As someone who lives in the midst of chaos in Jakarta, I have so many reasons to always go back to Yogyakarta every once in a while. This so-called-sanctuary in West Java is just the perfect size that blends culture, nature, and craftsmanship altogether.
Albeit most foreigners will always put Bali on their bucketlist, now I’m sharing with you why you shouldn’t miss Yogyakarta during your travel in Indonesia. I won’t tell you how majestic the Borobudur Temple in Magelang is, because I’m pretty sure you already planned to visit. I will share with you some other hidden treasures of Yogyakarta waiting to be explored!
Some hidden natural treasures near Yogyakarta
1. Hike to Gunung Api Purba Nglanggeran
It was during my second visit to Yogyakarta when I discovered this beautiful site. For those who enjoy some hiking, walk up to the top of the hill and be blessed with stunning views. It is definitely worth all the effort. During the 1.5 hours hike, we were being fully immersed with lush of greens. Not being fully prepared, wearing flip-flops is highly not recommended. The best time to visit Gunung Api Purba Nglanggeran would be in the morning.
2. See the mesmerizing light of Goa Jomblang
Around 12 pm you can the sunrays shine through the opening of the cave, illuminating the forest below, which creates a mesmerizing sight.It’s not everyday you can descend 60 meters below sea level. When descending you can start to smell the damp aging trees while being surrounded by rocks.
Being a true adventurer at heart, I cherish the journey of being tied on a rope while descending to see Goa Jomblang. It almost feels like you’re in the middle of somewhere else.
3. Watch the sunset at Candi Ratu Boko
Enjoying sunset from a beach might come as a second option when you are in Yogyakarta, but I highly recommend visiting Candi Ratu Boko to spend the rest of your evening watching the night fall.
4. Ride the sand dunes of Gumuk Pasir Parangkusumo
This place is great if you like sand boarding. It is also a perfect place to see the sunset.
5. Kali Suci Cave
The kali Suci cave is perfect for a laid back rafting and swimming session inside a cave surrounded by turquoise water. (Its is located near Goa Jomblang)
See Indonesian craftsmanship at its best
6. Desa Kasongan (Pottery, Stone, Wooden Craft)
If you’re a fan of pottery, sculpture, and wooden craft in general, you’ll have the best time exploring Kasongan Village since it offers a great range of artifacts that is made by the locals. Located in Bantul, also try to explore the neighborhood and you can also easily take a peek into everyday process of making things in the locals workshop.
7. Desa Wisata Manding (Leathercraft)
One cannot just resist the beauty of handmade leather goods that last a life time. For leather enthusiasts, there are more than 40 leather shops in this area that are waiting to be explored.
8. Pasar Beringharjo (Batik)
When you visit Yogyakarta, batik-hunting is one thing that you surely don’t want to miss and Pasar Beringharjo is one of the oldest batik markets you need to visit. But I warn you to not freak out because the batik choices there are endless!
9. Jewelry making in Kota Gede
A short drive from Yogyakarta is Kota Gede, a little village famous for its silver jewelry. You can watch the jewelry makers make their craft on the spot or you can even join a workshop jewelry making yourself. It is a wonderful place to stroll around.
Where to stay
10. Live with locals at Bamboo Bottle Homestay
The warm hospitality from Josh Handani and their family leave such an unforgettable experience while staying at Bamboo Bottle Homestay in the heart of Bantul. It’s when I fell asleep to the sound of cricket singing lullaby and waking up to some of the best Indonesian breakfast such as nasi uduk, bakwan, and gulai ayam. The lovely host also take me to explore off the beaten path journey of cycling tour in Bantul visiting some of the locals workshop and getting to know more about their crafts.
11. Roemah Tembi Budaya
This accommodation offers an overall great experience as you will stay in a traditional house. Have a look at the reviews on Tripadvisor.
12. Pawon Cokelat Guesthouse
This will be the perfect choice if you enjoy warm hospitality from affordable green hostels near Malioboro street. Have a look at their website Pawon cokelat.
Which neighborhoods to visit
13. Explore bookstores and café in Sosrowijayan Street 1
If visiting local bookstores every time you travel to new place is on your list, you surely cannot miss Sosrowijayan 1 street where you can find a few local bookstores filled with secondhand books as well as memorabilia such as postcards from travelers around the world. This hidden street near Malioboro (a great place to walk and shop for Batik) also offers different type of affordable hostels and cafe’s.
14. Food hunting in Prawirotaman Street
I’d like to personally call Prawirotaman Street as the Ubud of Yogyakarta. It’s where you can find the best gelato in town (Tempo Gelato, we actually visited the place 3 times to get our ice cream fix) and some affordable restaurants as well as café’s that offer great Indonesian food.
Visit Ndalem Pakuningratan for an authentic food experience. It is located in the back side of Kraton Yogyakarta near Taman Sari. It’s great to have dinner and snacks at night while enjoying live music here.
15. Take Becak ride from Malioboro street to Alun-Alun Yogyakarta
You surely cannot miss your Becak ride at night in Malioboro street, the most livelihood neighborhood in Yogyakarta if I must say. It is well-known for its craft shopping heaven, street food, and street music performance which makes Yogyakarta feels alive at night. Take a becak ride from there to Alun-Alun Yogyakarta and have the best time trying the street food.
Explore Yogyakarta’s history
16. Get to know our local artists at Museum Affandi
Indonesia’s very own painter who devoted his life into the world of art is very well known for his characteristic portrait paintings. Affandi’s family built a museum and local gallery as a platform for young artists to showcase their work into larger audiences. While you’re there, you’ll be in awe seeing not only his works but as well as memorabilia and documentary film.
Address: Jl. Laksda Adisucipto No.167, Caturtunggal, Sleman, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia
Opening Hours: 9AM–4PM
17. Delve into Secrets of the Ancient Past
The Ullen Sentalu museum is not an ordinary museum. It is mentioned by National Geographics as a must visit when you are in Yogyakarta. It illustrated the history of one of the most important era’s in Indonesian history. You can see furniture, artworks, pictures and some history of batik. At the end of the tour you will receive a very special cocktail made of seven natural herbs that is believed to bring beauty and health.
Address: Jl. Boyong Km 25, Kaliurang Barat, Kec. Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
Opening hours: 8:30 AM – 4 PM (closed on Mondays/ closed at 17:00 on weekends)
Entrance Fee: 25000 IDR
Want to see more off the beaten track places on Java? Check out our previous blog The Best Places To See On Java.
This blog post has been written by Fransisca Angela a photographer and travel blogger who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia.