13 Best Things to Do in Yogyakarta
Author: Hannah Griffiths
Jogja city centre Volunteering at the WRC is the PERFECT time to explore the magical region of Yogyakarta.
Top tip: It is suggested to combine activities to save money on travel costs.
To reach the city centre from the WRC is very easy. You can either take the train for 8K IDR or the Express train for 30K IDR. The express train takes only half an hour and the regular train for 45 minutes. We recommend asking your volunteer coordinator for a copy of the train timetable. When you get to Wates train station it is worth pulling up the timetable and showing which train you want to ride. However, you can also buy tickets online before you go. A taxi from the WRC is around 180K IDR each way and will take around an hour depending on traffic.
Fun Facts: This street is active for all 24hours of the day! It is thought the word Malioboro comes from the English word ‘Marlborough’ – he was an English Duke who lived here from 1811-1816. Additionally, during the battle for Indonesian independence people fought along the street!
Info: This is the busiest street in Jogja, it’s your one-stop destination for shopping and food. This is a great place to buy your souvenirs such as bags, magnets and key rings. Make sure you pick up some Bakpia, a snack unique to Jogja. This is also the place to buy Indonesia’s famous Batik. There are plenty of shops selling batik down Malioboro street. Once you reach the bottom of Malioboro street you will see the Royal Palace (see no. 2).
2. Royal Palace
Fun Fact: There are at least 100 guards stationed at the palace each day!
Info: This is the Palace of the ruling Sultan of Yogyakarta and his family! It was built in 1755–1756 for the first Sultan of Yogyakarta. Some museums showcase traditional Javanese dress and royal artefacts. Taman Sari is extremely close to the Royal Palace and well worth a visit! (see no. 3) Outside the palace, there is a market where you can buy t-shirts and other memorabilia.
Entry: Entry for an international tourist is 7K IDR! There are also guides available, you can agree on a price, but we recommend a minimum of 20K IDR.
3. Taman Sari
Fun Fact: In Javanese, ‘Taman’ means garden and ‘Sari’ means beautiful therefore, its translation is beautiful garden!
Info: Taman Sari was built in the 18th century as the royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta and is now a World Heritage Site. The grounds had many functions such as bathing, workshops, meditation, defence, hiding, and resting. It is recorded there used to be four main areas, a lake, a bathing area, pavilions, and a smaller lake, however, today only the central bathing area remains. This attraction is only a 20-minute walk from the train station and around five minutes from the Royal Palace.
Entry: The entrance fee is 15K IDR and is open from 9 am-3 pm every day. A guide will cost you around 25K-50K IDR, but you can decide the price with your guide.
4. Dirgantara Mandala Museum
Fun Fact: When this museum first opened in 1969 it was in Jakarta! It moved to Jogja in 1978.
Info: Also known as the Central Museum of Indonesian of Force, this museum showcases an array of exhibits related to the history of the Indonesian air force. The museum is now located in Jogja as it is considered to be where the Royal Indonesian Air Force began. There are over 1150 aviation artefacts on display! To reach the museum, you can take the train from Wates to Maguwo station or get a taxi from Jogja city centre after you’ve visited other attractions!
Entry: Entry fee is 5K IDR, making this museum well worth a visit!
Outside the city
5. Candi Prambanan
Fun Facts: The central tower is a massive 47 meters tall and was once made of 240 temples!
Info: Prambanan is a UNESCO world heritage site and is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and the second largest in South East Asia! It’s dedicated to Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Transformer (Shiva). It was built in 850 CE during the reign of the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty. In 2006 the Yogyakarta earthquake caused extensive damage to the temple and was shut to visitors; it was repaired and is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in Jogja. Once you’ve walked around the grounds and begin to make your way out you will see several actives such as archery, art, professional photographers, cafes and a small animal area. As you exit there is a huge market where you can buy all sorts of memorabilia!
Entry: Entry costs $25; however, exchange rates vary if you pay on a card (could be cheaper). The last entry is 5 pm but stays open until 6 pm, so it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset! You can also buy a combined ticket with Borobudur for $40. Don’t forget your student ID as you can get a discount!
Travel: From the WRC Prambanan is around 1 ½ hour. You can reach Jogja city by train for 8K IDR and then get a taxi to the temple, ride a taxi directly from the WRC or there is a bus from Malioboro street which takes you there. Taxi prices vary and could be up to 150K IDR (one way direct from WRC). We recommend 2-3 hours minimum to explore.
Fun Fact: This is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and has 3,248 structures!
About: This is a 9th century Mahayana Buddhist temple built during the Sailendra Dynasty. There are nine platforms separated into three levels; first, the world of desire, second, the world of forms and lastly, the world of formlessness. It is thought the temple was abandoned in the 14th century when the Javanese people converted to Islam. Borobudur has Indian influence due to the origin of Buddhism. However it is uniquely Indonesian and is Indonesia’s most visited attraction. On a clear day, at the top of the temple, you will be able to see Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu.
Entry: Entry to Borobudur is $25 or 350K IDR. You can buy a combined ticket with Prambanan for $40. To visit at sunrise, the cost is 475K IDR. For this you will get entry to Borobudur, a torch, a souvenir, and breakfast. The breakfast is a full buffet with Asian and continental food. Don’t forget your student ID as you can get a discount! Leave the WRC before 4 am to ensure you don’t miss the sunrise.
Travel: Can be reached by taxi direct from the WRC for roughly 180K IDR. To visit this temple, we suggest renting a car for approx. 500K IDR, as this also makes it possible to visit other attractions in the same day!
7. Mount Merapi
Fun Fact: Mount Merapi is known as the fire mountain and is the most active in Indonesia!
About: Merapi is located on the Indo-Australian Plate this is sub ducting under the Sunda Plate and is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia. Research suggests Merapi has been erupting for the past 400,000 years and now erupts every 10-15 years. The grounds around Merapi have National Park status and there is a museum that can be visited also. Jeep tours are a popular activity when visiting Merapi, there are many companies offering tours, for example, Merapi Adventure sell tours starting from 400K IDR. Most packages include a jeep tour, museum visit, bunker visit and a trip to the alien stone.
Entry: As stated above, prices start anywhere from 400K IDR up. You can visit to see the sunrise and the last tours usually end at 6 pm. Additionally, you can hike around the park for 150K IDR for the day.
Travel: Merapi is 1 ½ hour from the WRC, we recommend renting a car for this trip so you can make an easy return. Car rental starts at around 300K for the day. This is also a good chance to visit many other sites such as temples.
8. Kalisuci Cave tubing
Fun Fact: These caves were formed by underground river systems!
Info: Cave tubing is great fun for a thrill seeker! You will get to venture down rapids but also relax as the current takes you downstream. Gaze at the beautiful caves, spot bats and lizards, jump into the water and enjoy your surroundings. One cave is pitch black, torches and other lights are not used so that the caves’ natural ecosystem is protected. The river is around 2-3 meters deep and is surrounded by tall caves, your guide can give you lots of information on the different caves.
Entry: The cost per person is 80K IDR. This includes, safety equipment (life jacket, rubber ring, helmet and elbow, and knee pads), guide services, bathroom, drink, and snack.
Travel: We recommend renting a car at the cost of around 500K+ for the day, this means you can stop at other attractions such as the beach (see no. 9).
9. Snorkelling and Nglambor beach
Fun Fact: Nearly every other beach in southern Yogyakarta prohibits swimming due to dangerous waves!
Info: This is one of the only snorkelling sites in Jogja as this has the calmest waves and a shallow bay. At the snorkelling site, there are showers and toilets available as well as changing areas. You will be able to see tropical fish, coral, and other marine life. There is also a bridge over the ocean that connects to a small island. You can cross this and take some beautiful photos! There are toilets and showers available at the snorkelling site. Nglambor beach is great for those seeking adventure outside of the busy city! There are a few restaurants nearby. However, we also recommend you to bring some snacks just in case these are not open. Don’t forget a towel and a change of clothes!
Entry: There is government retribution to pay to enter the beach area and this is 5K IDR. The fee for snorkelling is 50K IDR. This includes glasses, snorkel, boot, safety jacket, guide & 5 photos.
Travel: From the centre, it will take approximately 3 hours to reach Nglambor beach. Therefore, we recommend you to rent a car for around 500K IDR and visit other sights on the way such as cave tubing (no. 8)
10. JJLS Sunflower Park
Fun Fact: The garden is around 1000 meters!
Info: This is the largest flower garden in Yogyakarta. There are many selfie spots at the park which have been made by locals from the village! There is also a beach nearby named Samas beach which you can visit while at the sunflower park.
Entry: 5K IDR. The park is open from 5:30-18:00 each day.
Travel: From the WRC a grab costs roughly 130K IDR each way, however, you could rent a car for approximately 500K IDR and visit other attractions in the same day!
11. Jomblang Cave
Fun Fact: To reach this cave you must descend 60m down!
Info: Made of limestone, this cave was formed 1.8 million years ago! This is the deepest vertical cave in the whole of Java, making it well worth a visit. You will abseil down into the cave (in pairs) and once you get to the bottom you will see ‘heavens light’. The best time to see this is 11:30-12:30. Once you reach the bottom you will go caving down the river.
Entry: 500K IDR per person. The price includes boots, helmet, headlamp, life jacket, harness, guide, lunch & insurance. The cave is open from 9 am- 13:30 every day. However, you can only go down inside the cave if you arrive before 10 am as only one group of 75 can go down per day.
Travel: To reach the cave we recommend booking a car for the day for around 500K IDR and visiting other sites such as cave tubing and snorkelling.
12. Museum Chocolate Monggo
Fun Fact: There are three types of cocoa in Indonesia and Monggo chocolate combines them all!
Info: There is a museum, shop, factory, and café for you to enjoy. Monggo chocolate was invented by a Dutch traveller in 2005! This museum teaches you all about the history of chocolate from the Aztecs to the present. You get a chance to learn how the cocoa transforms from the fruit to chocolate. The museum tour will take you to see the factory where people will be making chocolate, then you can relax in the café and try a chocolate beverage and lastly take a visit to the shop. Additionally, for an extra fee, you can create your chocolate.
Entry: Entry is 10K IDR. For an extra 5K IDR a guide can show you around the museum (highly recommended), they know everything there is to know about Monggo chocolate. Opening hours are 9 am – 7 pm.
Travel: From the WRC, the museum is only a 30-minute taxi ride. This costs approximately 80K IDR (one way). We recommend you allow 1-2 hours to explore here.
13. Wisata Kalibiru
Fun Fact: This area used to have no trees. The local community of Kulon Progo planted the whole forest!
Info: There are 7km of tracks that you can trek, as well as many photos stands where you can pay for professional photos. There are additional activities such as climbing and crossing a wooden bridge. There is a small café in the park as well as toilets.
Entry: 5K IDR on a weekday and 10K IDR on the weekend. Each photo stop has a different price 1) 15K IDR, 2) 10K IDR, 3) 10K IDR, 4)15K IDR. Visitors can pay 35k IDR per person for Climbing and Wooden Bridge. The park is open from 9:00-17:00 every day. This is also a great place to watch the sunset!
Travel: Only 30 minutes from the WRC, this is an easy spot for each to spend your weekend. A grab is approximately 30K IDR each way.
Puri Pangeran Hotel:
Price: £18 per night.
This hotel is located around five minutes away from Malioboro. This is a hotel with breakfast, pool, restaurant, and bar. This is ideal if you are looking to relax while also exploring the city.
Hostel Cabin Tugu
Price: £8 per night
This hostel is located 1.1km from Malioboro.
This hostel is a cheaper alternative to the previously mentioned hotel. It is great if you’re looking to socialize with other travellers and want to be close to the station.
Omah Sundak Homestay
Price: £8 per night
This hotel is located in east Jogja, near the beach and caves.
It’s a great spot if you want to make visiting the west of Jogja into a weekend away from the centre.
Raffles Holiday Hotel Yogyakarta
Price: £12 per night
This hotel is located in northern Yogyakarta and is a good stop if you want to spend more time at Merapi or Borobudur.
Map showing locations of attractions and accommodation in Jogja.