Emerging from the shadow of an increasingly touristed Bali, it has been some years now since Yogyakarta was discovered as a tourist destination and ceased being merely a stopover on the way to Paradise. Indeed, more and more visitors are finding that Yogyakarta’s majestic temples amd palaces, her traditional crafts and performing arts provide a fascinating counterpoint to those of bali. Many who have spent time in both places profess to prefer this laid back city.
A modest tourist boom has overtaken the venerable Javanese court centre as a result, the standard and availability of hotels, restaurants, tours and other services have improved greatly over the past decade, and since 1974 the Regional Tourism Office has actively promoted local cultural events. The 10 year UNESCO sponsored restoration of Borobudur was completed in time of the official re – opening of this 1,200 year old monument on Februart 23, 1983 by President Soeharto. Tourist parks are being constructed at both Borobudur and Prambanan, in order to accommodate about 2 million visitors in 1985, most of the Indonesia.
A majority of foreign visitors to Yogya arrive by air. Garuda has several daily flights from Jakarta’s Cengkareng International Airport, and in fact it is often possible to bypass Jakarta completely hopping on the first plane to Yogyakarta upon arrival from overseas.
The first class Bima Express train that plies the Jakarta – Yogyakarta – Surabaya route nightly in either direction is Java’s finest – comfortable air conditioned sleeper cars with small two mattress bunk compartments, a sink and a table. The schedule is less than ideal, nonetheless. The Bima leaves Jakarta Kota Station at 4 p.m. and arrives in Yogya 10 hours later, which means that your sleep is interrupted and you travel by night. At US$25 one way, it’s about half the price of an air ticket. The second class Senja Utama and Senja Yogya trains from Jakarta cost much less (only US$8) but they are slower and not air conditioned.
Inter city buses always travel at night. The Jakarta – Yogyakarta trip takes about 9 hours and is less than US$10. From Bandung it’s 6 hours and about US$6. The more expensive Mercedes buses are air conditioned.
From Semarang or solo or other nearby cities, it’s better to take a mini buse, with runs all day Cost only US$1.20 from Solo, US$2,50 from Semarang.
Yogya’s main street is Jl. Malioboro, which runs north – south from the front steps of the Kraton or palace all the way up to the Tugu monument that stands in the middle of the intersection with Jl. Jend. Sudirman and Jl. Diponegoro. From the map, you’ll see taht Malioboro’s northern end is known as Jl. Ahmad Yani. A rail line bisects this main street, and the train station is located here. the new intercity bus terminal is in the south – eastern corner of the city, on Jl. Veteran, though you can buy tickets and board most express buses on Jl. Sosrowijayan, just of Malioboro. The “colt” offices in Yogyakarta are on Jl. Diponegoro just left of the Tugu monument.
Jl. Pasar Kembang is a small street lined with inexpensive hotels and shops – once Yogya’s redlight distric, but now “cleaned up” and taken over buy budget travellers. Jl. Sosrowijayan, the next small street to the south also has budget hotels, as do several of the lanes connecting these two streets.
The more fashionable suburbs of Yogyakarta are located to the east of Jl. Malioboro / Mangkubumi, across the river. From here, it is about a mile north to the campus of Gajah Mada University. Farther down is Jl. Solo, which has become a busy shopping area lined with stores, restaurants and hotels on both sides – almost a second Malioboro and a good place to shop for photo accessories or other necessities not available on the latter. The Ambarukmo Palace Hotel and the Adisucipto Airport are located several miles out of town to the east along this road.
Taxis and Mini Buses: Taxis and mini buses are expensive in Yogya because of the tourist demand. Drivers have come up with fixed fares, through a few will accept less after bargaining. Some will demand more – be sure you fix the fare before gaetting in.
Most hotels, including the budget guest – houses on Jl. Prawirotaman, will meet you at the airport or train station with transportation if you inform them before arrival.
From the airport, the standard fare into toen is now US$10 (if you don’t have much lugagge, you can just walk out of the airport to the highway and flag down a passing mini bus heading into the city – which is to the left as you come out – for only Rp200 or about US$20). For trips around the city, taxis now charge US$3,50 per hour (with a 2 hour minimum). Out of town trips have been worked out according to the following, rather arbitrary schedule:
Borobudur (round trip) 84 km (52 miles) US$15.50
Prambanan (round trip) 32 km (20 miles) US$12.50
Parangtritis (round trip) 56 km (35 miles) US$14. 50
Surakarta (round trip) 130 km (81 miles) US$22.50
Dieng Plateau (round trip) 180 km (112 miles) US$45
Surabaya (one way) 327 km (202 miles) US$75
Bandung (one way) 425 km (264 miles) US$125
Jakarta (one way) 600 km (372 miles) US$160
Bali (one way) 720 km (447 miles) US$190
Arrange for taxis (up to 4 persons) or mini buses (up to 8 persons) through any hotel or travel agent or through the Tourist Information Office on Jl. Malioboro, or by going to the taxi stand to the cast of the G.P.O. on Jl. Senopati (where you may be able to get a cheaper rate for one of the older cars).
Pedicabs: Pedicabs or becaks are convenient for short distances in town. Yogyakartans use them for their daily transportation, and some tourists have taken to “chartering” one to tour around in. The problem is that becak drivers have gotten wise to the fact that tourists have a lot money, don’t know the fares and don’t understand how to bargain. As a result, they sometimes try to charge outrageous amounts, and often won’t come down to a reasonable price even if you do know the fares. Bargaining for becak rides is something of an art anyway, and this makes it doubly difficult for foreigners to use them. The key to good bargaining is to smile and joke about how high the first offer is, then to walk away once you have stated your final price. If it is reasonable, he will usually accept and call you back.
A few of the drivers who bang around Malioboro and the Kraton speaks some English, and several enterprising young English speaking guides tourists for guided tours of the city. Not a bad way to go, provided that you don’t pay more than a few dollars for a morning of afternoon tour. many of them just want to take you shopping, though, so they can get a commision. Again, be sure to settle the fare in advance.
City Buses: Within the city, orange coloured Mercedes city buses circulate all day along eight fixed routes until 8 p.m. In addition, there is a whole fleet of samller pick up micro buses that are perhaps more convenient, because they travel in smaller circuits. Fare is fixed at Rp 100 regardles of distance. A few of the more useful routes are.
- A Counter clockwise circuit (Campus) serves the north – eastern quadrant of town, going down Malioboro, east on Senopati and Sultan Agung, up Jl. Dr. Sutomo to Jl. Jend. Sudirman and by the university in a small detour along Jl. Cik Ditiro, then down Mangkubumi/Malioboro again. Useful for getting to the university. ASTI and Jl. Solo.
- A clockwise circuit, meanwhile, goes up the western side of town along Jl. Bhayangkara to Diponegoro and then comes down Mangkubumi/Malioboro, take Pojok Beteng.
- From Malioboro down to the Kraton or taman Sari, you want the Ngasem line, that travels down around the alun – alun to Jl. Ngasem. To get down to the south – eastern corner of town from Malioboro, take Pojok Beteng
- To get out to Borobudur or Prambanan or Parangtritis via public transportation is not difticult. You simply have to study the map and ask for some advice where to get on and off the buses or mini buses. Most people are very helpful, and if you can just pronounce the name of the places properly, they will indicate where to get off or where to change buses even if they speak no English. Check with someone at your hotel or with the Tourist Information Office to be sure of the route and method of transport for each destination.
Andong Lastly, you can hire an andong dokar pony cart for trips into the country along scenic back roads – a very nice and slow way to get out to Kota Gede or even to Imogiri or Parangtritis. Not recommended on major highways, however. To Kota Gede, pay about Rp 15,000 each way Rp 25,000 to Imogiri or Parangtritis (count on at least 2 hours each way). Dokars generally wait to the east of the post office, along Jl. Senopati, or on side roads at edge of town; villagers still use them to get to and from the city.
Certainly the easiest way to see the city is by guided tour, though it can be grating to go on a large bus tour with people you don’t know. For your own private tour, hire a car (US$20 to US$30 a day) and arrange for a guide (US$10 to US$20 a day) from one of the travel agencies below (or through the Tourist Information Office). Agencies like Intan Pelangi organise daily bus tours of the city (including a wayang performance. Taman Sari, the Kraton and a batik factory), Borobudur, Dieng and Prambanan for as little as US$7 per person. Call them or check with the Tourist Information Office or your hotel for the lates schedule.
Tour Operators & Travel Agencies
Intan Pelangi, 18, Jl. Malioboro, Yogyakarta.
Intrastour, 177, Jl. Malioboro, Yogyakarta.
Jatayu Mulya Utama, Ambarukmo Palace Hotel, Jl. Adisucipto, Yogyakarta.
Natrabu, Ambarukmo Palace Hotel, Jl. Adisucipto, Yogyakarta.
Nitour, 71, Jl. K.H. Ahmad Dahlan, Yogyakarta.
Pacto, Ambarukmo Palace Hotel, Jl. Adisucipto 57, Yogyakarta.
Royal Holiday, Ambarukmo Palace Hotel, Jl. Adisucipto, Yogyakarta.
Satriavi, Ambarukmo Palace Hotel, Jl. Adisucipto, Yogyakarta.
Sri Rama, Ambarukmo Palace Hotel, Jl. Adisucipto, Yogyakarta.
Tourista, Puro Pakualam, Sewandanan, Yogyakarta.
Vayatour, Ambarukmo Palace Hotel, Jl. Adisucipto, Yogyakarta.
Vista Express, Garuda Hotel, Jl. Malioboro 72, Yogyakarta.
Yogya has a room for everyone, from the US$350 a night Presidential Suite at the Ambarukmo to the dollar a night closets at the “Home Sweet Homestay” on Gang Sosrowijayan I. There is even one agency, Indraloka, that will place you in the home of an English or Dutch speaking family where you share home cooked meals and enjoy the warm hospitaly of the Javanese.
Fist Class (US$35 and up a night)
The 4 – star Ambarukmo Hotel, built by the Javanese in the early 1960s, is still the only international class luxury hotel in Yogya, with rooms going for US$65 on up (plus 21 percent tax and sevice). It is symbolically situated some miles to the east of town near the airport upon the grounds of the old royal pesanggrahan or rest house once used to entertain visiting dignitaries to the court. Some of the old building are still standing, including the elegant pendopo and the dalem agung ceremonial chamber.
The ol Hotel Garuda (US$35 to US$50 a night) right on Malioboro has just added a modern seven storey wing at the back, and has upgrade their spacious colonial suites (huge rooms and bathrooms, with high ceiling and an outer sittingroom/balcony looking out onto a central courtyard). The hotel has quite a history, as it housed several government ministries during the Indonesian revolution (1946 – 49).
The newer Mutiara Hotel down the street is just 10 minutes walk from the Kraton and the museum. Prices are about the same as the Garuda. Motels style “cotage” hotels include the Sahid Garden, nice and throughly Javanese. Owned by an Aristocratic Surakarta family (from US$45 plus 21 percent tax and service).
It’s hard to beat the Puri Artha’s friendly service and well manicured surrounding (US$35 a night). The nearby Sri Manganti and the Sriwedari (opposite the Ambarukmo) are about the same price. All of these hotels have pools and quiet gardens, but none is within walking distance of Malioboro, so you’ll have to think about transport.
Ambarukmo Palace Hotel (251 room), Jl. Adisucipto, Po. Box 10, Yogyakarta.
Hotel Garuda (120 rooms), Jl. Malioboro 72, Yogyakarta.
Mutiara Hotel (81 rooms), Jl, Malioboro 18, Po. Box 87, Yogyakarta.
Puri Artha (59 rooms), Jl. Cendrawasih 9, Yogyakarta.
Sriwedari (70 rooms), Jl. Adisucipto, Po. Box 93, Yogyakarta.
Sri Manganti (46 rooms), Jl. Urip Sumoharjo, Po. Box 46. Yogyakarta.
Sahid Garden (48 rooms), Jl. Babarsari, Yogyakarta.
Intermediate (US$15 – US$35 a night)
The above mentioned Indraloka Homestay Service, founded and run by Mrs. B. Moerdiyono, currently cost US$21 a niht for a double (plus 21 percent tax and service) including breaksfast. Home cooked lunch or dinner is an additional USD$6. The families are mostly headed by Dutch educated profesionals (doctors and university lecturers), and the rooms have all the western amenities and a fan. Mrs. Moerdiyono also arrangers tours through Java to Bali, using her network of homestays in other cities. Write to hes for details. (See addres below under “Indraloka”).
Other choices depend on where you want to be and how much you want to pay. The Arjuna Plaza and the New Batik Palace hotels are centrally located on Jl. Mangkubumi (US$25 to US$ 30 for a double, plus 21 percent). The Gajah Mada Gusethouse, with air conditioned doubles for US$24 is quiet place located on campus in the north of town. Mrs. Sardjito, the wiwod of Gajah Mada University’s first rector also rents rooms at her elegant home on Jl. Cik Ditiro, opposite the Indraloka office.
Many other small hotels and guesthouses cluster along Jl. Prawirotaman in the south Yogya. A few these have air conditioned rooms in the US$15 to US$ 25 range (plus 21 percent), including braksfast. Try the Airlangga or the Duta Airlangga (25 rooms), Jl. Prawirotama 4, Yogyakarta.
Arjuna Plaza (24 rooms), Jl. mangkubumi 48, Yogyakarta.
Batik Palace Hotel (24 rooms), Jl. pasar kembang 29, Po. Box 115, Yogyakarta.
Duta Guest Hotel (15 rooms), Jl. Prawirotama 20, Yogyakarta.
Gajah mada Guest House (20 romoms), Jl. Bulak Sumur, Kampus University Gajah Mada, Yogyakarta.
Indraloka Homestay (40 rooms), Jl. Cik Ditiro 14, Yogyakarta.
Koba Cotagge (48 rooms), Jl. Babasari 1, tambak Bayan Baru, Yogyakarta.
New Batik Palace Hotel (22 rooms), Jl. mangkubumi 436, Yogyakarta.
Wisma LPP, Jl. Demangan baru 8, Yogyakarta.
The guest houses along Jl. Prawirotama are all converted homes – generally quiet, clean and comfortable. Cheapest rate available here for a double is US$7.50, including tax, service and breakfast: but most are in the US$10 to US$12 a night range. Some also have air conditioned doubles for only US$15 a night.
The many small hotels around Jl. Pasar kembang (also on Jl. Sosrowijayan and down the small lanes in between), are substantially cheaper and more central, but this is not a pleasant area. Many places here have rooms for US$3 to US$5 and even less. Try the Kota down at the end of Jl. Pasar kembang – very clean.
Asia Afrika, Jl. Pasar Kembang 25, Yogyakarta.
Agung Guest House, Jl. Prawirotama 68, Yogyakarta.
Aziatic Hotel, Jl. Sosrowijayan 6, Yogyakarta.
Kota Hotel, Jl. Gandekan Lor 79, Yogyakarta.
Pura Jenggala Guest House, Jl. Cendrawasih 2, Yogyakarta.
Ratna Hotel, Jl. Pasar Kembang 17 A, Yogyakarta.
Rose Guest House, Jl. Prawirotama 22, Yogyakarta.
Srivijaya Guest House, Jl. Prawirotama 7, Yogyakarta.
The pilgrimage point for fried chicken lovers from all over Java (and all over the world) is Nyonya Suharti’s (also known as Ayam Goreng “Mbok Berek,” after the women who invented this famous fried chicken recipe), located 7 km (4 miles) to the east of YOgya on the road to the airport (a short distance beyond the Ambarukmo on the same side). Nyonya Suharti’s chicken is first boiled and coated in spices and coconut, then fried crips and served with a sweet chilli sauce and rice. Excellent when accompanied by pungent petai beans and raw cabbage. Indonesian patronise the place in droves, and you can see Jakartans in the airport lounge clutching their take away boxes of the special chicken for friends and family back home.
Nasi Padang fanatics also rave about the fare at Sina Budi Restaurant, at Jl. mangkubumi 41, about 500 metres north of the railway tracks on the left (opposite the cinema). Mutton’s brain opor, beef rendang and gulai ayam (chicken curry) await you at moment’s notice. Be sure to ask for their spicy potato chips (kentang goreng) – Sinar Budi Restaurant answer to the barbeque flavoured variety in the West.
The Yogya speciality is gudeg – a combination plate consisting of rice with boiled young jackfruit (nangka muda), a piece of chicken, egg, coconut cream gravy and spicy sauce with boiled buffalo hide (sambal kulit). Juminten at Jl. Asem Gede 22, Kranggan 69, just north of Jl. Diponegoro, is known for its gudeg. The other gudeg restaurant is Bu Citro’s, just opposite the entrance to the airport out on Jl. Adisucipto (a good place to eat while waiting for a flight). Most restaurants in Yogya also serve the dish, and there is excellent gudeg just north of Taman Sari on the eastern side of Jl. Ngasem.
Western food is now readly available in Yogya, and not just in the large hotels. The Legian Garden Restaurant serves excellent steaks, chops, sauteed fish, avocado seafood cocktails, yoghurt and corn, and crab soup. Everything is very reasonable, the beer is cold and the vegetables are not overcooked. Enter via a well marked doorway around the corner from Jl. Malioboro – Jl. Perwakilan 9 (Tel: 87985). The Legian Garden now has a branch, called The Rose, on the southern side of Jl. Solo – the same menu and prices but more atmosphere. For more money, the Gita Buana offers air conditioning and low lighting at two locations: Jl. Diponegoro 52 A and out at Jl. Adisucipto 169 by the Ambarukmo hotel. The French Grill in the Arjuna Plaza Hotel (Jl. Mangkubumi 48) is also good, and they have puppet and dance performances every other night.
Many other on both sides of Jl. Malioboro cater to the young tourist crowd, offering a standard Kuta Beach menu of fruit drinks, yoghurt, sandwiches, vegetarian plates, desserts, ice cream and other western dishes, in addition to a full range of Chinese and Indonesian meals.
The most popular hangout with the budget crowd (beacuse it is the cheapest), is Supirman’s known to foreigners as Superman’s – on Gang Sosrowijayan I, a narrow lane parallel to Malioboro between Jl. Pasar Kembang and Jl. Sosrowijayan.
Another favourite hangout, with better food, is Mama’s Gado – Gado on Jl. Pasar Kembang behind the train station. Mama holds court nightly with the aplomb of an Italian pasta queen. Papa is occasionally there too, tending his songbirds and collecting the bread. Local foreign residents like to pop in for a nasi campur, a fruit salad and a cold beer. Breakfast is also served: French, toast, banana pancakes with honey, fresh fruit juices and coffee with fresh milk.
There are several fine Chinese restaurants in town. The old standby and the favourite of the local Chinese community is the Tiong San, at Jl. Gandekan 29, a block west of Malioboro. Moro Senang, Jl. Solo 55 (on the north side next to Miroto’s Supermarket), is also very good. The best seafood however, and probably also the best Chinese food, is to be had at Sintawang, several doors north of Jl. Diponegoro at Jl. Magelang 9, on the west side of the street.
Yogyakarta is commonly said to be a shopper’s paradise, but when you come right down to it, most of the stuff sold here is pretty tacky. Nevertheless it is all extremely cheap, and for this reason alone tourists seem to buy it. Concetrate on getting a few quality items that you will enjoy and use.
Most tours take you to one of the factories around Jl. Tirtodipuran in the south of Yogya, to see the batik process and to shop in the showroom, but they don’t sell much tulis work here – most of the batik is made by the quicker copper – stamp (batik cap) method. They do have good yard, goods, including some that are on heavier cotton, to be used for curtains and upholstery.
Batik Gurda, Jl. Parangtritis 77, Yogyakarta.
Batik Plentong, Jl. Tirtodipuran 28, Yogyakarta.
Rara Djonggrang, Jl. Tirtodipuran 6, Yogyakarta.
Sumiharjo, Jl. Mandkuyudan 15A, Yogyakarta.
Surya Kencana, Jl. Ngadinegaran M.D. VII/98, Yogyakarta.
Tjokrosoeharto, Jl. Panembahan 58, Yogyakarta.
Winotosastro, Jl. Tirtodipuran 34, Yogyakarta.
For high quality traditional Javanese batik tulis, try Toko Terang Bulan at Jl. Ahmad Yani 76, next to the central market. The prices here are fixed and reasonable. They have one of the best selections in Central Java.
Otherwise, you should seek out one of the boutiques of the better known batik artists in town. Most of them produce both batik paintings and yard goods, many of them also teach one week batik mini-courses. Some of the better known names are Kuswadji, Amri, Sapto Hudoyo and Bambang Oetoro. The dancer Bagong Kussudiardjo and the famous expressionist painter Affandi also do some batik paintings. Within the Taman Sari batik painters complex, the best place is Gallery Lod, on the western edge of the kampung.
Affandi Gallery, next to the river off Jl. Solo, before the Ambarukmo Hotel.
Agus, Jl. Taman Siswa Mg, III/102, Yogyakarta.
Amri Gallery, Jl. Gampingan 67, Yogyakarta.
Bagong Kussudiardjo, Jl. Singasaren 9, off Jl. Wates, Yogyakarta.
Bambang Oetoro, Jl. Taman Siswa 55, Yogyakarta.
Gallery Lod, Taman Sari, Yogyakarta.
Kuswadji K, Jl. Alun – Alun Utara, Pojok Barat Daya, Yogyakarta.
Sapto Hudoyo, Jl. Solo 9 km, Maguwo, Yogyakarta.
Kota Gede, to the south – east of Yogya, almost a suburb of the city now, is the centre of the silver industry. There are two major workshops, M.D. Silver and Tom’s Silver, and a number of minor ones where (buying or not) you can pass an intriguing half hour watching the hammering, beating, heating, cleaning and polishing of the precious metal. Deft fingers create spider – webfiligree: anvils clang till your ears ring: gentle hammer – blows tap out elegant repouse work.
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