Often recognized as the center of intellectuals and historical places, Yogyakarta has its own charms that attract local and foreign travelers alike. Here are the things that you should not miss in the city:
Best times to visit
The right time to visit Yogyakarta actually depends on your travel itinerary. If your vacation is mostly spent outdoors, it is better to travel during the dry season from May to October. This also applies for those who seek the sunrise and sunset in some tourist destinations in Yogyakarta, such as Punthuk Setumbu, Plaosan Temple and Ratu Boko Temple.
However, if the city’s cultural scene is what you're aiming for, you may want to mark your calendar — Ramayana Ballet Prambanan show in an open theater runs from May to October and the annual Grebeg Syawal ritual is held in conjunction with Idul Fitri celebrations, estimated to be celebrated from June 14 to 16.
Just like other provinces in Indonesia, Yogyakarta has two seasons — wet and dry.
Popular areas - Malioboro
Known as the busiest shopping street in Yogyakarta, Maliboro is the right place to taste traditional dishes and shop for batik and other souvenirs. The one-way street is alive 24 hours a day, extending for about 2 kilometers from north to south.
For those who are not too keen on exploring Malioboro by foot, becak (pedicabs) and bentor (a portmanteau of becak and motorcycle) are available throughout the street to take you around the area. Many of the drivers also can be your guide about tourist destinations in Yogyakarta, especially to find bakpia (full moon-shaped pastry) establishments. Sometimes they can even take you farther to Yogyakarta Palace. The tariff for becak starts from Rp 25,000 (US$2) to Rp 30,000.
Visit this place on weekdays as Malioboro is known to be crowded on weekends.
Located near Malioboro, there is also Pasar Beringharjo (Beringharjo Market) for people looking for all types of batik.
Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat is the palace of the sultan of Yogyakarta. Visitors have to explore the area by foot and guides are available inside the palace.
The palace has two alun-alun (town square) — south and north. Alun-alun Kidul (south town square), is like a magnet for people, especially in the evening, because it is where street food vendors flock to and entertainment events are held. It also has two giant beringin (banyan) trees and, according to legend, your wish will be granted if you can pass through the space between both trees with your eyes closed.
Many of the cultural events in Yogyakarta are held at the palace, including Grebeg Syawal and Sekaten. Those who visit the palace can enjoy dances and music performances daily at Bangsal Sri Manganti. On Mondays and Tuesdays visitors can enjoy gamelan performance, while on Wednesdays there is a Javanese golek (traditional puppet) dance performance. Moreover, Thursdays and Sundays are for dance performances, while Fridays are for mocopatan (Javanese verse accompanied by traditional music) performed by abdi dalem (royal servants). On Saturdays, a wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performance is usually held.
The performances usually start at 9:30 a.m., but it is better to come early to get a seat.
The entrance fee for foreign tourists starts from Rp 15,000 with an additional Rp 1,000 fee for cameras.
Ratu Boko Palace as seen from above