25 Oct Getting around Yogyakarta, Indonesia
An archipelago of delight, Yogyakarta, or Indonesia is ever ready to embrace is visitors. Indonesians always bid them with a gracious “selamat pagi” or “good morning.”
The country’s rich history and culture are compelling reasons to visit it. Home to Borobudur Temple, one of the seven wonders of the modern world, this country promises to give you a reason to return.
If you are planning to visit Indonesia, you will need a guide that will point you to its must-see places. It should show you how to get around and stretch your travel budget. This guide should also have updated information on transport prices.
The history of Yogyakarta
You will never appreciate Yogyakarta fully without some knowledge of its endless history. Having been governed by three kingdoms, the country has a deeply entrenched culture that its citizens take pride in.
- The Maratam Kingdom
The Medang, or Maratam Kingdom, which controlled much of the archipelago between the 8th and 10th centuries, was the first to govern Yogyakarta. Established by King Sanjaya, the Maratam Kingdom was the center of Javanese, Hindu and Buddhist culture. From its heartland at Kewu, it managed to build many “candi”, or temples. One of these was the famous Borobudur temple.Around 929 A.D, the ruler Mpu Sindok moved the kingdom’s center to East Java. Historians suggest that Mount Merapi erupted during the reign of King Wawa and destroyed the capital.
- The Majapahit Empire (1257-1527)
The Majapahit Empire, a kingdom that ruled the Indonesian Archipelago in the 13th century, was one of the largest empires of the South-East Asian region. Its center was Java.The Maratam Kingdom regained some of its former glory during the Majapahit empire. The empire ranked it among the 12 provinces ruled by a duke known as Bhre Maratam.The empire was at its peak during the reign of the 4th Majapahit King, Hayam Wuruk (1350-1389). He gave the title “Bhre Maratam” to his son-in-law, Wikramawardhana. Its influence stretched to Malaya, Singapura and other countries in the South-East Asian region.
- The Maratam Sultanate (1575-1620)
The Maratam Sultanate was Yogyakarta’s last independent kingdom before the Dutch made it a colony. During the reign of Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo (1613-1645), it reached its zenith and became the most powerful Javanese Kingdom. After his death in 1645, it lost power and territory to the Dutch East India company.
- The Yogyakarta Sultanate and the beginning of colonial rule.
The Maratam Sultanate began its decline when a civil war broke out among its rulers. This war started when Prince Mangkubumi and Sunan Pakubuwono II disagreed violently about cooperating with the Dutch East India Company. Prince Mangkubum’s forces claimed victory and established the Yogyakarta Sultanate on 7 October 1756.The British East India Company occupied Java during this time. Fearing a rebellion, the colonial forces, led by Sir Stamford Raffles, stormed the royal city. The attack surprised the Sultanate, and Yogyakarta fell. The sacking of the city humiliated the court, which rebelled against the colonialists in an event known as the Java War. Prince Diponegoro, son of Hamengkubuwana III, triggered this war when the Dutch decided to build a road across his parents’ tomb. The war lasted from 1625 to 1630, when the Dutch tricked Diponegoro into entering its territory by making him believe that they were ready for a ceasefire. They arrested him and deported him to Makassar, where he died in 1655.
- The Republic of Indonesia.
The Japanese ruled Yogyakarta between 1942 and 1945, during the Second World War. President Sukarno proclaimed the country’s independence in 1945. The new Indonesian government acknowledged the Yogyakarta and Surakata Sultanates as part of the Republic of Indonesia. The Sukrakata Sultanate lost its administrative privileges after an anti-royalist uprising.Sukarno’s government, however, needed Yogyakarta’s support during the Indonesian National Revolution (1945-1949), otherwise known as the Indonesian War of Independence. It was instrumental in the country’s bloody struggle for freedom from colonial rule. It became its capital from 1946 to 1948, after Jakarta fell to the Dutch. The capital shifted to Bukit Tinggi when the Dutch invaded it. It remained intact, and accounted for the new government’s survival. For this reason, the republic made it a Special Administrative Region. Today, it is the only region in Indonesia that is still a monarchy.
5 must-see attractions in Yogyakarta
The various Sultanates and empires left a wealth of history behind after they declined. Today, various temples and palaces testify to their rule. They are now attractions that capture the hearts of visitors. Modern Indonesia is a country where there is much to see and do.
- Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple stands as the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. Visitors are willing to trek many miles to find out why this temple became one of the world’s seven wonders.Containing six terraces and three circular courtyards, this astounding structure has 2672 relief panels and 502 buddhist statues decorating it. The temple boasts 72 stupas, with the largest in the middle and the rest surrounding it. Devout Buddhists believe that those who can hold it will receive a fortune. Entry into Borobudur costs about $20 USD.
- Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple is one of the most beautiful Hindu temples in the world. Constructed during the reigns of Rakai Pikatan and Rakai Balitung, it stands at 47 meters. Located 17 kilometers from the city, it is a popular national park. The Vishnu, Shiva and Bhrama Temples, its primary temples, stand at the center of its courtyard. You can appreciate its rare beauty in the afternoon, when the sun begins to descend. Entering the temple costs $20 USD.
- Keraton Yogyakarta.
The Keraton Kasultanan Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, better known as the Yogyakarta Palace, does not merely serve as the royal family’s residence. It also functions as the center of cultural development in Java. This is where you can fully appreciate Javanese culture and its preservation. You can get a glimpse of the activities that go on in the palace. The royal family displays its collections in glass boxes. If you come by the palace, you will get an introduction to batik making. Entry costs less than $1 USD.
- Beringharjo Market.
This market is the place to go to if you want to grab souvenirs for loved ones at low prices. Find wood carvings and other souvenirs here. Silk batik is available at the Northern and Western parts of the market.
- Gembira Loka Zoo.
If you are an animal lover, you will not want to miss a visit to the Gambira Loka Zoo. The largest home to the Sumatran Tiger, orangutans and other wildlife on Java Island, it serves as its main tourist attraction. Entry to the zoo is less than $2 USD.
- Other activities.
Prepare for a day of relaxation if you are an avid beachcomber. Explore the beautiful Parangtritis Beach, which has lodging, mosques and other facilities lining it. Javanese people believe that it is the entrance to Ratu Kidul’s magical Kingdom.
How to stretch your travel dollar
Travelers fret about their budgets, and always look for ways to keep costs low. Traveling in Yogyakarta does not have to blow a hole in your pocket.
- Affordable Hotels
There are hotels in Yogyakarta that offer accommodation for 50000 IDR, or less than $4 USD. Hoteliers keep their rooms cool with air-conditioning. Find these budget hotels in the Malioboro area.
- Consider guest houses
If you are traveling in a group, guests houses are a practical option. Guests houses in Jogja cost merely 600000 IDR, or $44 USD a night. Pay merely $4.40 USD per person if you are traveling with a group of 10.
- Eat like a local
One important budget tip is to eat like a local. Stalls selling popular dishes like Mee Soto and Ayam Penyet (smashed chicken) line the streets. Dining at street stalls will keep your budget low.Another way to cut food costs is to eat near student hostels. Stalls or restaurants near hostels are far more affordable than those nearer the city center.
- Rent a car
Certain regions in Yogyakarta are difficult to reach if you do not have a car. If you are traveling in a group, it is worthwhile to rent a car, which costs just $27.52 USD, or $375000 IDR, for 12 hours. This is a more efficient, budget-friendly option.Getting around Indonesia as a couple is even cheaper. Rent a motorcycle for $50000 IDR or $3.67 USD a day.
- Visit budget friendly attractions.
No visitor should miss the Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, wondrous examples of Indonesian architecture. However, these attractions are less cost-friendly.There are many other budget-friendly attractions if you want to keep expenses low. These include the Vredeburg Fort and the Water Castle. Entry to these destinations costs less than $10000 IDR ($0.73 USD).
You will find many items that will capture your heart at Yogyakarta’s many street markets. Vendors are always hungry for an extra dollar, so never fear bargaining for clothes or carvings.
Transport in Yogyakarta
One way to keep to your budget when traveling in Yogyakarta is to rely on public transport. There are many affordable ways to get around Yogyakarta.
1. Becaks (Trishaws)
Becaks, or trishaws, are efficient modes of transport if you are in a hurry. You will hear “Becak, mister?” wherever you are in Yogyakarta. A becak usually fits about four people, and costs $18000 IDR, or $2 USD, a ride.
2. Andongs (horse-carriage)
Andongs, or horse carriages, are popular forms of transport found in the Mailoboro area. Rides cost roughly 20000 IDR ($1.47 USD).
3. The TransJogja bus system
The TransJoja bus system is a relatively convenient one to use. It has four sets of routes, namely 1 (A and B), 2(A and B), 3(A and B) and 4 (A and B). Note that not all buses stop along the same roads, as some are one way. A single trip costs 3000 IDR, or $0.22 USD.
4. Public buses
Taking a public bus is cost-effective, but time-consuming. Buses end their services at either Jombor or Giwangan, Yogyakarta’s main bus terminals. Costs range from $50000 IDR ($3.67USD) to $80000 IDR ($5.87 USD).
Many taxis representing different taxi companies ply Indonesia’s roads. Reliable companies include Eksecutif, Steady Safe and Transtaxi. Trips start at $42000 IDR ($3.08 USD).
Essential travel tips
Traveling around Yogyakarta is relatively hassle-free, if you take a few needed precautions.
The first is to make sure that you are not derailed. Anglong, Becak and Taxi drivers will transport you to shops where they can get a commission, taking you away from your intended destination. Use a map to decide the best route to your destination and keep to it.
Practice safety when traveling around Yogyakarta. Robbery is prevalent. Before stepping into a taxi, check that no one is hiding behind. Check the driver’s identification on the dashboard. If you are not comfortable with a driver’s appearance, wave him away before stepping in. Make sure that the driver does not stop for anyone else on the road. Sit on the left side of the back seat, and not directly behind the driver. This prevents the driver from trapping you by pushing his seat back. Check the door and make sure that it can open from the inside.
No one can travel without shopping. Have a rough idea about prices, especially if they are not listed. This reduces the chances of them marking prices up.
Make your tour of Yogyakarta inexpensive, trouble-free and one to remember.