Travel: Yogyakarta 101

Summer holiday is in! Yeay! So, how’s your summer holiday going? If you’ve planned to spend your holiday in Yogyakarta, I would like to share things that might be useful for you before coming to Yogyakarta. This is based on my experience as an Indonesian who is not a local in Yogyakarta. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Location

Yogyakarta is located in the middle of Java island. But, it’s not exactly in the middle, of course. If you look at the Javanese island map, you’ll see that Yogyakarta (or simply called Jogja) is located in the bottom-middle part of Java island. There’s Mount Merapi at the northern part of Jogja. The timezone is GMT+7, so you might need to adjust your clock if you come from another country with a noticeable time gap.

Weather

Indonesia is located in the tropical zone, so every place here, including Yogyakarta, only know the rainy and dry season. The temperature varies in places all around Indonesia, but the temperature in Yogyakarta is between 25-30 Celsius degree during the day in the dry season and 18-22 Celsius degree at night. The temperature may be lower during the rainy season. In some places in Yogyakarta, the temperature can be higher or lower, depending on the topography.

Language

The citizens in Yogyakarta speak Indonesian and Javanese for daily basis, although some of them acquire the basic to intermediate level of English (I’m not discrediting those who can speak English like a native, but the average citizens can’t speak English fluently). So, although they try their best to explain things to you in broken English, it’s better for you to know, at least, basic conversations in Indonesian to help you understand things, including place names or streets. It’s a plus if you understand basic spoken Javanese like numbers, greetings, or anything you happen to know. Or, if you know a native Indonesian/Javanese who apparently can speak English properly, you can ask them to help you communicate with locals.

Transportation

Unlike the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta, Yogyakarta doesn’t have public transportation as great as Jakarta. In Jogja, most people ride their own vehicles (mostly motorcycles, although some of them ride their car). The public transportations available are bus, taxi, becak, delman and ojek. The buses are divided into TransJogja (similar to TransJakarta if you have tried them. It’s like tram or city bus) and buses that travel to other provinces. There are a few taxi provider here, although now you can have them via Go-Jek (the local online transportation application, similar to Grab). In Malioboro, you can find becak or delman (horse carriage). I don’t really know about their prices now, but it’s better if you go with a local.

Ojek is the most common “public” transportation. It’s like your Grab or UberCar, but the vehicle used is a motorbike. Before Grab and Go-Jek arrive in Yogyakarta in 2016/2017, there are only ojek that you have to find in their points. Now, you can find ojek easier using Grab or Go-Jek. Just like taxis, GrabCar or UberCar, the fare of GrabRide/Go-Ride/Go-Car varies to how far you go and the traffic.

Note: unlike Grab, Go-Jek limits the distance of a ride to 25km from your starting point. It also doesn’t have GrabNow, so if you need to book a ride to go to a place farther than 25km or you really need a service like GrabNow, you probably need to download (or keep if you have already installed the app) Grab on your phone. However, Go-Jek offers other services that Grab doesn’t, like massage, car-cleaning, shop, or room cleaning. So, it depends on your needs.

Food and Beverage

The food and beverage are mostly halal ones, so if you are looking for meals containing processed dog/pig meat, you need to dig more info about where you can find them and the prices. The meals in Yogyakarta are sweet or spicy, so if you’re avoiding sweet food or your stomach isn’t familiar with a spicy meal, you have to be a little bit picky. The price varies from IDR5,000.00 to IDR30,000.00 (USD0.36-USD2.15), depends on your taste (I know, it’s so cheap! You can even have a main dish with free ice tea–of course, it’s gonna be super sweet if you don’t request–for these prices).

But, Yogyakartans, as well as citizens in other regions in Indonesia, don’t know the three types of dishes, so you can’t expect an appetizer, main dish, and a dessert in local restaurants, except if you’re having a nice dinner in a gourmet restaurant.

Notable Things

Here are some notable things in Jogja:

  • Gudeg. The most famous gudeg in Jogja is Gudeg Yu Djum and Gudeg Hj. Ahmad. There’s jackfruit, krecek, hard-boiled egg, and chicken coated in sweet ingredients, which make these look brown. Plus, when I say sweet, it can be strongly sweet as cuisines in Jogja are mostly sweet.
  • Bakpia. This one is a small, rounded local “cake” with various fillings like chocolate, cheese, etc. You can google it to understand the visual.
  • Yangko. This one is a local food souvenir that has a cube shape and has three flavors. It’s sweet and a bit weird if you haven’t tried them and decided to taste them for the first time. It might not be a thing for some people.
  • Wingko Babat. I guess this local food souvenir is made of coconut. The shape is round like a pancake. One of the sides is white and the other is brown. It tastes coconutty. I’m not really sure tho.
  • Wayang. Jogja is also known for its wayang. The classical ones are usually used for performing Mahabarata and Ramayana. There is a difference between Jogjakartan style and Surakartan style in wayang.
  • Gamelan. There are various kinds of gamelan in Indonesia, but the more familiar to people’s ears are Gamelan Degung (Sundanese), Gamelan Jawa (Javanese), and Gamelan Bali (Balinese). Here, the gamelan in Jogja has Jogjakartan style. It can be distinguished by the bonang playing style and the form of gamelan ornaments and edges.
  • Candi. Before Islamic teaching came to Indonesia, Hinduism and Buddhism came first. It results in the existence of candi, including candi in Yogyakarta. The famous one is Candi Prambanan (not Borobudur, because Borobudur is located in Magelang). Most of the candis in Jogja are located in Kalasan, although there are some other in other places in Jogja.
  • Malioboro. Malioboro street is the heaven of souvenirs. You can buy batik to unique souvenirs here.
  • Beaches and Hills. From beaches in Gunungkidul to higher places in Kulonprogo or Kaliurang Street, you name it. There are lots of nature-based spots you can visit. The notable beach in Yogyakarta is Parangtritis, where the legend of Nyi Roro Kidul, Indonesian goddess of the sea who ‘owns’ the southern beach(es), lives. The legend said that if you are wearing green clothes, you’d more likely to be abducted by Nyi Roro Kidul, the Queen of Southern Beach.

Other things you should know

The easiest public transportation you can get are TransJogja (commune bus) and online transportation (Go-Jek or Grab). There are also becak and delman (a horse chariot), but they operate only in Malioboro. It happens as public transportation is not quite popular among the locals. Most of them use motorcycles and some use cars. So, you might want to rent a motorbike/car or want to use Grab/Go-Jek for your mobility. It’s not very convenient if the city where you live before you go to Jogja have more options for public transportation.

For the community, the majority of the citizens’ religion is Muslim, so there are lots of masjids. You may have to adapt with azan every 4:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 7:00 p.m if your hometown doesn’t have azan. Besides, as most of the citizens are Muslim, you might have a hard time to find meals with pork or dog meat for yourself. You have to ask people who are not Muslim to know this (or Muslim who doesn’t apply the Sharia law in their life).

If you’re coming from a country whose community life starts quite late, you might have a hard time to adapt, as usually Indonesians, including the citizens in Jogja, are early birds. They can sleep a bit late and wake up at 5 a.m. Also, we have a slightly different time groupings with the English language. We don’t know a.m. and p.m. We only know that: 1) 3-5 a.m. is early morning, 2) 6-9 a.m. is morning, 3) 10-11 a.m. is between morning and noon, 4) 12-3 p.m. is noon, 5) 3-5 p.m. is afternoon (we call it sore), 6) 6 p.m. is dusk, 7) 7-11 p.m. night, 8) 12-2 a.m. is midnight.

I hope that helps!

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