4 days in the old capital of Indonesia. Do you know that they have a king there? :)

IMG_8597We took a flight from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, as it’s the fastest way to reach this city. We were at the local airport around 7am, ready to start the adventure right from that moment 🙂 And to do this we decided that renting a car with a driver will give us the comfort and the flexibility we wanted.  The driver was very friendly and was happy to meet his first ever foreign tourists, in his whole career as a driver 🙂 Unfortunately the driver could not speak English but this wasn’t a barrier for us, my boyfriend speaks bahasa and this made our communication simple and easy. Anyway, the owner of this company, does know English and we had the chance to meet him as well.

For those who speak a little bit of bahasa and want to contact this company you can do it by clicking here or by e-mail.
I recommend this company, based on our experience. The driver didn’t ask for food or tips, but if you hire a driver for 8 to 10 hours then it will be nice of you to buy your driver a lunch. We considered appropriate to give him some tips because we did enjoyed our trip to Yogyakarta and he was a very welcoming and warm person. He even took us to his house and we met his family!

Reminder! In Indonesia it is a norm to give tips to everyone: taxi drivers, waitresses, bellman, in the street – people who somehow help you turn your car around or people working in the parking lots, etc.

Now back to the city 🙂 What to visit there or is there something special to see, you may ask. Well, here you can do a lot of things: from sightseeing to rafting and hiking. It’s only up to you to decide what to see and where to go 😉

What I like the most about this city is that has less traffic than Jakarta, is somehow cleaner and greener. You don’t see tall buildings, but instead there are a lot of buildings from the colonial era, therefore you may have the feeling of traveling back in time and somewhere in Europe, and you’ll be right, Indonesia was a Dutch colony.

One of the curiosities of this place is that, it’s still has a king or sultan. His name is  The king has the power only in Yogyakarta and his power doesn’t go beyond city borders.

My advice for those who’re planning to visit Yogyakarta is to have a clear idea of what you want to see in this city. At one point you might get confused and even lost in options, therefore planning your trip ahead will save you time and nerves later 🙂 I would say that renting a car will be the best option. You can rent it with or without a driver! If you want to be the driver, then make sure to bring your international driving license. If you want to enjoy the trip, without thinking about traffic, driving, police, roads, etc etc, then hiring a driver is the only option available. If you decide to rent a car, then you should discuss with your driver/car rental company in advance what you want to see, tell them your itinerary, arrival place and time, so that, the driver or a representative of the company can meet you at the airport/train station and save you from all the stress linked to your transportation.

Remember, that, in Yogyakarta, there are cheap possibilities to visit some of the touristic points you might be interested. The Trans Yogya buses are clean and air-con, following a number of set routes that pass by several major tourist areas, including Jalan Malioboro, Prambanan Temple, Giwangan bus terminal and the airport. Fares are a flat 3,000 rupiah per trip and the attendants can help you catch the right bus.

Taxis in Yogyakarta have meters and drivers usually turn them on without any argument. I don’t really know if there’s a Blue Bird taxi company, but you can ask at your hotel/hostel/guesthouse which taxi companies are the best in the city.

Becak are abundant here and you can use them for short distance trips. I would say that these are not the vehicles to take if you are in a hurry! The best way to travel with a becak is to arrange a price first!

Where to sleep?

Yogyakarta has plenty of hotels that will meet everyone’s requests in terms of comfort and service. We stopped at The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta, a very beautiful 5* hotel in the heart of Yogyakarta. If you think this is a very expensive place to sleep, then you can compare prices with other hotels in the area 😉

Some sites with reasonable priced hotels/guesthouses and hostels are:

Where to eat?

There are many restaurants here. We used to eat at Paprika (which is the hotel restaurant) and go across the street to a very nice restaurant that served local food. It was almost always full and not only with foreign visitors, but also with locals. If I remember the name of the place or find a picture with that place I will upload it to this post. Another place was Kraton. Yes, you may say that this is the Sultan’s palace and you’ll be right! There is a restaurant where you can have your lunch. You can choose from a wide range of dishes, some were Sultan’s favorite 😉

I know that my recommendations may seem a bit dry?! 😀 this is why I’ve looked a bit more into this subject and I have come across this very useful post about what to eat in Yogyakarta. Enjoy, explore and try new foods! 😉

What to drink?

Try HAPPY SODA! 🙂 It’s a very Indonesian drink, I haven’t seen something like this in China, Japan or South Korea. I was very happy with it 😀 Basically it’s a mix of coconut (milk and fruit) with fresh mango and other season fruits + a lot of ice!

Ok, at this point you should have a plan on how you want to go around, where to drop your luggage and were and what to eat, but what about the places to visit? There are many, but many doesn’t tell too much, so I will make a list with some of the places we have been and let you discover the rest 😉

  • Borobudur – is a Buddhist temple complex, set in a valley between two rivers and two volcanoes. There’s no certain date or information when this complex was built, but it is believed that it have been founded and constructed in the 8th and 9th centuries during the height of the Sailendra dynasty in central Java. Some sources say that it took 70 years to complete it. The structure of Borobudur is that of a mandala. The base is squared and it rises steadily through nine levels. The first six are square and the last three are circular. The last three levels are adorned with 72 smaller chedis, each one of which holds a small seated Buddha statue. Beside the smaller chedis, the walls of the rest of the monument are decorated with bas-relief carvings – there are over 2,500 in total. Sunrises and sunsets are a perfect time for taking pictures here!

Remark: when visiting any temple in Indonesia, you’ll be asked to wear sarong (a traditional cloth), thus don’t be surprised when at the entrance you’ll be asked to wear it. Actually there will be somebody that will help you 😉

  • Prambanan – This UNESCO heritage listed temple complex is home to some 224 individual Hindu temples. It is believed to be one of the largest Hindu temples in the world and is the largest in Java. It’s believed that the Prambanan complex was built around 850AD.
  • Parangritis Beach – if you haven’t had enough of sunbathing in Bali, then this is a nice place to go.
  • Kraton – Kraton or sultan’s Palace has been at the heart of civic life since the mid 1700’s and is still used as the current home for Yogyakarta’s sultan, Hamengkubuwono X, this is why most areas are off limits. I loved the large open-air pavilions. When we were there, we saw a small performance and this was like a moment of enlightenment (for me) of what Indonesian traditional music and songs are.

The curiosity about sultan’s family is that he has 4 daughters! He has no son, therefore the person that will come to the  “power” and follow Hamengkubuwono X, will be one of  his daughters and first sultan woman! Another curiosity about this family is the fact that the sultan has one wife and not many as his ancestors were used to have.

  • Water Palace – the complex hosts several bathing pools, canals, as well as rooms used for leisure and relaxation by the Sultan and his family and also, allegedly, secret rooms for his concubines. The guide told us that the pool in the back of the Sultan’s sleeping room was used mainly for him and the woman he had chosen for that night. In front of that house there are another 2 pools split by a kind of walking path or bridge if you want, the one closer to the house was designed for Sultan’s wives and the furthest one for sultan’s concubines. Here you’ll have the chance to sit or even lay on sultan’s bed 🙂 When you’re here take some more time and walk around this palace, you’ll discover a batik village. You can see how batik is made and maybe buy a souvenir from there 😉
  • Candi Ijo (Ijo Temple) – this temple is standing on the west slope of a hill (410m above the sea level) far from the busy residence, on the southern part of Ratu Bako Temple.
  • For those who’re into shopping and will want to buy some souvenirs for loved ones, Jalan Malioboro – a long street with shops that sell batik, handmade leader bags, wallets, and all kinds of souvenirs. Bargaining is a must, therefore be prepared to have some fun here! Those interested in Indonesian culture and daily life, can visit a local and very traditional bird market – Pasar Burung. You may be surprised by the dirt and the poor conditions these birds are kept. Be cautious and be prepared for some shocking things you might see there.

I hope that my story about Yogyakarta or shortly said Yogja made you curios about this place 😀 Don’t stop in Bali when visiting Indonesia, go out and explore some more places because sunbathing isn’t the only thing you can do in Indonesia 😉

Two thigs before I go:

  • You can have an elephant ride at Borobudur for about 50.000 rupiah (if I remember well)
  • Somewhere in Yogja there’s a catholic church that was adapted to Javanese culture. It’s a unique church and worth a visit. And if I talk about churches here, I will mention one more : the one that was on a movie about the bishop Seogija.

Travel safe and wise!

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