The special region of Yogyakarta often known as Yogya, Yoja or even Jogja, is located in the island of Java, Indonesia. Unlike Bali, Jogya is more traditionally Muslim, with a minority identifying as Christian and Hindu.
Yogyakarta is a busy sprawling city with lots of narrow picturesque side streets in a maze-like formation, that makes navigation confusing at times but also exciting.
Many people will say that Yogya is not a city to fall in love with, but I did… I truly fell in love with this city to the point I have returned again. If you have been reading my posts about Indonesia I was quite disappointed with most of the places.
For the first time on my adventure around Indonesia, I didn’t feel like everyone had an agenda, I liked the vibe of the city, its people, and authenticity.
Yogyakarta also has an excellent location whatever direction you go. The Merapi mount at the North, isolated beaches at the South, The Heritage site of Prambanan at the East and the ancient Buddhist temple – Borobudur at the west to where you can go using public buses.
Jogya is the centre of many art forms including traditional dances, batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, puppet shows, and cuisine.
Yogyakarta is the beating heart of the Javanese culture. The city pulsates with creative energy, where artists from all over Indonesia come to join the community, making this city a feast for the eyes.
Street art is just another way of expression, and finding the best street art is just one of the things you can do in Yogyakarta. Jogya is a colourful, creative city full of surprises. There always seems to be something going on.
There are few better places to visit than the local markets in order to gain a sense of a country, its customs and culture than amongst the stalls and the people.
Most markets you will encounter are packed with people, are hot and sticky, have colourful foods and gods on offer, some are located in narrow alleyways full of the sounds and smells of a country waiting to be explored.
Whichever you choose, make sure you’re there early as most stalls close after 11 am.
There are food stalls in every corner, and vegan and vegetarian food is abundant in Yogyakarta. Tofu and tempeh are super common and dairy, on the other hand, is rarely used in cooking.
The busiest area is on the north end of JI Malioboro where you will find dozens of street food vendors during the evening.
Look for nasi goreng (fried rice), gado gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), lotek (similar to gado gado), gudgeon (jackfruit curry), nasi Langgi (coconut rice with temple), tahu and tempe sate (tofu and tempeh on skewers) and pecel (mixed veg salad with bean sprouts and peanut sauce).
Becaks (cycle rickshaws) are used for public transportation in Yogyakarta. Around the Palace Quarter after the sun has set the streets are filled with a selection of illuminated vehicles decorated with everything from Hello Kitty to Pokemons.
Batik is an ancient waxing and dying process, very popular in Indonesia. In fact, it is here, on the island of Java that the finest batik in the world is produced.
Jogja being the Javanese cultural hub, is a great place to witness the process of batik first-hand.
Some batik workshops give free tours of the batik process. But please do some research and be aware of all the scams directed at tourists.
I’ve visited Yogyakarta twice and spent some considerable time there, and I can’t recommend it enough, I really loved it..
Have you been to Java or Yogyakarta? Let me know your thoughts..
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha