Fed up with beaches? Looking for a spiritual and cultural destination? Yogyakarta has a lot to offer with the 2 major temples complexes. Borobudur is a major Buddhist complex while Prambanan is Hindu. There is not much to do in Yogyakarta itself but if you have more time, you can also explore the surroundings.

Although you can technically visit the temples in 2 days, 3 days are recommended as the direct flights from Singapore do not have great timing.

Singapore to Yogyakarta  journey details

Of course, we should not compare but to be fair, the temples are very nice but less impressive than Angkor in Cambodia (but hey, you must admit competition is tough).

Connections with this trip

If you have more time, you can combine this cultural trip and explore the natural beauty of the Mount Bromo or Kawah Ijen. You can also mix beach and temples in Bali. Bali south – Bali North.

Getting from Singapore to Yogyakarta

Bad news. Tigerair does not operates direct flights to/from Yogyakarta anymore. So you are left with AirAsia and Silkair for direct flights or Garuda Indonesia with a connection in Jakarta. This makes it too tight for 2 days.

Direct flights with a return very early on Sunday or Monday. You can fly on Saturday and come back on Monday (you would need to take a half day):

Getting there: AirAsia -Singapore to Yogyakarta – 11.15 AM – 12.25 (2h10 flight).
Coming back: AirAsia- Yogyakarta to Singapore – 6PM – 9.10 PM (2h10 flight)
Return tickets from SGD 220

Flights with a connection in Jakarta (better timing but longer journey):

Getting there: Garuda Indonesia -Singapore to Yogyakarta – 7.25AM – 11.20 (4h55 for the total journey).
Coming back: Garuda Indonesia- Yogyakarta to Singapore – 4.20PM – 11.30 PM (6h10 for the total journey)
Return tickets from SGD 300

Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares.

Getting from the airport to Yogyakarta

The airport is not far from the city so if you don’t want to pick your driver at the airport, you can also take a bus or a taxi to your hotel first and then hire a driver with your hotel. Note that hotels may charge you a significant commission to help you do this. It is wise to compare prices. There is quite a bit of distance between the temples and the city of Yogyakarta. If you want to make it simple, it’s better to hire a driver and a car to pick you up at the airport and take you to the temples and in the region.

Where to stay in Yogyakarta

You have many options in Yogyakarta. If you plan to visit only Borobudur, you can also decide to stay closer to the temple. There are some very nice hotels with views on the temple and the mountains. If you prefer to stay in the city, the Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta, boutique hotel, is a good option and good value for your dollars. Another good choice is the Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta have a look at the Agoda box below and select “Tugu Jogja” in the Hotel Area.

if you prefer, you can also book with

To see & to do in Yogyakarta

Of course, the main reason you are there are the temples.

If you need a driver around Yogyakarta you can contact

  • Arfendika Transport : +62 81328444212 (Mobile). Drivers can speak English and know the area well. ~ IDR 300,000  /day
  • Agus Rohmad: +62 81915534286 (Mobile) agusrohmad@yahoo.com. Agus can speak English, French and Spanish. He can drive you in an Avanza (max 4 passengers) for Eur 4o for 10 hours or a Elf short (max 7 passengers) Eur 70 for 10 hours. He is also a guide and can arrange all inclusive tours. Here is his website

If you want to go from Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo or Mount Ijen, you can book a private car.  Call Otto +628122778100, 6-seater van available. ~ IDR 550,000  /day.

Borobudur temple

That’s THE thing to see when in Yogyakarta. This 1200 years old Buddhist temple is massive and beautiful. Try to get there early in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowd. The temple can become very busy during public holidays and weekends. The temple is very nice and it located in the middle of the forest. It is 42 km from Yogyakarta (1h30 by car – approximately IDR 200,000 one way). Note that you cannot bring food in the complex. So grab a bite before you enter. One of the entrance offers tea and coffee. Don’t worry if you don’t have long sleeves and trousers. You can borrow some sarongs (free of charge). Entrance fee is IDR 230,000.
If you want to experience the sunrise in Borobudur temple, you can purchase some tickets for the Sunrise Tour at Manohara Hotel. You will be able to enter the site at 4.30am – entrance fee IDR 380,000 (discounts offered to the hotel guest). It’s a great atmosphere and you will avoid the crowd.
A one-hour tour with a guide is IDR 75,000 and is recommended to understand the complex.

You can stay at Eloprogo Art House – a wonderful experience! Sony, the owner of the guesthouse, is an artist and has a guesthouse with small and cozy bungalows 15 minutes away from the temple.

Prambanan temple

Prambana is the largest Hindu temple complex in Java. It is 17 km northeast from Yogyakarta. It’s nice and interesting but not as impressive as Borobudur.
The temple is located 20minutes from the Yogyakarta’s airport, it is a good way to start your weekend. A taxi from the airport to the complex is IDR 50,000  and you can drop your bags for free at the entrance of the temple.
You can hire a guide for one hour – 100,000IDR, this is a very good idea since the site is not fully renovated and there are many stories around the temple.
You can hire a bike to go to the 3 other temples a bit further on the site for IDR 10,000 – 30min. / tandem bike IDR 20,000 or you can take the small bus for free to the other temples.
Entrance fee for foreigners is IDR 207,000 (student rate –  IDR 100,000). You can borrow some sarongs (free of charge).

Yogyakarta city center

The city itself is nothing extraordinary. You can skip this if you don’t have time. It’s more in case you have a few spare hours before your flight back home.
You can visit the Kraton. It’s a large but not very well decorated complex, check out the streets around where people craft for the Sultan. You can also walk down Yogyakarta main street to get a feel of the city.
If you have more time, check out the bird market. It can very crowded and lively. You will see species of birds of all kinds and colors.

If you want to eat delicious Indonesian food in a beautiful and romantic restaurant, you should definitely give a go to Kesuma Restaurant – they have 3 menus: vegetarian, chicken or fish and an amazing a la carte menu.

Merapi

Trek one of the most dangerous and active volcanoes in the world! Many possibilities exist but a classic is the following trek! The idea is to have a light breakfast at 4AM, followed by a safety briefing and story of the Merapi. You will then start walking at 5AM through the jungle, stop to admire the sunrise at 6AM and continue your ascension until you reach the village destroyed by the 2006 and 2010 eruptions.
Finally, trek down the mountain and enjoy the huge, delicious and well deserved breakfast! Price is around 150,000IDR per pax. Christian, from Vogels Hostel in Kaliurang can organize your trek. He has been doing that daily for the past 30 years.
If you don’t feel like walking up and down, you can book the Jeep Merapi Lava Tour – price depending on length of the tour.

Before going, remember that the Merapi is an active and dangerous volcano.

More info to prepare your trip

Wifi is available in hotels and internet café (in Yogyakarta)

What to pack for Yogyakarta

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Indonesia

Flag of Indonesia

  • Language: Bahasa Indonesian
  • Time zone: Jakarta, Sulawesi: GMT + 7, 1h ahead of Singapore;
    Bali has no time difference with Singapore
  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
  • Phone: + 62
  • Electricity: 220V 50 Hz

Immigration and airport taxes on arrival

  • If you are eligible you will need to pay for a visa on arrival. The price is USD 25 or the equivalent in other currencies. It is valid for 30 days. Check as it may vary (some airports charge 22 EUR, some others 25 EUR).
  • If you travel to Bintan, Batam, or Karimun, you can get a 7 day Visa on Arrival for USD 10.
  • On busy weekends, expect to wait for quite a while at the immigration counter.
  • Make sure your notes are perfectly clean and without any note or stain. USD bills must be from 2003 or more recent. Coins are not accepted. Change (if any) is given in Ruppiah.
  • On departure, you will need to pay the airport fees. These fees are not included in your tickets when you book your trip (hence the price difference between the inbound and outbound flights to Indonesia). They vary from one airport to the other. They are usually around IDR 150,000 per person. You need to pay these in Rupiah

National Public Holidays in Indonesia

2015

Day Date Holiday
Thursday January 01 New Years Day
Saturday January 03 Maulidur Rasul
Thursday February 19 Chinese New Year
Saturday March 21 Hari Raya Nyepi
Friday April 03 Good Friday
Friday May 01 Labour Day
Thursday May 14 Ascension Day
Saturday May 16 Isra Miraj
Tuesday June 02 Waisak Day
Thursday July 16 Cuti Bersama
Friday July 17 Hari Raya Puasa
Saturday July 18 Hari Raya Puasa
Monday July 20 Cuti Bersama
Tuesday July 21 Cuti Bersama
Monday August 17 Independence Day
Thursday September 24 Idul Adha
Wednesday October 14 Muharram
Thursday December 24 Cuti Bersama
Friday December 25 Christmas Day

* check the exact date as it varies from one year to another, check this website for other years.When Public Holidays falls on a Sunday, the following day will be Public Holiday.