20 Things to do in Yogyakarta Travel Guide & Central Java Tourism in Indonesia (Solo, Semarang)

20 Things to do in Yogyakarta Travel Guide & Central Java Tourism in Indonesia (Solo, Semarang)Hey guys! We’re in Indonesia for a week. Yeah, so this is our second time back in Indonesia, and this week we’re going to be exploring Yogyakarta and Central Java. This video is going to show you some of the top attractions in the region. Can’t wait to show you around. Let’s go!

This trip was all about going in search of food, culture, and a little bit of adventure. Over the course of the week, we visited ancient temples, browsed through antique markets, ate our fair share of street food, and tackled a rather infamous volcano. In this video, we are going to show you 20 things to do in Yogyakarta and Central Java, so let’s get started.

For our very first stop in Central Java, we headed to the biggest Buddhist monument in the world and the most popular attraction in the region: Borobudur. So this morning, we are visiting the temple of Borobudur, and this is a site that I’ve been wanting to visit for years, so we’re super excited to be here.

Yeah, I know. This is way up on our bucket list of places we’ve wanted to go in Southeast Asia.

And the views are spectacular, so we’re just going to show you that right now. We’ve really lucked out with awesome weather today. Borobudur is made up of 9 stacked platforms, so there was quite a bit of climbing involved to reach the top, but once we did, we had spectacular views as far as the eye could see.

Also, we came here in the early morning. We got here at about 8 AM, but if you want to, you can actually watch the sunrise here.

Unfortunately, it was a really cloudy morning, so we wouldn’t have been able to see anything anyway, but if you luck out with clear skies, it might be worth getting up early. We took our time climbing the different platforms, exploring each corner, and admiring the relief panels that have stood the test of time.

Then, once we reached the central dome, we came face to face with 72 seated Buddhas. So, tell us, how are you enjoying Borobudur so far? I’m loving it so far. Something I’ve really come to appreciate is that when you walk around the perimeter of the temple, you can find pockets where you don’t see anyone else. It really feels like you’re exploring it, as opposed to just being a tourist crammed in with a whole bunch of other people. I’ve really liked that so far. It’s pretty cool. There’s no one around here, it’s just us. If you’re planning to visit, I would suggest giving yourself at least an hour and a half or two. Also, make sure you bring lots of water because it gets hot up there! So, we’re ready for another adventure. Tell us! We’re heading up to Mount Merapi, and there are basically two different ways you can do it. You can hike up, but we’re going with a jeep. Yeah, it’ll be fun. Hop on in. Merapi translates to Fire Mountain, and as the most active volcano in the region, it really lives up to its name. We visited a museum that chronicled the effect this volcano has had on the surrounding communities and rode past lava fields that once burned red. It looks like we’ve got a new driver! So, what you see behind us is Mount Merapi, and actually, it just looks like a whole bunch of fog. Well, we really lucked out with the weather in the morning, but this afternoon, not so much. Yeah, it looks like it’s going to start raining soon, so these are the views we’re enjoying. It’s been a pretty cool experience doing the jeep safari, but no volcano sighting, unfortunately. Even though we decided to do the jeep tour, there are other ways to explore Mount Merapi.

We encountered a lot of people riding motorbikes, and we were told that hiking was also possible. That very same day, we continued on to Prambanan, a 9th-century Hindu temple located about 17 kilometers northeast of Yogyakarta. The temple is dedicated to the trinity of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In its original form, the complex contained a total of 250 large and small temples.

Later that evening, we returned to Prambanan Temple, but this time to watch a dance performance. They have different shows scheduled throughout the week, and we visited the evening of the Ramayana Ballet, which is a Javanese dance interpretation of an Indian epic poem. It was a 2-hour performance, and things got really interesting when they lit the stage on fire! Aside from all the day excursions, we also tried to explore a bit of Jogjakarta. Taman Sari, also known as the Water Palace, is one place that I really wanted to check out, and we made it just before closing. This was once a large complex with an artificial lake and islands, but today only the bathing complex is well-preserved. If you have some spare time in the city, it’s well worth visiting.

From there, we hopped on a motor-rickshaw for a tour of the city. We didn’t have a particular destination in mind, so we just rode down some of the side streets before making our way up Jalan Malioboro, which is the main shopping street and is filled with shops and markets.
20 Things to do in Yogyakarta Travel Guide & Central Java Tourism in Indonesia (Solo, Semarang)
Then, for our last night in Yogyakarta, we went up to our hotel’s rooftop lounge to enjoy some city views and watch the sunset. Alright, guys, the adventure continues. We’re off to Solo by train. After a few days in Jogja, we hopped on a train and headed towards Solo, also known as Surakarta.

The ride was a little over an hour, and not only was it an inexpensive way to travel, but it was also incredibly scenic. We zoomed past villages and rice fields, and before we knew it, we had arrived. So right now, we’re inside Pasar Triwindu, which is an antiques market here in Solo, and we are seeing some real gems. The market is spread out across a series of two-story buildings, and inside, you’ll find everything from chandeliers and leather puppets to old phonographs and Dutch porcelain.

It’s a great place to shop for unusual souvenirs, and you could easily spend an hour or two here. We also ended up visiting the House of Danar Hadi, which is home to one of the best batik collections in the whole world.

Batik is a technique where wax is added to textiles to create elaborate patterns. This can be done by hand or using a stamp. After a quick tour of the museum, we visited the workshops where you can see the art in action, and then I also picked up a batik shirt for myself.

So, I went shopping for my Batik, and I found one I really like. It cost about 30 US dollars, and I can’t wait to start wearing it. I think the first time I’ll try it on is for dinner soon. So we’re starting off with coconut milk pancakes, which are called Serabi. So let’s take a look at it down here.

So you can see the outside fringe; it looks like something quite crispy, and I think this is going to be like the middle part is the coconut milk. So I’m not entirely sure how to eat this. I’m just going to take a big bite. That looks delicious. Oh, wow. Oh, that is delicious. I love coconut, and so what you’ve got here, if you look down here, this part, it sort of tastes like, I don’t know, like maybe like a coconut type of pudding. It really has a bit of a milky consistency.

“It is a little wet and tastes a bit moist once you have it in your mouth, and then this part over here is crispy, so you’ve got those two. You’ve got the contrast between the crispiness and the pudding-like texture. Oh man, I love that. Instant hit. We may be ordering more. So, I also got myself Serabi, but I went with the chocolate, so as you can see, it has chocolate sprinkles that have melted over the top of the coconut. Wow. So let’s go in for the first bite. How do we do this? Mmmmm. Mmmmm. How is that? That is amazing. It is like having dessert for lunch, which I love. It is so sweet, and when you add chocolate, I think it is just perfect. Like you mentioned, you have the crispiness with a very soft coconut, so it is wonderful. Dessert for lunch. Mmmmm. Our next stop in Solo was the Mangkunegaran Palace, which dates back to 1757. Part of the royal family still lives here, so you can’t wander around the grounds on your own, but we took a guided tour which was very informative and enjoyable. Another way to experience Solo is by doing a tour on a pedibike, also known as a becak. This is a very leisurely way of seeing the city, and you can easily find drivers outside the major hotels, so it’s just a matter of bargaining the price. So, it is dinnertime here in Solo, Indonesia, and we’re trying a new restaurant that was highly rated on TripAdvisor. We’re eating at a place called Warung Selat Mbak Lies. Hopefully, I got that right. It is a pretty long name. We ordered something called Selat Bistik or Selat Solo.”

“So, if you take a look down here, it is basically braised beef tenderloin with watery gravy, and it also comes with vegetables. We have some green beans, carrots, mashed potatoes, and chips sprinkled on top. Additionally, there are other vegetables like onions. Apparently, this is a twist on Western/Dutch food that has been adopted here in Indonesia and changed to their taste, with Javanese ingredients. Let’s try this. Dig right in. I’m going to start with this egg. Okay, this dark egg. I’ve never had such a dark egg before. Apparently, the soy sauce is quite sweet. Mmmm. Is it sweet? Mmmmm. That is a sweet gravy. Yeah. I mean, it is quite watery, almost like having soup. It is a main dish but looks like a soup. Currently, we are at Sriwedari Park. We thought we were coming for a puppet show, but instead, we found an amusement park with all kinds of cool stuff. I noticed bumper cars, so we’re going to check that out. Awesome. I challenge you to bumper cars. Woo! Oh, there we go. That is scary. That is so mean. Music playing. Today, we are in Semarang, our third and final stop on this trip in Indonesia. We’re going to start with a visit to Sam Poo Kong temple and then head over for some food. Sam Poo Kong was established by a Chinese Muslim explorer in the early 15th century, and it is a large complex featuring five temples. Not only is Sam Poo Kong one of the top-rated attractions on TripAdvisor, but it’s also a fascinating place to visit because you get the blend of both Chinese and Javanese architectural styles.”

Okay, so right now we’re taking a little ice cream break at a place called Toko Oen. They specialize in cakes, pastries, and ice cream, which is perfect for us with our sweet tooth. Now we’re kind of cooling off a bit here, and something really cool is that they are celebrating their 80th anniversary of being open. So, I’m trying rum and raisin over here. Yes! Oh! Wow. Wow. I think we may have ordered a little too much ice cream. I think you’re right. Hahaha. Want to try yours? Okay, so I’m starting off with rum and raisin over here. Okay. So, I’ve got a nice couple of chunks of raisin. Mmmm. How is that? Wow, that is good. Yeah, very rich. That is cool. And I got myself some Mocha ice cream, and we also ordered some pancakes with more ice cream. So we’ve got our work cut out for us for sure. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper visit to Semarang without exploring Kota Lama. This area makes up the Old Town, and it is home to buildings that date back to the Dutch colonial period. Some of the structures look like they could use a little TLC, but the good news is that earlier this year, plans were announced to rejuvenate Semarang’s historic “Little Netherlands”. Hi! Hi! Haha. So for today’s meal, we are enjoying some street food in the city of Semarang, and we’re going to be having Lumpia Semarang or Semarang spring rolls, which actually originated in the Chinese community. So if you have a look down here, we actually thought we were ordering a plate full of them, but we only got one. So a little lost in translation, but I think this should be enough because it is a pretty big fat spring roll. So we’re going to dig right into this. It is huge. Are you ready? Ready for the food? And here is the sauce on the side. Yeah, look at that. So it should be good. It smells good.

“It smells deep-fried, which is a good thing. Okay, Sam, do you want to tell us the key ingredients in this special spring roll? Yeah, so what you’ll find inside are bamboo shoots, dried shrimp, and then you can have chicken or prawn. So, man, these look good. Yeah, it is just a matter of attacking it here. Yeah, don’t mind my fingers. Look at that. Oh, look at the detail in there. Yeah, that looks good. Okay, we’re going to dip this in the sauce, and I have a feeling this sauce might be sweet. Yeah. Oh, wow. Look at that. Look how thick that is. Wa! Ha. What do you think? Those are delicious. Yeah, I love deep-fried spring rolls, so I know you do. I know. And the bamboo shoot is really nice. I’m still not sure if it is chicken or prawn. I didn’t get a bite of that, so still waiting to figure that part out. Ha! I think that calls for a second bite. Yeah, the sauce is sweet. I’m just going to take a little bit of that sauce and see what it is. Mmmm. Man, it almost looks like it has a gelatin-like consistency. Yeah, it does. And surprisingly, it doesn’t have a very strong taste. I thought it would be really sweet or strong, and it is not. So let’s go in for bite number two. Let’s go in for some of the ingredients this time. Okay, I definitely taste the shrimp and prawn this time. Yeah, I think that is what it is made with. And that’s a wrap for our whirlwind trip to Indonesia. We hope you enjoyed getting a closer look at what Yogyakarta and Central Java have to offer. As always, if you have any other suggestions of things to do and places to visit, feel free to let us know in the comments below.”

“Happy travels! Read more about Yogyakarta, Indonesia in this travel guide: https://mbantul.my.id/2023/03/12/you-cant-miss-this-city-in-indonesia-yogyakarta-travel-guide/”