The Best Things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia | 5 Days Travel Itinerary
April 22, 2020
Yogyakarta (pronounced as ‘Jogjakata’) is often known as the gateway of Central Java in Indonesia. It is a popular destination among visitors as it houses two UNESCO Heritage Sites with rich culture and history. The city is located at the foot of Mt. Merapi, an active volcano and was also the seat of the Javanese empire of Mataram back in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Located just a 15-minute drive from Malioboro Street, this is an eco-friendly building that offers a modern stay, decorated with sustainable materials. The rooms were clean and well designed with wooden furniture. It is also a hotel that is easy for taxi drivers to find, hence it is highly recommended for your trip to Yogyakarta.
Transportation | What is the Best Mode of Transportation Around Yogyakarta?
The best mode of transportation around Yogyakarta would be by Grab if you are a solo traveller or a couple. We actually used Grab everywhere we went as it was convenient and very affordable.
Alternatively, ff you are going in a group of 4-5 pax or more, it’s a good idea for you to rent a car or a mini-bus with a driver. You’ll be able to plan out your own 10-hour itinerary easily, just tell your driver to take you there!
Although there is public transportation in Yogyakarta that you can take as well, some buses do not run to certain attractions due to their inaccessibility. Hence, it is not a recommended mode of travel for this itinerary.
Our 5 Days Yogyakarta Travel Itinerary
The map below shows the places that we’ll be visiting in this itinerary. Pink Camera: Attractions Yellow Utensils: Must-try Food Purple Bed: Accommodation
Getting from Adisucipto International Airport (JOG) to the City Center
We landed at Adisucipto Internationl Airport (JOG) in the late afternoon and decided to take a taxi to our hotel. You can get a taxi at the taxi airport counter as they charge a flat fee of IDR 85,000 (SGD 7.72). The duration of your ride will be about 25 minutes. You can also pre-book a private car charter for IDR 126,00 (SGD 11.85) in advance if you’re afraid for taxi scams.
Eat @ The House of Raminten
After we have checked into our hotel and settled down, we decided to go for dinner @ The House of Raminten. The food here was amazing and definitely a must-try when visiting Yogyakarta. They are well-known for serving food that is similar to those by street vendors in Yogyakarta, but in a restaurant setting, and prices remain affordable.
Take note to be there as early as possible as many locals come here for the food as well. The restaurant even has a seating area with entertainment outside as they foresee the long queues during dinner time.
Opening hours: 24 hours Price: IDR 7,000 – 40,000 per dish Address: Jalan Faridan Muridan Noto No.7, Gondo Kusuman, Kota Baru, Daerah Istimewa, Yogyakarta 55224, Indonesia
We started off our day at 4am in order to catch the sunrise at the top of Borobudur Temple. The sun rises at around 5.30am so be sure to get a spot on top of the temple by this timing. This famous buddhist temple is the world’s biggest buddhist monument and is classified as a UNESCO heritage site. The Borobudur was built in the 8th century and consists of a series of four passageways that lead up to the central axis at the top of the temple.
It takes about 15 – 20 minutes for you to walk from Manohara Hotel gate to reach the top of the temple. Free torchlights will be given for you to use. There will be many people sitting around waiting for the sun to rise at the top circular platform. When the weather is foggy, it will be difficult for you to witness the hilly panoramic backdrop the temple has to offer so if possible, check the weather report in advance to plan which day you would want to visit the temple.
Entrance Fee to see sunrise (4.30am to 6pm):
Adult Ticket – IDR 500,000
Student Ticket – IDR 400,000
Children Under 10 years old – IDR 225,000
*Remember to bring along your student pass / passport for identification purposes
Little Ubud River Tubing
After lunch, we set off to go river tubing at Magelang. If you pick the Jomblang Cave Tour that I’ll be mentioning below, then you’ll be heading to Pindul Cave for River Tubing on Day 3 instead. So, swap it around with Malioboro Street.
How does River Tubing Work?
Each group consists of up to a maximum of 5 people. and you will be provided with an individual rubber tube and a paddle. After changing into your swimming clothes, your guide will transport you about 500 meters to the starting point. Here you’ll have to get off the car and walk another 500 meters to the river bank with your tube. After reaching the banks of River Gona, your guide will assist you to get on your tube. Be prepared to be carried away by the stream!
The total adventure down the stream took about an hour and it was so enjoyable! Along the stream, you will also get a chance cliff jump off a waterfall and take pictures below it. While flowing on the river, you can pass your camera/phone to your guide and leave it with them as they will help you to take pictures.
Total Fee (guide + entrance): USD 40
Jomblang Cave (Goa Jomblang) is a cave complex in Gunungkidul (40 km from Yogyakarta city) that has become a popular tourist attraction due to it’s unique structure that allows light rays to enter through the center of the top.
How to get there:
We booked a tour with our hotel to hire a driver to Jomblang cave. The entire package was priced at USD 70 per person (pretty hefty now that I think of it). It’s better if you pre-book a Jomblang Cave Day Tour with River Tubing Experience online as it is cheaper. This tour comes with the River Tubing Experience which our hotel tour booking did not provide.
Important Tips when Visiting Jomblang Cave:
The ride from the city centre to the cave was about 90 minutes. Take note that only a maximum number of people are able to visit the cave per day, so it’s important that you book your slot in advance. Before you start your adventure down the cave, you will be given a pair of boots and a helmet to wear. It is important that you choose the right pair of boots. I didn’t know mine had a hole around the sole and a lot of mud seeped into my boots. It is also recommended for you to bring a bandana or something to wrap your head in as the helmets were smelly from previous usage
The crew will prepare you to lower you down the cave using repelling equipment. The height is around 60m and it was a really exciting journey down. After reaching the bottom of Jomblang, continue walking through the tunnel till you see ‘the light rays from heaven’. The trek into the cave is extremely muddy and dark. Do not wear any white clothing and dress lightly as it is also hot and humid. At the end of the tunnel, you’ll be given some time to take pictures with the light rays before going back up.
The issue with visiting Jomblang cave is the waiting time. As they have to lower people in pairs to the bottom and back up, you will have to queue till it’s your turn and you will also have to wait for your entire group to be down before starting the trek into the cave. Be prepared to wait up to 2 hours each way as it takes time for them to pull you up and down.
We completed our Jomblang Cave tour at about 1pm and we decided to head back to our hotel to bathe and wash up. After a short rest, we headed to Malioboro street for some sightseeing and shopping!
Malioboro street is commonly known to be one of the most vibrant and busiest streets in Yogyakarta. The street stretches for 1km and is famous for its street food hawker stalls, malls and small shops selling clothes and jewellery. The street vendors here mark up the prices a lot if they know you’re a tourist so you can bargain for goods till about half the quoted price. However, do also understand that some of these vendors may not have sold anything the entire day, so only haggle till the price is reasonable.
Mount Merapi Jeep Tour
Mt. Merapi is an active stratovolcano located 26km from the city of Yogyakarta. It is the 2nd most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1006, in it’s largest eruption till date that spread ash throughout central Java.
There are 2 popular ways to see Mt. Merapi: 1. Trek the night before to see the sunrise at the top of the crater 2. Take a jeep tour around Mt. Merapi
We decided to go with a jeep tour as we’ve never actually sat in a jeep before. You can book a jeep tour here. The jeep tour brought us to various view beautiful points around Mt. Merapi as we witnessed the sun rising across the horizon. It also included an off-road adventure to Kaliadem, a devastated area covered in ash and lava from the previous eruptions. There is also an underground bunker that people have hidden in for refuge against the eruption.
Remember to bring along a sweater as the air is cool in the early morning hours.
Taman Sari (Water Castle)
After exploring the grounds around Mt. Merapi, we headed back to our hotel at the city centre, ate lunch nearby, and went to visit the historical Taman Sari Water Castle.
Taman Sari Water Castle was build in 1765 by the Sultan for his family. The compound includes a series of water gardens, pools and and underground tunnel. The royal pool area is divided into 3 parts – for the Sultan’s daughters and sons, the sultan’s consorts and one for the sultan himself. They were designed for the family to take a bath and relax. In addition, visitors can also explore the underground tunnel and mosque. The design of the mosque is unique, with 5 staircases leading to a squared platform in the center. The reason why it was built this way was so that when the priest spoke, his voice could be heard in all directions.
Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 per pax Opening hours: 9am to 3pm (Monday to Sunday
Prambanan Temple Complex
Our morning started off with us visiting the 2nd UNESCO heritage site on our trip, Prambanan Temple. The compound can be found 17 km from the city of Yogyakarta, about a 35-minute drive from the city center. It is the largest Hindu temple in the whole of Indonesia and consists of a total of 240 temples that was built in the 9th century AD.
How to get there: You can either take a taxi/grab, get a private car hire or book a tour. We booked a private car hire for the day as we would be visiting other inaccessible places later.
There are 3 main zones within the complex – an inner zone containing 8 main temples and 8 smaller shrines, a middle sone containing 224 pervara temples and an outer zone without any temples. Many of the temples collapsed due to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions but restoration works are currently being conducted throughout the complex.
Entrance Fee: IDR 350,000 Opening hours: Daily, 6am to 5pm
The Best Instagrammable Spots in Yogyakarta – Pinus Pengger, Pintoe Langit Dahromo, Jurang Tembelan
We finished touring Prambanan Temple around noon and visited a series of gorgeous instagrammable spots further south. Just a 37 minute drive down, you’ll reach Pinus Penngar first. A beautiful forested area will lead you to a wooden hand platform reaching out towards the mountainous backdrop. There will be a queue to take a photo especially if you arrive around 1-2pm like us. Entrance Fee: IDR 10,000
After which, we headed to Pintoe Langit Dahromo for out next photo spot, a stairway door leading to heaven. We had a lot of fun here as there were multiple creative platforms we could climb onto to take pictures. Entrance Fee: Free
Our last stop at Jurang Tembelan was another photo-worthy spot for us to visit! The spot provides a panoramic view of the country-side, with green hills and a river river flowing down below. Entrance Fee: Free
Our flight home was at 7am in the morning so I don’t consider this to be a 6 days Itinerary. Overall, Yogyakarta was a great experience for the us and more of an adventure cum cultural-kind of holiday you can consider especially for the long weekends. It’s also an area of Indonesia you can explore if you’re coming from Bali and have time for a longer holiday.
Weather | Best Time to Visit Yogyakarta
The best time to visit Yogyakarta is between April to October, where the weather is dry. When we visited back in April 2018, it did not rain at all on any of the 6 days that we were there (not too sure if it’s just pure luck). Due to the high humidity, temperatures feel hot all year round, so bring along lots of summer clothes! The warmest month is in October where it can go up to nearly 35 degrees celsius with temperatures rarely dropping below 24 degrees celsius at night.