Yogyakarta is probably our favorite city in Java. Even though it is a big city, it doesn’t feel like that, depending on where you are of course. Traffic can be crazy! Malioboro is the famoust street amongst travelers where you can find Batik, lot’s of souvenirs and a bejak or a coach. If you don’t want to walk, you don’t have to walk in Yogyakarta because they are everywhere.
The city has a rich culture with lots of really nice buildings and quite some Dutch influences. Not only look some buildings like they are built in Holland they even have Dutch names. Yogya is really interesting to stay for a couple of days without getting bored!
We bought a combi ticket for pick up from the Guesthouse and train ticket to Yogya. We were dropped off at the nearest train station of Pangandaran, Sidareja which is an easy 1 hour drive by car. From there you can take the train to Yogya. This uncomfortable ride will take about 4 hours. Tip: don’t book the economy class. This car and train ride costed us 250.000 Rupiah p.p.
When we left Karimunjawa we took the cheaper slowboat again, which departed at 12 am en cost us 57.000 Rupiah p.p. At Coconut House we arranged transport from Jepara Harbour (where we arrived at 5 pm) back to Yogyakarta for 150.000 Rupiah p.p. And they dropped us off at our hotel in the popular Prawirotaman area at around 11 pm.
Note: the slowboat goes one day and the fast boat the other, and when the weather is bad, they don’t go at all.
Arriving in Yogya, the second time, from Karimunjawa where we had fried rice for breakfast, lunch and diner, eating out in Yogya was a treat! We were graving for Western food and where so happy with the food Via Via has on her menu! The Spaghetti Carbonara, the sandwiches, the salads, the garlic bread, it is all very good! You pay around 150.000-200.000 for a feast for 2 (including drinks) so the prices are reasonable.
There are several other good places to eat at the Prawirotaman area but for dessert you have to try the icecream at il Tempo del Gelato. So good!
The first time we stayed at Bladok Hotel. A bit overpriced (175.000 Rupiah) for the old bathrooms with cold shower, but the pool and the friendly staff make up for that. The location is quite good: enough cheap restaurants, plenty of places where you can book tours, near Malioboro street and enough backpackers to hang out with.
** You can find them on booking.com
The second time we stayed at Mercury Guesthouse, a great place to stay. Marije stayed here 8 years ago and nothing has changed! So the rooms are quite retro and have some spots here and there, but it is cheap! Especially considering you pay about 100.000 Rupiah for the hot shower, the good bed, the nice pool, the breakfast and the good location.
Keep some pocket change while driving around on your motorbike. The musicians making the (long) wait at the traffic lights better by playing happy Indonesian music, they deserve some money. The same for the men who help you when you have to make a u-turn. Instead of begging they are trying to make money in a decent way. Let’s encourage that as tourists! And the smile you get in return, makes giving that couple of cents completely worth it!
Off course you have to spend some hours wandering around in the Kraton, visiting the water palace, get lost in the streets, get pulled in to the shops where you can buy Batik, Puppets or try the really expensive coffee made out of cat poo.
The Borobudur is kind of a must see but is terribly overpriced (260.000 Rupiah p.p.). Combine this visit with watching the sunrise from the Setumbu Hill (30.000 Rupiah p.p.). You can come here with a tour or rent a motorbike en drive there yourself. Driving there yourself is of course cheaper but make sure you know the way. We went here by motorbike and thought we were really on time but when we arrived, there were already about 50 people there. Happily we were able to get a good spot to enjoy the sunrise. You can also watch the sunrise at the Borobudur itself but that is even more expensive and depending on the season, the sunrises aren’t always that great because of the mist. So it can be a total waste of money.. We also payed a visit to the Prambanan but didn’t go in. We drove around really early in the morning and were able to get quite close standing at the stage where the dance shows are held. It saved us 150.000 Rupiah p.p. so we could afford another nice meal at Via Via that day!
If you are done with visiting the highlights everybody goes to, and you have some time to spare like we did, we have some other nice places you can go to.
40 kilometers to the west of Yogya there are some nice waterfalls, the nicest one is Taman Sungai Mudal (4.000 Rupiah p.p). To the north there are some nice beaches and sanddunes, and to the east you can drive trough some nice scenery and see horizontal striped rocks near Sampang, called Objek Wisata Luweng (ask for directions a lot!). Or snorkel in a real life sweet water aquarium of 50 by 50 meters at Umbul Ponggok, you can even make pictures under water on a motorbike or other attribute at extra cost. Watch out for some monster fish under water! In the north you can go to Mount Merapi, one of the most active volcanos on Indonesia.