PART 1 – The City: The Royal Heritage and Culture
Yogyakarta is the last existing kingdom in Indonesia. It has a long history back from the 8th century. The Yogyakarta Kingdom becomes a part of the Republic of Indonesia since the Republic independence day on August 17th, 1945. It is now entitled as the Special Region of Yogyakarta, the only province which is ruled by a Sultan (King).
Located in the heart of Java island, Yogyakarta can be reached by 45 minutes flight from Jakarta or 2 hours from Singapore.
As soon as you land at Yogyakarta, you will see the influence of Hindu, Islam, Dutch, and modern culture reflected in the different architecture of buildings and housings. There are wide variety options of accommodation, from as cheap as US$ 10 ‘losmen’ (inn) room to US$ 300 luxury hotel room, per night.
PLANNING THE TRIP
There are 5 areas/directions to manage your travel efficiently:
- The City
- Northern Yogyakarta: Mount Merapi and Borobudur Temple
- Eastern Yogyakarta: Umbul Ponggok, Klaten
- Western Yogyakarta: Kalibiru and Mangunan
- Southern Yogyakarta: Gunung Kidul
PLANNING THE TRIP: THE CITY
Anywhere in the city is a good location for staying. All the main tourist destinations in the 4 directions can be reached within 1.5 hours drive from the city. Few of the most popular attractions in the city itself are:
- Keraton (The Royal Palace) and Alun-alun (The Palace Square)
Keraton is a palace complex where the Sultan and the royal family resides until now. It functions as the main seat from where Sultan governs the kingdom, and as the cultural center for his people. The complex of about 1 square kilometer area is surrounded by perimeter wall of 3.5 meter high, and 3-4 meter thick. You can have a tour to the palace, royal artifacts museum, Taman Sari (royal family bathing complex); or just hang out at Alun-alun, enjoying street culinary in the evening. And if you are lucky, you can see the Sultan on Sekaten (Islamic new year) festival.
- Malioboro Avenue
Malioboro is the main avenue northward of the main gate of the royal palace, lies in direct north-south axis from the Mount Merapi to the Keraton (Royal Palace). The sections of the roads from the Mount Merapi to the Keraton symbolize people’s life from birth to death. Malioboro itself is a section which symbolizes the unity of a leader and his people, or a man with his community.
In accordance to its symbolization, Malioboro is an area where people interact. It is the main and largest tourist area surrounded by shops, hotels, and restaurants. The sidewalks are crowded with street stalls selling a variety of goods like handicrafts, souvenirs, and clothes during the day. Street musicians and painters exhibit their arts creation among the stalls crowd. The goods stalls switch to open streetside food stalls, called ‘Lesehan’, in the evening.
- Prambanan Temple
Prambanan, also often called as Lara Jonggrang, is the largest complex of Hindu temple in Indonesia, built in the 8th century, and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The complex is compounded of 3 large temples of 45 meter high, 3 medium temples, and 234 small temples. The 3 large temples are dedicated to the Hindu Gods: Shiva, Brahma, and Wishnu.
Traditional Javanese dance and theater are performed on an open-air stage, with the temples as the background, at every full moon night.
- Ratu Boko Palace
Ratu Boko is an ancient palace built on the top of a hill, 3 km south of Prambanan temple. The view of surrounding areas from the palace is beautiful, especially during sunset.
- Tebing Breksi
Tebing Breksi literally means Cliff (Tebing) of Breccia (a type of rocks). The cliff was shaped by mining activities of locals for years. The government prohibits the mining activities recently, due to the site is located in a cultural conservation area. The natural color of the cliff, combined with man-made strokes of mining activity on the cliff wall, created a beautiful panoramic view for taking pictures. The view from the top of the cliff during sunrise and sunset is also breath-taking.
The most popular tourist area for accommodations is in Malioboro area and in Prawirotaman area. In Malioboro, you can enjoy traditional culinary at lesehan along the street after you return from a day trip. While Prawirotaman area is popular for hang out at modern and contemporary cafes and restaurants.
This article is Part 1 of 5, and is created for BCIO Travel Lookouts blog. BCIO (Bridge Club International Organization) is the organization for former participants of The Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka, Japan (APCC). The network spans in 40 countries around Asia Pacific region. APCC and BCIO mission is to nurture global citizen with ‘omoiyari’ (respect and understanding) spirit. Please read further about BCIO at http://www.bcio.org
(To be continued…)