What I would cover in this post are:

  • My travel itinerary
  • How not to be cheated by taxi drivers from the airport
  • Road/Traffic condition
  • What should you buy for souvenir
  • Recommendation

So… read till the end alright, especially if you intend to travel to Yogyakarta anytime soon!

Its been close to one month.. I finally managed to steal some time to write this down!

As usual, I went for what I would call, a “suicide journey”. I was in the midst of doing a uni assignment, and everything was going according to schedule prior to the trip. During the trip, I felt that I could die anytime. After the trip, everything went haywire, and it took me about a month to stabilize before I could take a long breath.

The journey began from 31st July 2016 – 4th August 2016.

4 days in total if you were to ask. On the 4th of August, my flight was early in the morning. So yeah, its not really counted.

I did a pretty comprehensive plan for this trip as it was supposed to be a solo trip. I cannot afford not to plan.

Here we go!

I reached Adi Sucipto International Airport (Terminal B) at about 1330. The airport is pretty small. Once you touched down, you walked about 100m or lesss, chop passport, and that’s it! You are outside!

Ok, you need to pay attention here on what’s gonna happen next..

Once you are outside the airport, or arrival gateway to be exact, there will be lots of drivers waiting to prey on foreigners! You’ve got to be smart here! Before you reach Yogyakarta, you need to get information from your hotel, or home owner (if you are staying in a homestay) about the average taxi/cab fare from the airport to your accommodation place. They do not use meter. In my case, I was told by my home owner that it cost about 70.000 IDR. So, I had set in my mind that I am not gonna take anything more than that.

How to get a reasonable price for your taxi fare?

The moment I step outside the arrival gateway, 2 drivers approached me. Both of them quoted 200.000 IDR!! I straight away went to a shutdown mode, and kindly declined the offer. I looked around and could not find a taxi stand! I guess that’s why these people dare to quote such prices since there is no competition.

Alright.. Think.. Think Syahmul! You definitely can get a better price!

I walked abit towards my left, and I found an information counter. I asked the officer on how can I get a cab? She told me that I just have to wait somewhere in front of the counter. Its a vehicle drop-off place, including taxis. So, I waited. I did not have to wait for so long. I think it was about 5 minutes or less before I saw a taxi dropping off a passenger. I quickly approached the driver, and told him my destination homestay. He quoted me 70.000 IDR! I quickly said, YES! There you go! You are welcome!

I reached my homestay at about 1430. One thing I like about my homestay is that the owner provided rental services as well. I am not so sure what’s the rental process in Indonesia though. I’ve read some negative reviews about some rental company and their cheating practices, so, I tried my best to avoid them. We quickly grabbed our reserved scooter and off we go to our first destination, Kalibiru National Park!

Getting a rental scooter

Prior to that, the bike that I rented was not so in good condition. The rear brake does not work, and the right mirror is spoilt. So, I cannot check the rear traffic on my right mirror. I had to look over my shoulder instead whenever I want to check the traffic condition behind me. However, it only cost like $5 a day. So, I did not think much about it as we were late behind our schedule. The park closes at about 5 or 6 pm like that.

The furthest distance that I rode before was about 20 km, and that was in Thailand. I do not ride in Singapore as I do not have a bike. Soo… The moment I found myself riding on the road in Yogyakarta, my heart raced so bad. Traffic was terrible. There is no such thing as 2 seconds rule. Maybe 0.5 s instead. Indonesians are born to be exceptionally good riders/drivers, if I were to put it in a good way.

Day 1

Kalibiru National Park / Wisata Alam Kalibiru

A one way 40 km ride was not as smooth as I thought. We narrowly escaped death twice. Looking back, I am still amazed at how am I still in one piece. We took a short rest somewhere we thought that we were about to reach the place at about 4.30 pm. Only to realize that it is actually the bottom of the park!

kalibiru lake

Lake view that you can see from the top of Kalibiru.

Little did I know that I am gonna face the most difficult ride ever. From here onward, the road was extremely steep. Having a pillion rider, it was definitely not easy to control and balance on an extremely steep slope where you cannot afford to stop. Once you stop, you do not have the momentum to push you forward. I learnt how to move off of a steep slope using a scooter at this moment. Unfortunately, I do not have any recording of the road condition.

As of 31/7/2016, the road from the base to the peak was not well maintained. There were lots of potholes. Getting here via a bike was a suicidal decision, and you should not attempt to drive by yourselves either! Trust me on this! But once you get to the top, you’d get a sense of satisfaction.

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We were deeply saddened when the receptionist told us that photo booths are already closed. We decided to just walk around, and little did we know that luck was on our side!

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32 people were waiting at the main stage at about 5.30 pm! So, we walked further inside till we stumbled across another booth at another stage.

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Once we were done with the photo taking session, we spent about 10 minutes walking around before we rushed back to our bike as it was getting dark. Kalibiru are not usually advertised or offered in any standard tour package. I’ll tell you later on how to go about it. Anyway, if you intend to go to Kalibiru, try to reach before 4 pm. Otherwise, you would not be able to do any other activities other than taking photos.

Distance: About 40 km from Kraton, 1.5 hr drive/ride.

Entrance: 10.000 IDR

Parking: 1000 IDR (Motorcycle)

Photos: 5.000 – 10.000 per photo (I could be wrong. It depends on which stage you choose)

Going back to Kraton from Kalibiru was painful. As you know, the rear brake of my bike is not working. The slope is freaking steep. So, I just had to use the front brake and control it as best as I could. From Kalibiru to the main road, the road was in total darkness, there was no light on road sides or whatsoever.

And the most dangerous thing is that you’d encounter someone suddenly walking towards your direction, without any lights. Sometimes, you’d even encounter a rider riding against traffic, in total darkness. If this is not crazy, I do not know what you call it!

That’s conclude day 1 in Yogyakarta. Riding to and fro, covering a total distance of about 80 km  was pretty tiring. We stopped by the road side to have a dinner at some restaurant. I do not recommend you to stop by any Nasi Padang restaurant. The one I experienced was not good. And don’t ever try to order teh ice from any stall.

As we were having dinner, I had a discussion with my friend. We came to a decision that from tomorrow onward, we shall rent a car together with a driver. Before we left the restaurant for home, we quickly booked our driver for tomorrow trip. We booked the full-day service instead of 12 hours.

The good thing about rental booking services here is that, you can just give them a last minute call, or text, and they would respond to you pretty fast!

DAY 2

We wanted to:

  1. Catch sunrise at “Borobudur”.
  2. Visit Borobudur.
  3. Swim at Umbul Ponggok.
  4. Catch sunrise at Ratu Boko Palace.

The original timing was based on motorcycle. So, stupid me forgot to take that into consideration when we were re-planning for sunrise using a rented car. It was 3 am in the morning. I was still very tired from yesterday’s riding. We told our driver that we needed to go to Monohara Hotel to catch Sunrise from there based on my query to them last time.

email

As you can see, it cost 400.000 IDR for a sunrise package! That’s a freaking $40!

How to economically spend on a Borobudur sunrise package?

Our driver told us that people usually go to Punthuk Setumbu to catch sunrise. I did not come across this when I was researching this sunrise package. So, I was not so sure. Upon further conversation, from his description, it sounds very familiar to what Manohara Hotel offers. After doing a bit of calculation here and there, I gave it a green light, and we changed our destination to Punthuk Setumbu instead of Manohara Hotel.

Sunrise at Punthuk Setumbu

From my observation, it seems that the hotel or maybe many hotels, will send those who opt-in for sunrise packages to Punthuk Setumbu. So, does the rest of tour agencies I would presume.

Punthuk Setumbu

You’ve got to walk a bit baby

You need to reach before 5.30 am, and grab the front most spot to the right! Our only mistake is that we did not know where to sit, and what to look out for, though we reached the place at about 4.30 am. It starts to get crowded at about 5.30 am.

sunrise

Entrance: 30.000 IDR

Parking: 5000 IDR

Did you see the price wrongly?? No you did not! 30.000 vs 400.000 IDR!

Ok, that was not a fair comparison. If you to were to factor in Borobudur tour price for foreigner, its gonna be 30.000 + 260.000 IDR = 290.000 IDR. Still, that is 27.5% cheaper than getting the sunrise package from Manohara! If you are a student (which I was, and am still at the point of this writing), it is 60% cheaper!

Borobudur Temple

Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and perhaps one of the most popular tourist attraction. It is such a shame that most tourists know nowhere else to go other than Borobudur and a few other mainstream tourist attractions.

borobudur

If you were to come here, I’d recommend that you come before 9 am. 9 am onward, it starts to get hot.

Entrance: 260.000 IDR / 130.000 IDR (Student. Need to show your student ID)

Parking: 10.000 IDR

Getting WET at Umbul Ponggok

After a hot day session at Borobudur, what could be better than dipping your fried soul into a cold artificial freezer?

Off to Umbul Ponggok! We stopped by a bamboo based restaurant recommended by our driver before we reached Umbul Ponggok. The good thing about getting a driver is that they know where to bring youh. Perhaps they get some commissions for bringing business, but hey, I think its worth it.

So.. what is Umbul Ponggok? In a nutshell, it is a large aqcuarium that you can swim in it. Its about 2 – 3 metre deep. It is best that you know how to swim. Otherwise, you can’t take underwater photos.

You can choose which prop(s) you wanna bring along underwater. Each prop have its own price tag.

price list

On the right hand side is the list of the prop price.

For photography package:

  • 1 hr, 8 people max – 100.000 IDR
  • 30 mins, 4 people max – 60.000 IDR

We took the 30 mins package + bicycle + fish = 92.000 IDR.

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Boy, that was the longest 30 minutes ever!

Entrance: I’ve totally forgotten to record this down. Its pretty cheap. I think it is not more than 20.000 IDR per person.

Parking: 2000 – 5000 IDR

Catching Sunset at Ratu Boko Palace

Swimming drained out our energy! So, we took a long nap while our driver drove us to Ratu Boko Palace!

A path to the forgotten palace.

A path to the forgotten palace.

ratu boko palace

As you can see, there are tons of bargedils queuing up to take photos during sunset. So.. there is no way you can get that perfect shot of yours with a sunset background. Unless, if you come during low period which I have no idea when. We came on a weekday by the way.

By the way, at Ratu Boko Palace, waiting for sunset like a dumbo is not the only thing should do! Walk around! Open your eyes! Many people do not to this!

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Walk further inside, and you’d find other places nearby instead of wasting time till sunset.

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Entrance: 110.000 IDR

Parking: Can’t remember. Probably between 5.000 – 10.000 IDR.

We ended the day at the edge of Bukit Bintang.

Dinner at Bukit Bintang

There are many eateries here. Take your time to choose.

 

Would you be mine?

Would you be mine?

That concludes our second day.

How much did we pay for car rental + driver?

I am a bit frustrated here. I must admit that I did not spend wisely this time around. The way car rental work here is not as described on their website. They charge depends on whether you are travelling within so called “state” or outside. When I called them to enquire the day before, I asked them to quote me for outside area tour. They quoted 450.000 IDR for full-day. However, after we went to Umbul Punggok, they said that it is considered out of the covered area, hence, there is an additional 100.000 IDR. Of course I was not happy. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to pay for the petrol as well, which adds an additional 200.000 IDR. So, the total that we paid was 750.000 IDR or $75.

I rented the car under Jogja Star Transport. We were supposed to go to another place before we go to Ratu Boko Palace, however, our driver got lost for like one hour when we were asleep, as such, we cancelled the plan. Because of this bad experience, I do not recommend you to engage Jogja Star Transport. But again, if I were to be fair to them and be lenient to myself, feel free to compare car rental prices at Yogyes. I would say, the price that I got was not so bad as compared to others.

Day 3

We had one more day for a full-day tour, and we managed to get a driver from Raditya Transport. This time around, we picked a tour package that list the destination of interest as close as possible to what we have planned before. The tour package includes gasoline as well. We picked Tour Package 7 which translates to $450.000.

We went to:

  • Gunung Api Purba Nglanggeran
  • Goa Pindul / Pindul Cave
  • Sungai Oya / Oya River
  • Hutan Pinus / Pinus Forest

Gunung Api Purba Nglanggeran

If you are into mountain climbing, or have some interest in it, you may want to pay a visit here. To reach the peak (700 m) of this inactive volcano, it takes about 1 – 1.5 hr of trekking. In our case, perhaps because we are young, and adventurous, it took us about 45 minutes. We did some stupid stuff and were fooling around along the way.

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Oh.. by the way.. you may face some problems/challenges if you are big in size. Don’t say that I never say!

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The sign says that the place is sacred. Women whom are having their menstrual cycle are prohibited from entry. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know either. If you know, let us know in the comments below.

There is also an optional route for risk takers. It may not look thrilling in this video. But the distance to the bottom is about 10 – 15  m.

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Yes, it is hot! The reason I wore a long sleeve sweater is because I get burnt pretty easily as compared to average human.

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Entrance: 30.000 IDR

Parking: 5.000 – 10.000 (Can’t remember)

Cave tubing at Goa Pindul & River Tubing at Sungai Oya

Cave tubing is basically going through a dark cave on a tyre tube. There is an optional photo package which you should take if you are in a group. However, because there were only 2 of us, we do not find it worthy to pay a 200.000 IDR photography fee.

Each group would be assigned a tour guide which will accompany you throughout Goa Pindul and Sungai Oya (Oya River). So, we got ONE guide for the 2 of us.

Then, we took a vehicle to Sungai Oya for river tubing, which is basically floating on a tube along the river. You’d have the option to forgo the tube, and just swim as per normal, which we opt for that.

If I am not wrong, the total distance covered is about 3.5 km.

For more information about cave tubing and river tubing, please check TripAdvisor and this blog post here.

Personally, I did not really enjoy neither cave tubing nor river tubing. However, I would advise that if you are having a time constrain and you can’t decide, forgo this.

By the way, try “Mi Ayam“! This was the first time I tried it, and I LIKED IT! “Mi Ayam” can be found anywhere you go!

Mi Ayam

Fee: 35.000 (cave tubing) + 45.000 (river tubing) = 80.000 IDR

Parking: 20.000 IDR

Hutan Pinus / Pinus Forest

There is drop in temperature here! I think the temperature was about 20 degree celsius! Its a woody/forest kind of scenery. Perfect for those who are into scenery.

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All I wished for is that you’d hold me and walk with me.

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I was born in a ninja village

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As the wind blows, the tree moves, so do you.

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Entrance:  FREE

Parking: 10.000 IDR

That concludes day 3.

Day 4

I took the courage to ride again. This time around we went to:

  • Taman Sari Water Palace
  • Tajug
  • Malioboro Street

Taman Sari Water Palace

Taman Sari is a garden chateau built by the Portuguese. The ticket that you buy here can be used to enter Tajug, which is a system of mysterious underground catacombs that once served as bunkers during war.. So, keep that ticket tight tight!

I’d strongly advise that you come early in the morning. If you come in the afternoon, you would not have the chance to take good photos.

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And again, if you are short of time, I think you can forgo this place.

Entrance: It is quite cheap. I think it is about 5.000 IDR or something.

Parking: 1000 IDR (motorcycle)

Malioboro Street

There are tons of souvenir here. Take your time to shop. I did not shop because I did not have the budget to shop. However, if you were to shop, I think you should take a look at their batik’s and apparels, especially those jackets.

Parking: 1000 – 5000 IDR

So.. that concludes day 4.

General Road Conditions

As I said before, traffic was horrible. Please do not attempt to drive.

Generally,

  • Main roads are not bad. Highways are well maintained.
  • Suburban / rural areas, you’d encounter lots of potholes, and the roads are narrow.
  • People jaywalk all the time.
  • Quite a number of riders rides against traffic.
  • Keeping on the left lane is not safe.
  • Walking is the most dangerous mode of commute, while riding is the safest.
  • Very hard to u-turn or join the main road.
  • You are responsible for whatever accidents happened because of you if you come from behind whether it is your fault or not.
  • Some traffic junction makes no sense. When going straight is red, people will horn you from behind so that you’ll just beat the traffic light and move.
  • Parking is quite safe. The park attendants take care of your vehicle. If you are riding, do not lock your front wheel. This will make the park attendant’s job easier as he may relocate/reposition your bike.

The video here was taken during off-peak period.

But of course, despite all these negativity, you’ve got to understand that commuters were forced by situation. Most roads other than highways are narrow here. You only have one lane. Like it or not, you need to drive dangerously some time. People over here are forced to adapt. Maybe if we are in their shoes, we’d adapt too.

General Guideline

  • Plan your journey.
  • Rent a car + driver + fuel. Communicate your itinerary so that they can give a better quote.
  • If you do not know where to go, choose a tour package offered by those car rental companies.
  • Do not come here alone. Get at least one more person.. to take your photos.. Haha!
  • Use Trabee Pocket app to track your expenses and budget left.
  • Not many Indonesians can speak English. So, if you can’t communicate in their language, it maybe difficult if you were to engage a driver. English speaking driver come with a price tag, which I do not know how much it cost.
  • You need to provide/pay meals for your driver.

Recommended Destination

These are just my personal opinion, based on available budget last time: (Highlighted in reds are those that we did not manage to go to)

  • Umbul Ponggok
  • Hutan Pinus
  • Watery Curtain Luweng Sampang
  • Sunrise at Mangunan Fruit gardens
  • Sri Gethuk Waterfall
  • Kalibiru National Park
  • Gunung Api Purba Nglanggeran

A realistic target would be 3  destinations a day.

Below is my initial itinerary that is messy. Feel free to use it as a template to come up with your own itinerary.

Yogyakarta Travel Plan

Must Buy

Get bakpias!!

  • Bakpia 25
  • Bakpia 25 premium
  • Bakpia 75

Do not get it from Malioboro Street! Their one does not taste good to me. The ones listed above are recommended by locals! How did I know? I asked around because I was not satisfied with the one sold at tourist marketplace!

My favourite flavour is chocolate!

Where to buy? Use Google Maps, and walk to the place, or get an Ojek to bring you to that place! You are WELCOME!

That’s all! I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you do, do share it around! 🙂

If you need help in communicating your itinerary to locals, feel free to approach me for assistance (for a fee). 🙂

If you need a travel buddy, I might be able to be your travel companion if my schedule allows. 🙂