This bustling city is the capital of Indonesia’s only special region, the seat of the country’s last remaining monarchy and a centre for Javanese culture. Keep in mind that many Indonesians spell the town’s name in a different way than is officially sanctioned – expect to see ‘Jogjakarta’ or ‘Jogja’ used to refer to this place pretty
The foundation for what was to become Yogyakarta started with its ancient name of Mataram. Formerly a central part of ancient kingdoms, the area was only able to once again rise to prominence under Prince Mangkubumi, who in 1755 came to Mataram, took the title of sultan, and transformed what was henceforth known as Yogyakarta into the most powerful Javanese state since the 17th century until the arrival of the Dutch. After World War II, the city became an important part of the Indonesian struggle for independence. It served briefly as the capital of the Indonesian Republic from 1946-48, and even after the reinstatement of Jakarta, the brave town’s contribution to the revolution was never forgotten. This led to its current status as the only special region in Indonesia, one which is ruled by a monarchy.
Islam is the main faith practiced by Indonesians in general. However, much of Yogyakarta’s appeal comes from its close proximity to two sacred sites from other faiths: Borobudur, a Buddhist temple complex, and Prambanan, a Hindu temple complex. Take note that although Indonesia is a secular republic with limited freedom of religion, only six major religions are officially recognised and there are strong blasphemy laws in place.
Yogyakarta is well-known as a centre of Indonesian culture, which may be related to its status as a centre of education (Kota Pelajar). Classical Javanese fine art, dance, music, puppet shows and poetry abound in the town, so make sure to immerse yourself, Keep an eye out for batik textiles, which is cloth which has undergone wax-resist dyeing in order to create wonderful artisanal patterns.
- PDA frowned-upon, as well as immodest dress (especially on women or visitors to religious sites).
- Besides handshakes, avoid touching people, and never do so with your left hand as it is considered ‘unclean’.
- A call of “hey Mister!” or “Bule!” is a common reaction to foreigners in Indonesia, particularly by children – do not take offense or feign surprise for standing out.
- No public raging (even loud speech) or loss of face.
- Pay particular attention around the elderly, the pious, and modestly-dressed women.
The city of Yogyakarta is 114 metres above sea level, and most of it rests on a lowland area which is relatively flat. 3 rivers stretch across the town – the Gajah wong on the east side, the Code river in the middle, and the Winongo river on the west side. In addition, Yogyakarta is surrounded by the province of Central Java, while the Indian Ocean lies to the south. The tropical climate is quite stable, and the average annual temperature is 26.4 degrees Celsius. Most months of the year register quite significant rainfall.
Nearby Yogyakarta is Mount Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia – it’s so close that the northern outskirts of the city in fact lead up to the south side of the mountain itself. There are also several beaches in the Yogyakarta region, with over 60 beaches in the Gunungkidul district alone.
The areas surrounding Yogyakarta are full of all kinds of wildlife, from beaches to caverns and caves to waterfalls and forests. Wildlife lovers may enjoy the nearby Kalibiru National Park, but if going try to hire a car and driver as the roads leading up to the park itself is quite treacherous.
Before you go
- Language: Indonesian, or Bahasa Indonesia, a standardised registry of Malay
- Currency: Indonesian rupiah (idr)
- Time Zone:Central Indonesian Time, utc+7
- Voltage: 230
- Electric Socket: Type C/F
- It is highly advisable you buy a card as you get to the airport.
- There are 4-5 operators in Indonesia who offer prepaid, local network sim cards compatible with the gsm network.
- Telkomsel has the highest coverages (country-wide) but the highest prices; Tri has the lowest coverage but cheapest prices; Indosat in between the former two.
- Expect to pay around $1 for a 7-day, 300-megabyte data credit.
- ATMs are widely available and are very popular with both local citizens and expatriates, and plenty are open 24 hours.
- Citibank offers withdrawals in U.S. dollars, whereas other banks working through the main international networks will offer only rupiahs.
- Credit card cash withdrawals are also commonly accepted.
- The usual limit per withdrawal is between 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 rupiah ($70-100) and 10,000,000 rupiah per day ($700).
- Moneychangers are usually open on weekends and after banking hours, but their pricing fluctuates. Changing money at banks is usually good in terms of rates and safety, but it can take a while
- Most banks close by 3.00pm.
- Gudeg – a dish where the sweet tangy jackfruit is mixed in with village (kampong) chicken, beef skin in a spicy beany sauce and rice (nasi).
- Rujak es krim pak nardi – ice-cream dish, it is a blend of fruit and vegetable salad (rojak) with everyone’s favorite chilly dessert. Expect to find in this flavorful concoction shredded cucumber, mango, yams, papaya, pineapple, some spicy sambal sauce, palm sugar… and a dash of coconut milk-based ice cream on top.
- Soto pak sabar – This local breakfast favorite includes a rich, aromatic broth, filled with chicken or beef, along with cabbage, bean sprouts, fried shallots, celery and just a little bit of rice.
Not mandatory in Indonesia but feel free to show appreciation through small gratuities for great service.
Taxis: Both Indonesians and expats commonly round up the fare to the nearest multiple of ten thousand (e.g. a 27,750 fare would be rounded to 30,000 rupiah).
Restaurants: In all kinds of restaurants, it is customary to leave behind any loose change as tip, or at least 10,000 rupiah. In high-end restaurants, a government mandated 10% tax applies. Warungs and other eateries do not expect to be tipped.
Hotels: Most hotels charge the mandatory 10% government tax, as well as another 11% of service charge to your bill. Porters can be tipped 20,000-50,000 rupiah for 1-2 guests.
Having your vaccination schedule up-to-date is never a bad idea when travelling. Vaccines against hepatitis A and typhoid are recommended, especially for travellers habitually resident in temperate climates.
- Suggested Vaccinations: Hepatitis A and Typhoid
- Drinking tap water is never truly safe in Indonesia, so do buy bottle water.
- Protect yourself from sunstroke by wearing a hat and using sun lotion.
- Traffic in Yogyakarta is brutal, so take caution when crossing roads and streets.
- Be wary of pickpockets, and take note that some thieves use motorcycles to try and perform ‘drive-by robberies’ on unsuspecting passers-by.
- Drug use and contraband is heavily punished in Indonesia
- The police is notoriously corrupt, if still polite, most often they will demand payment to do their job
- If injured, you are better off taking a taxi to the nearest hospital, and remember to take cash or a credit card, you may not be admitted until you flash the money.
- Seriously consider purchasing travel insurance before heading to Indonesia.
- Ambulance: 118,
- Search and rescue: 115,
- Police 110.
- Rumah Sakit Bethesda (private): Jl. Jendral Sudirman 70, Tel: (+62) 274 586688, (+62) 274 562246.
- Jogja International Hospital (private): Jl.Ringroad Utara no.160, Tel: (+62) 274 446 3535
- Tourism Board: 56 Jl. Malioboro, +62 274 486
- Hello (in general): Ah-pah-kah-bar
- Excuse me. / Sorry: Mah-ah-f
- Thank you: Teh-ree-ma ka-si
- You’re welcome: Sah-mah-sah-mah
- Good morning/evening: Seh-lah-maht mah-lahm
- Goodbye: Seh-lah-maht ting-gahl
- How much is this?: Beh-rah-pah har-gahn-yah
- Cheers! (Toasts when drinking): Sun-ti
- Bon appetit!: Seh-lah-maht mah-kahn
- Where’s the toilet?: Di-ma-na-kah- toilet
- Help!: Toh-long
- I understand: Sah-yah meng-ger-ti
- I don’t understand: Sah-yah ti-dahk meng-ger-ti
How to get into this area, and how to get around it!
Enter Yogyakarta through its Adisucipto International Airport, located 8 kilometres east of the town itself. Despite its name, most of the flights passing through this small hub are domestic in nature – the most frequent flights come in from, and leave to, Jakarta and Denpasar. International flights come in from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. From the airport, the best way to get to the town is by using official airport taxis that cost about 50,000 rupiah. – take note that these should be prepaid, you will be given a receipt to hand over to your driver. Should you wish to take a bus instead, there is a bus station within the airport where you can buy a 3,000 rupiah ticket for a seat on a bus going anywhere on the Trans Jogja Busway System.
The nearest bus station is Giwangan, which is situated 4 kilometres southeast of the town centres. Many bus companies serve this station, and common routes that pass through include services to and from Jakarta (a 12-hour trip), Bandung (a 10-hour trip), and Surabaya (an 8-hour trip).
The main station near Yogyakarta is typically called ‘Tugu Station’. This is a bustling transport hub, and trains generally come here from Jakarta (a 7-12 hour trip), Bandung, Surabaya and Solo. To beat the crowd and any confusion of buying tickets, try to get your train tickets online, as they can bought from several channels up to 90 days prior to departure.
Yogyakarta has a pretty efficient taxi system, with flagfall being 6,000 rupiah. Be aware that most trips going around the centre of the town should never cost more than 15,000 rupiah – however, if you get on a cab during ‘late hours’, the minimum charge is 20,000 rupiah no matter what it says on the meter.
The main form of public transport in Yogyakarta is the bus, of which there are two kinds – regular and patas. Patas buses (run as TransJogja) operate from 6am to 10pm, are air-conditioned, and stop at designated shelters along their routes. Purchase single-trip tickets at these shelters for 3,000 rupiah. However, there are not many stops along each route so expect to do some walking when taking patas buses. Regular buses operate from 6 am to 5 pm, with some long routes running until 9pm. A single-trip ticket costs 2,500 rupiah, and you can let the driver know whenever you’d like to stop by shouting ‘Kiri’. Pickpocketing is common on buses, so stay cautious.
Little tricycle carts, known to the locals as becak, are common around Yogyakarta. Be advised that drivers can be dodgy about pricing, so haggle before getting in, and make sure it’s crystal clear whether the price agreed on is for a one-way or return (pulang) trip. If on a pulang, the driver will wait for you to return to the trishaw once you’ve arrived at your destination.
Things to see
The top locations to visit in this destination.