Exploring Yogyakarta : The Wonders of Mount Merapi and Borobudur
Yogyakarta – Borobudur – Prambanan – Merapi
The Fiery Mountain And Its Treasures
Yogyakarta, a city also known colloquially as “Jogja” and pronounced as such, is a fantastic place for a weekend or a 3-4 day trip.
Yogyakarta as the base by itself has enough to satisfy you. A long shopping street, many fantastic eateries and local delicacies, as well as a buzzing young and cultural vibe to it. From there on, you can explore the double UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the cultural wonders of Borobudur and Prambanan, as well as one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, “The Mountain Of Fire” Mount Merapi ( 2,911 m) cue background eruption noise. The best part, the cost of food and transport in Yogya is very cheap relative to many other cities. This is applicable to the hike to Merapi, which is cheap compared to some hikes in Indonesia. You only need 1 night for Mount Merapi. During the day you can go to Borobudur and Prambanan and leave the other day to explore the city of Jogja itself.
Flights there from Singapore are also extremely cheap and common. Just make sure to get the flight deals. The range of cost for the flight can range from 100SGD (return) to 300 SGD (Return).
Shoutout to Yip and Mark for coming on this trip with me, as well as Farhan who dropped by for Merapi. They provided most of this content actually.
This can all be done in 3-4 days, with a total budget including flights of 200 SGD or less! Click on the following links to read up on my detailed write-ups on the Mount Merapi Trek, Borobudur and Prambanan.
Essential Trip Expenses :
Estimated Total Budget: SGD 200
Flight: SGD 114
1-Way Tiger Air from Singapore to Yogyakarta: SGD 45
1 Way Air Asia from Yogyakarta to Singapore: Rp 668,000 (~ SGD 69 )
Accommodation : RP 140,000 (~SGD 14)
EDU hostel: 70,000 IDR per night X 2
Transport : RP 6,000(~SGD 6)
Jogja Bus 3A from Airport: 3,000 IDR
Bus to Airport: 3,000 IDR
Package Trips : RP 480,000 (~SGD 48)
Borobudur: Rp 125,000 per person
Prambanan: RP 130,000 per person
Merapi Hike: RP 225,000 per person
Airport Tax: RP 100,000
To get to the city, just take the bus as it is the cheapest way.
From Adisucipto International Airport, look for the Bus Shelter and take the bus. To get to EDU Hostel its Trans Jogja Bus Line 3A (remember this bus route). The bus shelter is just a small bus stop that has the turnstile barrier. They are quite honest so just pay 3k rupiah and you will get a ride. They are other bus routes that take you to the city too and they cost the same.
The trip is around 45 minutes due to traffic. I just sat near the entrance of the bus and asked the bus driver to tell me when to stop.
You need to get off at Ngabean Station, and this is where it gets quite confusing. The instruction is : walk 150 meters towards the traffic light intersection to the north. That is not really helpful, its near the traffic light but behind this building that was under construction. The best bet is just to ask people around.
EDU Hostel is like one of those YHA hostels in Europe. It is very clean, standardized rooms with precise spaced and exact looking bed and bedframes. It is a decent sized room that is just nice to accommodate a few double-decker beds. So if you want somewhere nice to just keep to yourself, or to be clean, its good over there. I believe most of the local tourists stay here, many groups of youths, students and families. However, if you are looking for those “hostel vibe” and to interact with other tourists or backpackers, I don’t think this is the place for you.
Sure, I believe you can find cheaper homestays. I still think EDU hostel is pretty awesome as a no-brainer choice. You can play hide and seek within its huge building, running up and down the stairs and alleys.
There is also a common area where you can just sit on bean bags, watch a movie of your choice, as well as get the portable fan blasted in your face. It is important because it is quite hot in the building, somehow the aircon isn’t really switched on, or it is just too huge, either way, I remembered perspiring half the time.
The breakfast/rooftop area is quite awesome. Breakfast is free and provided (not much difference cause food is cheap but you don’t have to travel around for it). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view over Jogja.
TIP:t As I arrived a day later compared to my friends(Daniel and Mark), they were already equipped with wifi while we met for dinner. What a bunch of wifi-whores. So how did they get the wifi? For all wifi-whores out there, in Malioboro Mall lies the handphone shop in the basement where you can get a SIMPATI sim card for 3k Rp with a minimum top-up of 50k Rp, which can be allocated to data/calls/SMS. If fully allocated to data that gets you about 2GB.
Please ask the salespeople to handle the entire top up the process because the instructions and SMSes are all in Bahasa. Having data is pretty useful for, updating your friends real-time to make them jealous on Instagram as you show them pictures of Borobudur or while hiking. It is also useful for letting people know where you are if you get lost while hiking. Jokes aside, it is pretty useful to search or read up on stuff in Yogyakarta while on the move. You can always search for the highly rated eateries or places to visit.
For transport around Jogja, we mostly walked. The taxis are quite cheap and they start at around Rp 6k, but you might get those where the meter jumps really quickly. It happened to me on the way to the airport I believe. Normally, for short distances, they charge a minimum of Rp 20k no matter what the meter says.
Things to do :
1) Walk and shop
Walking around the city, or reading up about it, you will definitely chance upon the famous shopping street, Jalan Malioboro. It is a 2km shopping street, home to road-side shops, souvenir shops, departmental shops and the Malioboro Mall. If you ask me, the malls are boring. You will find many shops selling batik, traditional items, ceramics and the typical tourists’ clothes. You can also find also handicrafts. Be sure to bargain! If you were the ask me, I think the stores are repetitive, wasn’t the main shopping street ( because the stores are repetitive).
If you have a chance, explore the streets around the university area. Get a map from the hostel and get there! Over there, the local youths rule the place. It has a distinct vibe and is buzzing with activity! The clothes have lots of styles and are generally designed locally( I believe) and you will see most of the youths buying and trying stuff around there. It should be around Jalan Sosrowijayan where there are cheap trendy guy’s clothes shops on the west end (around 200k Rp for a long sleeved shirt). There are also many cafes around the area.
According to couchsurfer Izza whom we met up, here are the various cafes you can check out. Cokelat café in Jalan Cik Di Tiro; Own Café; Myoozik Café; Chez Moi; Bong Kopitiam for prison-like feel.
2) EAT, like Kings/Queens!
The local delicacies are pretty amazing, and extremely cheap too. They are great value for money. We ate really good street food when we met up with Izza the couchsurfer, we also had some Italian Gelato icecream. There are many other interesting dishes to try too. The sambal chilli is crazy tasty, as with most of Indonesia. I can’t remember if we went to Sagan Super Sambal or Spesial Sambal, either way, visit both if you love chilli!
We went to Angkringan Lek Man for Kopi Joss, which is Coffee with hot charcoal thrown in like a form of creamer. Yes, you heard it right, sizzling hot charcoal. It is safe! (apparently)
We followed this from Wikitravel, which states “The most popular angkringan is Angkringan Lik Man, also known as Angkringan Tugu, located in Jalan Wongso Dirjan, north side of Yogyakarta Railway Station (Tugu Station).”
From Jalan Malioboro, continue walking north past Tugu station, walk across the tracks, then turn left into the first small street after the tracks. You will find many stalls with name ‘ankringan’ because that’s the general term for such stalls. Lek man/Lik man is one of the first few stalls there I believe.
Thus, we set off, braved the rain, nothing but a nice cup of Kopi Joss to keep you warm. Watching them put the charcoal in is a pretty amazing sight as you see it sizzle like the dying flames of the day. How apt, when we are near the mountain of fire. Makes me feel like I am drinking Merapi-brewed coffee. Perhaps it ain’t charcoal but volcanic rocks they put in. The coffee felt pretty heavy and strong, I am not sure if it is because of the charcoal. Enjoy also a plate of delightful nasi campur or fried innards or satay while you’re there to go along with the coffee!
3) Live Music @ Bars :
We went to this area where most of the hostels and guesthouses are situated, Jalan Sosrowijayan I believe(mentioned in lonely planet). There is a bar with life music near the end of the street called Lucifer, it had really good live music! Not a Satanic bar don’t worry, but they had such great live music that I bet Satan would come up and listen. The bands differ each day, and they played a mixture of popular English songs and local songs. One thing in common was their fantastic live voices and energy! I am sure there are other great bars around so take a look!
4) Explore the cultural artefacts in the city
I didn’t do most of this, but Yip and mark did I guess unless my memory failed me. There are many museums as well as palaces which you can visit. Not my kinda thing most of the time. The takeaway is, if you go to these places, do you really need a guide? Beware of the “guides” too, especially those that stand outside touting, as they are usually scammers. Guides are also usually very expensive.
There are quite a few things to do in Yogyakarta. I believe there is enough for day, or 2 if you love the cultural sights or shopping is your thing. If not, move on to what is outside and around the city, because it gets even better! For more, read up on the other articles on Mount Merapi Trek, and Borobudur and Prambanan. which can be paired together on your trips!