Yogyakarta, located in Central Java, is a province filled with mysticism and cultural charms. The location makes it an attractive option for tourists heading to visit the Borobudur Temple, while the charming colonial architectures of old give it a unique flavor who keeps those tourist staying for more. Eating in Yogyakarta is notoriously cheap compared to other tourist hotspots such as Bali and Jakarta, and as more and more people move to Yogya, the flavor of this small town has started to evolve.
5 For the more adventurous at heart, try out the Sate Kuda Gondolayu (Jl Jend Sudirman No 25), a small humble warung selling satays – grilled meats on a skewer. The only difference however, is that they sell exclusively horse meat satays, which were claimed to lack any fats and help improve blood circulation.
2 I Cafe (Jl Cik Di Tiro 18) offers a wide range of food, from traditional Yogyakartans (Nasi Goreng Jawa, Mie Godhog Jawa, and more) to International fares (Spaghetti, various cuts of Steak, Fettucini, and more). The eating area is quite large, and the place is popular for its affordable yet good quality food.
3 For dessert and chocolate lovers, head to the aptly named Coklat (Jl Cik Di Tiro 17A), a small boutique cafe offering a variety of chocolate cakes and excellent coffee.
Kavos holidays represent the party atmosphere of Corfu. There is an enormous variety of bars, discos and nightclubs to choose from. The beach at Kavos is an impressive five miles long and the water is clean and safe for children.
Yogyakarta is a mixture and combination of various cultural influences, from the historic colonial era to the mystical influences of Sultans and temples of old, this old city has them all. As you explore the cultural and social diversity and daily life, take time to visit historic sites and go museum-hopping, this is a city that is sure to charm history buffs and culture vultures alike!
Hustle and Bustle of Malioboro
Tourists in Yogyakarta invariably finds themselves drawn to the hustle and bustle of Malioboro, and so must we start off our tour by visiting this centre of Yogyakarta. This major shopping street is the largest tourist district in Yogyakarta, with various shopping, eating and sightseeing available for all to see.
Historic Fort Vredeburg
Fort Vredeburg was called the Rustenberg Port when it was first built by the Dutch in 1760. But the name was changed in 1765, and since then it was used as a military base until 1992 when it became the National Revolutionary Museum. In the museum are exhibits recounting the nationalist struggles of Indonesia’s revolutionaries against the Dutch colonials, which makes for a lengthy history – the Dutch colonialism of Indonesia lasted 350 years!
Taman Sari – Water Castle
Taman Sari or Water Castle was built as a rest house and pleasure park for the Royal Family back in 1758. This popular tourist destination consisted of the Sacred Room, the Bathing Pool as well as Kenanga or Cemeti Island. The Cemeti Island is an especially interesting place which plays host to various underground tunnels and canals. Legend has it that a secret tunnel exists, connecting the Indian Ocean to the South where mythical Nyai Roro Kidul (Queen of the South) resides.
Keraton – Sultan Palace
The word Keraton literally means the palace of a person of power, usually the King or Queen. In this particular instance, the Keraton is the home of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, a person of the highest importance in Yogyakarta, which to some locals are held in the same regard with the President of Indonesia himself! In the legend of Javanese community, the Keraton is defined as the centre of the world, and as such is held with the highest awe and sacredness amongst Yogyakartans. Part of the Palace is now open to public for sight-seeing, with various showcase of traditional Yogyakarta cultures on show, such as the gamelan, or the various costumes of old.
Yogyakarta is host to Sekaten, one of Indonesia’s most widely anticipated festivals. Find out more about it and Indonesia’s other unique festivals in our review of 6 Uniquely Indonesian Festivals!
Ngasem, Bird Market
The Ngasem Market, only 400 metres away from the Keraton, is a hive of activity and interest, filled with birds of all kinds and variety. Many other animals are also sold here, such as snakes and reptiles, but the birds are without a doubt the major attractions here, with many visitors looking to enjoy the beauty of the birds being showcased, and to purchase them.
Kota Gede – Silver City
In the times of old, Kota Gede, or Silver City, was famous for its silver crafts which were of such high quality that they were exported to foreign markets. This former capital of the ancient Mataram Kingdom host hundreds of silversmiths producing handicrafts ranging from jewelries, ornaments and utensils and are renown as the center of Javanese silver handicraft.
Majestic Borobudur Temple
Undoubtedly the jewel of Yogyakarta, Borobudur Temple is an awe-inspiring ancient Buddhist stupa and temple complex approximately 45 minutes from Yogyakarta’s city center. This is the single most popular tourist attraction in modern day Indonesia, and you can expect hordes of tourists there every day. If you want to enjoy a peaceful, private tour, head on to nearby Manohara Hotel and book yourself a sunrise tour, which gives you the chance to enjoy the magical complex before the crowd can enter. This is well worth the money!
The island of Java is a melting pot of culture and history, with Borobudur being the main jewel of the crown. Check out our photographic journey through this man-made wonders, Borobudur Temple, Central Java!
The Prambanan Temple is often considered the little sister of nearby Borobudur Temple. Massive and impressive, but not quite as enchanting as the popular Borobudur Temple. This temple complex however, is still a very important architecture in Indonesian history. The Prambanan Temple complex is a collection of Hindu temples built by the Mataram Kingdom. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also one of the largest Hindu temple in the world, which makes it another must-see attractions in Yogyakarta.
Ratu Boko Temple
This blend of Hindu and Buddhist architectural masterpiece is a fascinating attraction located approximately 3 kilometres south of Prambanan temple. The temple is believed to have been built as a dormitory for monks, based on inscriptions dating back to the mid 700s. It is also a reminder of King Boko, the legendary king mentioned in Loro Jonggrang folklore. The temple boasts beautiful monasteries, terraces and ponds, sectioned into two main temples (Candi Batu Putih and Candi Pembakaran), three miniature temples and a Bathing Place.
Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best bargain holiday ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
Other than the famed Borobudur Temple, Yogyakarta is also home to countless other Hindu temples. Two other temples that may be of interest are Candi Mendut, and Candi Prambanan, pictured below. Travelers driving in from Jakarta will usually pass by Candi Mendut, which also serves as a welcoming sign, while Candi Prambanan (below) is the largest Hindu compound in Indonesia, consisting of a large garden picnic area next to the temples and various museums on Yogyakarta’s history and Hinduism.
About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. A graphic and web designer in its previous incarnation, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now, he’s settled down for the time being and focusing his efforts as the editor of an Asia travel zine, Unearthing Asia.
Indonesia is often referred to as the sleeping giant of Southeast Asia, and rightly so. With more than 18,000 islands in its archipelago, there is an amazing diversity of what to see and do while on holiday here.
Modernization has seen development (some would say over-development) wash over Jakarta, while Bali’s tourism continues to enjoy a gradual revival after the horrible 2002 bombing. There is also the mountains of Bromo and the mythical Borobudur for those looking for an off-the-beaten path attractions, as well as more than 6,000 inhabited islands.
Not surprisingly, Indonesia boasts various festivals that are unique to their culture, reflecting the assorted races and traditions in different parts of the archipelago. You’ll find this diversity in the following list of 6 Uniquely Indonesian Festivals, ranging from celebrations of art, batik, to dances and ceremonies. If possible, you’ll do well to catch any one of these festivals during your visit to Indonesia!
An annual festival held in Lampung, the Krakatoa Festival is held to celebrate the volcanic island by the same name, Krakatoa. This famed volcano erupted violently as far back as 1927, some of which has resulted in newer smaller islands, named Anak Krakatoa (Child of Krakatoa).
During the festival, one can enjoy various performances such as the Tuping Karnaval (Lampung Mask Carnival), elephant procession as well as assorted dance performances from Lampung and its surrounding townships. The finale of the event is a trip to the volcanic island itself, still active but sleeping dormant for the time being!
Bali Art Festival
One of the largest annual celebration of art and culture in Indonesia, the Bali Art Festival is always, always crowded. It is a full month of daily performances, arts exhibitions and other related cultural activities during which the whole of Bali comes along to present its offering of dance, music and beauty.
This famed celebration offers various performances such as forgotten village dances, trances from remote parts of Bali, food, offerings and handicrafts, as well as new creations from Denpasar’s dance schools and contemporary choreography from national and international artists.
Solo Batik Carnival
From a long time ago, the tradition of Batik has always had very strong roots in Solo. This central Java town has even taken Batik as its icon and identity, an apt portrayal of a town known for its royal beauty and calm demeanor. The Solo Batik Carnival was held to reinforce this tradition, and further promote Batik in international and national scale.
The event is a combination of ceremonies, fashion shows and carnival, all of which using Batik as a constant theme throughout. There will also be a bazaar offering various Batiks and souvenirs unique to Solo for your perusal.
Solo International Ethnic Music Festival
Another recent offering in Solo is the Solo International Ethnic Music (SIEM) Festival, which focuses on performances and celebration of ethnic music. The event is a unique platform for collaboration between ethnic and modern music, local and international artists. The long list of performers includes artists from all over the archipelago, such as Minang, Riau, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Papua, Kalimantan, and even foreign imports from Japan, Australia, India, New Zealand and many others.
In Javanese, gerebeg means a crowd of people and mulud refers to one of the month in the Javanese calendar. This event, also known as Sekaten, is to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. It is a day-long procession which sees two of the sacred gamelan (a Javanese musical instrument) transported towards the Mesjid Agung (Holy Mosque).
During the night there will be a street-side market in the north side of town to add to the revelries, a great spot to try various Javanese and Yogyakartan foods and hunt for souvenirs.
Lembah Baliem Festival
This uniquely Papuan festival traces its root in the belief held by the various local tribe that war is not only a conflict of power and interest, but also a symbol of fertility and prosperity. Since 20 years ago however, the local government has enforced peace between the warring tribes to prevent long-lasting vengeance and loss of life. So instead, the Lembah Baliem Festival was held to replace the war between the tribes.
As you can guess, the main event is the mock-war between the local tribes. Imagine more than 20 different tribes each with 30 to 50 people clad in traditional clothing, spears, bow and arrows and parang! There are also other performances and attractions, such as local traditional games, dance performances, as well as a cookout showcasing the local cuisine.
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