Yogyakarta, also known as Jogja, is a city in Java Island that is home to the culture and arts of Indonesia. If you are interested in the country’s rich heritage, this city should be at the top of your itinerary. There’s a variety of things to do and places to visit from this city alone, from the breathtaking architecture of the temples (Borobudur and Prambanan) to the relaxing pine tree forests (Pinus Pengger). There’s just so many places to choose from but my friend and I did not have much time and budget to go to all of them so we have chosen only a few places that we really wanted to visit. We’ve made friends with some locals and asked them to tour us around with their bikes.
Our first stop, Jalan Malioboro. Jalan Malioboro is a street where you can buy all sorts of stuff from street food and batik clothes to paintings and small trinkets. Tip: Stick to a budget and ask yourself multiple times if you really want to buy something before you buy them. It will save you an AWFUL LOT OF MONEY.
My mistake when we went to Jalan Malioboro was I bought too many key chains to bring back to my country as gifts to my friends. The prices of the goods are so cheap that I ended up buying way too many souvenirs (which took up so much luggage space on my flight back home). Explore your options by going around different stalls first before buying anything. You might get a better deal in the next shop with more varieties of t-shirt and key chain designs to choose from.
Borobudur and Prambanan Temple
Before I went to Indonesia, I’ve always been curious about the architecture and history of old temples. It was so exciting when I finally got to visit two of the most popular temples in the country (Borobudur and Prambanan). The two Temples are located in the outskirts of Jogja. It’ll take about 45 minutes to travel from central Jogja to Borobudur and about 40 minutes to Prambanan. We went to Borobudur via our local Indonesian friends’ bikes because they don’t allow Grab drivers to enter the facility. Prepare around 130,000-500,000 Rupiah for the entrance fee (I’m not so sure how much it costs now but it really helps to find a local friend to go with so you don’t have to pay extra for a tour guide). When we got to the temple, it was crowded with tourists so it was hard to take a decent photo without other people getting into the frame. We were able to appreciate the view when it was almost closing time because more and more people were starting to go home. It was such a breathtaking and unforgettable scenery as we witnessed the sunset before we left Borobudur.
When we went to Prambanan Temple, we rode a Grab car going there because it was more convenient and they were allowed to pick us up and drop us off the place. Before you can enter, you have to pay a fee of 300,000 Rupiah. We got to the grounds leading to the temples (which looks perfect for a picnic date) and as always, many tourists were there. Regardless, the temples looked so amazing. The architecture was so fascinating, words aren’t enough to describe them. We went inside each temple and saw statues of different Hindu gods. We took lots of pictures as we marveled into this historic piece of landmark. It was almost sundown when we got to Prambanan so we didn’t have enough time to visit the nearby temples. Tip: Visit Prambanan temple earlier so you can try going to other small temples nearby.
Hutan Pinus Pengger
Pinus Pengger is such a lovely place to visit especially if you want to be one with nature. Located at the mountainside of Yogyakarta, this pine tree forest is a perfect place to relax with your friends. We went to Pinus Pengger in the evening via our local friends’ bikes (as usual) with our helmets on and our smartphones ready to take pictures. The place looks more majestic at night because of the overlooking view of the city. There are lots of instagrammable backgrounds you can choose from. However, you’ll have to queue before you can get your photo taken and there’s an allotted time for each person to shoot so you must always be camera-ready. After we got our pictures taken, we had to rest a bit before going back to central Jogja. It was scary going back but we’re glad we got to our home-stay safely. Tip: It’s better to rent a car going to Pinus Pengger at night because it’s safer compared to riding a motorcycle; Bring a jacket, it can be a little cold because it’s in the forest.
1. Learn how to speak their Language
It’s easier to communicate with locals if you can learn their language. Simple phrases like good morning (Selamat Pagi) and thank you (Terima Kasih) can go a long way. Try learning the basic questions like How much (Berapa?) and Where is this (Ini dimana?) as well as counting in Indonesian so you’ll have more fun shopping and traveling around the city. Learning their language makes it easier to make friends, too!
2. Travel with a Local
Traveling around with a local friend can cost you lesser money than traveling alone. Your friends can help you find great deals and can accompany you to your dream destination without getting lost and having to pay a lot for a tour guide. But make sure to treat them by buying them food and paying for gas as a way of thanking them for helping you.
3. Learn how to bargain!
Needless to say, bargaining can save you A LOT of money, especially when shopping in Indonesia. It helps to have a friend who can bargain for you but it won’t hurt to bargain on your own for that awesome looking souvenir t-shirt. Language is a really important factor when it comes to bargaining. Learning how to count in Indonesian and asking for the price can help you get great deals with your budget for shopping. Always get your currency converter ready so you won’t have to be shocked with the prices. There are LOTS of things you can do and other places you can visit in Yogyakarta like Goa Pindul and Timang beach, but if you’re on a tight budget and you’d like to experience more of Indonesia’s culture, the places I’ve mentioned are places you can start with.