Indonesians and foreigners alike love Yogyakarta for its village-like charm and its proximity to ancient monuments of the first great Central Javanese empires.

Sprawling Yogyakarta (Jogja) is situated at the very core of an ancient region known as Mataram, site of the first great Central Javanese empires. In the 8th century, this fertile plain was ruled by a succession of kings – the builders of Borobudur, Prambanan and dozens of other elaborate stone monuments. Around AD 900, these rulers suddenly and inexplicably shifted their capital to East Java, and for more than six centuries, Mataram was deserted.

At the end of the 16th century, the area was revived by a new Islamic power based at Kota Gede, east of present-day Jogja. The Yogyakarta and Surakarta sultanates came into being in 1755 when the Dutch split the kingdom in two, further dividing each sultanate into two separate entities to dilute their influence. The Yogyakarta court was twice invaded by foreigners for failure to comply with colonial instructions – once by the Dutch in 1810 and again by the British in 1812. During the fight against the Dutch (1945–49), Jogja, a hotbed of revolutionary idealism, served as the capital of the Indonesian republic and was later awarded Special Province status, giving it the same privileges as the capital, Jakarta.

Today's Jogja is loved by Indonesians and foreigners alike for its village-like charm, its thriving university student population, its dedication to traditional Javanese arts, and its cheap local cuisine. Although foreign visitors may initially come here to visit nearby ancient monuments or to more closely observe Javanese culture, it is Jogja's people that they remember.


When to go

Yogyakarta 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 Yogyakarta 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.


Yogyakarta's airport lies 10km (6 miles) from the city. The easiest way to get to the city centre is to book a fixed-rate taxi at the counter just outside the baggage claim area.The modern, air-conditionedTransJogja buses cover six routes around the city. Buy your ticket at the bus shelter before boarding. There are also cheaper city buses, without air-conditioning, which are ideal for budget travellers. Get route information from the driver or at terminals. Becak (bicycle or motorised trishaws) are Jogja icons. Settle on a price with the driver before getting in. Travel by metered taxi or hired car can save time when routes are unfamiliar. Your accommodation can arrange this. 

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 Jogya 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, www.mfa.gov.sg/jkt)


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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Prambanan Temple Complex

Jl. Solo

The Hindu Prambanan Temple Complex was completed sometime around AD 856 but deserted within a few years of its completion, and eventually collapsed. Restoration work on this Unesco World Heritage Site is continually ongoing due to earthquakes and eruptions. It has a beautiful main temple known as Roro Jonggrang (also spelled Loro) dedicated to Siva. Shrines on either side are dedicated to Vishnu and Brahma. Roro Jonggrang’s appeal is its symmetry, graceful proportions, and its wealth of sculptural detail.

Ramayana Ballet

Prambanan Temple

Perhaps the ultimate in Javanese dance spectaculars is the Ramayana Ballet. A modernised version of the lavish wayang orang dance-drama, the entire epic (four episodes, one per night 7.30–9.30pm) is presented on four clear nights on and around the full moon from May to October. The elegant 9th-century Roro Jonggrang temple at Prambanan is the backdrop. There is also an indoor theatre at Prambanan where performances are held during the rainy season.

Taman Sari Water Castle

Jl. Taman

Behind the Keraton stand the ruins of the royal pleasure garden, Taman Sari, named the Water Castle by the Dutch. Although difficult to imagine now, there was once a mansion on the northern end of the complex overlooking a massive artificial lake. Beneath the lake were underwater passageways, meditation retreats and a series of sunken bathing pools, all connected by subterranean tunnels, some of which can still be explored. Hire a local guide at the ticket counter and let him or her regale you with stories of what once was.

Affandi Museum

Jl. Laksda Adisucipto, No. 167

Towering over Jogja’s thriving art community is Affandi, an internationally renowned expressionist painter. The Affandi Museum housing his collection also serves as a teaching venue for children and adults. Stroll through the museum’s three galleries and see how his work progressed from 1939 until his death in 1990, visit his grave, and marvel at his building designs, whose roofs resemble a split banana leaf. There is also an art shop selling t-shirts and other souvenirs.

Keraton Cultural Performances

Jl. Rotowijayan, No. 1

The Keraton (royal palace) hosts a different performance every morning in the Sri Manganti Pendopo. Performances include gamelan, wayang kulit (leather shadow puppets), wayan golek (wooden puppets), court dances and Javanese poetry. Visit www.jogjapages.com for schedules. Tours of the Keraton (Sat–Thur 8am–2pm, Friday until 11am) take in the two museums inside the palace grounds, but not the Royal Carriages Museum west of the Keraton.


Gallery Batik Jawa

Mustakaweni the Heritage Hotel, Jl. AM Sanghaji, No. 72

Jogja justifiably takes pride in its batik, which was named as a Unesco Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2009. For the real deal, go to Gallery Batik Jawa where natural indigo dyes are the speciality. This unique shop is now run by the daughter of the woman who founded it and focuses on reviving Javanese batik and empowering the women who create it.

Budget $$$

House of Lawe

Jl. Prof. Dr. Ki Amri Yahya, No. 6

Lurik is a traditional hand-woven cloth unique to Jogja and Central Java, which has sadly fallen out of fashion. At House of Lawe, transforming lurik into modern products not only revives the lurik culture, it supports weavers and other artisans and empowers women with a livelihood that improves their living standard. Visit their website for details of other locations in Indonesia where these remarkable products can be found.

Budget $$

Kasongan village

Jl. Bantul, off Ring Road Selatan

Although there are several others near Jogja, Kasongan is the most famous of the area’s pottery-making villages. As with other handicraft villages, kiosks selling wares made here line both sides of the main road and are frequented by savvy Jogja shoppers. Look for home furnishings, sculptures and pots as well as natural fibre crafts and other goods of export quality.

Budget $$

Kota Gede

Jl. Monodorakan

Practically a Jogja suburb now, Kota Gede was once the home of wealthy merchants, and some of their houses are beautifully preserved today. Along the main street, Jl. Monodorakan, are silver shops, the largest ones creating jewellery and accessories for customers abroad. These shops cater to tourists who are invited to visit their workshops to see the artisans at work, although the small shops down the side streets are usually cheaper.

Budget $$

Manding village

Jl. Parangtritis, Km 11

The main road in Manding, a small village en route to Parangtritis beach, is lined with shops featuring locally made leather handicrafts, including jackets, wallets, shoes and bags. Many of the products found here are the same ones found in city stores, but at a lower price. If you’re lucky, one of the shopkeepers may invite you to her home to see the products being made.

Budget $$


Gadjah Wong Garden Restaurant

Jl. Gejayan

Owned and operated by a female Balinese chef, the food at Gadjah Wong is consistently superb thanks to her hands-on approach of cooking and management. Three different dining areas, each with a distinct decor, offer guests a choice of ambience, accompanied by Javanese, jazz or other Western music against a backdrop of tropical gardens.

Budget $$

Gudeg Yu Djum

Jl. Kaliurang Km 4.5

Established in 1950, Gudeg Yu Djum specializes in one of Jogja’s best known dishes, gudeg, a mixture of young jackfruit, coconut milk, palm sugar and spices. Mbak Har, the daughter of the restaurant's founder, continues the tradition of simmering the sauce slowly over a wood fire and serving it up to customers, who often wait in long queues to enjoy this Jogja classic.

Budget $

Ministry of Coffee

Jl. Prawirotaman, No. 15A

Located in the heart of the budget accommodation district, Ministry of Coffee offers a wide selection of coffees, teas and excellent desserts along with an interesting menu of primarily Western dishes. Congenial and convivial, it is a staple among Jogja expats and tourists alike, and it has a library upstairs that invites guests to linger and relax.

Budget $$

Sasanti Restaurant and Gallery

Jl. Pelagan Tentara Pelajar

When Sasanti expanded its menu to include Western cuisine, the owner insisted that it be as authentic as its famed Indonesian fare. In fact, Sasanti's chefs are so meticulous that they have prepared Indonesia food for culinary exhibitions abroad. But the food is only part of its success. Excellent service and ambience and stunning decor complete a divine dining experience.

Budget $$$

Via Via Café

Jl. Prawirotaman, No. 30

A gathering place for travellers in Jogja's budget accommodation district, Via Via Café presents a wide variety of Indonesian and Western vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. In addition to good food, it provides excellent travel information and alternative tours, such as bicycle trips and caving, and courses such as batik and Indonesian language.

Budget $


d’Omah Yogya

Jl. Parangtritis, Km 8.5, Sewon Bantul

Located 20 minutes south of Jogja in rural Tembi village, d'Omah Yogya is a small collection of restored traditional Javanese houses with modern amenities. Each is charmingly decorated and the atmosphere is idyllic. The restaurant overlooks a rice field and there is a yoga space and a swimming pool. The Javanese Culture Museum is nearby.

Budget $$

Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta

Jl. Palagan Tentara Pelajar

An idyllic resort designed to resemble Borobudur, much of Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta's charm is its relaxed, congenial ambiance and open spaces. Its tiered swimming pool, with waterslide, is surrounded by gorgeous gardens and its spa discrete. The golf course and tennis courts are staffed by pros to assist all level of players. There is also Camp Hyatt for kids and an excellent restaurant.

Budget $$$

Phoenix Hotel

Jl. Jendral Sudirman, No. 9

The Phoenix Hotel began as a Dutch heritage building dating back to 1918 that was expanded to accommodate growing demand. All rooms have modern amenities and are decorated in a fusion of Asian and European styles. Courtyard rooms overlook the swimming pool, and just behind the lobby is a charming space lined with photos of the hotel's early years.

Budget $$

Plataran Borobudur Resort & Spa

Dusun Tanjungan, Borobudur, Magelang

A cosy little hideaway near Borobudur, Plataran Borobudur Resort & Spa prides itself on its peaceful ambiance, attentive – but not intrusive – staff and intimate setting. Choose between garden or pool villas or the smaller cabanas, all tucked away discretely so there is no intrusion from neighbours. The restaurant is in a charming colonial-style building.

Budget $$$

Rumah Mertua Boutique Hotel

Jl. Tentara Pelajar, Gang Padma, No. 5

A lovely boutique hotel with excellent room rates, Rumuh Mertua has air conditioned rooms, cable TV and a swimming pool and also offers spa treatments. Formerly a family home and decorated In Javanese style, many of the staff members have worked here for many years and take pride In treating guests as family.

Budget $

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.

Keraton Festival

Date Varies In October

Organized and funded by the royal palace, this festival celebrates the Javanese culture with art exhibitions, gamelan and classical dance performances, and puppet plays.


Date Varies In August

Every August there is a procession to Parangkusumo beach, south of Jogja, where offerings are made to Nyi Roro Kidul, Queen of the Southern Sea. Thanks are given for successful harvests and blessings for the coming season are requested.

Waisak (Vesak) Day

Date Varies In April, May

Thousands of Buddhists from throughout Asia join a procession from Mendut temple to Borobudur to meditate in honour of the Day of Enlightenment, the most important day on the Buddhist calendar.

Yogyakarta Arts Festival

Date Varies In June

Jogja’s large art community’s biggest event of the year. Opens with a parade and includes exhibitions, workshops, open houses, performances and live music.

Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival

Date Varies In July

A celebration of traditional gamelan musical ensembles and the artists who play them. Performances and workshop are held at several locations throughout the city.


The fabled site of Borobudur, a Unesco World Heritage Site, lies near Magelang, 40km (25 miles) northwest of Jogja. This huge mandala, the world’s largest Buddhist monument, was built sometime between AD 778 and 856. Yet, within little more than a century of its completion, it was inexplicably abandoned. In order to beat the crowds and see experience sunrise, head there for 6am when the park opens. Allow a minimum of two hours to tour the site.

Start from the east and ascend the monument, circumambulating each terrace clockwise in succession to see the reliefs, ending on the highest level and its huge crowning stupa, which represents Nirvana.

Heritage tours of Jogja itself usually begin at the Keraton, a two-hundred-year-old palace complex. The palace houses not only the sultan and his family, but also the dynastic regalia and several other buildings bounded by a fortified outer wall. Take a guided tour with one of the palace docents for an insight into the significance of the buildings and artwork on display.

From the Keraton, head north to busy Jl. Malioboro past Alun Alun Lor (North Square). At the first intersection is the Central Post Office and Bank Negara. Across the street is Fort Vredeburg, now called Benteng Budaya, a culture centre where exhibitions are held. On the opposite side of the street is the State Guest House, formerly the Dutch resident’s mansion. Pasar Beringharjo further down and on the right is the city's central market. All are lovingly restored colonial-era buildings.

Places to visit:
Borobudur, Keraton, Fort Vredeburg, State Guest House, Pasar Beringharjo.


Outdoor adventure opportunities abound near Jogja. Popular expeditions include volcano trekking, setting off in the pre-dawn hours to reach the summit of Mt. Merbabu, Mt. Sindoro, Mt. Sumbing or the infamous, highly active Mt. Merapi for sunrise. Also north of Jogja are the Elo and Progo Rivers, where novices are in for a splash and a bit of fun during the dry season (April to October) and adrenaline rush seekers hold competitions during the rainy season when the rivers are fuller.

South of Jogja in Gunung Kidul Regency is Jomblang Cave (Goa Jomblang), a large stalactite- and stalagmite-studded cavern in the middle of farmland planted with cassava, peanuts and teak trees. With depths of up to 90 meters (295ft), some of the caves within are interconnected.

Several travel agencies offer guided cycling trips, often through villages where stops are made to glimpse the daily life of local farmers who plow their fields with buffaloes while the women tend to household chores.

On the southern shores is a stretch of beaches lining the Indian Ocean. Most of them are rocky and crashing waves make them too dangerous to swim in, but there are a few hidden nooks that welcome those who want to take a dip. Near Ngobaran and Nguyan beaches is a cove protected by towering cliffs and lined with colorful fishing boats that is ideal during the week when the beaches aren’t crowded. Local cooks will prepare your selection of fish for lunch.

Places to visit:
Volcano trekking, Jomblang Cave, Guided cycling trips, Ngobaran and Nguyan beaches.