Things to do in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is a lovely city, popular with tourists and brimming with attractions. It is the arts and crafts centre of Java and has retained its traditional charm and character while still developing into a modern city with all the expected amenities.

At its heart lies the quaint Old City with the elegant Sultan's Palace at its centre, containing the Water Palace, an interesting bird market and several museums and galleries. Guarded by traditionally dressed gentlemen, the splendid interior features extravagant pavilions and courtyards. Leading away from the centre, where sightseers usually start their adventures, are boulevards and backstreets filled with the confusion of markets containing galleries, shops and numerous other craft industries - a shopper's paradise for souvenirs and Javanese art. The silver centre of Yogya, Kota Gede, has streets lined with silver workshops creating the well-known and distinctive designs. Workshops allow the visitor the opportunity to watch traditional art in action. On every corner becaks (bicycle rickshaws) clamour for business, wobbling their way down the windy streets with bargain-weary passengers inside.

Yogya is also a great base for further travels on Java, especially as it is conveniently close to two of the most famous tourist attractions in Indonesia: the Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur, and the Hindu temple complex of Prambanan. It is also near the volcanic splendour of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.

Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppets) photo

Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppets)

Shadow Puppet performances are a proud part of Indonesia's cultural heritage. In fact, UNESCO has declared wayang kulit a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, m…

Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppets)

Shadow Puppet performances are a proud part of Indonesia's cultural heritage. In fact, UNESCO has declared wayang kulit a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, meaning that the art form is considered a global treasure. The puppets are lovingly handcrafted out of buffalo hide or goat skin, and mounted on bamboo poles, with moveable limbs that are worked by a highly skilled puppeteer from behind a backlit screen, casting the shadows of the puppets onto the surface to tell spellbinding stories. The puppeteer is usually the creator of the puppets, the director, producer and main narrator of the shadow world.

Prambanan Temple Complex photo

Prambanan Temple Complex

Rivalling the Buddhist monument of Borobudur, this magnificent Hindu temple is the largest in Java and arguably the most beautiful in Indonesia. Prambanan was built in the 9th cent…

Prambanan Temple Complex

Rivalling the Buddhist monument of Borobudur, this magnificent Hindu temple is the largest in Java and arguably the most beautiful in Indonesia. Prambanan was built in the 9th century, possibly to compete with the splendour of Borobudur, or to celebrate the return to power of the Hindu dynasty in Java at the time. The complex is dominated by three main temples, Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, each dedicated to their namesake, and the walls are decorated with exceptional relief carvings depicting scenes from the famous Hindu classic tale of Ramayana.

Borobudur photo

Borobudur

One of the greatest Buddhist monuments in South East Asia, Borobudur was built in the 8th century and stands on top of a hill surrounded by volcanoes and green fields. This UNESCO …

Borobudur

One of the greatest Buddhist monuments in South East Asia, Borobudur was built in the 8th century and stands on top of a hill surrounded by volcanoes and green fields. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an immense, multi-tiered structure, crowned by a Great Stupa (bell-shaped monument) that stands 128ft (40m) above the ground. It is part of a 2.5 mile-long (4km) chain of smaller temples, with the Mendut Temple containing three exquisitely carved giant statues of Buddha and two disciples inside. The terraces of Borobudur are covered in sculpted reliefs, their narrative panels illustrating Buddhist beliefs and teachings, and covering an estimated length of 3.5 miles (6km).

Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park photo

Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park

The Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park encloses spectacular volcanic landscapes and one of the most impressive natural sights in Indonesia. The ancient Tengger crater in its midst …

Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park

The Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park encloses spectacular volcanic landscapes and one of the most impressive natural sights in Indonesia. The ancient Tengger crater in its midst stretches for six miles (10km) and within its sheer volcanic walls are three peaks: Batok, Kursi and the smoking Mt Bromo. Thousands of tourists make the journey up Mt Bromo for the unforgettable spectacle at sunrise (during the dry season), when the surrounding landscape takes on an otherworldly quality. The views from the top and into the smoking crater are unbelievable.

Website www.bromotenggersemeru.org/