Yogyakarta, commonly pronounced as “Jogja”, is a beautiful city of Java, Indonesia. It is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the magnificent temples Borobudur and Prambanan, and is also known for the surrounding wonders of nature. The city is also famous for its handtooled silver products, batik and leather goods. If you have yet to explore this culturally rich city, this Yogyakarta Travel Guide may be handy for you to plan your first trip there!

3D2N Itinerary in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Day 1: Arrive in Yogyakarta – Get lost in the Enormous Prambanan Temple – Dine in an Abandoned House

  • Arrive at the Yogyakarta International Airport via flight
  • Check in to your hotel and have a hearty lunch at the City Centre
  • Take a drive down towards the culturally rich Prambanan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of 244 temples
  • Immerse yourself in rich local culture at the Temple and appreciate its beauty
  • Experience the Life of Ancient Royalty at Boko Palace
  • Head back to the City Centre and have an unique experience dining in the Tap House Beer Garden, an abandoned house with rusted walls and overgrown green moss

Day 2: Borobudur Temple Sunrise Tour – Sandboarding under the Scorching Sun – Shop and Dine at Jalan Malioboro

  • Rise at 3am to start your journey to Borobudur Temple
  • Be awed by the beautiful sunrise at Borobudur, one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world
  • Slide down scorching hot sand dunes at Gumuk Pasir
  • Enjoy an exhilarating motorbike ride with the locals to the nearest bus terminal and experience a local bus ride back to the City Centre
  • Indulge in tasty local street food along Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta’s equivalent of Bangkok’s night markets
  • Have fun shopping for souvenirs at the surrounding streets for locally produced handmade leather goods and other products

Day 3: Catch the Sunrise at Mt Merapi – Bask under the Heavenly Lights at Jomblang Cave – Last Minute Shopping – Home Sweet Home

  • Prepare for the drive to Mt Merapi at 3am
  • Gear up for the fun and bumpy Jeep ride towards the volcano upon arriving at the carpark
  • Catch the amazing view of the sun rising from behind Mt Merapi
  • Admire the jaw-dropping view of Mt Merapi, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes
  • Continue on your ride towards Jomblang Cave
  • Descend 59m downwards to the base of the vertical Jomblang Cave
  • Tramp through muddy fields towards the Heavenly Lights
  • Head back to Yogyakarta for some last minute shopping before the flight back home in the evening

Iconic Highlights of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

1. Immerse in the Beauty of the Magnificent Prambanan Temple

The entrance to Prambanan Temple

The Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia. It is built in the 10th century and comprises of a stunning 244 temples! With that, it is no wonder that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rich historical significance. Although it was unfortunately damaged during the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake, much of it has been restored to date and the significance it holds is not in any way diminished by this.

You can plan around 2 to 4 hours to explore the large compound of 39.8 hectares on foot, and take in the beauty of the detailed work behind these temples. When you are done exploring the temple, you might even want to cycle around the surrounding parks and do some sourvenir shopping before heading back to the city.

2. Sandboarding at Gumuk Pasir

yogyakarta travel guide, sandboarding gumuk pasir
Conquering our first sandboard together

Ever heard about sandboarding? Well, it was definitely my first time sandboarding in Yogyakarta and I did it at Gumuk Pasir. I never imagined that sand could be so hot that I was literally running around just to prevent my bare feet from being burnt. It was really fun though as we took turns sliding down the sand dunes.

A big warning to you here! Pick the right slope that you know you can conquer. With that, I meant not just conquer sliding downwards, but also conquer going back upwards. There’s no pull chair or whatsoever to bring you back up so you have to climb back up the slope you slide down from, while carrying the board. Climbing up was way more tiring than going down! I actually slid down one steep slope and regretted that instant when I looked back and saw the height of the slope I needed to climb back up from.

3. Catch the Sunrise at Borobudur Temple

yogyakarta travel guide sunrise at borobudur
Basking in the first rays of the morning at Borobudur

The Borobudur Temple Compounds is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, and was built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. It was also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which signifies how valuable and culturally rich it is! A definite jem of the country!

I squeezed in a sunrise tour on my last day at Yogyakarta since my flight home was in the afternoon. It was so worth the early morning given that amazing view of the temple’s silhouette against the sun’s orange rays! You can hire a local driver to pick you up from your hotel to get to the temple in time for the sunrise. The best part about this is catching up on sleep on the car!

3. Get on a Jeep Adventure towards Mt Merapi

yogyakarta travel guide mt merapi
That’s Mt Merapi right behind us!

Mt Merapi is a one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a good view of the smokey crater on a clear day. The day was so cloudy that we missed seeing the sunrise, and we almost missed seeing Mt Merapi entirely too! We were getting ready to head back disappointed when suddenly the wind blew the clouds away, unveiling Mt Merapi in front of our very eyes! We were so close to returning home disappointed! You can choose to view it from afar like I did. Otherwise, if you’re more adventurous, there’s also the option of the steep and tough 4km hike towards the crater of Mt Merapi. It is also a place popular for the sunrise chasers too, which I did with my bunch of friends (yes, again). We caught two sunrises over two consecutive days.

We also paired this trip with a jeep ride. The jeep ride was not a smart move though,considering how early it was and we were just smashing through cold air with our faces. However, it was much better thereafter when the sun rose and we had an amazing “photoshoot” with it too. We were so excited and lucky to have an enthusiastic guide to direct a photoshoot for us with Mt Merapi and the jeep. The photos turned out really well and if you don’t have a great photographer on your travel group, I would totally recommend signing up for the jeep ride so you get a complimentary photo shooting session!

4. Heavenly lights in Jomblang Cave

yogyakarta travel guide jomblang cave heavenly lights
Heavenly Lights at Jomblang Cave

Jomblang Cave is a vertical cave underground and is famous for that Heavenly Lights at the end of the trek inwards. In order to get into the cave, we had to descend 59m using a man-made pulley. That step I needed to take into the air to be lowered into the cave reminded me of my bungy jumping in New Zealand. It was so nerve-wrecking to step out and be latched to the pulley. However, once you take that step, what comes after is a comfortable and fun ride down lush green rock walls to the base of the cave. Then, get ready to tramp through wet and sticky mud until you see the Heavenly Lights! It was so unreal when the heavenly lights unveiled itself!

I did this right after visiting Mt Merapi, so make sure you’re in comfortable clothes to get through the activities. Don’t worry about the places being far apart because that’s the best time to catch up on your sleep. We finished the whole itinerary for the day by approximately 3pm in the afternoon and had a good time to rest for the rest of the day too.

How to get to Yogyakarta, Indonesia?

View of two mountain peaks from our flight into Yogyakarta

1. Direct Flight into Yogyakarta

I took a direct budget flight from Singapore that took around 2 hours to get to Yogyakarta. It costs me around S$180 for a return trip!

If you’re not from Singapore, combining your trip to Yogyakarta with Singapore maybe be a good move too because of the many direct flights options from Singapore to Yogyakarta.

2. Combine it with an Indonesia Tour – Surabaya, Bali, Jakarta

If you have more time to spare to explore the whole of Indonesia in one sitting, I definitely recommend doing a country tour if you could! Indonesia is such a beautiful country and other popular destinations include places like Surabaya, Bali and Jakarta. There is no lack of flights daily from Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bali to Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport. Hence, this could be one other possible option for the travel lover!

Getting around Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Taking a local motorbike to the bus terminal after sandboarding at Gumuk Pasir

Yogyakarta is really small and easy to access either by foot, the motorbikes or even the tuk-tuks around. Long trips to the outskirts of Yogyakarta to the temples or Jomblang Cave usually come with transport as you book tickets online. Otherwise, it is also easy to organize a car and driver for the duration of your stay in Yogyakarta. Taxis are also another popular option and can be easily arranged through your hotel. You can also try out the buses here if you’re feeling adventurous but do take note that their hours of operation and capacity can be limited.

Best time to visit Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Visit Yogyakarta anytime between April to October! That’s when the weather is dry and perfect for the temples visiting, sightseeing, cave exploration and even sandboarding. Just make sure you bring an extra layer to prepare for the cold mornings.

5 Things You Must Pack for Yogyakarta, Indonesia

yogyakarta travel guide mt merapi jeep adventure
Beautiful sunrise at Mt Merapi

Because of the activities in this itinerary, you will experience a wide range of temperatures in a span of a day. Here are 5 things I would recommend you to pack for your trip:

  1. A Lightweight Down Jacket – This is perfect for keeping you warm for when you are catching the sunrises and also the jeep ride. Pick a waterproof one if you have, otherwise, feel free to pack in another light poncho.
  2. Light Exercise Clothes – I would recommend packing in a few stretchable leggings and sport wear to help you go through Jomblang Cave, survive the Jeep Adventure and explore the temples. It can get really cold in the mornings and yet super warm in the afternoon.
  3. Wet Wipes or Hand Sanitisers – This was especially useful before meals after a hot day at the Temple or after sandboarding.
  4. Camera and Tripod – You’ll love all the photos you take during this whole trip because everything just looks so surreal and pretty. If you would like to capture the beautiful time-lapse of the sunrise, then a tripod would be a must to have too!
  5. Portable Charger – This is especially useful since day trips to the outskirts of Yogyakarta can take up to a full day. You would want to charge your devices sufficiently so you don’t miss out on taking beautiful pictures of your surroundings.

Budgeting for Yogyakarta, Indonesia

I set my budget to be around SG$500 to SG$600. However, do tweak things around to suit your desired budget!

Flights from Singapore to YogyakartaSG$180
Accommodation for 2 nightsSG$100
Option 1:
Prambanan Temple Entrance Tickets (inclusive of transport)SG$20
Borobudur Sunrise Tour + Jeep Adventure (inclusive of transport)SG$55
Option 2:
Borobudur Sunrise Jeep Tour + Prambanan Sunset TripSG$45
Sandboarding at Gumuk PasirSG$15
Mt Merapi – Jomblang Cave (inclusive of transport and lunch)SG$80
Cash (subjective to personal expenditure)SG$100
TotalSG$520 to SG$550

Visa requirements to Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia offers visa exemptions to travelers from 169 countries for 30 days, and Visa-on-Arrivals to travelers from 68 countries. You can easily apply for a visa on arrival online if you do need one. Singapore is included in the list of visa exempted countries that do not require a visa if the visit is within 30 days.

That’s all from me! Hope this travel guide to Yogyakarta, Indonesia is useful in helping you plan for your trip to Indonesia. Stay safe and have fun in your travels!

You might also enjoy: