7 Awesome Things to Do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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Yogyakarta, also known as “Yogya” or  “Jogja”, is the center of fine Javanese arts and culture. Well known for its traditional method of producing beautifully hand-made Batik crafts, this city is also a paradise for their must-see ancient temples including one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Borobudur Temple. A historical and cultural experience awaits you as we give our list of best things to do in the inviting city of the Indonesian island of Java, Yogyakarta. Related Articles: List of Best Hostels in Indonesia and List of Best Luxury Hotels in Indonesia 

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Yogyakarta.

things to do in Yogyakarta

All Photography supplied by CARLA MANALO

1. Sunrise in Borobudur Temple

Why is it one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia?

“Who built it, how and when, until now nobody knows,” Mr. Supri, our fun and informative tour guide speaks of historical facts and stories about the temple. Driving our way to the central part of Java, flushed with wonder and excitement, early wake-up call just to witness sunrise in Borobudur temple.

things to do in Yogyakarta

Early wake up call to witness this kind of sunset in Borobudur temple.
All Photography supplied by CARLA MANALO

A cultural masterpiece built with no single adhesive, Borobudur temple stands as the largest Buddhist temple in the world. However, the temple was also targeted by extremists way back, detonating bombs which destroyed parts of the temple. From then on until today, tight security is in place before you enter the heritage site.

things to do in Yogyakarta

On top of the temple, eyes on the east horizon and the sun makes its way across the calm pale sky. Silence, tranquility and bliss, an invite for a  moment of pause and life reflections. Finding inner peace within, wanting to freeze time and just stay in that single moment. A day spent in Borobudur temple with no doubt is one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

things to do in Yogyakarta

For further info re ticket price and more, please visit their website.

2. Silver jewelry making in Kota Gede

Why is it one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia?

The thirty-minute drive from the city of Yogya and you will find an ancient old town famous for its fine silver arts and handicrafts. Kota Gede is home to numerous silver handy craft shops, and the actual process of producing their craft can be witnessed on the spot.

things to do in Yogyakarta

Complete your experience by trying to make your piece of art. For beginners, like me, it sure can be a failure since the process of creating a single piece is tedious, needs a lot of focus and patience. Hence, the difficulty of creating a silver work makes you appreciate every single detail of the craft. Silver making experience plus shopping silver craft souvenirs, certified to be the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia!

things to do in Yogyakarta

The Silversmith and the Apprentice

things to do in Yogyakarta

3. Sunset in Prambanan Temple

Why is it one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia?

Less than an hour drive from Yogya, you will get to witness the most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia, the most beautiful Hindu temple in the world, the Prambanan Temple or also known as the Rara Jonggrang temple. Discovered by the Dutch in the 10th century, this wondrous temple complex of Java is known to be dedicated to the God Shiva Mahadeva.

things to do in Yogyakarta

things to do in Yogyakarta

The temple is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, forty-seven-meter high central building inside a large complex of individual temples. Finding your way to each temple, you will get an up close sight of the temple walls sculptured with fine, interesting details. A good rest after temple hopping, catch the gorgeous sunset in Prambanan temple. The highlight of the day and certainly one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

things to do in Yogyakarta

Local and foreign tourists watching the setting sun in Prambanan Temple

4. Watch the Ramayana Ballet Show Prambanan

Why is it one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia?

After catching the sunset in Prambanan temple, it’s a no complete experience if Ramayana Ballet Show is not on the list of things to do. An easy reach from the temple, the show starts at 19:30 and performance are in an outdoor theater stage.

things to do in Yogyakarta

Prambanan Temple in the backdrop

A copy of the story plot will be provided at the entrance, better if you read it first before the show starts to have a clear understanding of the tale. The night sky, lighted proud temple of Prambanan as a backdrop, an absolute picture-perfect sight. And to complete the whole ballet experience, the performance is being accompanied by a silvery sweet-sounding Orchestra of Gamelan, a traditional ensemble of Javanese music.

things to do in Yogyakarta

Costumes ablaze in bold, lively colors, an added factor in the stellar performance of the actors. After the show, get the opportunity to take a selfie with your favorite character. With no doubt, ending the day with this classic tale performance of Ramayana is truly one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia! Visit www.borobudurpark.co.id for further info.

things to do in Yogyakarta

things to do in Yogyakarta

Hanuman, the monkey hero!

5. A visit to the Sultan Palace and Water Castle

Why is it one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia?

In Yogyakarta, the Sultan himself rules the province as governor. Built in 1757, the Kraton or the Palace serves as a home for the Sultan and his family.  A genuine form of old Javanese culture and architecture from this grand complex. Intricate designs from halls to floors, bright gold painted ceilings, symmetric floor designs, a classic display of fine luxurious architecture. On some parts of the palace, you will see Western influenced designs as well. Display of personal collections of current Sultan Hamengku Buwono X can also be found in the Kraton. things to do in Yogyakarta
things to do in Yogyakarta

Numerous pavilions can also be seen in the palace, like the waiting hall, justice hall, eating hall and more. Guided tour is available upon arrival (guides can speak good English and even other foreign languages). Taking pictures is allowed in the area but be mindful of some restricted areas that are not allowed to be stepped on, the tour guide will, of course, remind you about this. The Sultan Palace is located in the center of Yogyakarta and can be reached easily by taxi, becak, andong – the horse-drawn cart, or by public bus.

things to do in Yogyakarta
things to do in Yogyakarta
After the walking tour in the Kraton, you can easily reach the Water Castle also known as Taman Sari, located just within the area. Built a year after the Kraton, the Water Castle serves as a pleasure park for the Sultans and their royal families. It’s a walking tour as well where you will find fascinating spots of wondrous and interesting ruins, underground passages, and large subterranean mosque. An experience of authentic Javanese architecture and amusements, the Kraton and Water Castle deserve to be on the list of best places to visit in Yogyakarta!

things to do in Yogyakarta
things to do in Yogyakarta

6. Learning Batik craft at Museum Batik Yogyakarta

Why is it one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia?

Batik is an art process well known in the island of Java in Indonesia. It is a manual process with the use of fabric, hot wax, tjanting and colors. Tjanting is a bell metal tool used in outlining the design of the batik art. Batik motif differs based on the person and use. The Batik process of Yogyakarta is a preservation of authentic Batiks, produced either hand made or by stamp. Usually, hand made batiks are done by the ladies and stamps by men. Printing is not encouraged in the Batik business because it might destroy the traditional method of producing authentic Batiks.

things to do in Yogyakarta

Hot bee wax use in making batik

Founded in 1979, Museum Batik Yogyakarta has a collection of various Batik styles from Yogyakarta, Solo, Central Java, Pasisiran as well as tools and equipment used in Batik making. You can also get to experience how to make the batik in the museum. The Proper way of making batik art will be explained right before you start creating one. Be careful with the hot bee wax and just enjoy using tjanting. Don’t get frustrated when you messed up your work with droplets of wax since everyone does the same (lol!).

things to do in Yogyakarta

My piece of art =)

Museum Batik Yogyakarta is located in Jl. Dr. Sutomo 13A Yogyakarta 55211. Opens from Monday to Sunday 09:00 – 12:00 WIB/AM, 13:00 – 15:00 WIB/PM

7. Shopping galore in Malioboro

Why is it one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia?

Get the best deals along the shopping streets of Malioboro, the cheap shopping area in the heart of Yogya! From bags, shirts, and more souvenir items, they have it all here! Price items from small store halls and street vendors don’t differ that much. Parade of street foods can also be found along the way. The best way to explore the streets is by foot, just within walking distance from Stasiun Tugu (Tugu Railway Station). Another option is hiring a becak (pedicab) or the ubiquitous four-wheeled horse-drawn carts called “Andong”.  What the best way to end your trip in Yogya by getting real good cheap souvenirs in Malioboro, one of the best places to visit in Yogyakarta, Indonesia!

things to do in Yogyakarta

You can also find up-to-date news and other more reliable information about things to see and do in and around Yogyakarta on Yogya Backpacker.

Related articles:

Things to Do in Bandung, Indonesia

Things to Do in Flores, Indonesia

Things to Do in Bali, Indonesia

Things to Do in Bromo, Indonesia

Special thanks to Wonderful Indonesia, Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia and the whole Indonesian staff for having us in this International Bloggers Trip – Indonesia’s Top Bucket Destinations 2015.

Sharing with you this wonderful news from #WonderfulIndonesia , giving you the chance to visit Komodo Island for free! For further details on this exciting contest, please visit theINATopBucketList Wonderful Indonesia Competition For further info about Wonderful Indonesia, please check the Indonesia Tourism information

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Recommended Hotels

Budget – Ndalem Mantrigawen

Mid Range – Harper Mangkubumi

Luxury – Melia Purosani Hotel Yogyakarta

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Comments 21

  1. These are indeed awesome things to do! Yogyakarta is full of amazing things to explore and to try, especially trying the batik making

  2. I’d love to see the making of Silver jewelry in Kota Gede! Thanks for all the interesting things to explore in Indonesia!

  3. Looks like a fantastic place to visit! The architecture is amazing and all your photos are so inspiring! I’d love to go to the Sultan Palace and Water Castle and of corse, to know how to make silver jewelry! Pinned your post for the future!

  4. Indonesia looks amazing, I would enjoy the silver jewlerry making, looks like a lot of fun and I’m really artsy! Your pictures are great!

  5. I would love to go to Indonesia and maybe one day I will make it there! All of these places look so interesting!

  6. I’d love to be able to make my own piece of jewellery as a souvenir to keep with you forever. That sounds like a really special experience 🙂

  7. I love the pictures, they make me wanna go there. Also, I love all of what you listed, it just seems extremely interesting to me.

  8. I didn’t realize Indonesia had temples similar to Angkor Wat. Nice! I’ve only ever been to Bali, must put this on the bucket list!

  9. A fascinating trip. I would especially enjoy the jewelry making (although I think I would leave it to the experts. Making my own would probably be a disaster!), the outdoor ballet, and Water Castle.

  10. There’s nothing more peaceful than watching sunset over a temple. It’s really beautiful and it’s a great way to end your day during the trip! I love that you were able to capture these sunsets in two different temples!

  11. I can’t seem to choose only one, or the best thing to do in Yogyakarta after reading your list. All of the places and activities are great! I would love to see how silver jewelry is made and also see the sunrise over the temples. And everyone knows that the best markets are the night ones

  12. I would love to visit Insonesia, unfortunately I haven’t found my way there yet. The temples look and sound so beautiful and I’m intrigued by the silver making

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