"Batik City-Yogyakarta" Yogyakarta by bkarjee

Yogyakarta Travel Guide: 734 reviews and 1,878 photos

All pervasive cultural impact

Yogyakarta or Jogja or Yogya-whatever you call it is the Cultural capital of Indonesia. Nowhere is the influence of old traditions, culture and traditional practices so visible as it is in Jogja. Local people pronounce the name of this city as JogJakarta. Javanese is the main language spoken here, although everybody understands and speaks Bahasa Indonesia equally well. Jogja is also the students city. There are numerous universities in and around JOGJA. The main university-Gajah Madah University, which is a Govt aided university is located in northern part of the city. Students from all over the country come to Jogja for education and there is a massive competition to gain admission into the universities. Seats are few and demand for them is ten folds. As a result, many keen candidates are forced to discontinue studies after secondary levels. One of my guides and my driver Wisnu had a similar story to tell. They were very keen in pursuing their tertiary education but couldnt gain entry into the university because of the fierce competition. There are numerous private universities as well but they are very expensive by local standards.
Javanese royalty was known to be great patrons of arts and provided the support necessary to develop many art forms like silver ornamentation, leather puppet dance (also called Wayang Kulit puppet dance form) and gamelan orchestra.
Sultan of Yogyakarta, although no more the provincial head, still commands a lot of respect among the locals and even the Govt approves the position of Sultan in todays society. Sultan of Jogja resides in the Royal Palace or the Kraton, as is locally called and this Kraton is located in the centre of the city. It covers a huge portion of the city and its premises is like a 'city within a city'.
Around 30,000 people live within the Kraton area and this area has its own markets, batik industry, schools, religious places of worship etc.
Within the Kraton compound are located all the major attractions of the Jogja city like
1. The main Palace
2. Taman Sari or the water castle
3. Pasar Ngasem or the Bird Market
4. Underground Mosque
5. Sonobudoyo Museum (famous for Wayang Kulit Performances)
There are host of other dance and drama performances all held within the Kraton Complex.
1. Classical Dance performance, every sunday at Jalan Rotowijayan No. 1. Held between 1100-1400 hrs
2. Karawitan (Javanese Gamelan and Song Performance)performance every monday and tuesdaybwtween 1100 and 1200 hrs.
3. Wayang Golek (wooden puppet performance) Show, every monday between 0900 and 1300 hrs.
4. Javanese Gamelan and Pethilan Performance every thursday between 1000 hrs and 1200 hrs.
5. Traditional archery show Kemandungan yard of Jogja Palace, on specific tuesdays.

The Jogja city and local transport

The Jogja city has a population around half a million and tourism is one of the important revenue earners in the city. The city is self sufficient.
All the tourists stay in one of the two areas - either Sosrowijayan lane across the Molioboro street in the north of the city (near the Tugu Railway station)or the Pravirotaman area in the south of the Kraton. These are the two locations where most of the hotels, guest houses (Losmen, as they are locally called) are located and they suit all type of budget. These are the places where you can find a hotel room for USD 15 per day which has independant room, with attached bathroom, swimming pool, hot water supply and morning breakfast.. All the travel agencies are located arond these two areas and there is a lot of bargaining involved in all transactions. Even the place where you decide to stay, you can bargain for the room rates and this true for most of the hotels. I had made the hotel booking just by talking to the hotel receptionist over the phone three days in advance and she did not even insist for advance payment or any sort of guarantee.
The city is not too big and if you are comfortable walking, you can traverse from one end of the city to the other in 40 minutes time. Otherwise, there are numerous public transport models available and some of them are rather unique, like Becak (pronounced as Bechak), where you need to decide upon the fare before hand. As a rule of thumb, the fare should be IDR 7 K for distance of less then 2-3 KM and anything more than that, you can pay IDR 10-12 K.. Offcourse there are factors involved in deciding the fare, like whether 1 or 2 persons, whether the road is uphill or plain etc. There are numerous public buses, but you need to have basic knowledge of the local language and you should be familiar with the routes. You should also know the name of the destination bus stop. Taxi with meter are available everywhere. Normally, they are reliable and they dont have a tendency to fleece tourists. But as I said, always be on guard and have some knowledge of the fares and routes (this you may check with your hotel reception before you move out of you hotel). These taxis are usually 5-seater Toyota Vios or Toyota Soluna- a 1.5 liter vehicle and quite comfortable.

Tours around Jogja

Jogja can be made as a base to see a lot of world class tourist attractions not very fart from the city. The mojor ones are
1. The Buddhists Temples of Borobudur
2. The Hindu Temples of Prambanan
3. Mount Merapi-one of the most active volcanoes in Java
4. The beautiful Dieng Plateau-famous for its salubrious climate, terraced farming and the oldest Hindu Temples in Java.
5. Imogiri-Sultans (of Jogja and Solokarta) musoleum
6. Kaliurang-to get beautiful view of Mount Merapi. This place also serves as a base for trekking to the summit. The other starting point for starting a trek to the summit of Mount Merapi is Selo village, which is north of Mt Merapi. Selo provides a better climbing terrain then Kaliurang. The trek is smoother from Selo side
7. Prangritis Beach, at the southern side
8. Mystic temples of Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetoh, off Solokarta. (which I couldnt visit, for paucity of time)

The best option of seeing these places would be to hire a 7-seater MPV with driver for 3-4 days (if you intend to stay that long) and the rest you can leave upon the driver. He can be the best organizer of you tour plan. He can suggest you the sequence of places to be visited, the best time to visit the monuments and where to eat and do shopping or marketing.
There are also organized tours available from the travel desk or your hotel or you may visit any travel agency in the city. They all have a range of packages available to suit all type of itineraries. Just for eg;
1. Borobudur Temple package including Mendut and Pawon temples in Borobudur
Pick up from your hotel at 0500 hrs
Price IDR 40 K per person.
The total tour time is 5 hrs and you will get to stay at the main Borobudur temple for 2-3 HOURS.
2. Borobudur Sunrise and Prambanan Temple tour package
Pick up from your hotel at 0500 hrs
Price IDR 50 K per person.
The total tour time is 8 hrs and you will get to stay at the main Borobudur temple for 2-3 hours and 2 hours at the Prambanan temple.
3. Dieng Plateau tour
Pick up from your hotel at 0700 hrs
Price IDR 150 K per person
You get to stay 2-3 hours in Dieng,
Snacks and drinks included.
But most of your time will be spent travelling.
For all these tour packages, the entrance fees for the temples and other entry fees are not included, minimum 2 persons should be travelling and normally they dont include lunch or breakfast, unless specified.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Such a lovely place, wonderful people
  • Cons:nothing much I can think off. Oh yes, the city is too crowded
  • In a nutshell:If time had permitted, I would have stayed there for one month-there are so many things to discover and enjoy
  • Last visit to Yogyakarta: Dec 2005
  • Intro Updated Feb 9, 2006
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bkarjee

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