So you want to know more about the things to do in Jogja, correct? Say that you are a fan of Indonesia and you want to go on a trip to a nice Indonesian town. Jakarta is too crowded while Bali is already too mainstream, so you cannot put those two places into the list. That would leave several towns and spots like Surabaya, Solo, Komodo Island, Raja Ampat, Jogjakarta, and any other towns outside of Java.
Now let me give you a bit of an insight about those towns. First thing first, we need to talk about Surabaya. Surabaya is not a bad place to go all tourist, but when compared to the other cities or spots on the list, Surabaya can come out a bit empty. In fact, it is starting to turn into the second Jakarta, which is not a bad place to spend your vacation on, but there are better places to visit in Indonesia.
Solo is an easier case. It got nice attractions to visit, good food to eat, and good sights to see. The problem with Solo is that it is starting to turn into a second Jogja. When I said second Jogja, I mean the city of Jogja, which is an interesting place to visit but is now starting to turn into just another big, ordinary city. Now why would you pay a sum of money just to see another city, right?
Komodo Island, Raja Ampat, and other beautiful spots are just that: beautiful spots. After you saw it, there is nothing else to it. You go to Komodo Island to see Komodo and that is it. Komodo Island’s main attraction is its Komodo Dragons, and if you have seen them, there are lots of better places to visit. Raja Ampat is a less crowded Bali, and you are better off visiting Bali than Raja Ampat because Bali got more attractions to visit than the famed beach.
Jogja is the lesser ‘evil’ out of the many places I have mentioned
You might think that I somewhat loath big cities and you might wonder why I recommend Jogja instead of other places. While Jogja is in itself a city, there are lots of wondrous things that you can do or visit in Jogjakarta. I, as a lover of everything travelling (especially if would not cost me money), have visited Jogja several times in my lifetime, and I can safely say that I would not regret recommending this city for you guys.
Because Jogja is wonderful, that is why. People see Jogja as one of the best cities to study in Indonesia, but they got a tunnel vision if they think like that. In reality, Jogja is a big region filled with many awesome things to do, delicious foods to eat, and unforgettable memories to make. You can find almost every form of entertainment in Jogja, both within the city or the surrounding region. There are mountains, beaches, small towns, and homey villages in the greater Jogja area, and all of them is a place that must be visited if you are hungry for something new.
But if you crave a vacation that is a bit more town-ey, wanting to get a feel of the city, you can also do that in Jogja.
Jogja basically got every ounce of a traveller’s wish covered, that is why I recommend Jogja instead of those other places.
However, I have found that some people dismissed the recommendation on the basis of them lacking information about Jogja. While visiting Jogja is a wonderful thing, doing so without making a plan beforehand would only make the trip confusing.
That being said, I have my own story to tell about my recent visit to Jogja. The trip is definitely memorable and is something that I would not forget for a while. For those interested in visiting Jogja, perhaps hearing my story would further bring you closer to booking a ticket to Indonesia.
I started the day with a beautiful sunrise at Merapi Mountain
Merapi is one of the most popular mountains to visit in Indonesia, and do you know where the mountain is located? Jogja. Merapi mountain can offer you a taste of serenity, especially if you visit the place when it is not too crowded. Indonesians like to give their prayers to Mbah Marijan here, which was Merapi Mountain’s ‘keyholder’.
You know what I did there? I hunted for sunrise at Merapi Mountain as people told me that Merapi got one of the most beautiful sunrises someone can see. They told me that your Jogja journey would end on a low note if you decided not to see the sunrise.
And so I hiked the mountain before the dawn broke, carrying a bit of my travelling gear to lighten the load. The trek was not perilous at all, but the lack of light made me need to think twice before I took a step. One mistake and I could be injured or worse, which was definitely not something that I would want to have when I am travelling (medical expense can be so expensive when you are travelling, after all).
I arrived at a place called Kaliadem, a spot which the sunrise view would be the best, just a few moments before the sun showed itself. There is only one thing that I can say about it, and I would not be ashamed that it was a clichéd word: the sight was breath-taking. I have never seen anything like it in almost every place I have visited. If there is something that has to be said about Merapi Mountain is that it got a sunrise like no other.
When I am already tired of the sun, the jeep came next. The jeep ride is nothing special, actually. It was just an ordinary jeep ride on the mountain, with the occasional lava sightseeing here and there. It is better to stay at your hotel than to go with this tour.
In case you did not notice, I was being sarcastic with the above statement. The lava tour, a tour that involves me riding a jeep with a convoy, was another experience that I would like to repeat once again. The feeling of the jeep hitting the dirt hit me right in the adrenaline, and the sight around me was something that I would not forget in a long time. The sound of nature and the roaring jeep engine mixed together was not something that I had expected to like.
Museum Ullen Sentalu is my next destination
I am a bit of a history freak, so there is nothing better to me than a visit to a local museum. This museum I visited was called Ullen Sentalu, which is a museum that is hailed as the best museum in Jogja. Here, I learned a lot about Javanese history and culture, something that I have always been interested in.
The tour started nicely and it only gets better the longer I am there. My mind was filled with everything Javanese, and I wanted nothing more than it. It was nice to learn about the history of Mataram and how the Javanese folks came to be. I never expected a museum like that to be able to teach me a whole lot about history. Guess that is why Ullen Sentalu is called the best museum in Jogja.
The tour ended on a higher note than ever before. This was probably my favourite thing on the tour because it involves food. The museum tour ended at Beukenhof restaurant, a restaurant with a nice gothic touch here and there. If you ever found yourself at Beukenhof, I recommend you get the breaded chicken tender and the glazed lamb rack. Those two are my favourite dishes, but that does not mean you should avoid ordering the others though.
Last but not least, an Andong ride through the Malioboro street
Jalan Malioboro is one of the best marketplaces in Jogjakarta. Here, you can find lots of stuff specifically being sold for foreign tourists or gullible Indonesians. Why? Simple because the items the vendors sell in here are EXTREMELY expensive for your ordinary Indonesian. People of a lower budget who thought of buying items here should possibly refrain from doing so because those kinds of people would probably end up buying nothing.
I myself decided not to get anything at Malioboro. What I did get, however, was an Andong ride through the famed street. Andong is a traditional horse-pulled carriage that was still operating in this part of town (I heard many people in Central Java still used Andong every day). The ride was amazing. The sight of peddlers peddling their wares made me realize how lively Jogjakarta is.
In the end….
My experience in Jogja was like no other. The sunrise had taken my breath away, filling my mind with memories I never thought I could feel. The jeep ride was exhilarating and adrenaline filled, again a set of memory I would never forget. The museum taught me more about Javanese culture, bringing to them a newfound respect. The Andong was an experience that I would not get anywhere.
It is only right for me to say that I have only tasted a few of the things to do in Jogja, but if someone ever asked me to go or if my longing for Jogja starts to creep into my mind, I would not hesitate to give the historical place a visit again.