“Harry, when we are in Yogyakarta (YK), where should we go and do you have any recommendation restaurants/cafes?” some friends sometimes ask me those questions. They knew that I lived in Yogyakarta even only for about 3,5 years (July 2002 to November 2005), so they would think that I would able to recommend. Honestly, when we live in a place, we tend to follow the rhythm of life there rather than visiting the sights and attractions offered (eh bien, at least that was what I ever experienced). Moreover I lived there for my job and still got to work on Saturdays even only until lunch time. Eh bien, for you, readers, I will try to give my best highlights of sights, attractions and restaurants/culinary recommendations in Yogyakarta which I have already visited and not (recommended by my friends).
Please note that my recommendations below are based on my experience living in Yogyakarta. So, I’m so sorry if there’s any sight/attraction/culinary which could have been moved/closed already by now. The description below is limited based on my knowledge (not from official institution). Any correction, comment and revision would be welcome.
Sights and Attractions:
1. Candi Borobudur – Muntilan / Jawa Tengah
Word “Candi” in Indonesia is used for ancient temple, such as word “Wat” in Thailand and Cambodia.
About 90 minutes from downtown, we can see the one of the largest Buddhist Candi called Candi Borobudur from sect Mahayana. Inside the site we also can visit the museum with many artifact shows. If you’re looking for souvenir shops, some would be easily found outside the site with many souvenirs display and of course, you have to bargain here. My recommendation is to avoid visiting Candi Borobudur in peak seasons so you could enjoy more your visit here. For those having sensitive skin, please use sun block with high SPF. Any kind of hats is highly recommended.
While you are going to Candi Borobudur, you also can find and visit 2 other Candis which are located in straight line with Candi Borobudur and of also Buddhist Candi. The Candis are Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut which are still used for praying (there’s a great vihara behind The Candi).
2. Candi Prambanan
45 minutes from downtown (please be aware of traffic), you could see Candi Prambanan from main street. This one of the largest Hindu Candi is built to honour Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva even in Java’s folktales this Candi is also popular with the folktale of Loro Jonggrang. The statue of Loro Jonggrang in fact is the statue of Durga (Shiva’s wife).
Sun block with high SPF and hats are recommended too here. Besides the plenty of souvenir shops around outside the site, you can also visit many other Candis near by Candi Prambanan such as Candi Sewu, Candi Kalasan and Petilasan Ratu Boko.
Several days in a week, there’s a traditional ballet dancing of Ramayana story in an open-air auditorium with Candi Prambanan at night as the background. It is such a great show and many friends of mine have recommended this show to me. I plan to watch this show next I visit YK.
3. Kraton Kasultanan Ngayogyakarto Hadiningrat
Word “Kraton” in Indonesia is used for royal palace.
The palace has 2 plazas (north and south) and many mini museums inside the palace which we could visit. Some of the wings of the palace are forbidden for tourist because still used by the royal family members. This palace has a big role connected to Indonesian Independence.
Inside the north plaza area there are 2 big banyan trees which are close to each other in a row. In evening you can try one of the famous attractions. Your eyes will be closed by some scarf and you may make a wish before you walk straight into the path between the trees. If you could make it, people say that your wish would come true. I told about this attraction to my friend from www.vagabondquest.com who visited YK a couple months ago and they said it was really fun but hard to pass the path even after trying twice.
Near by the palace you can also see the collection of royal carts in separate museum. The collection is so great and fabulous. I would say you could compare some of them with carts collection by the British Royal family.
4. Kraton Air Tamansari
Still near by The Royal Palace, there’s another palace called Taman Sari Water Palace which is another ancient palace. The palace is so mystical and exotic even the last time I visited here in 1998, the ancient palace wasn’t in well condition but as I heard from some friends, the place has been renovated. There’s a myth that the palace has an ancient tunnel connecting the palace with the sea (south of Java Island). One of the tunnel gates still remains inside the palace, but we can’t go through the tunnel anymore because most of the tunnel has collapsed – so far what we have been told of.
5. Pantai Parang Tritis
You can enjoy the weather and environment of the sea with the black soft sand. The sea is about 45 minutes from downtown. Besides walking along the beach, you can also ride a horse or rent a traditional cart.
You will find many souvenir shops and traditional cafes close to the beach.
Before the sunset (1 hour prior) you can also visit another beach near by the Paring Tritis called Depok Beach which is also used for seafood trade center (if you want to go to Depok from Paring Tritis, please turn your ride to downtown direction, then just after the main gate of Paring Tritis, please turn to the left to a small twisting road).
If Bali Island has Jimbaran so YK has Depok but in more traditional and simple concept way. We also have to buy the sea foods ourselves then bring them to a near/desired restaurant to cook them in various ways preferred. It’s a perfect way to close the day with a great meal for dinner with sunset view and it’s very low cost dining.
If Malang City in East of Java has Batu District, Surabaya City has Tretes/Trawas District and Jakarta City has Puncak District, so YK has Kaliurang district which is about 30 minutes from downtown. The place is located near by Merapi Mountain which is an active volcanic mountain. The weather is chilly with many traditional restaurants offering you a great culinary of authentic java foods and beverages, including the Kaliurang authentic beverage called Teh Poci (tea) and special meal, Jadah (sticky rice). In Kaliurang you will find easily many villas offered for daily rent with various prices, starting below IDR 500.000,- to millions (in peak season the prices could be marked up twice).
7. Kota Gede
About 30 to 45 minutes from downtown, you can find Kota Gede which is of silver crafts area. There are so many shops around here and if you want to, you can see the process of the silver into a craft. The silver crafts are made into jewelries, souvenirs, decorations, etc.
We can find earthenware, ceramics, etc in Kasongan area which is the area of the earthenware craftsman. It’s located in uptown of YK but have an easy access called ring road (some kind like a highway. It will take about 30 to 45 minutes from downtown).
9. Malioboro / Pasar Bringharjo
You will not have been completely visiting YK without visiting Malioboro Shopping Street. One of the famous YK’s icons, both for domestic and international tourists. A hundred of shops/markets both traditional and modern could be found on this street, selling souvenirs, shirt, accessories, food, drink, etc at considerably low prices (you have to bargain when you buy things in traditional shops/markets). You could also find “Dokar” (traditional carts) around the street and with quite a low fare offer you could ride the Dokar around Malioboro Street and Royal Palace.
“BATIK” is one of the famous Indonesian icons. You should buy batik while you’re in Indonesia because the authentic of Batik is made in Indonesia. You will find many Batik shops, my recommendation is Margaria Batik and Mirota Batik which are located in south of Malioboro Street on the right sidewalk.
At the edge of south of Malioboro Street, you can also find Vendenberg Fortress which is a great colonial architecture, across of which there are a couple of heritage buildings of the colonial architecture which are still used for Post Office and Bank of Indonesia.
10. Pabrik Kaos Dagadu
If Bali has Joger T-shirt so YK has Dagadu T-shirt. You can find many pirated Dagadu everywhere around Malioboro particularly. It’s difficult to differentiate between the original and pirated ones. So I recommend you to buy your original Dagadu T-shirt in their official stores which are located in Dagadu Store in Malioboro Mall (basement) and Dagadu Store in Pakuningratan Street (near by Malioboro Street).
11. Pantai Baron – Wonosari
3 hours from downtown you can find a white sand beach called Baron Beach (near by to Kukup and Krakal Beach). Feeling tired of 3 hours of twisting road would be easily disappear when you reach the beach. It’s not a big/wide beach but it is located between two cliffs which has a lighthouse in one of them. I recommend you to climb the cliff thru paths available to the Lighthouse to get an amazing ocean view.
12. Pasar Burung Ngasem
Are you a cultural traveler like me? Do you like to see the culture of the native when visiting a place? Pasar Burung Ngasem or Ngasem Bird Market is a traditional market selling pets like birds, fishs, snakes, turtles, puppies, kittens, etc (you name it hehehe). Ngasem is an ordinary market, nothing special about this place but sometimes I like to spend my time here just to feel the ambience, ie. It’s so warm and tender, the people there are friendly and easily give you their genuine smile. This is what I called authentic YK’s life. You can just walk around the market, take great pictures, and listening to conversation between buyer and seller or sellers telling stories. It’s a little bit crowded but its fun for me. You should try.
1. Daerah Pondok Udang (pondok tujuan sesuai selera/you can choose one of many restaurants here)
Pondok Udang area is located about 45 minutes to the west of downtown. In this area you would find many restaurants serving their specialty which is honey grill shrimps with a low cost to spend. I recommend you to enjoy your lunch here, with good weather, free from pollution, between pools or garden and view of nature.
2. Bakpia Pathuk 75
Bakpia is one of traditional pastry icons in YK. It is made from wheat flour and usually filled with green beans dry paste, cheese dry paste and chocolate dry paste. For your information, normally this pastry will not last longer than 5 days (outside of refrigerator). This store (Bakpia Pathuk 75) is located on HOS Cokroaminoto Street. In this store you also can find other traditional snacks like wingko (from coconut), yangko (from glutinous rice flour), geplak (from coconut), intip (from bulled rice), etc.
3. Pasar Pathuk
Pathuk Market is one of traditional market areas which are famous for selling many Bakpia from many of brands. You will find many store sells Bakpia and other traditional snacks. This market is located near by The Malioboro Street. My favorite Bakpia brand here is Bakpia Bu Sri which sells bakpia filled with cheese and chocolate dry paste, you should try this.
Gudeg is an authentic YK’s culinary icon. It is made from raw jackfruit and the taste is sweet. Usually it is served with steam rice/porridge, chicken, egg, krecek (from porter beef) and other traditional side dishes like tofu, tempe, bakwan, etc. I love this food much, in fact three years lived in YK, most of my breakfast menu is gudeg (sometimes often I ate this food also for lunch and dinner or supper). There are hundreds brand of gudeg in YK, herewith my high recommendation for you:
- Gudeg Bu Atmo / Gudeg Song Djie
You can find this gudeg in Malioboro Street, next to Ramayana Mall, in front of Ketandan Street (open in evening, there’s no restaurant building here, just ask your order to the crew and you will receive your order, just sit in pavement/sidewalk if there’s no chair available) and/or in Kyai Mojo Street (open morning to evening and there’s a restaurant here).
- Gudeg Perempatan Gejayan
Opens only in the evening until after midnight, this gudeg can be found in traffic light intersection between Gejayan Street and Urip Sumoharjo Street. There’s no restaurant building even a chair available, just enjoy your meal by sitting down in sidewalk (tent stalls).
- Gudeg Kranggan
This gudeg has an authentic sweet taste of YK, located in Kranggan Street (near by TUGU) in T-intersection between AM. Sangaji Street and Kranggan Street. Opens since morning to afternoon the order usually for take away, the restaurant is so small, so there’s no space for us to dine in.
- Gudeg Batas Kota
This gudeg also opens in evening until midnight, located in Urip Sumoharjo Street near by Gapura Batas Kota (city gates) and about in front of Saphire Hotel (tent stalls).
- Gudeg Tugu
Open in evening and located around traffic light intersection in TUGU (tent stalls).
5. Sate Babi Ketandan
Pork Satay Ketandan tastes so tender and sweet. This pork satay tent stalls can be found in the evening in Ketandan Street (beside Ramayana Mall) in Malioboro Street.
6. Cak Koting (Depan Bioskop Mataram)
Another famous culinary icon in YK. Cak Koting wide tent stalls can be found in front of Mataram Theater (DR Sutomo Street) starting in the evening. It has many various menu like empal (fried beef meat), paru (fried beef lung), babat (fried beef tripe), soto sulung (beef stew), tempe (fried soy fragmentation), lele (fried freshwater catfish), chicken and duck original fried, etc served with steam rice and sambal (chili paste). Please be aware of and wise to order the spicy level of sambal (traditional chilly).
7. Koh Tik Pajeksan
This tent stalls can be found in evening in Pajeksan Street in Malioboro area. Many rice menu offered here like nasi rames, nasi langgi, sweet soy boiled egg, koyor (beef food), etc.
8. Gabah Resto behind BCA Diponegoro
One of my recommendation of fine dining in YK is in Gabah Resto which is located in Dewi Sartika Street 11A Sagan serving various cuisines (fusion, western, European, etc). You would need to check first if they are still open.
9. Roti Bakar Sagan
Roti Bakar looks like a toast but actually is kind of grill slice of bread.
Near by Gabah Resto (still in Sagan Area) you can taste roti bakar, jagung (corn) bakar, various beverage in the evening and Batagor (tofu meat ball fried with peanut sauce), noodle soup, etc at noon.
10. Terang Bulan Kotabaru
One of my favorite snacks in YK is Terang Bulan/Martabak Manis (sweet big pancake) located in Kotabaru area, in front of Kotabaru Church. The seller kiosk is inside a car. You can choose any filling for your pancake like cheese cedar, chocolate, banana, etc. you also can put more than one filling. For your information 1 portion of Terang Bulan is enough serving for 6 persons. They also serve Pukis which are made from about same ingredients with Terang Bulan but in personal size and fixed filling. Near by the terang bulan you can also taste Durian fruit in related season.
11. Kedai Kebun
This garden concept cafe is located in Tirtodipuran Street. This recommendation came from my friend who also lived in YK for 8 years and Kedai kebun is one of her favorite cafes in YK. I have never been there before but based on her high recommendation I would like to recommend it to you. I will come to Kedai Kebun the next time I visit YK again.
Angkringan means mini tent stalls that can be found around YK. They serve simple beverage and food. The main menu of angkringan is Nasi Kucing (means steam rice with a liltle bit of sambal or tempe stir fry served in mini portion). You can also add other side dishes like fried tempe, satay, etc. Many kind of simple beverages offer like ice tea, coffee, instant milk, etc. the price is very-very cheap. One of the famous Angkringan in YK is Angkringan that can be found near by Tugu Train Station (north of Tugu Station) in the evening till dawn with another special beverage, Kopi Joss (Coffee served with charcoal burning).
Twelve of sights/attractions and twelve culinary recommendation from me have been elaborated. Hopefully this article helps you to plan your visit to YK. There are still many interesting places (sights/attractions/culinary) which can be visited.
For anyone needs more information, please directly contact me by email, Yahoo Messenger, Twitter or Facebook.
Cheers to Gudeg Lovers.
Special thanks to Resviana for my English translation review.