Once part of a great Islamic empire, Solo conserves Javanese arts like Batik, ceremonial Keris daggers and Wayang Kulit puppets. 

Once a single great Islamic empire, Surakarta (Solo) and Yogyakarta (Jogja) were split into two sultanates in 1755, thanks to Dutch intervention, each headed by rival kings. In 1757 a rebel prince defeated the Dutch and was rewarded with an independent principality within the Surakarta realm, provided he would submit to the current sultan. The result was two Surakarta palaces, the Keraton Kasunan, housing the descendants of the original sultan, and Puro Mangkunegaran, the residence of the progeny of the rebel prince. Both courts are supportive of Javanese arts, and although neither has had any legal authority since Indonesia attained independence, they are still respected as royalty.

The two courts’ commitment to conserving Javanese arts has resulted in a city that remains true to its traditions. Although its heritage buildings have been neglected, there are still artisans who craft ceremonial keris daggers, leather wayang kulit puppets, and gamelan ensembles. Particularly omnipresent, though, is Solo’s batik culture. Villages near the town centre still produce high-quality batik and perhaps hundreds more Solonese practice the art individually. Javanese rituals are part of daily life, and the area’s unique cuisine can be found everywhere. Near Solo are other relics of its heritage, two ancient Hindu temples on holy Mt. Lawu and at Sangiran is the site where Java Man was discovered.


When to go

Solo is a year-round destination. For tourist sights, go during the week, if possible, as the city is packed with Indonesian tourists on public holidays and during school breaks.

Visa requirements

Singaporeans and citizens of other ASEAN member states can visit Indonesia for 30 days without a visa. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months and that you have a return or onward ticket. Visitors from many other countries can get a 30-day visa on arrival at Solo for US$25.


Indonesian rupiah. There are plenty of ATMs and currency exchange counters at the airport. Banks in the city centre also have ATMs accepting international credit and debit cards, and can change foreign currency including Singapore dollars.


From the airport to the city, either take a taxi or arrange with your accommodation for airport pickup. Many of the tourist sites are along Jl. Slamet Riyadi, and visitors can walk from one place to the next on paved sidewalks. For other areas, wave down any vacant taxi on the street. Alternately, have your accommodation arrange a taxi or a rental car and driver for the full- or half-day for you. For touring in town, try travelling the traditional way, either by horse cart or by becak (bicycle rickshaw). The staff at your hotel can advise what the current rates are. 

Health and safety tips

As with any major city, watch out for pickpockets in crowded areas, thieves in cheap hotels, and the occasional scam artist. As everywhere in Indonesia, don't drink the tap water. While there is very little danger of contracting malaria in Solo there is a potential risk of dengue fever, particularly towards the end of the rainy season, so do your best to avoid mosquito bites.

Emergency details

Singapore Embassy:

The nearest embassy is in Jakarta at Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said, Kav. X-4, No. 2, Kuningan (tel: (62) 21 2995 0400,


In an emergency dial 110.

Basic greetings
English Indonesian
Hello Halo!
How are you? Apa kabar?
Fine, thanks Baik, terima kasih
Goodbye Selamat tinggal
Excuse-me! (to get attention) Permisi!
Thank you Terima kasih
Yes Ya
No Tidak
What's your name? Siapa nama anda?
My name is… Nama saya…
Nice to know you Senang berkenalan dengan anda
Are you on Facebook/Twitter? Anda ada di Facebook/Twitter?
Where’s an internet café? Warnet [warung internet] di mana?
Where can I get a taxi? Di mana saya bisa mendapatkan taksi?
Where is the bus/train station? Stasiun bis/kereta di mana?
A one-way/return ticket to… Tiket sekali jalan/pulang-pergi ke…
Do you have a room for one/two? Ada kamar untuk satu/dua orang?
When's check out? Kapan waktu check-out?
Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar? Bisakah anda menyarankan restoran/bar yang bagus?
A table for two, please Tolong meja untuk dua orang
A menu, please Tolong minta menunya
The bill, please Tolong minta bonnya
Where's the toilet? Kamar kecil di mana?
Help! Tolong!

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Candi Ceto

Western slope of Mt. Lawu

Higher up the west side of Mt. Lawu than Candi Suku, Candi Ceto (Ceto Temple) is an enigma. Constructed in the 15th century prior to the Hindu Javanese kingdoms conversion to Islam, the multi-terraced terrace is regrettably in very bad repair. Nevertheless, it is still interesting to visit if for no other reason than to see its stone mosaic of a large phallus decorated with a bat carrying a turtle.

Candi Suku

Western slope of Mt. Lawu

One of the last Hindu temples built before the Javanese kingdoms converted to Islam, the purpose and architecture of 15th-century Candi Suku (Suku Temple) remains a mystery. Its Mayan pyramid-shaped main temple is unlike any other found elsewhere in Java, and there are stone altars, three of which are in the shape of giant tortoises with flattened shells. A large lingga (phallus) statue was also found here but is now in the National Museum in Jakarta.


Krikilan village, 15km (9 miles) north of Solo

Sangiran (or Sragen) is a Unesco World Heritage Site thanks to the wealth of prehistoric archaeological finds unearthed on the outskirts of an otherwise humble village. The 1.5 million-year-old skull fragments from Java Man (Pithecanthropus erectus, later reclassified as Homo erectus) that was discovered nearby have been removed from the nearby Museum Trinil for safekeeping, but there is a replica here. There are also mastodon tusks, artefacts from prehistoric settlements and fossils, some of them over two million years old.

Sriwedari Park

Jl. Slamet Riyadi

Popular with the local folk, Sriwedari Park (Taman Sriwedari) is a culture centre in the centre of town that also includes a kids’ playground. At night it stages music and dance performances, such as wayang wong (also known as wayang orang), where dancers – as opposed to puppets – perform scenes from the Ramayana or Mahabharata epics. A more enthusiastic, younger audience appears on dangdut nights. A totally Indonesian popular music genre, dangdut is a mix of Hindi, Malay and Arabic styles that encourages swivelling hips and waving arms.

Mt. Lawu

Mt. Lawu (3,625 metres/10,712ft) is revered by many Javanese. On the eve of the Javanese New Year, thousands of people climb to the summit to meditate, believing that the gods who created the first kingdom of Java descended from heaven here. Tawangmangu is popular with the local folk for weekend getaways for its beautiful scenery, including Grojogan Sewu and Jumog waterfalls. From here, the adventurous can climb to the summit on a well-maintained track, a one-way hike taking about 7–9 hours.


Balai Agung

Jl. Kyai Gede Sala

Wayang kulit, or leather shadow puppets, is an art form associated with the royal courts of Central Java. Puppet masters (dalang) tell stories of moral or social importance via a variety of one dimensional characters created from intricately decorated cow hide shown from the back of an oil lamp-lighted screen. To see the puppets being made and demonstrations of their use, visit the Balai Agung on the north side of the Keraton Square. You can also see them during the creative process by taking a drive to Manyaran village, about 35km (22 miles) southwest of Solo, where several craftsmen live.

Budget $$

Pak Suranto Atmosaputro

Jl. Kestalan, No. III/21

Once a weapon of defence, no well-dressed Javanese man would dare appear at an important ritual without his keris (dagger) tucked into the waist band at the back of his sarong. The ones sported by commoners are rather plain and unexciting, but they can be elaborately decorated, some with wavy blades, and many believe them to have supernatural powers. To see examples of antique keris daggers and hear some exciting tales, visit Pak Suranto, and if you’re lucky he may have some pieces for sale.

Budget $$$

Pak Tentrem Sarwanto

Jl. Ngepung RT 2/RK I, Semanggi

Trance-like gamelan music accompanies all dance and theatre originated by the royal courts of Central Java. A gamelan ensemble can consist of five to 40 instruments; most are percussive – such as gongs, metallophones and drums – and are rarely played alone. Made of iron and brass fitted on wooden frames, the creators of these intricate instruments are revered among many. To see them being forged or to order one to be custom made for you, visit Pak Tentrem Sarwanto, whose family has made gamelan instruments for generations.

Budget $$$

Pasar Triwindu

Jl. Diponegoro

Pasar Triwindu, Solo’s antique market, is more aptly called a flea market stocked with items you didn’t even know you needed – or wanted – but somehow can’t leave behind. Be wary of furniture, clocks, lamps and the like which appear to be antiques and are priced accordingly. They may be newly made to fool customers into believing they are old. Still, it’s an interesting place to browse around. You’ll also see old-looking phonographs, typewriters, irons, puppets and all manner of curios, as well as some 'antique' batik. It closes at 4pm, so don’t wait too late to go there.

Budget $$


Bebek Goreng H. Slamet (Asli)

Jl. Bhayangkara, No. 39B

Practically speaking, Bebek Goreng is the equivalent of a fast food place, only instead of burgers you get duck, hence the name which means 'fried duck'. There are several outlets throughout Java and all of them are packed to the rafters during meal times, thanks to consistently tasty fare and low prices.

Budget $

Heaven's Kitchen

Jl. Kapten Mulyadi, No. 87

Feast on grilled salmon or steaks, shrimp or quail or lamb at Heaven's Kitchen, which offers reasonably priced menu of mainly foreign dishes. No matter what you choose, you won’t be disappointed. After dinner, go up to the second floor to chill out for a while.

Budget $$$

O-Solo-Mio Galleria & Ristorante

Jl. Slamet Riyadi, No. 253

When you're ready for a break from traditional Javanese cuisine, head for O-Solo-Mio Galleria & Ristorante. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it has very interesting menu of mostly Mediterranean food, with delicious pizzas baked In a wood fired oven, pasta, salads and a huge assortment of tempting appetizers. It also has one of the rare bars to be found outside a hotel.

Budget $$

Pendopo Omah Sinten

Jl. Diponegoro, No. 34

The restaurant at the Omah Sinten Heritage Hotel has outdoor seating in a traditional Javanese pendopo (open-air pavilion) built from solid teak in 1930 and moved to this spot. The decor in the indoor section of the restaurant completes the traditional theme, as do the excellently prepared dishes. The staff is helpful and attentive, and the location doesn’t get much better than this: it’s across the street from the Mankunegaran royal palace and next door to the Triwindu antique market.

Budget $$

Soto Gading

Jl. Brigjen Sudiarta, No. 75

Delicious for breakfast or a snack, soto (soup) is a favorite of many Indonesians. Soto Gading serves authentic traditional soups in a simple setting reminiscent of Javanese warung (small eateries) of days gone by. Help yourself to the condiments set out on the table or order a side dish to turn your soup into a meal. Recommended are the soto ayam (clear chicken soup) and the Solo sosis (sausages).

Budget $


Ibis Solo

Jl. Gajah Mada, No. 23

The best all-around bargain in town by far is Ibis Solo not only because if its low room rates but also because of its location and other great features. One is that in place of a run-of-the-mill spa, it has a thalassotherapy and thermal facility that attracts therapy aficionados whether they are staying here or not. Another is rarely-found-in-Indonesia wheelchair access and reduced-mobility rooms.

Budget $

Novotel Solo

Jl. Slamet Riyadi, No. 272

A four-star hotel situated in the heart of the business and shopping districts, Novotel Solo’s 141 superior and executive rooms are amicably decorated in a contemporary style. Available to guests are outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, restaurant, bar and a sauna and massage therapy. It also has a kids club, making it ideal for families.

Budget $$$

rumah Turi

Jl. Srigading II, No. 12

A refreshing change to the Indonesian hotel landscape, rumah Turi is a small eco-boutique hotel with only 18 rooms. Its focus is providing a home from home that is environmentally sensitive and that connects travellers with nature, Javanese arts and culture and the community. Fully utilising a sustainable architectural style, it has a restaurant, a spa and a meditation corner.

Budget $$

Solo Paragon Hotel & Residences

Jl. Dr. Soetomo

At Solo Paragon Hotel & Residences, 253 minimalist designed rooms and suites occupy 25 floors near Jl. Slamet Riyadi, where many of Solo’s business and government offices, eateries and cultural spots are located. It is also linked to Solo Paragon Superblock, a lifestyle centre filled with shops and dining. Accredited with four stars, in addition to spa and fitness centres, it has a three-on-three basketball court and an outdoor jogging track for keeping fit while travelling. Nemo’s Kid’s Club is a bonus for families.

Budget $$

The Sunan Hotel Solo

Jl. Ahmad Yani, No. 40

Arguably Solo’s premier hotel, the award-winning Sunan Hotel Solo is a four-star property with all the amenities, including the expected spa and fitness center, pool and pool bar, and a restaurant serving Indo-Asian cuisine. The fun part is that they also have an espresso and tea lounge, a ramen corner and a wine bar. All this and it is located on Solo’s main street within walking distance of shops and eateries.

Budget $$$


Date varies in February

Celebrated in cities throughout Indonesia, Imlek (Chinese New Year) is celebrated with colorful parades, lion dances, fireworks, red paper lanterns, and lots of food and fun. In Solo, look for the festivities around Pasar Gede traditional market.

Independence Day

17 August

Throughout Indonesia, games, competitions, food and good-spirited fun are held in neighbourhoods and villages to celebrate Hari Merdeka, Indonesia’s Independence Day.  Enquire upon arrival where festivities are being held.

Jenang Solo Festival

17 February

A lively event, the Jenang Solo Festival commemorates the anniversary of Solo city. Expect parades, art exhibitions, dance performances, traditional foods, lots of happy people and special events such as river boat races.

Sekaten and Grebeg Mulud

Date varies in January

In the third month of the Javanese calendar, Mulud rituals, lasting one week, commemorate the birth of Muhammad. Ceremonies include a procession from the royal palace, dance performances and gamelan music, which are designed to bring participants blessings and good health.

Solo Kampung Art and Keraton Art Festival

Date varies in June

Held back-to-back in June, Solo Kampung Art Festival takes place at the Old Well in Fort Vastenburg, while the Keraton Art Festival is centred around the Siti Hinggil Surakarta Palace. Both aim to preserve traditional arts with the former focusing on village arts and the later on court arts.


Solo is renowned for its thriving batik industry. In 2009, Indonesian batik was listed by Unesco as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, breathing new life into this traditional art.

Batik Danar Hadi (Jl. Slamet Riyad, No. 261, tel: 64 271 713 140) is one of Solo’s largest mass batik producers. Go there for good-quality tulis (hand-drawn) and cap (pronounced 'chap'; stamped) cloths and clothing. It also has an interesting museum containing over 10,000 batik cloths from throughout Indonesia, some of them very old and rare, as well as a good restaurant for a lunch break.

The Batik Keris factory (Jl. Dr. Rajiman Laweyan, tel: 64 271 721 217) is located in Kampung Laweyan, one of two villages whose sole industry is creating batik. The other is Kampung Kauman near the Keraton Kasunanan. In both areas, batik shops line the streets and alleyways, and you can see the artisans at work. Kampung Kauman specialises in silk batiks. Don’t miss the workshop of Bapak Gunawan (Jl. Cakra, No. 21, Kampung Kauman, tel: 64 271 632 214), an important traditional batik master.

Any thorough Solo batik tour should also include Pasar Klewer, near the west gate of the Keraton’s north square. Known as the Batik Market, the cloths and garments here are not actually batik because they are printed and not hand-drawn or hand-stamped, but there are so many of them that it makes the mind boggle. Bargain hard here.

Places to visit:
Batik Danar Hadi, Batik Keris, Bapak Gunawan, Pasar Klewer.