The first stop on our trip to Thailand was the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, aka Jogja, located in the southern part of Central Java.
Unfortunately many people outside Indonesia do not really know Yogyakarta. Yet. Jakarta of course is well known as Indonesia’s capital. Java itself is one of the world’s largest islands and about 45% of all Indonesians residing on Java. So what makes Jogja famous?
You can see Jogja as Indonesia’s Hong Kong or Macau, speaking a Special Administrative Region. Jogja is the only sultanate remaining in Indonesia and since more than 250 years ruled by the same family. Due to the fact that the then reigning sultan offered refuge for the fledging government in the 1940’s, it was decided to keep Jogja as special autonomous region. It became Indonesia’s interim capital between 1946-1949. Note: Indonesia has 33 provinces which are headed by governors, elected every 4 years.
Yogyakarta is now a vibrant city with lots of cultural and historical background, home to some of Indonesia’s finest universities and lots of great coffee shops!
06:30 Hotel check-in & breakfast
If you take the overnight bus from Bali, you most likely arrive around that time. We rushed to our accommodation, took a shower, had breakfast and met up with Ayu, Sri’s sister and our temporary tour guide.
08:00 Tugu Jogja’s most famous landmark
We rented a motor scooter for 50.000 IDR (US$4.40) a day and headed off to Tugu. Our first stop on the way: the slums of Jogja, quite a shocking picture, as you don’t see things like that in Bali. In addition you see 4-/ 5 star hotels overlooking the slums, from my point of view quite macabre. Our short ride continues with final stop at the Tugu. For some people this monument seems to be familiar, as there is a bigger version in Jakarta. It is almost 300 years old and carries quite some history along. The legend goes, that when students graduate from any university in Jogja, they will come over to hug the Tugu, being thankful for passing all exams and for future success in life and on work.
09:30 Vredeburg Fortress
We left the Tugu and passed by Jalan Malioboro, the hub of Jogja. Plenty of shops in all sizes, fast food chains next to local Warungs (restaurants). The Vredeburg Fortress is a former Dutch fortress, but serves now as a museum. You can see and learn a lot about the Dutch colonization in Indonesia until 1949, but specifically what happened in and around Yogyakarta during that time.
12:00 Visit the Bank of Indonesia
Once finished visiting the Vredeburg, it’s time to explore the surroundings. Jogja boasts plenty of sidewalks everywhere, so you can comfortably stroll around the city (a big plus in comparison to Bali). The Bank of Indonesia is just a stone throw away and offers great colonial architecture. On the opposite you can find lots of hawkers, selling silver jewellery at affordable prices.
12:45 Have lunch and get energized
The choice is completely yours: if there is one thing not missing in Indonesia, then it is the variety of food it offers. And the options. You don’t need to look for food. Try the most famous dish Nasi Goreng (fried rice, mostly with chicken). Wanna go for fast food? Try Mr. Burger (I admit, we went there), though I’m urging most people to eat local, Mr. Burger has quality burgers with fantastic prices, plus you can find them all around the city. No, Mr. Burger did not pay me to post this and there is no affiliate link built in either.
14:30 The Sultan’s Palace
Honestly, as museum there is not much to see. The price is absolutely okay at just 5000 IDR. Do not expect too much, however, considering the history it carries along, it is worth visiting it.
15:30 Trying Nasi Kucing aka “Cat Rice”
When I first heard about the so called “Cat Rice” I had no clue what to expect. Since some areas in Indonesia eat dogs, e.g. in Manado, Sulawesi (my apologizes here for the finer hearted), I wouldn’t be too much wondered if….well you know it. But hey, it turned out that the name is referred to the size of the portion, which comes close to what you serve a cat. It contains rice, chilli paste and small fish (ikan teri). Costs? 1000 IDR or US$ 0.09. A very popular dish among students.
16:15 Back to hotel for a refreshing shower
After all we are in a tropical country, speaking three showers a day will be your routine after some time in SE Asia. Time to recharge you and your batteries.
18:30 Driving illuminated pedal cars
After we discovered this one, it became my favourite activity for the day: driving illuminated pedal cars in Jogja. Imagine a huge square with two banyan trees in the middle, located at Alun-Alun Selatan, close to the Sultan’s Palace. Dozens of colourful cars (and bicycles) everywhere. Those pedal cars come along in different shapes and sizes from a two-seater to a VW Bug for up to 4 people. Equipped with subwoofers on the backside and a TV/media system in the front, you have all the fun and entertainment you and your buddies or family need. One time around the before mentioned square (roughly 800m) will be at 30.000 IDR, but again this depends on your haggling skills.
A legend says that if you blindfold your eyes, try to walk in between the two banyan trees (Pohon Beringin Kembar) and think strong about any desired wish of yours, it will come true once you passed the trees successfully.
20:15 Time for a special coffee dinner
One of the most remarkable things I found in Jogja is the enormous amount of coffee shops everywhere. Unlike in Bali for example where I can find only instant coffee in most local areas, it surprised me a lot. However most of these coffee shops open its doors only in the late afternoon and are open until mid-night. For a unique experience, we visited the Angkringan Malioboro, next to the famous Jalan Malioboro for a so called Kopi Jos. Sidewalks are turned into coffee shops at night, serving this delicate coffee. Locals from all walks of life gathering and talking about their day, families and life. There is literally no better option of being under locals then at night while drinking a hot glass (yes glass, not cup) Kopi Jos. Order some Gorengan which is a selection of deep fried tofu, banana and tempe (also made from soy beans). Beside Kopi Jos, we also tried hot Tape, which is a fermented rice drink and tastes ridiculously amazing.
Left to right: Kopi Jos, Wedang Jahe (Ginger Tea), Chai Tea & my new fav drink, Tape
21:30 Explore Jalan Malioboro by night
After you infused some caffeine, get ready to explore Jalan Malioboro. It seems pretty much that this area comes to life after the sun has set. Locals gathering around for roller blading or a cup of coffee. This is the perfect time and place to get some souvenirs from one of the countless stalls around before heading back to your hotel.
22:45 – Back to your hotel
You made it, congratulations! You visited some of the most popular monuments and landmarks in Yogyakarta, you drunk Kopi Jos, ate “Cat Rice” and know where to hang around with locals. Now let me give you some tips for your next trip to Jogja, when you spend some more time here:
• Visit Borubudur: a Buddhist temple complex from the 8th century, located 45 minutes outside from Jogja. Beautiful and recommendable to visit before sunrise
• Drive train from Jogja to Solo and back. Perfect day trip
• Visit Prambanan a Hindu temple, close to Borubudur
• Take a rickshaw and explore the city differently
• Go for a trek on Mount Merapi, an active volcano
Indonesia is the largest country wholly located on islands (more than 17000) and the 4th largest in terms of population. The country is incredibly diverse when it comes to languages, people and food, you can find literally a new language on each island. Travel Bloggers Indonesia is a community of such diverse people, dedicated to give you the best travel advices of Indonesia!
Have you ever visited or planning to go to Yogyakarta?
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