October 29, 2014

Yogyakarta, Indonesia: 15 Things to Do When You Only Have 60 hours

I had this conversation with a friend a year ago about temples and how I enjoyed my trip in Cambodia. She told me about her current trip in Yogyakarta and mentioned another set of interesting temples adjacent to the likes of Angkor Wat. That same night, I told myself that I want to see Borobodur and Prambanan myself. But, getting there isn't as simple as booking a direct flight to Bali or Jakarta. In case you're interested in visiting this sleepy town, here are some tips on exploring Yogyakarta in a breeze:

What do you do when there are so many places to see, but with so little time?

1. Book a flight to Jakarta/Bali via Cebu Pacific. I highly recommend that you seize the opportunity to book when there's a seat sale. I got ours at P6,000+ (Manila-Jakarta, then Bali-Manila). Normal rates go from P15,000.00 per head.

Jakarta Airport
2. Choose what you value more. Is it time or money? The cheaper way is traveling via train/bus that takes at least 10 hours to get from Jakarta to Jogja, or a bus and ferry ride from Bali. Since our time was limited, we chose to fly instead and booked via Tiket.com to save those extra hours. 

Take the free shuttle to Terminal 3.
3. Say you prefer to fly from Jakarta. Once you've landed at Soekharno Hatta (Terminal 1), head out, go right and once you see the staircase/lift, go to level 2. Beware of scammers standing by at the exit and ignore them when they tell you to ride a cab to Terminal 3. There is a yellow bus, or the PEMBERHENTIAN Shuttle Bus that comes about every 10 mins. This can transfer you to terminal 3 for FREE.

4. It's better to buy a few Rupiahs in terminal 3 than 1. Plus, there are 24/7 restos where you can wait until the counters open.

5. The currency rates in Yogyakarta are better than Jakarta's. Once you've landed in Yogyakarta, tell your driver to bring you to Inna Garuda money changer. Airport's best rate (as of Sept  2014) is Rp11,300 = $1, where as Inna Garuda offers RP11,775 = $1.

Our friendly, honest, and reliable driver, Herman
6. If you want a DIY itinerary, get a driver instead of a tour. Thanks to my friend, Angge, she recommended us a driver that offered the best rate (by that I meant inexpensive), and quality service. For more details, you may contact Herman at +62274 977 7389 via whatsapp or email him at txi_rental@yahoo.co.id, or visit his Adipura Transport Website

Yogyakarta's best-selling cokelat (Chocolate)
7. For souvenirs, bring home to your friends and loved ones a Monggo Cokelat bar (probably the most famous Chocolate bars in Yogyakarta). Available flavors include but are not limited to: Dark Chili, Praline Caramel, Milk, and the classic Dark. It is cheaper to buy in the supermarket than in Malioboro.

The Taman Sari Wisata Water Palace
Where the king watches his concubines bathe, and chooses a mate for his 'past time'.
8. Don't forget to explore the historical Underground Mosque, and Taman Sari Wisata Water Palace.

The Prambanan Market
9. If you're into relics and antiques, shop at the Prambanan market. They offer better rates than in Malioboro.

Malioboro by day
Malioboro at night
You can, however, get good bargains on Batik fabrics for your mom in Malioboro.

Visually enticing as the whole lobby is filled with wall murals and hip furniture
10. We stayed at Edu Hostel, a backpacker's haven with dorm-style rooms and private rooms that offers the basics. It costs P650.00 for 3 days with your choice of bread, butter and jam, or fried rice for breakfast. Wi-fi is only available at the lobby. You can book tours in your hotel. Just approach the receptionist for more info. We got ours at a discounted price thanks to our wonderful driver. 

A bowl of bakso for only Rp 8,000 or P30.00
11. Eat with the locals! If you're not familiar with Halal food, this is your time to explore this cuisine. There are different ways to eat like a local - One is the lesehan that requires you to sit on a mat while eating. Herman brought us to the most famous Gudeg (Grilled Chicken with Spicy Buffalo Skin and Jackfruit in Coconut Sauce), and this tiny resto under the highway for a bowl of Bakso. Whether you like it or not, trying out these local dishes brings you closer to their culture.

Lovely Prambanan
Prambanan Sunset
12. Candi Prambanan - Rent a bike and explore the huge complex including Candi Sewu. If you're into silhouettes, you can get picturesque shots during sunset. And if you have the time, catch the Ramayana Ballet. Show time is at 7:30-9:30pm.

Whoops! Nothing to see here

This looks like the gods's playground
13. Skip Mendut, Sambisari, and other small temples.

Candi Plaosan. A huge lot, with rubbles, spaces, and less tourists to enjoy
14. But do spend your sunset at Candi Plaosan. A smaller temple compared to Borobodur and Prambanan but bigger than the others. It is less touristy, has bigger spaces, and has a huge pile of rubbles and stones to be reassembled. Entrance is free but donations are welcome.

Magnificent Borobodur at Sunrise
Rise and shine :)
15. Borobodur - If you're a sunrise person, wake up at 3AM and book at the Mano Hara hotel.

Free coffee, fried banana, and rice cakes at the Mano Hara hotel
Ticket is Rp 380,000.00 and includes the following freebies: a scarf, free rental of flashlight, and coffee & snacks after the Borobodur tour. The normal one costs only Rp 200,000. My recommendation? Save up for the sunrise package. It's totally worth the money. 

Here's a summary of our Budget and Itinerary (prepared by my officemate, Eyeth Hernandez)
If you need a larger version of this, send me a message so I can personally email it to you. :)
There are so many ways to share my Yogyakarta trip. As much as I want to tell you more about our experience in Yogyakarta, let this video speak on my behalf. Enjoy! :)