Yogyakarta or more popularly known as Jogjakarta or simply as Jogja, is the cultural center in Java, since it is rich with cultural heritage. Being the top tourist destination in Indonesia, there are so many things to see and do in this historic city, so we compile a list of top five activities you should prioritize when you visit Jogjakarta.
The name of Yogyakarta is derived from Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, the name of the famous kingdom in this area. Thus, the first on the must do list is to visit the palace!
Bahasa Indonesia for a Palace is Istana or Keraton.
The word Istana is more common to be used for all palaces in Indonesia. For example, Istana Kepresidenan [presidential palace], Istana Maimun in North Sumatera, and Istana Gowa in South Sulawesi.
Keraton is an Indonesian word for a palace that is derived from a Javanese word karaton. Hence, most of the palaces in Java are known as Keraton. For example, Keraton Kanoman in Cirebon and Keraton Surakarta Hadiningrat in Solo.
Keraton Yogyakarta is located in the heart of Jogja. It is open for public. In fact, it is one of the top tourist destinations in Indonesia. Visitors will be assigned to a tour guide who will explain many areas inside the keraton and the history behind them.
Candi Borobudur (Borobudur temple) was built in the 8th century. It is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and it is one of the Seven Wonders of The World.
Borobudur temple was made of stones, where most of its walls were covered with relief sculpture of the story of Buddha. This temple was decorated with hundreds of Buddha statues.
Candi Prambanan (Prambanan temple) is a complex of Hindu temples. There are three main temples for three divine Hindu gods: Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.
The walls were decorated with relief sculpture of Ramayana epic. These main temples were surrounded by many smaller temples.
Prambanan temple is one of the largest Hindu temples in the world. It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.
Although batik is widely used and produce all over Indonesia, batik from Jogja is very famous. You can see collection of hundreds antique batik in this museum. The tour guide will explain the process of producing batik and the different patterns and colors of batik from different regions.
You also can try to do batik, guided by their experienced staffs.
Malioboro street in Yogyakarta is very famous. The street is in the center of the city and at the end of it is Beringharjo, the famous traditional market. Most of the shops in this street sell souvenirs from Yogyakarta, such as handy craft, batik, bags, snacks and Jogja t-shirts. There are shopping malls too. There are many batik shops/boutiques where you can buy good quality of batik shirt or dress. They also sell batik tulis here.
The more interesting part in Malioboro street is shopping on the sidewalk. There are hundreds sellers along Malioboro street. Often you will find something unique there and sometimes you can bargain the price. They are there from morning until latest 9pm.
After 9pm, these sidewalks are transformed into eateries called lesehan [lesehan is a term where you dine while sitting on the floor]. Many food vendors sell their food on the sidewalks covered with mats. Guests dine in right there on the mat.
The special dish from Jogja is gudeg. It is a combination of rice with cooked jack-fruit, cassava leaves or spinach, tofu, eggs, fried chicken or steamed chicken. My favorite vendor is the old lady in front of Mirota furniture (the second shop, smaller than the first Mirota in front of Beringharjo market). She’s been my favorite since I was young, so she’s in the business for more than 30 years! Every night she starts at 7pm until all food are sold, during low season she’s there until 2am.
Don’t forget to try the special snack from Jogjakarta: bakpia pathuk. Bakpia has many layers like pastry and filled in with mung beans, chocolate, cheese, etc.
Going to the zoo is always fun. Here in Yogyakarta you can see Jackass Penguin and feed lori birds in Gembira Loka Zoo.
Yogyakarta is very close to Mount Merapi. Some says that Mount Merapi is the most active volcano in the world. Its last eruption was on January 27, 2021. During its eruptions, people who live in the slope of Mount Merapi are evacuated. On the other hand, when Mount Merapi is resting, off road tours to the mountain are attractive tourist attractions.
Since Jogjakarta is one of the top tourist destinations in Indonesia, there are plenty of accommodations all over the city, range from the five stars to the inn and guest houses. We always prefer hotels near Malioboro streets, it’s simply to be closed to our favorite dinner, the gudeg :), and we can go shopping at Malioboro streets anytime we like without fussing about the car park (Malioboro streets is free of carpark and it is difficult to find one nearby) or transportation to go there.
Do you know that there is a Hindu temple in the land of Sunda? It's Cangkuang temple in Garut. No other street is as unique as Malioboro street in Jogjakarta, but Bandung has Braga street with its vintage charm and Jakarta has Kota Tua with its rich history.
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