First Timer’s Guide: What To Do In Yogyakarta ‘Jogja’ – Our 6D5N Itinerary Under $700!

We all have those days, where we’d wish we could put down our books and pick up our luggage to fly somewhere we’ve never been before. Maybe you’ve got the same criteria too – Somewhere not overly popular or expensive, but packed with once-in-a-lifetime activities and stunning landscapes to shake up that #IGlife.

Two weeks notice, a willing friend, plus an AirAsiaGo steal at $380 for return flights + hotel, and we are ready for our 6D5N trip.

Destination: Yogyakarta “Jogja”, Central Java, Indonesia.

“Spoiler: To all who asked “How was Jogja?”, expecting me to sum the trip in a few short words – I’d say the trip was quite affordable, safe enough for 2 girls to travel on their own (using us as a case study), and great for those who want a taste of adventure plus photos to proof, without breaking too much of a sweat. Highlights include temple-running, volcano climbing, cave tubing, abseiling down a 60-meter sinkhole and watching the sunrise from the renown UNESCO Borobudur temple.”

If you’re already convinced and planning to head there for the first time, this is for you. A breakdown of our 6D5N itinerary, including prices per pax and notable first-hand information, covering almost all the tourist attractions that you can google.

Day 1 – Friday

11:15 Depart – SIN (AirAsia)  2hr 15min S$380 (Flight + Hotel)
12:30 Arrive – JOG  GMT +7 hours
14:00 Check-in to Platinum Adisucipto Hotel & Conference Jl. Solo No.28, Depok, 55282 Indonesia
15:00 Lunch: Gudeg @ Gudeg yu djum Jl. Laksda Adi Sucipto KM 8.7, Depok, 55281 IDR 17,000 (~S$1.7)
18:00 Explore Prambanan Temple + Sunset Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency IDR 100,000 (~S$10), U.P. IDR 234,000

Daily cost: S$380 + 1.7 + 10 = S$391.70

After setting our watches back an hour upon touching down, we met up with two local Instagrammers who have kindly offered to be our guides for the day. After a short 5-minutes car ride to our hotel for check-in, we were ready for lunch. In the same way that Singaporeans would immediately think of ‘Maxwell chicken rice’, our local friends recommended us ‘Gudeg Yu Djum‘, which serves Gudeg kering.

I swear I had no idea what I was eating at first!

We ordered Nasi Gudeg Krecek Ayam Suwir (IDR 17,000), sweet shredded chicken served with hot krecek (cattle skin spice stew) on rice. To add-on an egg, you can get Nasi Gudeg Krecek Telur Ayam Suwir (IDR 23,000).

I’d recommend it if you don’t mind a sweet-savoury combination as your main dish, and one portion is definitely quite shareable between two small eaters.

Jogja-1Nasi Gudeg

Jogja-2Gudeg Yu Djum

Then on to our first attraction – Candi Prambanan.

The first thing you’ll note about Indonesian attraction prices is that the price difference for locals and tourists is huge!

For locals, it’s IDR 30,000 and tourists, IDR 234,000 per entry.

However, the second thing to note about Indonesian prices is that there’s always an “alternative” price – highly discouraged of course. Without getting too much into detail, I’ll simply say that we managed to gain entry for IDR 100,000 per pax instead.

Jogja-3Signboard for local prices

Prambanan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is built in the 10th century and is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. It is a complex made of 240 temples, the tallest being the central building which is 47-meters-high.

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Day 2 – Saturday

09:00 – 10:00 Drive to Kepuharjo Driver for the day: IDR 400,000 (~S$40)
10:30 – 13:00 Mt. Merapi Lava Tour (90-minutes) Belantara Adventures IDR 350,000 / jeep (~S$35)
14:30 – 15:30 Drive to Bukit Bintang for sunset Hargodumilah, Gunung Kidul Regency, 55792
18:00 – 19:00 Drive to Alun-alun Kidul Jl. Alun-Alun Kidul U.P. IDR 200,000 (~S$20) – IDR 400,000 (~S$40) / car
20:30 – 21:00 Drive back to hotel  –

Daily cost: S$40/2 + 35/2 = S$37.50 + food expenses

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For breakfast, we grabbed a steamed chocolate bun (IDR 5000) from a nearby petrol kiosk and set off on a 1-hour journey north to Mount Merapi – an active volcano.

When you arrive at the base camp, there will be several jeep rental companies that you can approach, and prices typically range from IDR 250,000 for 45-minutes to IDR 450,000 for a 90-minutes tour (Alternatively, you can find tours which do pick-up and drop-off at your hotel from IDR 260,000).

Our driver recommended Belantara Adventure, as he knows them personally, and managed to help negotiate for a 90-minutes Jeep Tour (IDR 350,000). In exchange, I said I’d recommend their services to you all, so here’s our receipt for future references.

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All the tours will take you on a similar route: Museum Sisa Hartaku – Batu Alien – Bunker.

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Museum Sisa Hartaku, translated from My Remaining Treasure Museum, was a house affected by the last Merapi eruption on 5 November 2010. Amongst the possessions covered in volcanic ash, there was a clock on the wall with its hands melted into its face – forever recording the exact moment in which the lava hit this village.

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Batu Alien (Alien stone) was the most notable stone hurled out of the volcano during the 2010 eruption. A few steps away, you’ll see Mount Merapi in the distance and peer down the edge of the cliff to see one of the biggest rivers around Merapi.

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Last stop, Bunker Kaliadem.

Now unused, the bunker was built as a safety bunker to protect the locals from the eruption dust. Ironically enough, two were found dead inside from the 2006 eruption, trapped by 2 meters of debris.

Truth be told, we weren’t actually there to admire the sites. So if you’re up for some pretty good photo-taking spots, I’d recommend going straight ahead from where we’re standing in the above picture, where the Merapi summit will be less than 10 km away.

Alternatively, when you drive back down from the bunker, you’ll pass by an off-track area on the left, and this was where we took most of our shots (courtesy of our Jeep driver, whom I must say went the extra mile or squatting / hiding behind bushes to get that perfect shot! It was quite a scene, haha. Because of this, our 90-minute tour actually became closer to a 3-hour tour.)

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For lunch, we ordered a bowl of Bakso from a local pushcart by our Jeep rental – one of the most popular street food in Indonesia.

Then off we went to our second stop of the day – Bukit Bintang, translated as starry hill, to watch the sunset.

It was a gorgeous sight, watching the fog roll over the hills before the pink-orange rays peeked through, ending with the finale of a star-filled night sky.

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After the sunset, we headed to our last stop, Alun-alun.

Alun-alun Kidul (Southern City Square)­ is the open backyard of Yogyakarta Palace. Here, there were 3 notable activities to do:

  1. Rent a pedal car decorated with colourful LED lights and equipped with a 10,000 watts sound system with LCD screen to pedal along to. Price ranges from IDR 200,000 to IDR 400,000 for one round.
  2. A game known as masangin, which stands for “masuk dua beringin” (entering two banyan trees). According to this myth, if you managed to walk between the twin banyan trees planted in the city square with your eyes blindfolded, your wish will come true.
  3. Try some local street food.

Naturally, being too tired from the day, we opted for the third option and decided to try out some street food that we’ve never heard of before. Of this, we got some ‘starchy balls’ as I’d like to call them, and crêpes for supper.

 

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Day 3 – Sunday

 

07:30 – 09:00 Drive to Jomblang Cave Driver a day: IDR 400,000 (~S$40)
10:00 – 14:30 Jomblang Cave tour Semanu village, Gunung Kidul Regency of Yogyakarta. Entrance: IDR 450,000 (~S$45)
Includes safety equipment rental, local guide, lunch, and mineral water
14:00 – 15:00 Drive to Goa Pindul
IDR 150,000 (~S$15)
15:00 – 16:30 Cave tubing
16:30 – 18:00 Drive to Abhayagiri Restaurant IDR 326,400 for 2 mains + drinks (~S$32.6)
18:00 – 20:00 Dinner at Abhayagiri Restaurant
20:00 – 20:30 Drive back to hotel

Daily cost: S$40/2 + 45 + 15 + 16 = S$96

The second best highlight of my Jogja trip – Goa Jomblang.

Located 1.5 hours from central Yogyakarta, you must arrive at Goa Jomblang before 9:45am, as there is only one tour a day with only25 people allowed. It’s recommended that you head there even earlier than call time, or book a tour beforehand, and you’ll receive a queue number indicating when you’re next to be lowered into the sinkhole.

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After being strapped into a harness in a sitting position, you’ll be lowered 60m off the cliff, 2 persons at a time. The whole experience isn’t scary at all – promise!

 

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When everyone has reached the bottom, we began the second part of the journey through a tunnel that connects to the final part, Grubug Cave – the central cave.

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This is where you’ll get to see heavenly light beaming through the hole at noon, hitting the massive white rock behind me in the picture.

A breath-taking experience that I’ll definitely never forget.

Jogja-42Lunch provided!

Second stop – Goa Pindul for cave tubing!

We paid IDR 150,000 per pax (quite sure it’s the tourist price), and had a private tour guide who helped carry our floats and point out details along the trip.

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There were 3 parts to the cave tubing, which we traveled to and from on the back of a truck.

 

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On this ‘tour’, we tubed through a bat cave, rapid falls (which Vanessa fell into! Our tour guide laughed because she was apparently the first person who ever did) and jumped off a 10-meter platform.

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When we were absolutely exhausted and done, it was time to head for dinner at Abhayagiri Restaurant. 

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Day 4 – Monday

 

04:15 – 05:00 Drive to Mangunan Fruit Gardens
Both places are best visited at sunrise (~05:30)
Feel free to pick either one.
Driver for the day: IDR 400,000 (~S$40)
05:00 – 07:00 Sunrise + take photos Parking fee: IDR 12,000 / car (~S$1.20)
07:00 – 07:15 Drive to Hutan Pinus Imogiri Entrance: IDR 4,000 / person (~S$0.4)
07:15 – 08:15 Enjoy scenery + take photos Parking fee: IDR 5,000 / car (~S$0.5)
 09:30 – 10:00 Bukit Mojo Gumelem Dlingo, Bantul, 55783 Entrance: IDR 4,000 / person (~S$0.4) +
Parking fee: IDR 5,000 / car (~S$0.5)
Fees for certain photo taking spots (Nest) Fee: IDR 3,000 / person (~S$0.3)
12:00 – 13:00 Drive to Gumuk Pasir Parangkusmo (Sand dunes)
Parking fee: IDR 10,000 / car (~S$1)
Sandboarding / renting ATVs: IDR 50,000 – 150,000
13:00 – 15:00 Explore + Sandboarding + ATV driving Not allowed if too hot
15:30 – 16:30 Paralayang Parking fee: IDR 10,000 / car (~S$1)
Drive back to hotel – Early night

Daily cost: S$40/2 + 1.20/2 + 0.4 + 0.5/2 + 0.4 + 0.5/2 + 0.3 + 1/2 + 1/2 = S$23.30

With an hour set back from Singapore, the sun is usually fully up by 5:45am. For those wanting to catch the sunrise, this would mean getting to where you need to be by 5:15am latest.

Jogja-48Jogja-46Jogja-49Sunrise view from Mangunan Fruit Gardens

Jogja-51Jogja-52Jogja-53More morning light at Hutan Pinus Imogiri (Pine Forest)

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This next stop – Bukit Mojo – wasn’t in our original itinerary. However, after location stalking through Instagram, we’re glad we managed to squeeze it in.

This is basically a spot just for photos with several ‘photo attractions’. Only the bridge to nowhere is included in the IDR 4,000 entrance fee, and the rest are individual payments made to the person managing each exhibition.

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We had originally planned to go sandboarding and ATV driving, but you’ll soon realise what a terrible idea this sounds when you’re faced with the blazing afternoon sun.

Nevertheless, we braved the heat and headed to Gumuk Pasir Parangkusmo, which is actually a large area of sand right next to a carpark…

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Last stop of the day – Paralayang.

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Nothing too special, but a simple view of the coastal line. Here, we simply enjoyed a drink and a bite before we headed back to the hotel for an early night.

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Day 5 – Tuesday

03:30 – 04:30 Drive to Borobudur Temple Driver for the day: IDR 400,000 (~S$40)
04:30 – 06:00 Watch sunrise + take photos before the temple is opened to the public Sunrise pass: IDR 450,000 (~S$45)(includes tea/coffee, light snack, entrance to Borobudur Temple from 4.30am – before it is open to the public)
08:30 – 10:00 Drive to Air Terjun Sidoharjo (Google Maps coordinates are wrong! You have to go downslope, instead of up)
10:00 – 11:00 Walk to / swim in the waterfall
11:00 – 12:30 Drive to Kalibiru National Park Entrance: IDR 5,000 (~S$0.5)(Weekdays); IDR 10,000 (~S$1)(Weekends).
+ Parking: IDR 5,000 (~S$0.5)
12:30 – 14:30 Photo spots + High ropes course There was barely a queue when we went on a weekday. Photo spot 1: IDR 30,000 (~S$3)
High rope course: IDR 70,000 (~S$7)
14:30 – 15:00 Lunch: Indomie IDR 7,000 (~S$0.7)
15:30 – 17:00 Drive to Jalan Malioboro
17:00 – 18:00 Shop for souveniours
18:00 – 19:30 Dinner @ Sate samirono  IDR 58,000 (~S$5.8)
Drive back to hotel – Early night

Daily cost: S$40/2 + 45 + 0.5 + 0.5/2 + 3 + 7 + 0.7 + 5.8/2 = $79.35

We saved the best for the last day – sunrise at Borobudur Temple in exchange for a 3 am start.

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Borobudur Temple, a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple, is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. With our sunrise entrance fee of IDR 450,000, we were given a torch light and early access up the 9 platforms to catch a glimpse of the rising sun.

After taking plenty of shots and videos (video coming soon…) of this UNESCO site, complimentary light snacks, plus an episode of me leaving my cardigan somewhere up there and them having to search (I’d imagine) around all 504 Buddha statues before they finally found it – we set off to another Instagram find – Air Terjun Sidoharjo.

 

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I won’t hide the truth. This place was beyond hard to find.

Not only were the Google maps coordinates very inaccurate, when we did manage to ask the locals and arrived there, we still had to pay the most random parking fee in this forest and trek another 100 meters on foot before finding the place.

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It was an experience, no doubt, but according to our driver – there are better (and more easily accessible) waterfalls than this.

Disclaimer: Hello, can I also mention that if you squint really hard, you can tell that the water is actually green, but ’cause I’m rather okay at Lightroom, I made it blue.

After an icy swim in the waterfall, we headed to Kalibiru National Park.

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Similar to Bukit Mojo, this place was mainly for its photo spots, as well as a high ropes course (IDR 35,000).

It almost felt like a *very mini* theme park and is well worth the travel.

Lastly, we ended with souvenir shopping near Jalan Malioboro (bought freshly-made bakpia) and ending the night with dinner at Sate Samirono.

Day 6 – Wednesday

04:00 Leave Hotel Free airport transfer
05:00 Check in airport
07:25 Flight – JOG (AirAsia 658)
10:45 Arrive – SIN

Daily cost: S$-

Final cost: $247.85 + $380 (Hotel + Flights) = S$627.85 + expenses

Luggage List (No checked-in):

Camera gear:

  • Canon 6D
  • 35mm f1.4L via jrc.sg (Would also recommend a zoom lens)
  • GoPro Hero 5 + Selfie stick via jrc.sg

* Exclusive for the month of June: J Rental Centre is currently running a competition with over 140 prizes worth over $12,500 up for grabs!

Showcasing the power of WE (the community), what WE can achieve together and how WE see Singapore. Simply sign up to get your 3 random themes & start shooting your 3 assigned photographs of Singapore’s faces, places & colours!

Submission period: 1st – 30th June 2017 (Free to join!)

Click here for more details.

Things To Note:

  • ^ Exchange rate: 1 SGD = 9,608.38 IDR (IDR 100,000 = S$10.41279 ~S$10)
  • Wet weather period (beware!!) We went during May, and most of our sunrise / sunset shots as well as a few activities were affected due to fogginess or the ground being quite slippery.
  • Hotel: Although our hotel is a 5-minutes drive from the JOG Airport, it’s not centrally located in Yogyakarta, so bear that in mind if you’re looking to book the same. I’d still recommend it, as we didn’t have much time to travel outside anyway, since we were mostly exhausted at the end of each day, and had to wake up super early the next few mornings.
  • Driver is essential! Make sure you check if yours includes car + driver + petrol + parking

15 Reasons North Stradbroke Island Should Be Your Next Holiday Destination

10. Catch the golden hour among fields of gold

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The best part about Straddie is that beauty is everywhere. All along the roads lie endless fields of gold that make for the perfect picture opportunity. Don’t be afraid to drive aimlessly along the kicked-up dirt roads in Stradbroke Island, and stop along unnamed fields during sunset. You will be amazed by what you can see.

Read my full article here.

Los Angeles – Part III

Day 4

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It’d only been days in and I was already in desperate need of fresh food. Just as well, our Airbnb (click here for my first post – with a promo code to get $25 off your first Airbnb stay!) host recommended us a casual Industrial-looking chic spot aptly named Artisan House, which had what she called a ‘market’. This basically being a salad bar, I believe.

Continue reading “Los Angeles – Part III”