Yogyakarta, also called Jogjakarta or Jogja, is a large city located on the island of Java in Indonesia. This trendy city is home to some of the best sights in Java including the largest Hindu Temple complex, a hidden mosque and the Borobudur Temple. Yogyakarta has a with a large population and many high rated universities making it especially popular amongst students. With an emphasis on Javanese art and culture, you’ll easily find shops with local artists, healthy & hip cafes and eco-conscious hotels. Find out all the top things to do in Yogyakarta and give yourself at least 3 days here!
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Top Things to Do & See in Yogyakarta
1. Borobudur Temple
As the largest Buddhist Temple in the world, you can understand why the Borobudur Temple is an incredibly popular place to visit. The Temple is built in 3 different tiers and on the top you will find one large stupa surrounded by 72 smaller stupas. Inside each of these stupas is a small statue of a Buddha so be sure to look closely inside.
Wake up early to experience sunrise here and to avoid some of the crowds! The regular opening time is at 6AM and you can purchase your tickets just before then. Since this is the most visited site in all of Indonesia is definitely can get a bit crowded. Don’t be surprised if lots of school children arrive and ask for a selfie or want to interview you about your experience.
Tip: Purchase a combo ticket with the Prambanan Temple to save some money! Just make sure you visit both temples within 48 hours otherwise you’ll have to re-purchase a ticket.
» Must Read: Borobudur Temple in Indonesia: A Complete Guide to Visiting
2. Prambanan Temple
The Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu Temple in Indonesia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. The main Shiva Temple is tall and slim, reaching heights of 47 meters (154 feet) which is typical of Hindu architecture. Within the complex you will find 240 large and small temples with the three main ones being dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma.
The entire temple complex is quite large so be sure to give yourself enough time to wander around and enjoy the grounds.
Tip: The best time to visit Prambanan Temple is in the late afternoon close to sunset. The majority of the crowds will have cleared out and you’ll have had time to grab lunch after your visit to Borobudur Temple in the morning.
It takes about 30 minutes to reach the temple from the center of Yogyakarta and about 1.5 hours from Borobudur.
3. Underground Mosque (Sumur Gumuling)
Located right in the heart of Yogyakarta is the underground mosque, also known as Sumur Gumuling. This unique spot is a little difficult to find and you’ll need to enter through the water palace first. To get to the underground mosque you will walk through a small village about 7-10 minutes until you eventually reach the set of steps leading down into the mosque. The GPS Coordinates for the steps are -7.8088611, 110.3594359.
Once here you will descend down the steps and enter the pathway leading to the center. In the center of the round mosque the archways will open into a pyramid shaped set of stairs that will lead up to a second level. The center of the mosque is open, allowing the sun to cast a beautiful spotlight on the steps.
To enter the underground mosque you have to purchase your ticket at the entrance to the Water Palace. The tickets cost 15K IDR ($1 USD) per person plus an additional 3K IDR ($0.21 USD) for a camera.
TIP: Arrive about 20 minutes before it opens at 9AM to be the first in the ticket line. This is very important if you want to get pictures in the underground mosque without tons of people standing in your shots!
4. Water Palace (Taman Sari)
Dating back to the mid 18th century, the water palace was once a royal garden for the Sultan of Yogyakarta. The large complex is made up of different areas including the recognizable bathing pool located in the center.
The grounds extend out into the village and you can find many shops, restaurants and art murals around the area. Within the complex you will also find the underground mosque.
Tickets for both the water palace and underground mosque must be purchased outside of the water palace. The ticket costs 15K IDR ($1 USD) per person and includes the entrance to both. There is the additional fee of 3K IDR ($0.21 USD) for a camera.
» Must Read: Mount Bromo Tour: How to Visit at Sunrise Without a Guide
How to Get to Yogyakarta
Located in Central Java, Yogyakarta is easily accessible by train, bus and airplane. As an international airport there are many direct flights that you can find from neighboring Southeast Asia countries. As we did this route in reverse of what most people do we ended up flying back to Bali from Yogyakarta through Air Asia. The airport is easy to navigate and close to the city center.
Tip: Use Skyscanner to look up flight options and then book directly through the airlines website. Skyscanner will display all the best and cheapest options for air travel throughout Southeast Asia.
If you are arriving by train there are also many options but the most popular is the Malioboro train. We arrived in Yogya from Malang and made the 8 hour journey by the Malioboro train. The tickets cost 188,750 IDR ($13.45 USD) per person.
Note: If you take the train from Malang to Yogyakarta be sure to book the train ticket from the correct train station. Even if you do it in reverse and go from Yogyakarta to Malang. You can book your tickets online through tiket.com. There are a few options for the Malang train station and they are KPN, LW or MLK. You’ll want to double check that you book the ticket to either arrive or depart from THIS station: MLK. We made this mistake and had to drive an additional 45 minutes outside of Malang to get to the KPN (Kepanjen) train station which ultimately cost more money and added stress.
You can also get to Yogyakarta by train from Jakarta if you are starting there. Additionally there is always the option of a private driver but that will be significantly more expensive and the train is comfortable enough.
How to Get Around Yogyakarta
There are a few easy options to get around Yogyakarta. The first is to rent a motorbike which is always what we do. Near our hotel there was a place that rented bikes for 70 K IDR ($5 USD) a day. Make sure if you rent a bike to ALWAYS ask for a helmet. Driving a motorbike in Yogyakarta is similar to Bali so if you are comfortable with the traffic then you will be fine.
The petrol will cost about 8-10K IDR ($0.57- 0.71 USD) per liter. Renting a motorbike is always the cheapest option.
The second option for moving around Yogyakarta and seeing the sights would be to use GRAB. This will undoubtedly be the second cheapest option and most comfortable. You can easily pick up a GRAB taxi anywhere in the city and won’t have any problems getting one at the temples to take you back. We used GRAB when we were traveling from the airport to our hotel and back. If you don’t already have GRAB on your phone be sure to download and sign up prior to arriving in Asia. The app will need to send you a verification code to your phone via text message.
We have found that UBER only works in India so far which is why you’ll want to download GRAB or GoJek.
Most of the hotels will offer a transfer service to get to the temples or other sights around Yogyakarta. You can book a private transfer or a tour. The price will be the highest and they usually set a time limit.
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Where to Stay & Eat
Where to Stay
Budget: Prambahan Guesthouse
Mid-Budget: Green Host Boutique Hotel
Luxury: Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta
Where to Eat
Via Via Bakery
Best Time of Year to Go
Yogyakarta is also affected by the monsoon season and therefore there are wetter and drier months to visit. The driest months are from April to October with August being the best month to visit. Rainy season is from November to March with January being the wettest. The hottest month of the year is April right at the end of rainy season.
» Must Read: Kawah Ijen in Java: How to Visit Without a Guide
Other Important Tips for Visiting Java, Indonesia
SIM Card and Data
Telkomsel is the best SIM to get for your phone when traveling around Indonesia. However, the data plans typically work independently of each island that you are on. Meaning if you add 4GB in Bali you will not be able to use that in Flores or here in Java. You will need to top off your phone with more data once you arrive in on a new island. Luckily, it is easy and you will be able to find a shop that can do this for you.
ATM’s and Credit Cards
Most places in Yogyakarta will accept credit cards including the restaurants, hotels and entrance to Borobudur and Prambanan Temple. However, you will need cash to pay for a motorbike rental, entrance to the underground mosque and smaller restaurants around town. In Indonesia we find it best to always have enough cash with you just in case. Most of the ATM’s in Yogyakarta work but make sure you go to one that is well lit and doesn’t seem to be tampered with.
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WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE?
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- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Underwater camera: Leica X-U
- Camera with gimbal: DJI Osmo Pocket & Underwater Housing
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- Camera Bag: Polar Pro Drone Trekker
- External Hard Drive: LaCie 1 TB rugged mini external hard drive
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