Yogyakarta is a bustling town of some half a million people and the most popular tourist destination on Java, largely thanks to its proximity to the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. The town is a hub of art and education, offers some good shopping and has a wide range of tourist facilities.
Strictly speaking, the city (kota) of Yogyakarta is only one of five districts within the semi-autonomous region of Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta (DIY), literally the “Yogyakarta Special Region”. (The other districts are Sleman on the slopes of fiery Mount Merapi to the North, Bantul all the way to the sea to the South, the hills of Gunungkidul to the East and the low lands of Kulon Progo to the West.) This special status is thanks to the Sultanate of Hamengkubuwono, which has ruled the area since 1755 and steered the state through difficult times of occupation and revolution. During the Indonesian war of independence, Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX offered the fledgling Indonesian government his enclave as capital city, thus Yogyakarta became the revolutionary capital city of the republic from 1946 to 1949 when Jakarta was still occupied by the Dutch. As a result, the central government recognized the Sultan of Yogyakarta as the appointed governor of Yogyakarta Special Region; the only one in Indonesia that is not elected directly by the people. The Indonesian central government has tried to weaken the sultan’s power by calling for direct election for the governor, however the present Sultan Hamengkubuwono X was chosen by an overwhelming majority.
Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport (IATA: JOG), 8km east of town, is a small but busy mostly-domestic hub. There are frequent (every two hour) connections on Garuda, the national airline, to Jakarta (50 minutes) and 2-3 times a day (60min) to Denpasar, while other domestic airlines service both Jakarta and Denpasar, as well as major cities in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. For international services, AirAsia connects Yogyakarta to both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore while Malaysia Airlines flies between Yogyakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Silkair and Tigerair also flies from Singapore.
There is a tourist information desk, ATM and taxi stand in the arrival hall. Official airport taxis are available for around IDR50,000 depending on your destination, pay at the taxi desk in arrival terminal and then head for the official taxi rank. Give the receipt to your driver, there is no need for any additional payment. It is about half the price to use a taxi dropping passengers off at the departure terminal – insist on using the meter, do expect to pay the IDR2,000 airport entrance fee, even though this has already been paid by the previous passenger on the way in. A departure tax of IDR35,000 (as of Jan 2011) is charged for domestic flights and IDR100,000 for international flights (Feb 2014), at least for international AirAsia flight there is no departure tax anymore (is included in the ticket price, Jun 2015).
There is a travel agent at the arrival hall in the airport called Arga Tour or other tour services in Yogyakarta like the competitive one Java Bali Trips. A 10-hours car hire inclusive of driver to Prambanan, Ratu Boko, lunch followed by a 2-hour drive to Borobudur cost around IDR500,000-IDR600,000. Good service and English speaking driver. Be sure to haggle, though the price will not drop much, any savings could go toward a more luxurious meal.
Yogyakarta airport is one of the two rail-connected airport in Indonesia, beside Kuala Namu in Medan, North Sumatera. Those arriving from (and departing into) the airport can take a Prambanan Ekspres regional train to/from Kutoarjo (west of Yogyakarta), Palur (just east of Surakarta) and several stations in between, including Tugu (just off Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta) and Solobalapan station at Solo. The station at the airport is just a few minutes walk from the terminal, with an air-conditioned underpass leading all the way to the platform for trains into Yogyakarta.
- Bandar Udara Internasional Adisucipto (Adisucipto International AIrport), Jl. Solo km9, ☎ +62 274 484261 (fax: +62 274 488155). Tourist Information Service: + 62 274 387202 / 62 274 4531318
Trains to Jakarta take between 7-12h from the main Yogyakarta station, commonly called Tugu Station. The Argo-class trains (Argo Lawu and Argo Dwipangga) are the best of the lot being the most comfortable and fastest (c. 8 hours, IDR255,000-360,000 (Sep 2012) including mineral water and snacks). Taksaka is almost as good at Rp 235,000-265,000. These express services connect Yogyakarta and Jakarta in 7-8 hours, either at daytime or overnight. Price and schedules are available online. The line between Kroya and Prupuk, where the railway crosses the main backbone mountains of Java, is scenic.
Passengers to/from Bandung should take the Argo Wilis or Lodaya expresses which traverse a scenic part of Java during daylight hours, with rice fields and mountains (although there is an overnight Lodaya and the Turangga from Surabaya also travels overnight. The fare is IDR155,000 including mineral water and food (or more like snacks).
Passengers to Surabaya are served by the twice-daily Sancaka service departing in the morning and afternoon.
Yogyakarta and Solo are connected by several Prambanan Ekspres trains. Despite the name, the train does not stop at Prambanan station, and even if it does make an unscheduled stop, the station is rather far from the temple complex of Prambanan. The Prambanan Ekspres does stop at Maguwo station (for the airport) making it easy for travellers to change modes.
- Stasiun Tugu (Tugu Central Railway Station), Jl. Mangkubumi 1. ☎ +62 274 589685. The main central station, serves big city destinations such as Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, and Solo. To buy tickets, enter on Jl. Pasar Kembang and get a queue number from the stand facing the ticket windows. Then go to the opposite side of the room and fill out a ticket request slip, consulting the timetables on the wall to your left. You will be called to the appropriate ticket window, the announcement will be called (in Indonesian only) and displayed on the electronic sign on the wall. You can also buy tickets for up to 90 days prior to departure from many offline channels, and two online channels.
- Stasiun Lempuyangan (Lempuyangan Railway Station), Jl. Lempuyangan. Serves economy class trains with several destinations, including Jakarta Gambir Station (IDR85,000-120,000 (USD7-9.7) c. 8 hours night train) and Surabaya Gubeng Station (IDR50,000-60,000 (USD4-4.9) ~6 hours journey [Jan 2014]).
Yogyakarta is a relatively small city, so travelling around town should not be too expensive. If you are travelling on foot, note that a street sign facing you at a corner indicates the name of the street you are entering, not the cross street. The Tourism Authority has maps in English that can be obtained from its offices next to Hotel Mutiara on Jl. Malioboro, at the airport and the train station. Beware that these maps are not to scale.
Yogyakarta’s taxis are metered and nowadays most taxi drivers are trustworthy. Flagfall is IDR6,000 and most trips around the centre of town should not cost more than IDR15,000. After dark the minimum fare for a taxi is IDR20,000 even if the meter reads less that IDR20,000. If by chance you find a taxi driver that you feel comfortable with and trustworthy, ask for his cellular phone number so that next time you need to travel you can call directly to his cell phone and arrange your travel needs. Most taxi drivers will be more than happy to do this. Virtually everyone has a cell phone which is called a “hp” (hand phone) throughout Indonesia, and everyone including all adults use text messaging (sms) extensively. It is best to use text messaging to communicate with drivers e.g. “sudah siap” when you are “ready” to be picked up. “Tolong jemput saya di Hotel XXXX jam XXXXX” = Please pick me up at hotel XXXX at XXX o’clock. Note: “jam = time” in Indonesian. Taxi in Yogyakarta could be reserved directly in the airport or every tourism center. Besides, you may also book the taxi from on-line organized by bluetaksi before you arrive. The booking can be done via [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Traditional three-wheeled and pedal-powered cart, known as becak (pronounced beh-chak), which can be found in most part of Yogyakarta. before getting into the becak. Be sure to determine whether the price is for a one-way or return (pulang) trip and if you want the driver to wait whilst you conduct your shopping or business. A ride from within the city to the Malioboro shopping precinct should not cost more than IDR10,000.
By horse cart
Traditional horse-pulled carts, known as andong, or dokar, wait for tourists outside hotspots like the train station, the Kraton and Mal Malioboro. The traditional route is from Jl. Malioboro to Keraton, and this is where you’ll find most andong. Usually, andong opt to take you to shop for fake Dagadu t-shirt in Ngasem area with hefty prices. Then, andong will take you back to your initial journey. The cost for one round trip for andong is IDR20,000. Usually they ask for IDR30,000 but they may settle for less. Andong can accommodate up to 5 adult passengers.
Medium and small size buses are the main public transport in Yogyakarta.
There are two kind of bus: regular and patas. Patas buses, known as TransJogja operate from 6AM to 10PM and stop only at designated shelters. Unlike regular buses, TransJogja is air-conditioned and generally safer. Tickets can be purchased directly at the shelters and cost for single trip is Rp 3,000. Passengers may purchase regular trip cards which cuts per tip cost to Rp 2,700, and allows transit to other shelter. There are six routes, and route maps can be downloaded . Be aware that the bus stops are quite far apart, (1-2kms) and not very numerous, and often the bus stops for opposite directions are not opposite each other. If you are planning on travelling this way, expect to still do a fair amount of walking to and from the stops to your destination.
Regular buses normally operates from 6AM to 5PM, and some long routes extend their operation until 9PM. Please never bring anything valuable on public buses, pickpockets in buses are now more common than ever before. Cost for single trip is Rp 2,500 regardless of distance (within the city). Usually on a bus there will be one driver and one helper who will hang from the side of the bus and handle money and try to get passengers. The helper will usually tap you on the shoulder to indicate you should pay him. If there is no helper you can pay the driver directly. When you are ready to get off a bus, tell the driver or helper “Kiri,” which means left. Animated bus route maps are available at Transportation Agency of Yogyakarta website .
By car or motorbike
There are several car and motorbike rental agencies just outside Tugu Station near Jalan Pasar Kembang on the street that runs east-west just south of the station.
A near new semi-automatic (clutchless) motorbike can be rented for Rp 50,000 per 24 hr; older bikes may come for less, and fully automatic bikes such as a Honda Vario or Yamaha Mio may sometimes cost Rp 5,000-10,000 more.
Cars can be had rented for around Rp 350,000 for 24 hr, or Rp 225,000 for 12 hr. A driver can be hired along with the car for another Rp 50,000-Rp 200,000/day. Prices may vary due to fuel inclusion for a set distance or itinerary. Prices are always subject to negotiation and may increase or decrease due to local demand, type and age of vehicle and your individual requirements at the time. Cars are usually rented with drivers and it is strongly advised for foreigners as the roads are extremely busy with all the hundreds of thousands of higher ed students driving motorcycles recklessly around the city. I think you can get a better price than quoted here. In my experience, driving yourself in Bali is fine but not recommended for cities in Java like Yogya or Jakarta. Price of rental doesn’t include petrol (gas), parking, entrance fees etc. It is customary to give your driver 15,000 rps during any mealtime stops but he won’t expect to eat with you.
If renting please ensure you are familiar with both the applicable licensing requirements and vehicle use in the prevailing conditions.
Car with driver
To get around in Yogyakarta can be done by a car with driver. Commonly the driver has driving license or STNK in Indonesia language. Some drivers can speak basic English and some cannot. The trained-English speaking drivers could be found along the tourism centre, like in Malioboro, Prawirotaman, Kota Gode etc. This way to travel Yogyakarta for the first time is very helpful and higly recommended. Commonly the driver will transfer and pick up you in the airport or other places in Yogyakarta. Since 2014 Yogyakarta has a trained-English speaking driver community with proficient hospitality and tourism knowledge. This community will help visitors’ tour arrangement, transport, accommodations etc. It is organized by Yogyakarta Kota Istimewa or YOKI.
Being one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, Yogyakarta has many heritage buildings and monuments. The number one must-see attraction is Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono’s palace, better known as Kraton Ngayogyakarta’ or just call it less formally “Kraton” or “Sultan’s Palace”. Very hard to pronounce Javanese names like Ngayogyakarta….’. Other heritage buildings from colonial era are: BNI ’46 building, Kantor Pos Besar (Central Post Office) building, and Bank Indonesia building, all of them are located near Sultan’s palace.
Other notable landmarks and attractions are:
- Tugu Monument, A well known landmark located in the center of downtown Yogyakarta. Built by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono VI, the top spire was originally a round sphere which represents the universe. During the colonial era, the spire was replaced with a golden cylinder.
- Benteng Vredeburg, Jl. Jenderal Ahmad Yani 6. ☎ +62 274 586934, +62 274 510996 (fax: +62 274 586934). A Dutch fort located in front of Gedung Agung (President’s Palace). A great example of the Dutch colonial architecture. A few warfare items are still preserved, including a twin cannon.
- Kota Gede. The capital of ancient Islamic Mataram kingdom. The tomb of Mataram Kingdom’s first king, Panembahan Senopati, is also located in this place. Before independence, Kotagede was the central economic district of Yogyakarta, as it held the largest marketplace and was home to many wealthy batik merchants. Although some ancient buildings have been modernized or replaced with newer buildings, Kotagede remains a prime example of ancient Javanese architecture and city structure. Now it is most famous as the “silver village” – Be sure to check out the local silver handicrafts when you tour the workshops there. Be aware that Kota Gede is too large to navigate on foot, so be prepared to hire a Rishaw if you plan to do any exploring off the main road, or if you want to get away from all of the silver shops.
- Imogiri, southwest of town. Graveyard of the Yogyakarta and Surakarta royal families. Some great craft villages near here specializing in batik and potterySuffered damage during 2006 earthquake but has reopened.
- Kotabaru, which used to be Dutch officials residential area, has few heritage homes as well as a colonial style church and monastery (Gereja Kotabaru) and a stadium (Stadion Kridosono).
The Sri Sultan’s palace or Kraton encompasses the main palace, Sultan’s residential, two Sultan’s grounds, and large residential area where sultan servants used to reside. The Kraton is very large, and difficult to navigate by foot (unless you don’t mind lots of walking). Notable attraction in Kraton complex are:
- Kraton Yogyakarta. A calm yet elegant Javanese heritage that consists of two separate entrances: the Main Court (Pagilaran & Siti Hinggil), and the Residence. The Main Court showcases the grandeur of Sultan’s monarchy, while the Residence is more homey while still exhibiting the royal family’s luxurious lifestyle. Open 8.30AM to 1PM daily, on Friday the attraction is closed at 11AM. While the guide is part of the entrance fee, they might expect tips. Some guide might offer extended trip to sultan’s servants batik workshop, this is a scam as they only bring you to a regular batik shop with steep price. It’s a good idea to refuse their offer politely. Rp 12,500 (foreign tourist price) or Rp 5,000 (Indonesian tourist price), Rp 1,000 extra for a photo. There are music and dance shows within the palace regularly, free with the ticket, try to check out the times when you arrive in Yogajakarta. The Sultan maintains three gamelans in the palace, and the pavilion nearest the entrance houses one of them. If they’re playing, do sit down and be patient, this music takes its time.
Also worth seeing is the prince’s palace to the SE of the main palace.
- Sultan’s Carriage Museum (Museum Kereta) . This museum houses the Sultan’s horse-drawn carriages, including two beautiful carriages imported from the Netherlands and known as Golden Carts (kereta kencana).
- Taman Sari, Jl. Taman, Kraton. Also known by the Dutch name waterkasteel (water castle), this is a partly ruined complex built as a pleasure garden by the first Sultan in 1765. One of the bathing pools was dedicated to the sultan’s harem, and he had a tower overlooking the area so he could take his pick. Towards the back of the complex is the original entrance to the pools, which used to be a small dock connected to a long-since-vanished river; a bit of snooping beyond this entrance will get you to a back street, where one can freely visit a fascinating network of tunnels and rooms, including an Escher-like series of interlacing staircases over what looks like a disused well. Entrance fee does not cover the guide, who will expect tips. Open 9AM-3PM daily. Rp 7,000 for entrance, Rp 1,000 for a photo permit. Beware of friendly locals who are actually guides in disguise and will ask you for money.
- Siti Hinggil Selatan. This somehow-muted palace is rarely used for formal occasion. You can catch a shadow puppet performance during weekend mornings and nights. There is no admission charge for the show and you can come and go as you please, which you may well want to do as the show is long and somewhat difficult to follow if you do not speak bahasa Indonesian.
- Alun-Alun or the Sultan’s ground. There are two Sultan’s grounds: Alun-alun Utara and Alun-alun Selatan or the northern and southern Sultan’s ground, consecutively. If you are lucky, you can see the Gerebeg Maulud parade during Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.
- Masjid Gede Kauman, one of the oldest and largest mosque in Yogyakarta. Located on the west of Alun-alun Utara, this mosque was where the Sultan performs his religious rites and ceremonies. Non-muslim visitors should wear decent clothing. It may be a good idea to ask the mosque authorities prior to entering the mosque due to some rules that must be abide.
- Taman Pintar,
True to its name in this arena you can find different types of games and attractions Planetariun a new facility that can be enjoyed by visitors and still are an integral part of the Kraton Complex
Yogyakarta city was built with deep philosophy: the city was designed so that the main elements of the city forms a imaginary line. This straight line starts from Parangtritis on the coast, to Kraton Yogyakarta, to Tugu Monument, and finally to Mount Merapi. This represents Sultan’s strong relationship with the guardian spirits of Mt. Merapi and the beach of Parangtritis.
Candi (ancient temples)
Candi is ancient archeological structure constructed during 7th-9th century aimed for a specific religion (Buddhist or Hindu). It was constructed from hundreds of volcanic or river stone blocks and assembled solely by human labor. Candi walls is often carved with reliefs depicting stories, and a stone God or Goddess statue usually sits at the center.
There are several candi located in Yogyakarta and it’s proximity. The two most famous must see ancient temples are both UNESCO official World Heritage Sites. These include Borobudur, an 9th century Buddhist temple 1 hour drive from Yogyakarta in [Magelang]], not far from Yogyakarta. The second, a Hindu temple,Prambanan, also a well-known candi is just 10 minutes drive from Yogya’s Adi Sucipto airport on the outskirts of the city.
- Candi Sambisari
Candi Sambisari is very unique. Unlike other candi, it sits at estimated 6m below the ground line. It is easy to reach because it is located close to Adisucipto International Airport. You can go there by taxi. Candi Sambisari consists of one main candi and three supporting candis (perwara). You can see lingga and yoni, symbol of male and female sex, inside the main candi. In the main candi’s wall, there are three statue, Agastya in south side, Ganesha in east side, and Dewi Durga in north side. From the lingga, yoni, and the statues, it has been concluded that the Sambisari was built to adore Siva Gods. There is no fixed reference about when and who built this candi. But from the Wanua III inscriptions, Candi Sambisari is predicted to be constructed in 9th century (812-838 AD).
- Candi Kalasan
Candi Kalasan is located not far from Prambanan, around 2 km to the west from Prambanan or 14 km to the east from Yogyakarta. This candi is on the south side of the Prambanan-Yogyakarta main road. It is the oldest Buddhist temple in Yogyakarta. Constructed in late 7th century (778 AD) by Rakai Panangkaran from Sanjaya Dinasty. He was Hindu but he built a Buddhist temple, thus it reflects peacefully religion life during that time. The relief carved in this candi are known to be the most beautiful. The wall is covered by ancient white cement called bajralepa. Candi Kalasan was built to adore Dewi Tara (Tara Godess). A Boddhisatva bronze statue used to be placed inside the candi, but this statue is not there anymore.
- Candi Sari
Candi Sari is located not far from Candi Kalasan, estimated 600 m to north-east from Candi Kalasan. This candi was built as an ancient Buddhist monk dormitory. Inside the candi, there are two floors with three rooms on each floor. The reliefs is similar with Candi Kalasan’s and the wall is also covered with bajralepa. There are Boddhisatva and Tara Godess carved beside the windows that show us the relation between Candi Kalasan and Candi Sari. The unique rooftop consists of 9 stupas in grid. The holes in some areas shows that woods was used to complete the construction. This candi is predicted to be build in the same era with Candi Kalasan.
- Candi Ratu Boko
Ratu Boko is an archaeological site known to modern Javanese as Kraton Ratu Boko or Ratu Boko’s Palace. Ratu Boko is located on a plateau, about three kilometres south of Lara Jonggrang Prambanan temple complex in Yogyakarta Indonesia. The original name of this site is still unclear, however the local inhabitants named this site after King Boko, the legendary king mentioned in Loro Jonggrang folklore.
- Candi Plaosan
Plaosan temple is the most beautiful temple among others since the temple was a gift from a Prince in Sanjaya dynasty to a Princess from Syailendra dynasty. The two different families were in a political competition to conquer each other, according to the history. Sanjaya family is a Hindu dynasty while Syailendra is Buddhist family. Both kingdoms created a great monuments Borobudur temple and Prambanan temple. Plaosan temple is another great creation of the ‘faith merge’ between a Hindu Prince with the Buddist Princess.