Yogyakarta Travel Guide

Yeah, I kind of liked Yogyakarta.  I really didn’t expect to, if I’m being honest with you.  I thought that after having some bad experiences in the rest of Java Island that I’d be left disappointed again with Yogya.  However, this city really is a nice place to visit.  It blends modern and old culture together really nicely.  You’ll find all the modern amenities like shopping malls and cafes with free wifi.  However, you’re also going to find some really classic sights, and that old-school respect.  Of all of my stops in Indonesia, I think that my favourite was Yogyakarta.

Time Needed: 3-5 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 40USD per day


Things to Do and See in Yogyakarta

Of all the things that are possible in Yogyakarta, one of the ones that wont be listed below is just hanging out.  However, if you have the time, the best way to get to know this city is to just chill out somewhere in public and watch the world go by.  If you’re not into people watching, have a look at the list below for some other options.

  • The Kraton: The main attractions in Yogyakarta are almost all found within the Kraton.  It’s the palace of the city and really impressive.  It is, of course, very busy.  It also should be known that scammers are in full force in this area.
  • Malioboro Shopping: I loved wandering down Malioboro street and checking out all the stores.  I’m not into buying, but it was a fun atmosphere, especially at night.  Lots of fairly touristy items, but still loads of fun.
  • Bird Market: The bird market in Yogyakarta has changed locations.  However, any of the taxi drivers should know the new spot.  It’s more than birds for sale here.  you’ll find puppies, snakes, and lots of other animals.  It’s certainly not for strict animal lovers to see, as the conditions are quite rough, but it is interesting.
  • Borobudur: Tours out to the temple can be made from just about any hotel.  You should be warned that the prices are ridiculous here.  About $25 for a visit during the day and a separate $35 if you want to come to watch the sunset.  It is a massive temple, and quite beautiful.  However, I’m not sure it’s worth that price.  If you’ve got the money, fine.  If your budget it tight, you might have to skip it.
  • Prambanan: Run by the same money-hungry organization as Borobudur, it’s also over-priced. I decided not to pay for two over-priced temples, and didn’t visit here.  However, I can tell you that just about every hotel and guesthouse in Yogyakarta offers tours here, often in conjunction with tours to Borobudur.
  • Art Galleries: There are lots of Art Galleries in Yogyakarta as it really is a art city.  You can wander around, or ask at your hotel for recommendations.


Where to Eat in Yogyakarta

The local dish here in Yogyakarta is gudeg which is basically made of jackfruit, chicken, and rice.  It really is quite nice.  Of course, you’ll also find the classic Indonesian food here like Nasi Goreng and Satay Ayam.  Below are some restaurants to check out.

  • Mi Casa es tu Casa: In Gang #2, this place is meant to be Spanish, but is much more Indonesian.  It serves good versions of the classics, and some wild eats like cobra.
  • Via Via: Ask most people what the best place to eat in Yogyakarta is and they’ll tell you Via Via.  It’s got a mix of Indonesian and Western Cuisine, and the service is great.
  • Kesuma: Another one of the top eats in Yogyakarta.  If you have the chance, definitely hit it up!  Cool atmosphere.

Where to Stay in Yogyakarta

You’re not going to find yourself short on accommodation in Yogyakarta.  There are dozens and dozens of guesthouses, hostels, and hotels.  However, if you do arrive later at night you might be wandering around a bit looking for a good place.  If you can, try to call ahead and make a reservation.  Most of the tourist accommodation is clustered around Sosrowijayan and the small gangs (alleys) that are attached to it.  Below are three I check out.

  • Losmen Setia Kawan: This is my favourite place to stay in Yogyakarta, but it’s pretty simple.  There are a variety of rooms available, all with really cool decor.  They have free, but often slow, wifi, and the staff is nice.  It’s an artsy place to be.  This place is almost always booked up, so either show up early or try to book in advance.  Rooms starting at about $12 per night.
  • Hotel 1001: Beautiful hotel/hostel in Gang #2 which has a lovely courtyard and nice rooms.  It’s slightly more up market, and as a result more expensive.  It is, however, worth the extra cash if you have it.  Rooms start at about $25 a night.
  • Karunia Hotel: We stayed here two nights because the other places were booked up.  It was a nice spot and had good internet and A/C.  The staff is a bit unfriendly, but it’s good bang for your buck.  Rooms start at about $18 a night.


Getting out of Town

Yogyakarta is very well connected, so don’t stress about getting here or out of town.  You have options too.  Generally, the train is the best option as it’s the fastest.  However, it might be more expensive than either the shuttles or the bus.  The advantage of the shuttle is that it takes you door-to-door.  But, obviously, how you get to where you’re going will depend on your destination.

  • Train: The train heads up to Jakarta which takes about 8 hours.  You can also head south to Subraya and then connect with another train to Probolinggo to get you up to Bromo.  Or, you can also get from Subraya all the way to Banyuwangi to get over to Bali.
  • Bus: The buses are slow going on Java Island.  Honestly, just spend a bit more and take a shuttle.
  • Shuttle: Shuttles can be booked from just about every hostel and guesthouse.  You can get to Bromo in about 12 hours on a shuttle.  But, quite basically, you can get anywhere in a shuttle and the prices are fairly reasonable.

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