Prior to this trip, Indonesia was never on my bucket list. I would always dismiss it because I had this foolish notion in my head that Indonesia is so much like the Philippines. I thought, “Why would I spend time and money on a place that is too similar to my home country?” But if there’s one lesson that I picked up during my time there, it is this: Never make conclusions about a country until you’ve actually been there.

Indonesia gently drilled its place into my heart. It’s not the kind of in-your-face lightning-fast wonder, but the gradual and lasting one. True, it bears countless similarities with the Philippines. Both are archipelagic states enjoying the similar climate. Both are known for the hospitality of its people. It was also a delight to know that we share countless words: payong (umbrella), langka (jackfruit), anak (child), kanan (right), balik (return), balai (house), balimbing (starfruit), dingding (wall), itik (duck), and kambing (goat), among others. But here’s the thing: I realized that these similarities don’t make this wonderful country less interesting; they provided me the warmth of a home away from my country. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Understanding Yogyakarta

This trip is part of the Visit Asean @50 campaign of the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, who hosted us in Yogyakarta.
The Special Region of Yogyakarta is a separate administrative entity ruled by a monarch, the Sultan, with the city of Yogyakarta as its administrative capital. The city is teeming with attractions that interlace the old with the new. It is dotted with historical and cultural landmarks, making it fit for educational trips. For those who are up for adventure and outdoor trips, there are options like ecotourism in Kaliburu, sandy activities in Parangkusumo, or the lava tour in Merapi.

If you want to shop and indulge in local cuisine, Malioboro Street is the place to be! To give you an idea of what Malioboro looks like, picture Binondo of Manila or Pub Street of Cambodia. It is a major shopping street in Yogyakarta with many surrounding hotels, restaurants, and other commercial establishments. Stores along this street sell various kinds of goods such as apparel, arts and crafts, souvenir products, food, and batik. At night, it gets more exciting as many side street restaurants or lesehan line along the street, giving off a laid-back and welcoming atmosphere.

Essential Information:

  • Language: The official language is Indonesian/Bahasa Indonesia. Javanese is also widely spoken. Most people understand English, too.
  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR, Rp). USD 1 is around IDR 13,500; PHP 1 is around IDR 265; EUR 1 is around IDR 14,500 (as of April 2017)
  • Modes of Payment: Regular stores and restaurants only accept Rupiah, but certain foreign currencies and major credit cards (Visa and Master Card) are accepted by most hotels, fine-dining restaurants, and souvenir shops.
  • Electricity Info: Types C and F. Most establishments have two-pin round plugs at 220 V and 50 Hz.

How to Get to Yogyakarta

If you are a Philippine passport holder, you don’t need to secure a visa. The Philippines is part of the 15 countries who secured reciprocal Visa Free Agreements with Indonesia.

By Air

Yogyakarta is served by Adisucipto International Airport. A bigger international airport, targeted to finish in 2020, is set to rise in Kulon Progo (West of Yogyakarta) to better serve the growing tourism industry in Jogja. The airport will have a train with a direct route to Borobudur.

There is no direct flight from Manila to Yogyakarta, but there are various connecting flights offered by different airline companies. Since Adisucipto connects the city to other major cities in Indonesia like Jakarta and other countries like Singapore and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), you can choose which route will best serve you.

As for my case, I took Manila (MNL) to Jakarta (CGK) via Philippine Airlines, then Jakarta (CGK) to Yogyakarta (JOG) via Garuda Indonesia Airlines. As what Philippine Airlines is to the Philippines, Garuda Indonesia prides itself as the flag carrier of Indonesia.

The major airport in Jakarta serving international and domestic flights is the Jakarta International Airport also known as Soekarno Hatta Airport.

By Land

If you are not pressed for time, you can ride a train, bus, or rented vehicle instead from Jakarta to Yogyakarta.

By Train: Executive class trains depart from Gambir Station, while cheaper business and economy class trains depart from Pasar Senen Station.

There are two major train stations in Yogyakarta: Lempuyangan Station and Yogyakarta/Tugu Station. Lempuyangan serves budget and economy class trains, while Tugu serves business and executive class trains.

  • Travel Time: 6 – 8 hrs
  • Fare:
    Executive Class: Approx. USD30/PHP1490
    Business Class: Approx. USD22/PHP1090
    Economy Class: Approx. USD18-20/PHP895-995

By Bus: From Jakarta International Airport, search for the Damri Bus ticketing office. Damri will get you to various parts of the city for only USD3.2/PHP160 to USD6/PHP298. You may purchase a ticket going to Gambir if you are planning to go to Yogyakarta by train. Gambir is near the popular backpacking district, Jaksa.

From the city proper, there are various bus companies offering Jakarta – Yogyakarta route such as Handoyo (w/ Toilet), Pahala Kencana, Laju Prima, Maju Lancar, and Santoso.

  • Travel Time: 12 – 13 hrs
  • Fare:
    Non-AC: USD12/PHP597 to USD15/PHP746
    VIP/EXE AC: USD16/PHP795 to USD19/PHP945

Getting Around Yogyakarta

By Train

Maguwo Train Station connects the city to the airport via a tunnel, and it links to Yogyakarta Station at Malioboro St. Here are the fares:

  • Pramesks Train Service: USD.60/PHP30
  • Sriwedari Train Service: USD.90/PHP45
  • Madiun Jaya Train Service: USD1.5/PHPP75

By Bus

Locals usually use the bus rapid transit system, Trans Jogja or TJ, when taking trips within the city proper or when going to other regencies (nearby places outside the city of Yogyakarta).

Trans Jogja even connects Adi Sucipto International Airport and Prambanan Temple to the city center. As formerly mentioned, Trans Jogja has a bus stop located within the airport carpark.

  • Operating Hours: 5:30 AM – 9:30 PM
  • Fare: Around USD.50/PHP25 (within Yogyakarta); USD1-2/PHP50-100 (outside Yogyakarta)

Damri Bus has ticketing station at the airport too. It also travels around (and outside) the city including a stop at Magelang where Borobudur Temple is located.

  • Operating Hours: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Fare: Around USD3.75/PHP187

Giwangan Bus Terminal is the Yogyakarta’s main terminal for intercity buses. Bus routes connect the cities all over Java Island, as well as Bali and Sumatra (via ferry).

By Private or Rental Vehicle

There are also some who opt to rent vehicles to better manage their time. Here are the usual rates:

  • Car/SUV. Approx. USD50/PHP2487 for 12hrs (including gasoline and driver fee)
  • Mini-Bus. Approx. USD100/PHP4974 for 12hrs (including gasoline and driver fee)
  • Motorcycle. Approx. USD10/PHP497 per day (excluding gasoline)

By Taxi

Taxis fares are relatively cheap in Yogyakarta. They charge by the meter, but some drivers refuse to use the meter so insist on it. Minimum Fare: USD1.5/PHP75.

Where to Stay in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta has already established itself as one of the popular travel destinations in Indonesia mainly because of its proximity to Candi Borobudur (Borobudur Temple). The city became the base camp for tourists who plan to explore Borobudur and other sites, so expect a lot of options when it comes to accommodations – from budget to luxury. If you are in the mood to splurge, you might want to check out Hotel Tentrem Yogyakarta located at Jalan A.M. Sangaji 72A, Sinduadi, Yogyakarta.

Top Jogja Hotels Under USD60

Ndalem Gamelan Hotel

Ndalem Gamelan Hotel
Location: Jalan Gamelan 18 Panembahan, Yogyakarta City Center, Yogyakarta

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Omah Salam

Omah Salam
Location: Jl. Prawirotaman 1 574, Bantul, Yogyakarta

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Top Jogja Hostels

OstiC House

OstiC House
Location: JL. Suryodiningratan No. 10 B, Bantul, Yogyakarta

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The Packer Lodge Yogyakarta

The Packer Lodge Yogyakarta
Location: Jl. Dagen No. 3, Sosromenduran, Gedong Tengen, Yogyakarta City Center, Yogyakarta

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Search for more: Yogyakarta Hotels

Places to Visit in Yogyakarta

Below are some of the places you can visit and activities you can enjoy in Yogyakarta. We’re providing info that you will need to visit the spots DIY-style, but you’ll also find links to Klook tours (for those who want to join an organized group tour instead).

Borobudur Temple (Candi Borobudur)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 9th-century structure is considered one of the world’s seven wonders of the ancient era and the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

Borobudur Temple (Candi Borobudur)

Admission Fee: (For non-Indonesian/foreign visitors)
*Regular — USD20/PHP995 (Above 10 y/o); USD10/PHP497 (10 y/o and below)
*Borobudur Sunrise/Sunset – IDR450,000/USD34/PHP1690 (inclusive of entrance fee, tea/coffee, and light meal); 50% Discount for children 6 – 10 y/o; free admission for children 1 – 5 y/o
Operating Hours: 6am – 5pm (Regular); Starts at 4:30am (Sunrise); Ends at 6:15pm (Sunset)
Location: Jl. Badrawati, Borobudur, Magelang, Jawa Tengah

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Yogyakarta Palace (Keraton Yogyakarta)

Located at the city center, the palace is the residence of the current monarch, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X (HB X). Learn about palace life, history, and traditions through the artifacts and items displayed around the palace.

Yogyakarta Palace (Keraton Yogyakarta)

Admission Fee: IDR15,000/USD1.2/PHP60
Operating Hours: 8:30 AM – 2 PM
Location: Jalan Rotowijayan Blok No. 1, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa, Yogyakarta

Water Castle (Taman Sari)

Built by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I, Taman Sari, meaning “A Beautiful Garden”, had been a recreation and retreat place for the Sultan and his family. The compound has bathing pools, rooms, suspension bridge, artificial lake, water canal, and an underground water tunnel.

Water Castle (Taman Sari)

Admission Fee: IDR15,000/USD1.2/PHP60
Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm
Location: Jalan Nogosari No. 6, Patehan, Kraton, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa, Yogyakarta

Prambanan Temple (Candi Prambanan) Compound

Photo provided by Klook

Prambanan Temple or Roro Jonggrang Temple has been hailed as the biggest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Best explored at sunset!

Location: Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta
Opening hours: 7:30am – 6:30pm
Admission Fee: (For non-Indonesian/foreign visitors)
USD18/PHP895 (Above 10 y/o); USD9/PHP447 (10 y/o and below)

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Sendratari Ramayana at Prambanan Temple or Purawisata

This traditional Indonesian ballet dance-drama is performed without a dialogue. The performance is an adaptation of the Indian epic Ramayana, but this is a shorter version of the original epic poem. The very first performance was held in 1961 at the open-air theatre of Prambanan.

Sendratari Ramayana at Prambanan Temple Compound

The show is usually held either at Purawisata or at Prambanan Temple. If you book with Klook, the location will be confirmed after booking. In case it rains, the show will be moved to a nearby indoor theater.

Admission Fee:
*VIP – RP400,000/USD30/PHP1492
*Special – IDR300,000/USD23/PHP1144
*Class 1 – IDR200,000/USD15/PHP746
*Class 2 – IDR125,000/USD10/PHP497
Operating Hours: Show usually starts at 7:30 PM and runs until 9:30 PM
Location: Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta

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Yogyakarta Food Tour

Image provided by Klook

Klook offers two food tours: one in the morning and the other at night.

Join the DAY TOUR
Join the NIGHT TOUR

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Batik Making Class

Image courtesy of Klook
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Other Attractions:

  • Ullen Sentalu Museum
    This is a private museum established in 1994 by the Haryono family. It is now managed by Ulating Blencong Foundation. It houses relics and artifacts from royal houses of Java revealing the history of Mataram Kingdom and reflecting the culture from the Hindu-Buddhist period.
    Admission Fee: (For non-Indonesian/foreign visitors)
    *Adult – IDR50,000/USD4/PHP199
    *Children (5-16 y/o) – IDR30,000/USD2.5/PHP124
    Operating Hours: 8:30 AM – 4 PM; Tuesday to Sunday
    Location: Jalan Boyong KM 25, Kaliurang Barat, Hargobinangun, Sleman, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
  • Ratu Boko Palace (Kraton Ratu Boko)
    This 16-hectare archaeological site sits on a plateau and is best experienced and viewed during dusk or sunset.
    Location: Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta
    Open: 6am – 5pm (Regular); 3pm – 6pm (Sunset visit)
    Admission Fee: (For non-Indonesian/foreign visitors)
    *Regular – USD13/PHP647 (Above 10 y/o); USD7/PHP348 (10 y/o and below)
    *Ratu Boko Sunset – IDR110,000/USD8.5/PHP423
  • Malioboro Street (Jalan Malioboro)
    This busiest business district in the city of Yogyakarta is a shopping haven for both local and foreign visitors. It stretches 1km long from North (near Yogyakarta Station or Tugu Station) to South (Zero Kilometer or Nol Kilometer).
  • Kasongan
    This is the center of the pottery industry in Yogyakarta, so products sold here are export quality.
    Location: Dusun Kasongan, Bangunjiwa, Kecamatan Kasihan, Bantul
    Open: 9am – 3pm
    Admission Fee: FREE
  • Kotagede
    Yogyakarta’s center of silverware industry.
    You might also want to visit the grave of Panembahan Senopati, the founder of Mataram Kingdom.
    Location: 5km southeast of Jalan Malioboro (Take Bus 3A or 3B)
  • Arya Classic Wayang
    Learn the principles behind the creation and the design of the traditional leather puppet (wayang kulit) characters here at Arya Classic Wayang. Be amazed at the intricate patterns of the design and discover the meaning behind each color used.
    Location: Jalan Magangan Kulon, KT I/30, Ngadisuryan, Yogyakarta (Behind Yogyakarta Palace)
    Admission Fee: FREE

Day Tours from Yogyakarta

You might want to explore these other attractions not too far away from the Yogyakarta city center.

Lava Tour Merapi

  • Lava Tour Merapi
    Making a seemingly hopeless situation into something beneficial and useful is a mark of innovative thinking. The destructive eruption of Mt Merapi in 2010 and its aftermath can be seen and witnessed while taking an adventurous 4×4 ride. Some of the stops include the Museum Sisa Hartaku, Alien Stone, and the Bunker.
    Tour starts as early as 7 AM and can end at 4 PM. The ideal time to do the tour is either morning or late in the afternoon. There are three options: Short (1-1.5hr), Medium (2-2.5hrs), and Long (3-3.5hrs). The rates for the tour are USD30/PHP1492 for Short, USD45/PHP2238 for Medium and USD55/PHP2735 for Long. Suggested tour operators for this activity are Merapi Land Cruiser Community and Kaliurang Jeep Willis Merapi Lava Tour.
  • Kalibiru Nature Eco-Tourism
    If you are in the mood for nature-tripping adventure, then Kalibiru National Park is perfect for you. Enjoy the lush mountainous setting, the fresh air, and the view (especially the sunset) from 450 meters above sea level.
    The park is located in Kalibiru, Hargowilis, Kokap, Kulon Progo (about 1-2-hour drive from the city center). It is open from 6 AM to 6 PM.
  • Parangkusumo Sand Dunes (Gumuk Pasir Parangkusumo)
    This is the place to go when you are itching for some sand boarding, ATV bike rides, or horseback riding. Rental fee of amenities starts from IDR50,000/USD4/PHP199 up to IDR150,000/USD11.5/PHP572.
    It is located at Jalan Pantai Parangkusumo, Kretek, Bantul (about 45 minutes to one hour drive from the city center). The place is open for visitors from 8 AM to 6 PM.

Sample Yogyakarta Itinerary

Here’s a sample 4D3N Yogyakarta itinerary:

DAY 1
(Note: Based on flight leaving Jakarta at 6am & arriving Yogyakarta at 7am)
Arrive in Yogyakarta
Check in at hotel
Yogyakarta (Royal) Palace
Water Castle (Taman Sari)
City Tour

DAY 2
Prambanan Temple Compound
Ratu Boko Palace
Sendratari Ramayana

DAY 3
Borobudur Sunrise
Merapi Lava Tour
Malioboro Street

DAY 4
Departure

Side Trip

If you have more time, nearby Solo (or Surakarta) is a great choice for a side trip destination. It’s the hometown of their current president, Joko Widodo. Often coined as “the twin sister of Yogyakarta”, this other major city in Central Java resembles Yogyakarta in so many ways. Solo is less touristy, so it offers that authentic Javanese culture, especially the food.

Aside from the food scene, you can also visit Pasar Antik Triwindu for antique items; Ceto Temple and Sukuh Temple; Omah Sinten Heritage & Resto for a royal family treatment dinner or meal; Kampoeng Batik Laweyan village or the Danar Hadi Antiques Batik Museum to learn more about Batik history and process of making it, and UNESCO World Heritage Site Museum Sangiran to know more about the ancient man and other anthropological discoveries.

To get to Solo from Yogyakarta, the best and fastest option is to ride the train via Pramex train service at Yogyakarta (Tugu) Station. Travel time is 45 minutes to 1 hour, and the fare is around USD1/PHP50.

More Tips for the Poor Traveler

  • Status of trade and commerce in Yogyakarta is healthy and stable. There are plenty of business establishments — Malioboro Street being the busiest. Aside from the abundance of educational institutions, cost of living is reasonable and cheap; hence, students flock the city.
  • Indonesians are friendly and very helpful. Most can speak and understand English, so don’t hesitate to ask if you get lost.
  • Weather is very unpredictable, but dry and sunny most of the time.
  • Suggested mode of transportation is the Trans Jogja bus system. Locals highly regard this as the most reliable, most efficient, and cheapest when traveling around the city and even nearby places outside the city.

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Asta Alvarez

Asta Alvarez

Blogger at PhilippineBeaches.org
Asta is the Managing Editor at PhilippineBeaches.org and a regular contributor to The Poor Traveler. She's also a mountaineer, production designer, and cineaste.
Asta Alvarez

Comments

  1. This was an excellent breakdown. Ditto on the Indonesian people; I have only been to Bali but have yet to meet a more friendlier people collectively. We were invited to Balinese weddings after knowing our hosts for days. Once you land, it’s like you become an honorary Indonesian. Wonderful country, generous, kind folks.

    Ryan

  2. Chai says:

    Planning on visiting here on October for our first overseas travel. How much was your budget for the whole tour?

  3. Melanie Silvestre says:

    Hi… do you usually give tips or is it required? How much is the budget (not include the tours and entrance fees) for meals and transpo in a day?

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