3 Days in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Carved stone buddha statue in small stupa around top of Borobudur, world largest buddhist temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Made unique by its friendly people, fascinating culture, natural beauty and ancient temples, Yogyakarta, Indonesia is indeed one of the greatest treasures of Southeast Asia. Jogja, as it is also known, is the capital of Yogyakarta Special Region on the island of Java, Indonesia. Known for its traditional arts and cultural heritage, Yogyakarta embraces modernity while retaining its old world charm. In this 3-day suggested itinerary, you will be able to explore historical streets and ancient temples, as well as enjoy Yogyakarta’s diverse food culture.

Things to know before traveling to Indonesia:

Language – Bahasa Indonesia is the national and official language of Indonesia. English is taught in schools and is widely used in Indonesian cities like Jakarta, so do not worry about not knowing local phrases or words. It is, however, recommended to learn some Javanese if you are heading towards rural areas. Like other countries in the world, speaking at least some Indonesian phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by locals.

Currency exchange – The Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is the official currency of Indonesia. Exchanging money is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Asia. You can exchange currency at the airport, hotels, malls, local banks, and money changers throughout Yogyakarta. ATMs are plentiful, all accepting international credit cards and debit cards, so it’s easy to withdraw your money in Rupiah. Credits cards are commonly accepted in most mid-range to high-end restaurants and hotels.

Indonesian Rupiah bills (simez78/Shutterstock.com)

Indonesian Rupiah bills (simez78/Shutterstock.com)

Etiquette – Despite being open to foreign influences, Indonesia remains a fairly conservative nation. Handshakes are common when meeting someone. Avoid touching someone’s head as the head is considered sacred in eastern culture. There’s no need for a foreigner to feel obligated to dress in traditional Indonesian clothing. Modesty is the key in Yogyakarta. If there is some kind of ceremonies going on, it is imperative to follow simple temple rules. To get into the temple, temple costumes should be strictly put on, while for other days one should wear polite dress with temple sash circled around waist. It all means to show respectfulness to God and to local tradition which ensure a memorable experience.

Getting to Yogyakarta – Adisucipto International Airport is a small domestic airport that serves the region of Yogyakarta. It is very well connected to Jakarta (25 USD each way) and Denpasar (39 USD each way), which are the main international airports for tourists.

Where to stay – Due to its popularity among visitors worldwide, Yogyakarta has heaps of accommodation to suit every pocket, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. To help you decide on the best place to stay, it is recommended to do a bit of prior research so you won’t land in the wrong part of this busy city. Malioboro (and the Center of Yogyakarta), for example, is for visitors who want to stay in the center of the action. It is also a fantastic base for sightseeing. Jalan Prawirotaman and the South, on the other hand, is for art enthusiast and for people looking for a vibrant nightlife scene.

Where to stay in Yogyakarta:

The Alana Yogyakarta Hotel and Convention Center (Jl. Palagan Tentara Pelajar KM 7 Ngaglik, Ngaglik, Yogyakarta 55581, Indonesia)

The Atrium Hotel & Resort (Jl. Kebon Agung no. 20, Sendangadi, Mlati, Sleman, Yogyakarta 55285, Indonesia)

Atrium Premiere Hotel Yogyakarta (A Jln. Laksda B Adi Sucipto 157, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia)

Cavinton Hotel Yogyakarta (Jl. Letjen Soeprapto No.1 Kpg. Ngampilan, Yogyakarta 55261, Indonesia)

Duta Garden Hotel (Kpg. Timuran 103, Yogyakarta 55153, Indonesia)

Getting Around – Travelling around beautiful Yogyakarta is very easy. All destinations in and around the city are easily accessible. The Malioboro area can be easily explored on foot.

Day by Day Itinerary: 3 Days in Yogyakarta,  Indonesia

Day 1: Temple tour and Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan

Since you only have 3 days in Yogyakarta, it can be tough to whittle down the must-sees. On your first day, you will have the services of a private driver and tour guide which you arranged prior to arrival (either through your hotel or a travel agency). This will be a fantastic introduction to the most famous attractions of Yogyakarta and you may take this opportunity to ask your guide any questions you may have about life in Indonesia. Do your homework and research the possibilities of hiring a driver prior your trip. You can start with the two most recommended taxi companies on Tripadvisor – TW Driver Jogja and Jogja Jaya Transport.

Ullen Sentalu Museum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Ullen Sentalu Museum is really worth to visit. Visitors are walked through the museum’s rooms by very knowledgable and passionate guides telling the history of the Javanese kingdoms. Highly recommended (saiko3p/Shutterstock.com)

Start the tour at Ullen Sentalu Museum (Jl.Boyong Taman wisata Kaliurang, Yogyakarta 55581, Indonesia; tel: +62 274 895161), a Javanese culture and art museum.  It is currently ranked No.1 attraction on TripAdvisor and for good reason. This large complex features a well maintained garden, beautifully preserved relics and artifacts from royal houses (Kraton in Javanese) and rich collection of Javanese oil paintings and sculptures. Just before lunch, head to The Sambisari Temple. This 9th-century Hindu temple is close to Yogyakarta Airport (Adisucipto International Airport) and is famous for its Buddhist and Hindu elements. Then, sample the best Javanese dishes at one of Yogyakarta’s most popular local restaurants like Milas, Jejamuran an The Sawah.

Stone statue at the Sambisari Temple near Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Stone statue at the Sambisari Temple near Yogyakarta. The temple was buried under 5 meters when discovered in 1966 and it is thought to have been buried by an eruption of volcanic ash from the nearby Mount Merap (Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock.com)

In the afternoon, your next destination is Prambanan Temple Compounds. It was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been well known as a tourist destination. Not only it is a photographer’s paradise, this is also the largest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia. It was built in the 10th century and it was dedicated to Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism. It is recommended to visit Prambanan in the afternoon so that you can catch the sunset and watch the Ramayana Ballet.

Prambanan Temple Compounds, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Candi Prambanan or Candi Rara Jonggrang is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound. It is is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia (Andreas Hie/Shutterstocl.com)

Day 2: Borobudur Sunrise and Village Tour

Waiting for the sun of the new day to appear on the horizon in Borobudur Temple Compounds is one of the most fascinating experiences you could get in Indonesia. This Buddhist temple located in Central Java is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is probably the most iconic temple in Indonesia. The compound is quite big consisting of three monuments namely Borobudur Temple, Mendut Temple, and Pawon Temple. Thus, it would take 3-4 hours to fully explore the whole place. After the Borobudur tour, some travel packages offer a cycling tour through the local villages near the compound.

Sunrise above the magical Borobudur temple. Borobudur is the biggest Hindu temple in the world (Kanuman/Shutterstock.com)

Sunrise above the magical Borobudur temple. Borobudur is the biggest Hindu temple in the world (Kanuman/Shutterstock.com)

Day 3: Merapi Volcano and Jomblang Cave

Kraton of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

A music hall at Kraton of Yogyakarta for the royal orchestra (Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock.com)

After having a filling breakfast, your final day in Yogyakarta can be spent on last-minute shopping and seeing those attractions that you haven’t yet had time for. Start in Yogyakarta Kraton (Royal Palace), the official residence of the Javanese monarchy in Yogyakarta. Constructed in 18th century, this palace is now open to the public and has become a Javanese museum. If you happen to be in the Kraton on a Sunday, then you can watch the classical tale of Ramayana. Just southwest of the Kraton is Taman Sari Water Castle, a former royal garden and castle baths of the Yogyakarta Sultanate. For lunch, head to Balé Raos Royal Cuisine Restaurant (Jl. Magangan Kulon no. 1, Kraton | Near Tamansari, Yogyakarta, Indonesia) and enjoy a traditional Javanese meal. If you still have time before your flight, you can stock up on souvenirs at Jalan Malioboro (Malioboro Street).

Another option for this day is a short excursion out of Yogyakarta to visit Merapi Volcano and Jomblang Cave.  If you are going to do this tour, it is recommended to schedule your flight the next day.

Goa Jomblang Cave, Indonesia

Jomblang cave is a vertical cave with out of this world ancient forest below. It is famous for its “light from Heaven” coming in through a hole in the cave (Scott Biales/Shutterstok.com)

This is a classic 3-day Yogyakarta Itinerary, and within each location you can fine tune it to suit your preferences. The time frame indicated above is just a guide of what we think is a good amount of time to spend in each location. Enjoy!

Have you been to Yogyakarta or anywhere else in Indonesia? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below. 

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