When someone says Indonesia the first place that probably comes to your mind is Bali. I have spent a year in Bintan island, which is just as nice as Bali, and managed to travel a little around to find out more about this mysterious country. One of the places I visited and loved was Jogjakarta (Yogyakarta), or Jogja for short.
Jogjakarta is a special district of Indonesia, located on the island of Java. The city itself is not very big but I have to say there is much to see in the surroundings and city center.
Disclaimer: Very unfortunately, I have lost almost all pictures I have taken during my visits to Jogjakarta, therefore I borrowed them for a couple of resources (see links below borrowed shots).
To explore Jogjakarta at its best I would suggest to get a local help. If you have a friend or you can get a hotel guide to take you around on a car it would be great. Borobudur is located a little out of the city, which means you either need to join the tour or rent a car. It is one of the most impressive Buddhist temples I have ever seen in my life.
It is a few story temple, which walls the story of the Prince being reborn into Buddha. However, being away from the Buddhism, I could not enjoy the story itself as much as I did enjoy the art and the effort that was put into this place.
When you walk around you really feel like this place is magical.
Borobudur is surrounded by a jungle from all the side, however, there are also two rivers and a lake nearby, so this place is blessed with the harvests.
Right next to the Borobudur there is an amazing hotel – Plataran, which opens up great views on Borobudur from one side and the Merapi Volcano, which is still active.
Source: Viva Indonesia
Another thing to do when you are in the area of Borobudur is to visit Gua Pindul. And well not just visit, but do a cave tubing around. You will be able to enjoy the views of jungles, jump off the 8 meter cliff and see the caves from water.
Source: Tribun Jogja
It is a nice activity to do to chill a little, while it is too hot.
And this is finally my probably most favourite place in Jogjakarta. Candi (Temple) Prambanan which is Hindu temple located close by the city. The scenery in that place is great. If you can I suggest to have a local guide who will tell you the story about 999 temples located there.
As I understood the storyline changed depending on the your nature of travel. If you are a young couple they will tell you a very romantic story about a young guy falling in love and a mean lady requesting to have a thousand temples built in one night, if you are a single traveler, they will tell you a story about a god.
What I liked the most was the scenery around. Since I visited right before a big rain, it was even more dramatic. I believe it is one of the most beautiful places around Java, and again, very mystical.
Kraton – Sultan Palace.
Finally after 3 days of exploring surroundings it is time to explore the city itself. I would suggest to start it with Kraton – the Sultan Palace. As I mentioned before Jogjakarta is a special district, which has a high density of muslim population, and as it happens, it was ruled by a Sultan for a very long time.
At the entrance of Kraton there are two huge banyan trees, which protect the gates. The locals believed (some of them still believe) that banyan tree is the home to the spirits protecting the gates. It is one of local traditions to come over here in the evening and after covering your eyes to be able to walk in between these trees. If you manage to do it, then your most wanted wish will come true.
I have tried doing that 7 times, I was so sure I walked straight but every time I attempted going through – I would find myself somewhere not even close to the pass.
Kraton itself is quite nice, the old legend said that the Sea Goddess once managed to seduce the Sultan he, to never be noticed built an underground corridor from the palace all way down to the beach to escape for the dates with her.
Taman Sari is another place, which you surely should visit. It is a water palace or a residence of the Sultan and his wives.
If you have a spare day to spend in Jogjakarta, I could suggest to arrange an early morning tour (or an overnight stay) to Wonosobo, one of the high level areas of the Central Java, where you can see the most beautiful sunrise over the mount – volcano Merapi.
The way up is quite challenging and dangerous, if you travel on the weekend you will probably have to deal with a crowd too, but otherwise when you get up there, it is a great view and magical time of the day.
Another thing to do here is to try the local noodles – Mue Ongklok – which you’ll probably never find elsewhere as the recipe is kept a secret here.
Jogja is surely a place I would advice to everyone to visit if you are in Indonesia. Even though I managed to visit other places like Jakarta, Bogor, Bintan and Batam, only Jogjakarta took a place in my heart and I am pretty sure I will come back.