The Ultimate Photography Travel Guide for Yogyakarta Indonesia
When you come to Java there are some things you should not miss! The temples and sights near Yogya are well worth a visit! You can dig a little bit into Indonesian culture, food and lifestyle by exploring markets, the old town of Yogya around the Water Castle, and by trying some local food.
Most people only visit Yogja to see Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple. And you shouldn’t miss this either! We have already seen a lot of temples in Thailand but this one is totally different and really beautiful. Especially at sunrise its worth a visit! If you are not on a tough budget go and take the sunrise tours from Mahoni Hotel which is located directly next to the temple. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to do the tour. We slept in a nice homestay just 500 meters from the entrance to Mahoni Hotel.
At 4:30 AM we got up with the call of the muezzin of the nearby mosque and walked to the Mahoni Hotel. There you just have to follow the signs or ask people. They lead you to the entrance hall where you can get your ticket for the sunrise tour (400000 IDR about 25$ per person). (Attention! Borobudur Temple area is a no-drone zone. They check your bag at the entrance of the hotel, we had to leave our drone there! It was no big problem we got it back later.) From there many signs guide you to the temple. There will already be many people siting on top waiting for the sunrise but you will find a spot 😉. And it is truly magical when the sky is getting red and you see over the whole area as Borobudur is built on a little hill. You can see Mount Merapi and other volcanoes from up there and the misty rain forest all around. The temple opens at 6:00 AM. Then you can get in with a normal ticket (take your student card, then you can get 50% discount! Also take the double ticket for Borobudur and Prambanan it is cheaper! Kombi-ticket doesn’t work for Mahoni sunrise tour!)
How to get there: If you stay in Yogyakarta it is easy to get to Borobudur by a local bus ride. Take a Trans Jogja Bus (3500 IDR per person) from your hotel area to Jombor terminal in the north of Yogyakarta. From there take the bus to Borobudur. You find them easily as there will already be someone asking you if you want to go to Borobudur (But be careful there can be touts! Don’t pay before the bus leaves the station!) it costs 15000-25000 IDR per person, depending on the amount the bus driver adds to the price the locals have to pay^^ and takes about 1.5 hours. There will be people jumping on and off the bus all along the way but you will finally arrive at the Borobudur bus terminal. This is probably one of the cheapest ways to get there. A taxi is about 400.000-600.000 IRD. Of course, you can also rent a scooter and drive there on your own but be prepared for a lot of traffic.
More Info: https://wikitravel.org/en/Borobudur
The second big temple in Yogya is Prambanan. It is a Hinduistic temple. If you like you can also visit a Ballett show there in the evening (We haven’t been there but maybe you were there, then leave a comment or write a message about your experience!). We got there in the morning to get pictures with less people and to have nice light. It’s also not as hot as during midday. There are three other temples in the Prambanan areal. The first two are nothing special, the last one called Candi Sewu is ok (all of them were being restored when we were there so they weren’t very photogenic with the scaffolding).
How to get there: Prambanan temple is the last station of one of the Trans Yogya bus lines. But you can also order a taxi (download the saytaxi app and order a taxi as they drive with a taximeter. The bluebird app didn’t work in Yogya).
Taman Sari - Water castle
We really liked this place because of all the small alleys where you can stroll around. The entrance for the water castle costs 15000 IDR. You can buy your ticket by the main building with the pool. There are guys who tell you something about the castle and walk around with you (don’t worry they are included in the entrance fee!). They can show you many interesting things as it can be quite difficult to find for example the underground mosque in the labyrinthic streets.
Bird market/Pet market
This was one of the craziest things we saw in Yogya and it is nothing for animal activists! They have hundreds of birds in one cage as well as all kinds of other creatures. You can buy geckos, reptiles, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats, cocks, hens, raven, fish and even tortoises. It is totally crazy. We met a nice guy there who told us what to do in Bali and Lombok and that there is a snake market 4 km from the birds market, where you can eat a cobra. If someone has been to this place please feel free to share your information in a comment! We also saw a really interesting competition there. A lot of people brought their birds and put them in cages in numbered places. Then everyone except the jury had to go out and they began to scream for about 10 minutes. At some point, they stopped and flags were given out to the numbered birds. After that it was over and everyone got their birdcage back. If someone could explain to us what this was about we would be happy to know!
How to get there: There is no public transport there, so you either go on foot as we did and meet some nice people and see the city or take a taxi or ricksha.
Blinking velo cars
Another crazy thing in Yogya is the blinking cars - covered in LEDs looking like VW-Beatles or VW-Buses. You find them when its dark on the back side of the sultan’s palace. They are so cool and really funny to drive around with.
The Backpacker street of Yogyakarta offers lots of shopping opportunities. The street is always really busy also at night. You will find a Market there, too.