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Yogyakarta: Java's Jewel

3 Days 2 Nights
Writer
Thoriq Hasani
Yogyakarta: Java's Jewel

The ambience emanating from the depths of YOGYAKARTA will send shivers down your spine as you explore its breathtaking temples and majestic landscapes.

With Jogja as its capital, Yogyakarta is full of historical streets, ancient temples, various delicacies and a wide range of cultural diversity for you to explore. Bahasa Indonesia is their official language but worry not as major cities like Jogja host English-speaking premises almost everywhere. However, there’s no harm in learning a little Javanese as these super- friendly locals appreciate it very much and are always keen on getting to know international friends. Here are some must-visit destinations for your three-day vacation in Yogyakarta!

DAY 1

imgA choir of Javanese women sits on the floor during a daily ceremony at the Sultan's Palace in Java

Upon arriving at Adisucipto International Airport, start off your day with a slice of culture at The Sambisari Temple, a 9 th -century Hindu temple only 5 minutes away from the airport. Previously buried 5 metres underground, the temple was discovered in 1966, and features statues of Hindu gods and other Hindu elements. After that, make your way to Kraton Yogyakarta (Royal Palace), the official residence of the Javanese monarchy in Yogyakarta that is now a Javanese cultural museum. Inside, don’t miss The Golden Pavillion (Bangsal Kencana) where cultural performances including musicals, puppetry, dances, and poetry recitations are held.

Then, take a 10-minute drive southwest to Taman Sari Water Castle. Listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, the once royal garden and bath pool of sultanates in the mid-18 th century now function as multifunctional areas catering to resting, meditation, and workshop facilities. If you explore deep enough, you may find yourself in Sumur Gumuling (an underground mosque). Once accessible only through underwater passages, this surreal web of entrances, staircases and platforms forms an atmosphere fit for scenes from Game of Thrones, and your travel journal. To end your day, indulge in the famous Gudeg, a spicy and fragrant dish of Javanese jackfruit curry, easily found at stalls and eateries of Wijilan Street, just east of Kraton.

imgSumur Gumuling (right). Nasi Gudeg (left).

imgDuta Garden Hotel (Photo: dutagardenhotel.com)

Searching for a place to hit the sack? For budget travellers, Kampoeng Djawa should be considered not just for the price, but also for that authentic Javanese lifestyle it evokes. Meanwhile, the Greenhost Hotel features modern eco-conscious designs with a hint of local culture for the mid-range budget, whilehigh-end travellers might prefer The Phoenix Hotel - a reflection of Yogyakarta’s heritage and culture embedded within its modern design.

DAY 2

imgAerial view of Borobudur Temple

imgPrambanan Temple

After a fulfilling night’s rest, start early and try to reach the Borobudur Temple Compounds as dawn strikes to capture that Instagram-worthy shot. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Indonesia’s most iconic temples consists of 3 monuments in its compound: the Borobudur Temple, the Mendut Temple, and the Pawon Temple. Want to know more about Javanese history? Visit Ullen Sentalu Museum before heading towards Candi Lumbung, Bubrah and Sewu where the platforms, terraces and stupas here provide picture-perfect scenes for the artistic eye. Meanwhile, to the south lie the Prambanan Temple Compounds, regarded as the largest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia and one of the biggest in South East Asia. This 10 th -century compound was built during the Mataram Kingdom and promises one of the most beautiful sunsets you may lay your eyes on! Based on a Hindu poem from Sri Lanka, the Ramayana Ballet, held in front of Prambanan Temple, is the largest dance performance in Yogyakarta with approximately 300 performers in and out of the stage; a perfect way to end your day.

Hungry? Then, make your way to Sate Bar 81. Serving the authentic Javanese satay, indulge in these juicy grilled beef or chicken skewers with sweet savoury peanut gravy and wash it all down with huge portions of freshly squeezed fruit juice available there.

DAY 3

imgJomblang Cave

Top off your Java getaway with a jaunt to Jomblang Cave, a vertical cave 90 minutes outside of Yogyakarta. Travellers start off abseiling 60-80 metres down a cliff into a chasm with an array of caverns to explore, including Grubug Cave, with its underground river. This natural phenomenon is most famous for its “light from heaven”, occurring as the sun rises, flooding rays of light through a hole in the main roof of the cave onto the flowstone. Take note that travellers are not allowed to stand on this stone - no matter how tempting the shot angle may be, to appreciate thousands of years of natural magic to form the flowstone.

imgBalé Raos Royal Cuisine Restaurant

After ascending from the cave, head back to town and have a traditional Javanese lunch at Balé Raos Royal Cuisine Restaurant. After that, head north and check out Jogja’s famous Street Art. Throughout the city, visitors can enjoy the vibrant art on walls, shopfronts, alleyways, and even on cars, scattered all over Yogyakarta. If you have an eye for art yourself, take a few hours to produce your very own Batik fabric or silverware of your authentic design at Batik and Silver workshops found throughout.

imgMobile fruit and dessert kiosks on the Malioboro Street

Then, Jalan Malioboro should be next on the list. Being the centre of Yogyakarta, this action-packed street is not just fit for shopping the best souvenirs but also for sight-seeing its well-preserved colonial architecture. This kilometre-long road is active 24-hours a day and holds tonnes of crafts, food and entertainment at your disposal, especially after sunset, where it is at its most vibrant.

GETTING HERE

Flying in from KL International Airport (klia2 Terminal), AirAsia flies directly to Adisuptijo International Airport daily. Once you arrive at the airport, you are only 6km away from the city centre. This airport is well connected to Jakarta, Bali and Denpasar; the main international airports in Indonesia.

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