Yogyakarta – Indonesia’s colourful heart | Sunday Observer

Yogyakarta – Indonesia’s colourful heart

Borobudur temple
Borobudur temple

If you are thinking of going to Indonesia for the school holidays, give Jakarta, the capital city, a miss. It is noisy, chaotic and the traffic will get you nowhere. If you want a mesmerizing introduction to Indonesia, look no further than Yogyakarta, right in the centre of Indonesia and often referred to as Jogja by locals. One more thing – Indonesia is visa free for Sri Lankans so all you have to do is catch a plane from Singapore. You will land in Jogja in just two hours.

Jogja covers a vast area, but it is best to stay in the city centre, especially the famous Malioboro Street. This is a batik lover’s dream – Jogja is THE place in Indonesia to buy intricate batik garments and children will have plenty of batik choices. From one end of Malioboro to the other, batik shops vie for your attention.

If shopping makes you tired, opt for a horse or human powered rickshaw (Indonesia does not have motorized three wheelers like in India and Sri Lanka) to see the sights. If sightseeing makes you hungry, there are plenty of food stalls which offer indigenous Indonesian foods, including the famous Nasi Goreng, which is popular here in Sri Lanka as well. Shopping, travelling or eating, you will have to get used to the Rupiah, the large-denomination Indonesian currency. Do not be alarmed if your taxi driver asks for 100,000 Rupiah. In our money, it is only Rs.1,130. This is one country where you can easily become a millionaire!

But where can you go with all that money ? If you have just 500,000 Rupiah in hand, you can go on a whole day tour of surrounding areas of Yogyakarta. Do not miss Borobudur, the world’s biggest Buddhist temple, which is only around 50 Km away. (We will feature Borobudur separately next week). The second most well known tourist attraction in Jogja is Prambaran, the massive Hindu temple complex. Do not miss the Ramayana play performed at Prambaran under floodlights. Indonesia and the island of Java where Jogja is located are mostly Muslim, but it has set a fine example to the rest of the world by carefully preserving Buddhist and Hindu religious sites. Another (non-religious) building worth visiting is the Tamansari Water castle.

You can also check out the Merapi volcano, a still-fiery volcano that can be reached by 4X4 vehicle. This will be a great experience, because we do not have volcanoes in Sri Lanka. The nearby Jomblang caves are also worth a visit. If you are into more nature, visit the several pine forests bordering Jogja, which is a great feast for the senses. 

Water castle

Prambaran temple

Malioboro Street
Mount Merapi
Batik painting