? Then, you have come to the right place. I am going to share one of my best travelling experiences within 2016 although I kinda think that the old year had been a pretty dry year for me, in terms of travelling. I hardly visited anywhere new until Indonesia last October. I’ve actually been to Bintan (an island which is 40 minutes’ ride by ferry from Singapore), which I totally enjoyed, but I just could not say I had experienced Indonesia just yet.

Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Bali were in my itinerary, and now it’s totally fair to say that I’ve really experienced Indonesia and the greatness that it has to offer to tourists.

It has been a struggle trying to put this trip into words, especially since I have not blogged for a really long time and my amateur writing skill has gone unfortunately very rusty. Let me try to achieve it, instead, by sharing images I got to capture of the simple but majestic city of Yogyakarta (also locally known as Jogja).

Here are my personal top 15 things to do when in Jogja:

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Have some refreshing bottled tea. Not at all sweet like typical soft drink and not gassy either. It’s with nice tea flavour and fragrance, giving a rather refreshing feel during a hot day when drunk a little cold.

They are just as common in Indonesia as a bottle of coke is common in a lot of places around the world. If you feel thirsty somewhere in either Yogyakarta or Bali or elsewhere Indonesia, go find a restaurant, a grocery or a 7/11 and look through their fridge, you’ll sure find a bottle to quench your thirst.

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Try Gudeg – a local cuisine with a very unique mix of taste, with two extreme flavours – very spicy on side & very sweet on another side (with jackfruit). It comes with a chicken drumstick still with the feet (& even the claw 😉

Gudeg is actually a specialty of Jogja and I got to try it for the first time at Gudeg Yu Djum – a local restaurant with quite a reputation for the cuisine, located about 30 minutes from the airport (@ Jalan Dagen No. 2C, Malioboro, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55271, Indonesia). If you would like to come from your hotel in the city centre, this place is easily accessible within 20 minutes by taxi or van.

From a local Indonesian friend, who once lived in Jogja for 5 years, Gudeg at this place has quite a unique taste – the sweetness and its spiciness are both higher than ones found at other places.

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There’s a lot this place has to offer – batik panting, crafting, pottery-making and a lot of delicious local snacks and sweet. Perfect for an afternoon rest after going around this cute little village overlooking the famous temple of Borobudur.

It’s located in Wanurejo – a district/village close to the Borobudur temple, and both are actually not located in Yogyakarta, but in another city called Magelang, although most tourists visit the temple and the village via Yogyakarta.

Wanurejo is a rather small village, about 45 km from Yogyakarta international airport, and activities in the village like batik panting, crafting, and pottery-making are something you won’t miss if you make a visit.

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Kotagede Silver was definitely a choice if you want to shop for some expensive souvenir. They have some really fine pieces of silver ornaments. It was a bit boring for me though because I am never going to need any silver jewelry.

Kotagede Silver is located at Jalan Kemasan, Prenggan, Kotagede, Yogyakarta 55173, Indonesia.

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Just like in other cities, the hipster coffee culture is getting apparent, so of course, try out coffee hopping. If EPIC happens to be the cafe you hop on, you’ll also get to do some hipster furniture (window) shopping as well. In addition to a variety of delicious coffee, EPIC also has a very green garden on a site – a great spot for some photos – perfect for your social pages 😉

Epic Coffee is together with  Epilog Furniture, located in Jalan Palagan Tentara Pelajar, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

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Get fashionable with Lulu Lutfi Labibi, because you can. A well-known fashion designer in Indonesia owns a boutique shop where u can pick & try a good variety of unique pieces. I’m not fit for Ang fashion so all I did was look around & took pics 🙂

Lulu Lutfi Labibi boutique store is located at Gang Kampung Pekaten, Prenggan, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia – which is only 550 meters south of Kotagede Silver.

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Spend a lazy morning with finger lickin good breakfast at Stupa by Plataran – a restaurant with an elegance very well complimented by its location amidst farm lands and mountains within sight.

Stupa by Plataran is located in Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. Follow their instagram page for more that excites your appetite.

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Grab a bike and wander around with the two wheels, along very neatly paved concrete village roads. The sights of hills, rice fields, tobacco plantation, and even the Borobudur temple are all part of the experience.

The most convenient way to do it is to sign up for an organized Borobudur Cycling tour. It’s a baby-step cycling trip (of about 3km in distance) – very short for hard-core cyclists but still allowing quite an immersive experience into the lifestyle of villagers there. It cuts across houses and hectres of farmlands (watermelon, corn, tobacco, cassava, etc.).

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Check out delightful local food & get entertained by Javanese Dance performance at a local Borobudur village (@ Pendopo Ontel Tingal).

Located in pretty much the same village of Borobodur with #13 & #8, it’s best to group these three activities together on the same day. Refer to the suggested itinerary at the end of this post.

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Stay where the Sultans once stayed @royalambarrukmo Hotel. It’s owned by the Jogjakarta Royal Family, and from my two night stays there, it has totally lived up to its royalty reputation. Plus it’s also a museum, so be ready to learn and get amazed 🙂

Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel is located at Jl. Laksda Adisucipto No.81, Caturtunggal, Kec. Depok, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia. It sits just beside Plaza Ambarrukmo – a big shopping mall with a hypermart.

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Enjoy the royal hi-tea ceremony @royalambarrukmo hotel, being served with delicious tea and snack, waited on by a group of “royal servants”, who made quite a dramatic entry, walking in “slow-mo” into the hi-tea hall as in a mini procession. I really felt like a royal ?.

This royal hi-tea was part of our experience staying at the Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel, hosted within the premise of the hotel, by the hotel crew themselves. So it’s definitely something hard to come by if you stay this royal residence.

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Don’t ever forget to get a massage. I went to the one at this Plaza, just besides Royal Ambarrukmo hotel. A very legit 1-hour body massage cost me like 10 USD. ?

I had a massage that I always want to go back to Indonesia for, just inside the Ambarrukmo Plaza, literally 50 meters from the hotel lobby. It’s on the 2nd floor, nicely set up, clean and professional. Worth it.

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It’s a must to make your trip to Batik Mirota, even if you don’t fancy a piece of fine batik. Everything is sold at a fixed but very reasonable price. From batik, leather bags to key chain a picnic mat. I even managed to get myself some kitchen stuff.

Located at Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani No.9, Ngupasan, Gondomanan, Ngupasan, Yogyakarta, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55122, Indonesia – which is about 20 minutes by car from the Royal Amburrokmo Hotel.

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Let loose and take a tour at Ullen Sentalu Museum to learn about the social, love, royal life stories of the people that hold the bloodline of families that have presided over Yogyakarta. A family related to the royalty has an exclusive right to own a big load of artefacts collected over the years meant to tell about the lives of those key to the royal history. Start around late morning so that you can spoil yourself with some really good lunch at the restaurant within the museum premise.

Located about 40 minutes from the city centre, or about an hour from Borobudur Temple, the museum is reachable by a  private bus or van.

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And the very top of my list is no other than the most majestic of all – sunrise at Borobudur. Getting up at 3 am simply didn’t bother me when there was something this phenomenal to look forward to.

Located at Magelang, “Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome”. Wikipedia

The temple is about 1300 years old, which took over 80 years to build, occupied for only 150 years and abandoned until about 50 years ago.

This is quite a big list but lucky for us all, getting to do them all isn’t a logistic nightmare. I was there for only a few nights and the itinerary that I had was perfect for all of these – the pace was just night, allowing me a lot of times to really enjoy each attraction with a great peace of mind.

Here’s how the schedule of my days in Yogyakarta looked like:

Day 1: 
9:25: Flying into and landed in Yogyakarta
9:45 – 10:30: Light brunch with Gudeg Yu Kjum (items #15 & #14)
11:00 – 11:30: Coffee Time @ EPIC Coffee (#11)
11:30 – 12:30: To Borobudur Area by bus
12:30 – 14:00: Javanese Dance Performance and lunch (#7)
14:00 – 16:30: Cycling, crafting, Batik Making (#13)
17:00 – 19:00: Check-in at the hotel and rest, followed by dinnerr

Day 2:
3:30 – 03:35: Wake up call
4:30 – 04:45: Registration at Manohara at Borobudur Park
4:45 – 06:45: Sunrise at Borobudur at the Borobudur Temple (#1)
07:15 – 08:45: Breakfast
09:00 – 10:15: To Kaliurang by Bus
10:15 – 11:45: Visit Ullen Sentalu Museum at Kaliurang (#2)
13:00 – 14:30: To Yogyakarta by bus
14:30 – 16:00: Royal High Tea Ceremony (#5)
16:00 – 18:30: Check in and rest, followed by dinner

Day 3:
6:30 – 10:30: Breakfast and free time
10:30 – 11:00: To Kotagrede by bus
11:00 – 12:30: Early Lunch @ Omah Dhuwur Restaurant
12:30 – 15:30: Shopping at Lulu Lutfi Labibi Studio (#10), Silver Kotagede (#12) and Batik Mirota (#3)
16:00 – 18:30: Rest at hotel, followed by dinner

Hope you’ll have as much fun as I did.

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