Special region of Jogjakarta is a very important area in Indonesia due to its long historical background. Shortly, the title of “special” is inherited since the independence of Indonesia in 17 August 1945. This title means an autonomy of the region, which is to maintain the sultanate that has been founded long before the independence.
People are often confused about the correct spelling of Jogjakarta, Yogyakarta, Yogya or Jogja. It doesn’t matter, those names are actually referring the same location. For official reason, such as ID card, birth act, official letters, Yogyakarta is proper to use. For other reasons like commercial, promotion, tourism, Jogjakarta, Jogja or Yogya are commonly used.
The region has muti-districts (e.i. Bantul, Gunung Kidul, Kulon Progo, Sleman and Jogjakarta/Jogja city). Here we go Travel Guide Special Region of JOGJAKARTA (YOGYAKARTA).
1. Getting Here
Being one of the popular destination both for domestic tourist and also for international, Jogjakarta has many access to be reached. Numerous airlines are serving the flight to Jogjakarta International Airport Adi Sucipto (JOG). Bus and trains from many points of departure in Java are also a decent choice to reach this region.
For reference, to go by train to Jogjakarta from Jakarta takes 8 hours, by bus takes 12 hours and by plane will take only 1 hour.
You can try to ride becak (three wheels vehicle) or andong (the cart with the horse) for the transport around Jogja city. The distance from one attractions to the others are actually short in my standard, so that I would suggest to go around the city by walk. One time I was asking about direction to some local becak driver, he was saying that my destination was very far. Then I asked how far it was, he said 2 km. So 2 km is considered as very far for local Jogja standard.
2. Attractions and Activities
Sleman, the northest district of the region with the area of 574,82 km2, is hosting the biggest Hindu temple in south east Asia, called Prambanan temple (candi Prambanan). Hindu is recognized as the oldest religion in Indonesia, proven by the existence of Kutai kingdom in Kalimantan and Majapahit kingdom in Java. The second oldest religion after Hindu is Buddha. Some source said that candi Prambanan was built in 9th century to compete with the Buddha temple, Borobudur. Hindus intentionally built the temple to mark that Sanjaya dynasty was powerfully dominant in Java. Some others say that the existence of both Hindu and Buddha temples is the evidence that Hindus and Buddhist were living in peace together. Anyway, it shows that the temple was a present for Hindus Gods; Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
You will be amazed of the graceful architecture of candi Prambanan. The temple is open from 06:00 to 17:00 with entrance fee of IDR 30,000 for local/kitas holder and USD 18 for international tourist.
From May to October, if you fancy for some cultural show, you have a chance to be a spectator of Sendratari Ramayana in candi Prambanan yard. It is sort of dance, without dialog, only the body languages of the actors/dancers will tell the stories about Ramayana. The entry ticket for this spectacle depends on the class and ranges between IDR 30,000 to IDR 350,000.
About 3 km south of the Prambanan’s complex, you can visit another Hindu temple/site called Ratu Boko or Candi Boko. The opening hours of Ratu Boko site is the same as candi Prambanan with the entrance fee for local is IDR 25,000 and USD 13 for foreigner.
To reach these two attractions from Jogja, you can take Trans Jogja bus and stop at candi Prambanan shelter.
District Gunung Kidul
Gunung kidul is the largest district in the region. The area is approximately 1,485 km2. The coast of Java sea gives Gunung kidul an untouchable beaches in the southern side. Unfortunately, there is no public transport to reach these beaches, makes the only option is to go by car or motor bike. The route is quite difficult with many up and down road so its better to have a local to drive for you.
The distance between the beaches is relatively close, so you can hop from one beach to another shortly. Generally, the entrance fee of each beach is IDR 10,000. I name some beach that you can visit in Gunung Kidul for one day, which are Pantai Baron, Pantai Seruni and Pantai Indriyanti.
District Kulon Progo
Kulon Progo is known for its green and calm ambient. The view is quite photogenic and eye catching. There is one spot in Kulon Progo that is popularly visited for its photogenic scene, Kalibiru. Visitors are pleased by being in the picture exclusively only with the super great view from 450 meters above sea level. The height is clearly higher than sky terrace of Hong Kong which is only 428 meters above sea level. This view for sure needs a price, which is just IDR 10,000 and some energy to climb the tree (don’t worry, there is a wooden stairs!).
Another available activity in Kalibiru is a high ropes games. The games consist of five games; rocks climbing, walking on the nets walking on the single rope, crossing the hanging bridge and will be ended with the flying fox or popularly called as zipline.
Trekking track in Kalibiru is also available from a short distance (2-3 km) up to a medium one (4-5 km).
While you are in Kalibiru, after you can go ± 38 km (1 hour) to the north to Peak Suroloyo (puncak/bukit suroloyo. Here, I guarantee, you can’t disregard the panoramic view of candi Borobudur and four mountains (Merapi, Merbabu, Sindoro and Sumbing).
Bantul has a southern part in touch with Java sea. This is where the mystical beach of Parangtritis lays. As most Indonesian people is interested to the myths, mystical and mysterious things, Pantai Parangtritis has its own myth. It is belief that there is the Queen of the Southern Sea (Ratu Pantai Selatan or in local language, Nyi Roro Kidul). Nyi Roro Kidul, as the local belief, is a beautiful queen who has the mystical power to protect Jogjakarta. The story had begun long time since the era of Majapahit kingdom and Mataram kingdom. It, though, still continues at the present time as there are still some rituals performed for Nyi Roro Kidul and the caution not to wear a green outfit when visiting Pantai Parangtritis because it is a favorite color of Nyi Roro Kidul and a uniform color of her soldiers. Wearing green outfit would cause you to be rolled by the waves into the sea and never come back, people say.
Not far from Pantai Parangtritis, if you prefer to stay in a calm and local ambient of Jogja. D’Omah is a recommended option for you. With around IDR 1,000,000 per night, you can have a chance of having your private pool. One pool is dedicated only for 6 rooms and sometimes you can just have it on your own. The decoration is particularly made for the guests to experience the Javanese ambient.
In the same district, there is a pines forest of imogiri (hutan pinus imogiri). If you have watched Twilight, this forest has quite the same impression with the forest in that movie. Often people are doing photo shooting for pre-wedding here. The air is fresh and from what I understand, there is no entrance fee yet. The only fee you need to pay is the parking for your vehicle.
Jogja city itself is only occupied 32,50 km2 of the whole region. As I mentioned earlier that 2 km is considered as a very far distance for the local Jogja, to explore the city you can simply go by walk, trans jogja, bike or try with the local three-wheels vehicle called Becak. Before deciding to hop on to becak, remember to negotiate the price with the driver first so that you won’t be scammed. Normally for one-way trip with becak will cost you IDR 10,000.
Keraton Jogja or the Sultan Palace is located in this district but do not expect that it will be a tall building looks like castle. Instead, it is a wide area of sultanate surrounded by the walls holding the collection of the Sultan. Keraton is open for public everyday from 9 am to 2 pm, unless there is special ceremony held inside, then you need to come back another time. Entrance fee for local and Kitas holder is only IDR 7,000 while for foreigner is IDR 12,500 and it would be helpful to understand what is inside and the story about the site with the local guide. Guide tipping for Keraton is around IDR 30,000.
After admiring Keraton, still the same royal theme and located not so far from Keraton (± 1.5 km), there is Taman Sari Water Castle. The site was formerly royal garden of the Sultan. It is actually a big site and as the name is water castle, the main view for this attraction is a big decorated pool.
Enough with the royal stuff, lets move on to shopping! Malioboro – sans doute, no doubt, is the most visited place for shopping in Jogja. All the way of the street you will find a lot of shops. Some are inside the buildings, many are the street sellers. Jogja is a home for batik, wayang, clays and many other handicrafts. For a good quality batik, the shops inside the building is better. But if you just expect a cheap souvenir and compromise the quality, street sellers are the best option! Remember to always negotiate and not to accept the first price they give you when shopping at street sellers. Anyway, my favorite shop in Malioboro is Mirota Batik. There is no harm to take a look at each stores, just try to do the same in Mirota Batik and you might find some good deals of many things.
Hungry after shopping? Jogja cuisine is known for being sweet, like literally sweet, and you can find many-many places to taste local Gudeg (sweet jackfruit) in Malioboro. I recommend you to walk a little bit to House of Raminten. Its a local restaurant, not expensive even for Indonesian standard, with many choices of local foods, snacks and desserts. The ambient is just cozy!
Western food is also available despite the delicious local taste. I suggest you to go all the way to Tirtodipuran street No 24A to find Mediterranea restaurant. I personally really like the place and they make a good western foods, this includes pasta.
If you want to do something trivial just like what other local tourists do, head to the south square of Keraton (alun-alun kidul Keraton). There you will find the twin big trees. The challenge is to pass through those trees with both eyes closed. Those who make it to the other side, they are said to have a pure heart. And for those who couldn’t make it, just like me… are the opposite XD
Other thing to do is to visit the zero point of Jogja, which is Tugu Jogjakarta.
Outskirt of the region, about 1.5 hour bus ride from Jogja bus terminal Giwangan, you will find one of the UNESCO world heritage, the great temple built in 9th century during the reign of Buddhist dynasty of Syailendra, Borobudur temple or in local we call it Candi Borobudur. Occupying 15,129 m2 land with the height of ± 42 m; Borobudur consists of 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. It is surrounded by enormously gorgeous view of hills and villages all around. If you are interested in the history of the candi and important its statues, guides are available around IDR 50,000 in addition to the entrance fee of IDR 30,000 for local tourist & Kitas holder; and IDR 250,000 (±USD 20) for foreigner.
Pickpockets (copet, local language) are everywhere, in the bus, on the street, in the crowd – everywhere. Mind and pay attention of your wallet, camera, phone and all your belongings.
Another caution, for negotiating, you can start from 30% of the initial price offered by street sellers.
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