I’m not sure what I was expecting when we arrived in Yogyakarta but I experienced an incredible assault on all of my senses that stayed with me ever since. I was 15 years old and it was my first time traveling outside of Australia.
My first impression of Yogyakarta was of a strange co-existence between tranquility and chaos -from the green rice paddy fields and the hot sticky air heavy with exotic aromas to the swarming hordes of motor bikes and scooters laden with families, produce and livestock.
Yogyakarta was a world away from suburban Melbourne.
Our itinerary was full of experiences that opened my eyes to Javanese culture. We visited the beautiful kraton or Sultan’s palace, the centre of culture heritage in Java.
I remember the wayung golek puppet show, markets full of batik and interesting snacks. It was there I discovered krupuk – crunchy Indonesian prawn crackers that are far superior in every way to their Chinese counterparts.
Borobodur and Prambanan Temples
But what made the deepest impression was our visits to the incredible temples of Borobodur and Prambanan close to Yogyakarta. These UNESCO listed sites are some of the most important archeological finds in Indonesia, if not the world.
Both serenely beautiful in their own right, they are an ancient reminder of the Buddhist and Hindu culture that existed on Java almost 2,000 years ago.
We spent a day exploring these beautiful sites on a day trip from the city of Yogyakarta. I will always remember the hot heat of the day as we clambered over the ancient stones surrounded by jungle.
An Indonesian guest house
On that trip to Yogyakarta we stayed in an elegant guest house close enough to nearby mosques that you could hear the daily calls to prayer.
Every day after sightseeing, we took afternoon tea and ate local treats with tastes and textures I had never experienced. A traditional gamelan orchestra played as we sipped our cool drinks in the shade of a colonial verandah.
Having a haven to relax in after the culture shock of our trips in and around Yogyakarta was a smart move by my mother who organised the trip.
Beaches close to Yogyakarta
That was many years ago and I can only imagine Yogyakarta is a much more bustling metropolis than it was then. While researching this article I discovered that the area is much better set up for tourists than when we visited with many hotel and tour options to choose from.
Perhaps the most relaxing way to visit this area would be to stay at Parangtritis Beach about an hour from Yogyakarta and a little further to the major sites.
There you will find hotels by the beach like the Queen of The South Resort that has a swimming pool overlooking the sandy beach and enjoys beautiful sunsets over the Indian Ocean. Perfect for relaxing after a day of sightseeing.
I would love to return to Yogyakarta. An important reason why we travel with our kids is to introduce them to cultures that are different to our own. Certainly this trip had a strong impression on me and most likely inspired my future travels.
Have you visited Yogyakarta in Indonesia recently? I wonder how it has changed from when I visited many years ago.
Disclosure: This post was written in association with Traveloka. All opinions are my own.
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