Indonesia – Part 6: What to do in Yogyakarta

Indonesia – Part 6: What to do in Yogyakarta

When I planned my trip to Yogyakarta (or Jogjakarta, or Jogja), my main objective was to checkout Borobudur and Prambanan. Little did I know that Jogja had much more to offer and coincidentally, I had picked the exact right spots.

Getting in and getting around


There are many airlines that fly to Jogjakarta from all over Indonesia. These include Garuda Indonesia, AirAsia, LionAir or the local airlines such as CityLink, SriwijayaAir or NamAir. However, if you are not from Indonesia, note that you may have an issue with booking with the local airlines as they do not accept international credit cards. 

Flying to Jogjakarta is the fastest way to get there, albeit at a pretty high cost.


Trains to Jogjakarta originate from almost all the major cities in the island of Java. I found this quite comprehensive (and seemingly up to date although, caveat emptor!) rail road map of Java at: The site seems to be hosting quite a few other railroad maps as well, so if you are a backpacker or an adventurous traveller, do try them out.

The biggest problem in using the trains for me is the amount of time taken. For example, the train from Jakarta to Jogjakarta takes about 8 hours and a trip to Banyuwangi can take 12 hours! But the tickets are extremely cheap, almost ten times cheaper than the air tickets in some cases.

Getting around in Jogjakarta is easy just like in many touristy places in Indonesia. There are many cheap options and you could also go for a lavish option as renting your own car.


Grab is the cab hailing app that’s available in Indonesia (there is no Uber here) and also available in Jogjakarta. I saw that there are various articles that claimed that it is near impossible to get Grab to work without a local sim/number, I have not had any issue where I downloaded it and installed it twice in Malaysia and Indonesia. However I did have my roaming connection on my mobile line which allowed me to verify my device using Grab’s verification SMS.

Motorbike Tax:

If you are a light traveller, you would be able to share a ride with a motorbike rider. Of course, they will charge you for this and pretty much in all occasions, I’ve seen the driver and the passenger both wearing helmets. I got offered a “day tour” in one of these for about 15-20 USD to take me to the nearby beach and back.

Horse carts and rickshaws:

There are quite a few horse drawn carriages especially around Marlioboro Street that would allow you to do short city tours. There are also many richshaws that would take you to nearby attractions like the Kraton (“The Palace of Yogyakarta”), Taman Sari, the Yogyakarta museum etc.

What to do in Yogyakarta:

Visit Borobudur

Borobudur is considered to be the world’s largest buddhist temple. About 40km away from Yogyakarta Station, you can get many travel packages from the road-side tour guides. But my suggestion would be to either rent your own bike or take a bus journey. You can read about a longer post about Borobudur at

Visit Prambanan

Prambanan is a Hindu archeological site in Yogyakarta and is about 17km away from the Yogyakarta Station. Dedicated to the Trimurti, the mythology states that there were once one thousand temples and that a prince commanded a hoard of demons to build it in a quest for true love. You can read about my visit to Prambanan at

Climb Mount Merapi

Mount Merapi is an active stratovolcano that last erupted in 2018. The eruption back in 2010 has been a massive disaster and caused a large number of deaths among humans and animals as well as massive economic destruction. Even if you are not planning to climb the mountain yourself, you could always take a Jeep tour around the mountain to check out many of its popular tourist spots. If you are interested in visiting Mount Merapi, I’d suggest you to read this:

Visit Taman Sari

Taman Sari is the water palace of the first Sultan of Yogyakarta. It is a relatively small place with most of its history hidden by the late settlements done in the area. If you visit there, do try to get a guide, they are from around the area, most of the time, the encroachers on the historical site themselves. But it is important to learn what they have seen and understand their way of life around the historical site. I felt that many who visit the site don’t go beyond the pools and the mosque. I had quite an enjoyable time there walking around and listening to an old local guide. Read about my visit to Taman Sari at

Checkout Marlioboro Street

Marlioboro Street is one of the most touristy areas in Yogyakarta. The night life comes in to play around 7PM when the street food places open up. Don’t fill yourself up with the food though, you have a good kilometer of a walk on each side of the road. If you like a more conventional option, you can choose from the many restaurants along the way too!

Sleep in a capsule hotel

I stayed over in The Capsule Malioboro Hotel and Cafe, which was a pretty amazing experience. It is essentially a hostel with privacy. They have locker space as standard and also have a TV inside the capsule! With the breakfast included, the price was just around 10USD per day. I was probably one of their longer term customers who stayed there for three nights. If you are claustrophobic however, this is definitely not an option for you!

Checkout a Wayang Kulit show

Wayang Kulit or shadow puppet shows are a speciality in Indonesia that generally depict scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharata or Ramayana. Traditionally, they have been shows that run throughout the entire night. However there are shorter versions meant for tourists and run for only a few hours. Museum Sonobudoyo hosts a Wayang Kulit show most nights and it runs for 2 hours. The entrance is around 1.5 USD (yes you read that right, less than the price of a Mac burger) to watch and to take photos.

The Wayan Kulit show is hosted by a multitude of musicians sitting at the back of a white screen. The main performer or the puppeteer also sits behind the screen and presses the puppets against the screen. The audience generally stay in the dark and the lighting is done behind the stage. What the audience see are not the actual puppets but rather their shadows on the screen. The main artist who is also the puppeteer happens to be the voice artist as well. In the show that I went to watch, there was only one puppeteer and he was changing his voice for each character that he was playing. Note though that the entire performance is in Indonesian. There is no concept of subtitles or translations on this show 😉

Other things to do:

You can also visit the Museum Sonobudoyo. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to check this place out. Do check their opening times and days before you visit.

If you are the adventurous type, you can try caving in Jomblang Cave. The trekking/caving experience itself will cost you 35 USD and note that you are not allowed to go without a guide. You will be lowered down 60m with a rope by sheer manual labour. Do check out the reviews before you go.

There are quite a few beaches around Yogyakarta that you can visit. But do note that in Indonesia, most of the photos from websites seem to be well framed ones that are quite far from the reality. Try to see if you can find any visitor photos before you visit the place.

What you do in Yogyakarta is totally dependant on your inclinations and your time availability. Whether it is the culture/history, adventure or the beach/street food/chillout scene, Yogyakarta got it all.

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