Often referred to as ‘Jogja’, Yogyakarta was once the capital of Indonesia under Dutch colonial rule. Today, the city remains a bustling cultural centre in Java and a city rich with art events, historical landmarks, and beautiful natural attractions. If you’ve travelled to Indonesia before, but only visited the usual destinations such as Bali and Bandung, read on to find out why you should definitely include Yogyakarta in your travel plans this 2019.
Here are 6 amazing places in Yogyakarta which are simply a must-visit!
1. Temple run at world-famous ancient Buddhist and Hindu templesAsk anyone what Yogyakarta is most famous for and one of the most common replies you’ll receive is surely its historical temples — namely Borobudur and Prambanan which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
What to expect:
- Built during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty (during 8th and 9th centuries AD), the Borobudur temple compounds is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world featuring stupas, over 2,500 panels, and 504 Buddha statues which are used to decorate the temple.
- Many visitors also chimed how the temple is a great place to marvel at traditional Javanese architecture and Gupta art influences.
- For a more magical experience, visit the temple grounds in the morning to avoid the crowds and make it in time to catch a beautiful sunrise.
- Once you’re done exploring Borobudur, make a beeline to Prambanan (about 1.30 – 2 hours drive away), a 9th-century Hindu temple featuring towering structures that will awe you.
- You can even catch the Ramayana Ballet performance from 7.30-9.30 pm which is based on the Hindu history of King Rama, adapted into a local dance featuring over 200 professional dancers and musicians!
2. Explore Jomblang Cave like Indiana JonesIf you’re a thrill seeker, then including a tour to Jomblang cave in your bucket list is simply a must. The cave was formed from a natural process when the ruins formed a sinkhole, creating a mouth roughly 50m wide. We recommend taking a tour so you don’t have to worry about getting here from the city centre.
What to expect:
- Rapell down some 60 metres to the underbelly of the cave to explore a rich ecosystem of endemic flora and unique geological structures.
- Many visitors chimed how exploring the cave felt like being in a Jurassic Park movie!
- Jomblang cave is just part of a cave complex which is connected to another gigantic cave, Goa Grubog, via a 250m long tunnel.
- Once you’re at Goa Grubog, strike a pose under rays of light which flood in from the sinkhole — a truly magical experience that will be etched in your memory forever.
3. Capture IG-worthy photos at Hutan Pinus PenggerIf you’re looking to beautify your Instagram feed with unique travel shots, then there’s no better place than Hutan Pinus Pengger to do just that.
What to expect:
- Immerse yourself among pine trees as you go around posing at the many photo spots the park has to offer such as the unique hand spot at the edge of a cliff.
- It’s also a good place to chill at night and to capture scenic pictures with the backdrop of Yogyakarta’s city lights.
- You can even get experienced local photographers to take photos of you at the park’s ‘selfie spots’. Of course, it’s not free lah as a small fee of 60 sens is charged per photo.
Entrance fee: RM1.50 (at the time of writing).
4. Catch an exhilarating gondola ride across the sea at Timang BeachThis is an activity not for the faint of heart! Located southeast of the city centre, Timang beach offers a thrilling experience like no other.
What to expect:
- Step into a wooden cart attached to a rope pulley system while waves crash onto cliffs right below you for an adrenaline rush!
- Interestingly, the gondola was initially used by villagers to bring lobsters back to land.
- In fact, the spot is so popular that it was even featured in the popular Korean reality TV show, Running Man.
- Another thrilling option is the suspension bridge which you can walk across at your own pace.
5. Go on a jeep tour to Mount MerapiIf you didn’t know already, Mount Merapi, literally meaning fire mountain in English, is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes. Today, travellers can opt for several jeep tours which explore different areas of the mountain.
What to expect:
- Go on an exhilarating jeep ride to the very slopes of the volcano as you whizz past villages that were destroyed during previous eruptions.
- Some tours take you to the Museum Sisa Hartaku (My Remaining Treasure Museum, in English) where you’ll get up close and personal with artefacts related to the eruption in 2010. Note: the most recent eruption was this year in February.
- Hiking up the mountain on a guided tour is another great option to catch the sunrise from the peak of the volcano. The hike up usually takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on fitness level.
6. Check out exciting art events like the annual ARTJOG festival
Yogyakarta truly is a city with surprises around every corner. And with the exciting annual ARTJOG festival at Jogja National Museum happening from 25th July – 25th August, there’s no better time than now to start planning your vacation!What to expect:
- ARTJOG is an international contemporary arts festival encompassing various disciplines such as visual arts, music, dance, and performing arts which are accessible to the public.
- The month-long event enables artists of various disciplines to share their knowledge and love for their craft with members of the public, as well as connect with other influential artists as well.
- The theme for ARTJOG 2019 is “Arts in Common” meaning art as a universal language, taking inspiration from the belief that artistic expression is a manifestation of creativity, something which everyone possesses.
- And the opening day of the event is absolutely FREE for all! A small entrance fee of RM15 per person will be charged thereafter.
How exciting are these places?! We don’t know about you guys, but writing this has excited our wanderlust already!
Well, if you’re already itching to visit this amazing Indonesian destination, here are some other beautiful attractions in Yogyakarta to add to your bucket list!
More information on Yogyakarta and other travel destinations in Indonesia can be found here.
Safe travels everyone!
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