The Best of Yogyakarta in 4D3N: The Return


“Just like before, the people of Jogja are generous in their smiles, even amongst themselves…”

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This is my second visit to Yogyakarta. I’m going to refer to it as Jogja in this article because that’s how locals call it. And no guys, it’s not in Jakarta. It’s a province of its own. Jogja is The place to go to if you are in need of a dose of adrenaline and thrills. But subconsciously I think I’m drawn to Jogja because of my Javanese heritage.

Saying Goodbye to Yogyakarta was bittersweet, back in 2016. Since then, I’ve always known that I’ll return to this colorful city of adventure.

In my first article of Yogyakarta, I did a review on the awesome Alamanda Villa Bed & Breakfast, Jomblang Cave exploration (A MUST!), Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, Pantai Timang Gondola ride and Malioboro Street. Click here to watch a video summary of my 2016 trip.

Right now as I’m standing here at Adisutjipto International Airport, I’m bursting with enthusiasm and ready to start another adventure in Yogyakarta.

But before that, let’s side track to Palembang…

Enroute (Palembang)

Thoughts on Palembang’s Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin Airport:

Enroute to Yogyakarta, we have to transit in Palembang. We chose this flight path as the flight tickets were rather cheap. I was abit worried that Palembang airport is going to be a boring one with nothing to do and eat. But boy was I wrong. Even though its a domestic airport, it has everything we need. Strong WIFI, Palembang signature dishes to try for the first time, Musollah, clean shower facilities, Starbucks, SIM card kiosks, charging points and A&W! After reading some flyers about Palembang, I think there might be a chance I would visit it to bask in its Javanese heritage and history.

Do You Know? Palembang is the largest capital city in South Sumatra.

We had to fill up our tummies before our flight to Yogyakarta. So we went to Pempek Selamat at Palembang Airport for some cheap good food.

Pangsit Ikan. Rp 31,800 Ingredients: Fishball-like dimsum and Bee Hoon.

The portion is not alot so I finished this in less than 5 mins and ordered another bowl. Think Thai boat noodle. #hungrymonster

Selam Kuah Model. Rp 33,300 Egg embedded fishball with Bee Hoon

Which areas to stay?

The city (kota) of Yogyakarta is one of five districts in the semi-autonomous province of Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta (DIY), the “Yogyakarta Special Region”. The other districts are the regencies of:

  • Sleman on the slopes of fiery Mount Merapi to the north
  • Bantul all the way to the sea to the south
  • The hills of Gunung Kidul to the east
  • The lowlands of Kulon Progo to the west

I’ve opted to stay in Sleman area at the wonderful Alamanda Villa. Again. Well, why not. I’ll get a villa surrounded with padi fields, nature, not too far from the city, free airport pick up and drop off, wonderful host and staff.

Arriving in Yogyakarta

We were greeted by a familiar face from Alamanda Villa. I couldn’t contain my joy when I saw Frans, the owner of Alamanda at the arrival gate, holding a signage with my name on it. It’s like meeting a family member after so long.

That familiar smell of fresh grown Padi and lemongrass started to make its way to my senses. The sound of mating crickets filled the whole field. And then there I saw it, Alamanda.

Click here for the Alamanda Villa Hospitality.

Here’s what we did for Yogyakarta 2.0:

MALIOBORO STREET AND NIGHT WALK

The only reason why I would go to Malioboro Street again is because of Hamzah Batik

Don’t be deceived by it’s name. Hamzah Batik doesn’t just sell Batik, it has…well…I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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If you’re thinking of getting souvenirs and home decors that are authentically Jogja, head on down to Malioboro Street. While you’re there, don’t forget to try Yogya’s signature dish, Gudeg, Sate Klathak and Mangut Lele.

Opens Monday to Sunday, 8am to 9pm

Address: Jalan Margo Mulyo No.9, Ngupasan, Gondomanan, Ngupasan, Gondomanan, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55122, Indonesia

What to eat?

  • Gudeg is the ‘icon’ of Yogyakarta culinary heritage. This dish is made from raw jackfruit, cooked in thick coconut milk for few hours until the coconut milk is absorbed to the jackfruit and its color turns red. It tastes savory and a little bit sweet. This dish is usually served along with steamed rice, duck eggs and opor ayam (chicken curry). Nowadays Gudeg is available in canned package and often bought for gifts from Yogyakarta as a souvenir. If you can’t sleep at night, you can go to Jalan Janturan and enjoy the Gudeg.

  • Sate Klathak is actually a kind of Sate Kambing or lamb satay. What makes this Satay unique is how the meat chunks are skewered with spokes of the wheels. And the secret spice of its delicious flavor is only…salt! Curious on how tasty it is?

  • Mangut Lele is specialty dish of Mataraman (Yogyakarta – Solo, West Java). The main ingredient of this dish is lele or catfish. Catfishes are skewered with midrib of coconut leaves, and grilled on firewood. After the catfish is cooked, it is then cooked in spicy coconut milk gravy. Mangut Lele is a must-try dish if you love spicy coconut milk gravy dishes.

  • Pawon (enjoying gudeg inside the old style kitchen) that open in late night. Due to the heavy fiber content of young jackfruit and the thick coconut milk, those who have weak stomach may have trouble with gudeg.
  • Ayam goreng Mbok Berek, (Mbok Berek’s fried chicken). Fried free range chicken with mild garlic and coriander flavour served with crunchy crackers.
  • Nasi langgi, locally known as sego langgi (langgi rice). Warm rice served with various side dishes. Can be found in small stall in Gandekan St.
  • Kipo, bite-size snacks made of green tapioca dough filled with sweetened grated coconut. Can be found in Kotagede.
  • Bakpia, another bite-size snack made from sweetened green bean paste wrapped with thin dough pastry. The most popular bakpia is known as Bakpia Patuk, which not surprisingly, are sold in Pathuk street, also known as Jl. Aip K.S. Tubun.
  • Jadah tempe, sandwich of rice cake and sweet beancake. Can be found in Kaliurang.
  • Es rujak or rujak es krim, a fruit salad made from mangos, papayas, apples, pineapples, cucumbers etc., mixed with palm sugar, lime juice, salt, chillies and (of course) ice cream (es krim). All flavours (sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, salty) in one plate. In case you are at UGM campus, have a look along Jalan Kaliurang. Small foodstalls sell es rujak there (only very late morning to early afternoon). If you are not close to UGM, keep your eyes open.

For a full list of Yogya’s delicacies, click here.

JOMBLANG CAVE

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Jomblang Cave took my breathe away when I saw that first ray of sunlight. Even though this is my second time in Jomblang, it’s effect is still as mesmerizing as I first remembered.

There’s alot of changes as compared to 3 years ago. Now, I’m given a queue number so I don’t have to stand and wait in line anymore. They will call out my number and that’s when I will get ready with the boots and harness.

Pro tip: Bring your own socks. You will be sharing the boots with others, so unless you are okay with wearing boots that’s muddy and wet inside (and smells), I would advise you to wear a pair of socks that you can just throw away afterwards. Bring a small towel too, to wipe down the muds and sweat after your Jomblang adventure.

The Goa Jomblang package is a one day tour. The pre-arranged driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the caves. It’s a 90 minute drive from Yogyakarta to the Goa Jomblang resort. When you arrive you have a safety briefing and you’ll be provided with a helmet, rubber boots and the safety harness you get lowered in.

To enter the caves you need to be lowered 60 meters over the edge of a cliff. It’s a 60 meter drop to the bottom of the sinkhole. Strapped into your safety harness you’ll be lowered into the forest. It is a bit scary, but it’s perfectly safe. When you arrive at the bottom, follow the guide as you trek through a tunnel to Goa Jomblang cave. You’ll have 30 minutes to explore the cave before returning to the surface.

From start to finish the Goa Jomblang caving takes 2-3 hours. The Jomblang tour is only conducted in the morning. They provide you with lunch after the caving.

PRICE

The cost for Gua Jomblang is for caving and 12 hour car rental with gas and an English speaking driver. You can’t book Gua Jomblang without arranging a car rental.

1 Person – Rp 850,000* – shared transport only visit Jomblang. Min 2 participants.
2 People – Rp 1,600,000
3 People – Rp 2,100,000
4 People – Rp 2,600,000
5 People – Rp 3,200,000*
6 People – Rp 3,700,000*

TOUR INCLUDES
– Professional guide
– Safety equipment (Harness, boots and helmet
– Packed lunch (Lunch is in the form of a local lunch box. It usually consists steam rice, meat (chicken/fish/beef), vegetable/vegetable with tofu or ‘*tempeh‘ and mineral water)
*Tempeh is a traditional soy product originating from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form.
You can book your Jomblang tour via Discover Your Indonesia

PANTAI TIMANG

The gondola ride was one of the awesome highlights of my trip to Jogja (apart from Jomblang). It’s a must-try!

There are two ways to get to the other side:
Bridge or Gondola
Bridge cost: Rp 100,000
Gondola cost: Rp 200,000

Since I’ve tried the gondola previously, I tried crossing the bridge this time. There are areas that you won’t be able to access if you opt for the bridge crossing. If you take the gondola ride, you are able to go down the steps at Watu Panjang. But nonetheless, you’ll get the same awesomeness of the picturesque Pantai Timang.

Tiwul Manis Pak Lambang

Side Snacks from Pantai Timang

Tiwul Gula Melaka
With Pak Lambang himself

On the way down from Pantai Timang, be sure to check out Pak Lambang’s Tiwul Manis. His streetside stall has the most authentic, yummilicious Tiwul Manis. Tiwul manis is a Gunungkidul origin. ‘Tiwul’ is translated as tapioca. So, it’s tapioca mix with a bit o water, flour, coconut and gula melaka (brown sugar). The tapioca mix is then steamed. I’ve tried all the flavours of the tiwul manis and personally, my favourite would be the original, tiwul manis gula melaka.

My splurge at Pak Lambang’s stall:

Tiwul Gula Melaka – Rp 12,000
Tiwul Chocolate – Rp 15,000
Instant Tiwul powder – Rp 25,000
Kukusan Bambu (traditional steamer made from interwoven bamboo strips) – Rp 6,000

BECICI PEAK

Becici Peak is a lovers’ paradise when it comes to snapshots with romantic backdrops of sun rays peeking through pine trees.

PINUS PENGGER

The pine forest of Pinus Pengger is not a new destination for tourists, but the newly constructed viewing decks are the hype for selfie seekers and photography hunters today. The Giant Hands is quite an iconic structure, leading you to endless scenery of trees and the cities beneath your seats. Another spot is the Indian Hut, perfect for night photography, as it frames the flickering night lights of Yogyakarta from a distance.

GIANT HANDS

Apart from the iconic Giant Hand, venture deeper into the park and you’ll find treetop platforms with superb view of the vistas.

Entrance fee: Rp 2,500
Carpark charges: Rp 5.000 per entry

AddressTerong, Dlingo, Bantul Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta 55783

BAREDE HILL SUNRISE

Typically, one would opt for the Borobudur Sunrise via Manohara Hotel. But I want to see a full unobstructed view of the sunrise and morning mists with Borobudur in the background. There are two hilltops where you can this kind of view: Barede Hill and Punthuk Setumbu. I’ve opted for the less crowded Barede Hill. Also because Barede Hill has a treetop platform. The first 4 people to reach there, would be able to go up and enjoy the unobstructed view, perfect if you’re into timelapses.

Sunrise at Barede Hill is anything but ordinary.
Entrance fee: Rp 30,000
Extra fees to get on the treetop platform for an unobstructed view of the sunrise: Rp 50,000 (Maximum only 4 people allowed)

MERAPI LAVA JEEP TOUR

Jump into a jeep and take a Jurassic Park style of off road adventure on the slopes of Mount Merapi. For two hours you’ll speed along muddy roads crashing through puddles, wheel spin up steep slopes and drive over a moonscape like landscaped that’s still devastated from the last Merapi eruption. This Merapi Lava Tour is an adventure for people who are looking for something a bit different than the usual cultural tours.

To reach Merapi you’ll need to arrange a 12 hour car rental through us. The Merapi Jeep Tour takes two hours.

PRICE

Entrance fee: Rp 3000 per pax
Parking fee: Rp 4000 per car
Rp 350,000 per jeep (max. 4 pax)

Be sure to be fully equipped with proper attire for the Merapi tour.

– Hiking boots or good trainers.
– Waterproof coat and/ or windbreaker.
– A sun hat.
– Snack or energy bar

DURATION: 2 hours

TOUR INCLUDES
– 2 hour jeep rental with driver for sunrise sunset. Cost is Rp 450,000 per jeep (maximum 4 passengers per jeep).
– 2 hour jeep rental with driver. Cost is Rp 350,000 per jeep (maximum 4 passengers per jeep).
You can book your Merapi Lava Jeep Tour via Discover Your Indonesia

OVERVIEW

On our return visit to Jogja, it’s not about temples, cave or castle exploration anymore. It’s about the people. This article is dedicated to all the people who has made our visit here a fruitful and meaningful one. We’ve yet to thank them for it but I’m sure they know how appreciative we are. Just like before, the people of Jogja are generous in their smiles, even amongst themselves. And the knowledge and skills they fed our minds throughout our stay, is something that cannot be found in any books or Google search. Matur Nuwun, Jogja 😘

Till next time~