Wonderful Indonesia: Unforgettable Weekend in Yogyakarta

In contrast with some tourists who prefer modern and urban attractions, our travel preference leans towards places that showcase rich histories and cultures. Our 2015 Indochina trip allowed us to see the magnificent ancient sites in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Bangkok. This time, following our craving for the archaic, we made our way to Yogyakarta, one of the economic and cultural capitals of Indonesia and see what it has to offer.

Undeniably, it is the idea of seeing the Borobudur and Prambanan that really enticed and excited us more. So we waited for another seat sale but we only managed to secure a one-way return ticket via Kuala Lumpur. Nevertheless, that was enough reason to pursue this trip and tick-off another item in our bucket list. So on another midnight sale, we finally scored a one-way year-round fare via Jakarta few weeks before schedule and thereafter, we found another sale thru Air Asia Indonesia going to Yogyakarta.

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Yogyakarta Special Region (Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, DIY) is officially one of Indonesia’s 32 provinces. Yogyakarta is one of the foremost cultural centers of Java. Located at a region just by at the foot of the active Merapi volcano, Yogyakarta was in the 16th and 17th centuries the seat of the mighty Javanese empire of Mataram from which present day Yogyakarta has the best inherited traditions. The city itself has a special charm, which never fails to captivate any visitor.

Situated in Central Java around 425 kilometers from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Yogyakarta (locally called Jogja) is considered as the cradle of civilization of the island. The city is also the cultural center of the country thanks to its ancient architectures and religious temples now inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list, the Borobudur and Prambanan temples. With its old world appeal, it is arguably one of the most visited tourist area in the whole of Indonesia, and a living proof of how wonderful Indonesia truly is.

WHAT TO DO & SEE

For a weekend trip Jogja, it is possible to visit its major attractions and still have time to go shopping and have a taste of its gastronomic scene. Following our three-day schedule, it is possible to visit Prambanan Temple on the afternoon of your arrival, and continue to watch the Ramayana Ballet performance right within the temple compound.

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Early the following day, book for a sunrise tour of the Borobudur Temple at Manohara Hotel to wait for the sunrise amidst the stupas and surrounding landscape. It turned out that this was a good choice as this is the only way to get into atop the temple complex and catch what CNN called as one of the most awesome sunrise elsewhere.

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It is possible to also booked for a cheaper tour in another sunrise view point but you will not be able to enter the temple. You can spend time here until before lunch time.

Take lunch at one of the traditional restaurants in central Jogja before spending the rest of the afternoon at Kraton (Sultan’s Palace) and onward to Malioboro Road for shopping. Make sure to bring with you any batik clothing or handicrafts as souvenir. In the night, you can have a quick chill in one of the bars or cafes near Adhisthana Hotel.

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Sultan’s Palace / Ministry of Tourism Indonesia

On your way home, don’t miss taking a bite of their local roti bread, one of the best that we have ever tasted.

SAMPLE WEEKEND ITINERARY

DAY 0: Flight – Manila-Jakarta (Overnight stay near Soekarno Hatta Airport)

DAY 1: Flight – Jakarta-Yogyakarta | Prambanan Tour | Ramayana Ballet

DAY 2: Borobudur Sunrise Tour | Sultan’s Palace | Malioboro Road | Shopping/Nightlife

DAY 3: Flight – Yogyakarta-Kuala Lumpur | Quick KL City Tour | KL-Manila

GETTING THERE

Up to the present, there are no direct flights to Yogyakarta from the Philippines, hence, you are required to transit in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta or Singapore. Air Asia has daily flights to Kuala Lumpur and on to Yogyakarta. Starting January 2018, it will start mounting a Manila-Jakarta flight. Cebu Pacific on the other hand has daily flights to Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Singapore, where you can takeanother carrier to Yogyakarta. As mentioned, we took the flight to Jakarta via Cebu Pacific where we spent a quick overnight stay before proceeding to Jogja via Air Asia’s first flight.

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Another possible route is overland by train from Jakarta. Once in Jakarta, you just have to secure a train ticket for an overnight trip to Jogja.  Overland buses are also available. These are  practical choices for those in budget as it also saves you from a night of accommodation.

GETTING AROUND

From Adisucipto International Airport, there are metered taxis waiting at the arrival area. You can approach the information counter for guidance. The airport is a quick 15-20 minutes drive to the city center. It is also possible to take the commuter bus going to the city proper and directly to Prambanan or Borobudur sites. To go around the city, you can from buses and taxis, the ojek or motored-taxis, or the more traditional three-wheeled cart called becak or the horse-drawn cart called andong.

For your tour needs, you can avail of the affordable tour packages and transport service of Kresna Tour Jogja. We also highly recommend Discover Your Indonesia / Hello Firsta, managed by Firsta, an Indonesian blogger/traveler. She referred us to Kresna Tour and has been very helpful.

WHERE TO STAY

As a popular tourist destination, there are a variety of hotels, resorts and inns to choose from in central Jogja and near major tourist sites. We managed to book a cheap deal via Agoda at Adhisthana Hotel, a cozy and stylish hotel with pool and restaurant amenities. It is by far one of the best hotels we have stayed on.

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