4 Days in Yogyakarta: The Ultimate Itinerary for Instagram-Worthy Spots

Yogyakarta or Jogja had been on my bucket list for a long time. It was one of the regions in Indonesia that I would like to visit. Its history, kingdom, culture, arts, and Borobudur are the main reasons why I want to set my foot here. Surprisingly, Jogja has so much to offer! It's no longer a region of temples anymore. There are so many landscapes and attractions you can choose: from museums, beaches, forests to mountains.

This trip was quite different, due to the fact that I brought my mum and brother along with us. It was about visiting tourist attractions and having a laid-back vacation. It was not really about doing budget-conscious and backpacking travel as I always do.  So, here's your ultimate 4-day itinerary of Jogja for Instagram-worthy places as well as the budget breakdowns and contacts of the drivers in Jogja. I will write more about some of the places below in a separate post in the near future. So stay tuned for more!

Day 1 - Arrival, Merapi, and Prambanan

We took a night train from Jakarta and arrived in Jogja at 3.45 AM. From here, we were picked up by our driver Pak Tono and went straight towards Mt Merapi. We stopped at a guest house at the village of Kaliurang to pray and met Pak Yudi who came with his old jeep.

Mt Merapi

The Mt Merapi Lava Tour includes a ride to the base camp of Mt Merapi to see the sunrise, the view of Jogja and the Indian Ocean. It costs Rp 450,000 per car, which can fit 4 people, including the driver. The tour was arranged and booked by Pak Tono himself. It includes visiting an abandoned house-turned-into museum, as a memory of the 2010 Mt Merapi eruptions and those were killed in the natural disaster. We also went to see a giant rock which came out of the eruptions and Kali Kuning, a river nearby the mountain.

Stay tuned for more posts on our Merapi adventure!

  • Mt Merapi Lava Tour Jeep: Rp. 450,000 per car for 3 people
  • Entrance: Free or included in the tour (always ask in advance!)
  • Parking: Free

Ullen Sentalu Museum

Initially, I didn't have many expectations on this private museum due to its limited pictures available on the internet. I was thinking of skipping it altogether. After visiting this museum, I really think that this is the most worthy places to visit in Yogyakarta! It's one of the most beautiful museums I have ever visited, hands down. It's definitely the best museum in Indonesia!

The Ullen Sentalu Museum showcases Javanese arts and cultures, as well as Javanese and Dutch architectures. The guided tour is mandatory and visitors are not allowed to take pictures in most rooms and spots, except the last section of the museum. I really enjoyed the tour as I learned a great deal on the Javanese history, kings and queens, cultures, and its unique batik patterns. If you are in Jogja and you are interested in history, art, and culture of Jogja, don't ever miss this place!

  • Entrance:
    • Local: Rp. 10,000/person
    • Foreigner: Rp. 50,000/person
  • Parking: Free

Plaosan Temple

About 2.6 kilometres from Prambanan Temple stood the lesser known Buddhist temple known as Candi Plaosan. Surrounded by paddy fields and villages, the Plaosan temple was built in the 9th century by one of the kings of a Javanese Hindu-Buddhist kingdom called the Medang Kingdom. The temple complex contains a few small structures, stupas, and shrines.

  • Entrance: Rp. 3,000/person (applicable for locals and foreigners)
  • Parking: Rp. 5,000/car

Prambanan Temple

Candi Prambanan is a renowned 9th-century temple. Unlike Plaosan, Prambanan is a Hindu temple, the largest one in Indonesia. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. It is interesting to know that this temple was built by the same king who built the Buddhist Plaosan Temple and it signifies the shift of the kingdom belief from Buddhism to Hinduism.

Together with the Borobudur Complex, this temple complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to this, the entrance price for non-Indonesians is very steep. Simply put, foreigners have to pay Rp. 234,000, which is almost 90% more than what the locals have to pay.

  • Entrance:
    • Local: Rp. 30,000/person
    • Foreigner: Rp. 234,000/person. 50% discounts are applicable for international students who can present a valid student card.
  • Parking: Rp. 10,000/car

Optional - Sunset at Keraton Ratu Boko

If you still have energy after a few temple visits, you can definitely consider Ratu Boko's Palace to witness the sunset. Due to the hot weather around the temples, we became too tired to go anywhere and decided to go back to our hotel instead.

Dinner at Gudeg Yu Djum

As soon as we arrived at our hotel, we quickly took shower and went out for dinner in the evening. Our driver was kind enough to wait for us on that day.

We decided to explore Jogja's signature local culinary, gudeg. Gudeg is made of young jackfruit, mixed with palm sugar, which makes the dish rather sweet. The dish is usually served with white rice and one or more combinations of eggs, chickens, tofus, tempeh, and/or crisp beef skins. If you want it to be completely vegetarian, then you can choose to have only tofu and tempeh as a side dish.

There are so many different gudeg stalls that you can find in a "gudeg street" at Jalan Wijilan. One of the famous ones is Gudeg Yu Djum. To be honest, that was my first time trying out a proper gudeg and I am not a huge fan of it due to the sweetness of the dish. I am satisfied that I've tried gudeg and I know what it actually is.

Day 2 - Borobudur, Kalibiru, Parangtritis Beach, Maliboro

Sunrise at Bukit Barede

Initially, we planned to go to Bukit Puthuk Setumbu for a sunrise, but we changed the plan last minute to Bukit Barede. According to Pak Tono, both hills offer a similar view of Borobudur and Mt Merapi. The only difference is that the Barede Hill is newly "discovered" and it's mostly frequented by foreign tourists. Compared to local tourists (mind you, it was a long Easter weekend), we did not see that many foreign tourists at that time. So we decided to go to the Barede Hill instead to avoid the crowds.

I think we made the right decision. The sunrise view was worth the wait with its magnificent Merapi backdrop. The Borobudur is so tiny though! You can see the top of the Borobudur if you look at the view hard enough 😉

For Muslims, there is a small place to pray Fajr prayer at the top, so it is a convenient place to be (for women, you may need to bring telekung if you need).

  • Entrance:
    • Local: Rp. 15,000/person
    • Foreigner: Rp. 30,000/person
  • Parking: Free (as of April 2017)

Borobudur Temple

If you haven't seen the temples in Myanmar and Cambodia, this is a magnificent temple. It's the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, with multiple storeys, reliefs, and statues to explore. This structure is Indonesia's proudest and biggest evidence of how great the kingdom and its civilisation was.

It's possible to go to Borobudur to watch for a sunrise, but the price is staggering. We thought it was not worth it at all. So we went to Bukit Barede (see above) instead.

  • Entrance:
    • Local: Rp. 30,000/person
    • Foreigner: Rp. 260,000/person
    • Sunrise tour by Manohara Hotel (optional): Rp. 450,000/person
  • Parking: Rp. 10,000/car

Gereja Ayam

Gereja Ayam (literally "Chicken Church") is an abandoned structure that resembles a chicken head. Some villagers believe that Gereja Ayam was a church (or a chapel) built by a Christian missionary. Due to the fact that the village has a majority Muslim population, the villagers rejected the idea of having a church in the village and it was eventually abandoned. The chicken-like structure became instantly famous after it was popularised by a famous Indonesian movie, Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? The movie became a hit in neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Gereja Ayam is now frequented by Malaysian and local tourists due to this movie.

We didn't go to Gereja Ayam as I did not find it that interesting, but apparently it has quite a nice view from the top.

  • Entrance:
    • Local: Rp. 25,000/person
    • Foreigner: Rp. 30,000/person
  • Parking:

Kalibiru

For Instagram-addict who is on the lookout for Instagrammable locations, Kalibiru is a perfect place for that. We drove all the way to the top through zig-zags of roads, passing through a thick lush forest of Kalibiru National Park, where the hills of Manoreh are located. At Kalibiru, a spectacular view awaits you with an array of mountains, a dam, and the Indian Ocean.

Me at the Spot Bundar, Kali Biru

If you really want to go here, avoid weekends as it gets very crowded with locals. Unfortunately, if you want to take pictures at one of the wooden platforms, you need to pay Rp. 10,000 - 15,000 per spot per person. The queue for these platforms can get insanely long during weekends and we were lucky that our driver was able to book for the spots in advance. I overheard someone saying that the queue took about 2 hours (!!).

The experience of hiking a mountain and being able to reach the summit and see the beautiful view is an unforgettable moment for many hikers. As a hiker myself, I find that Kalibiru lacks that real experience. It is just a place where you go and take pictures. The view is no doubt beautiful, but it's no different with the views I've seen after hiking some mountains in the Titiwangsa Range of Malaysia, or Bukit Tabur in KL.

If you are not a hiker and you seldom see this kind of view before, then by all means, do visit Kalibiru, enjoy the beautiful view, and take pictures on one or more platforms! I highly recommend taking pictures at the round spot (spot bundar).

  • Entrance: Rp. 10,000/person (locals and foreigners)
  • Taking pictures in different spots: Rp. 10,000 - 15,000 per spot per person (depending on the spot)
  • Parking: Rp. 5,000/car

Sandboarding at Gumuk Pasir

We skipped this activity as we heard from our friends that the sand dunes are quite lame -- and I have to completely agree with them!! The sand dunes are located nearby the southern beach, called Parangritis Beach, and they cover only a small area nearby the beach.

I've seen the vast desert in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt during all my travels so this one is not fascinating to me at all, unfortunately.

Parangtritis Beach

After looking at the sand dunes (and feeling disappointed), we passed by the Parangtritis Beach. We were here in the weekend of Easter holiday so it was full of people (mostly local tourists). Uninterested, we went back after driving passed the beach from one end to another by car.

The Famous Bakpia

Bakpia is a famous Chinese influence sweet roll that has become one of Jogja's specialities.

The making of bakpia

We stopped by at a bakpia shop, called Bakpia Soemadigdo to order some bakpias in advance. If you order 10 or more boxes, they'll be able to deliver the bakpias for free to your hotel. So we asked them to deliver them on the day of our departure so we'll get boxes of fresh bakpias! At this shop, you will be able to try different flavour of bakpias. The best ones I'd say are filled with mungbean (and thinner skins).

I actually didn't research on the best bakpia in town before I came here. Since I never tasted anything as good as Bakpia Soemadigdo, I thought it was the best one! But as soon as my friend (who was born and bred in Jogja!) brought me a few boxes of Bakpia Merlino the next day, I changed my mind and I regretted that I ordered Bakpia Soemadigdo.

Bakpia Merlino is smaller in size (so it fits nicely in your mouth) and it has thinner skins compared to Bakpia Soemadigdo. The cheese, mungbean, and coffee flavours were extremely delicious!!! So, next time you are in Jogja, please avoid any other touristy bakpias and go to the local favourites: Bakpia Merlino!

Malioboro

Malioboro Street

You haven't been to Jogja if you have not step your foot on this famous shopping street, Jalan Malioboro. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit words malya bhara, which mean flower bouquets, as they were usually present during royal festivities or ceremonies. Malioboro also lies in the imaginary straight line connecting the Mt Merapi in the north, the royal palace (Kraton of Jogja) in the middle, and the Indian Ocean in the south. The line has many hidden philosophical, spiritual, and mystical meanings for local Javanese that have existed for many centuries.

Presently, Malioboro is filled with souvenir and batik shops as well as lesehan, a road-side food stall that charges visitors with unbelievably expensive prices. Despite all that, I love the feeling of walking along this busy street. I love watching different music performances using the combination of traditional and modern instruments. The street is so lively!

Day 3 - Mangunan, Pine Tree Forest, Timang Beach

Kebun Buah Mangunan

I wasn't sure what to expect of this hill, besides the green lush mountain views. But I think we were quite lucky to be here when the weather was perfect. Not only could we appreciate the view of the mountains, but we could also enjoy the thick mists developing above these mountains and river. It really looks like clouds moving in one direction! Amazing view, indeed!

  • Entrance: applicable for locals and foreigners
    • Monday - Saturday: Rp. 5,000/person
    • Sunday: Rp. 6,000/person
  • Parking: Free

Jurang Tembelan

Jurang is an Indonesian word for a cliff. The purpose of this spot is nothing but to take pictures of a bamboo ship positioned at the edge of the cliff. You need to be extra lucky to be here as the mists travel very fast. The view was beautiful until the mists obstruct the whole panorama.

Jurang Tembelan is located within a short ride from the Mangunan Hill.

  • Entrance: Free
  • Parking: Rp. 8,000/car

Rumah Hobbit

The Hobbit House is located nearby the Mangunan Hill and none of us, except my husband went inside. They tried to copy the Lord of the Rings' hobbit house but failed miserably. However, the thick forests are super nice!

  • Entrance: Rp. 2,000/person
  • Parking: Rp. 5,000/car

Imogiri Pine Tree Forest (Hutan Pinus)

We spent quite a bit of time taking pictures at the Pine Tree Forest. It wasn't that big, but be sure to walk towards the top part of the forest. We didn't do that and our driver told us after we came back from the forest.

It is a beautiful man-made forest. I still prefer an original forest around the mountains though 😉 this forest looks too proper to me.

  • Entrance: Free
  • Parking: Rp. 10,000/car

Gua Pindul

We didn't go for tubing at the Pindul Cave as my mom was not so keen to get wet and I didn't think it was worth doing it. Just be careful of going there during long weekends or public holidays as it can get insanely crowded.

Pantai Timang (Timang Beach)

Timang Beach is very popular among Malaysian tourists. Even locals don't really go here. Unfortunately, you need to spend quite a bit to see the Timang Beach from afar, as the roads to reach the beach are in poor conditions, hence the only way to get there was by motorcycle, which took about 15 minutes.

The Timang Beach reminded me so much of the Great Ocean Road in Australia. With huge cliffs and violent waves, it surely does look like a smaller version of the ones in Australia. You can take a manual gondola ride or a rope bridge to the "island" nearby, but with the price they are charging you, I don't think it's worth paying that much! The good thing is that we didn't have to pay for chillin' at the Timang Beach itself to enjoy the view.

If you want to eat the lobster, you can do that here, at the Timang Beach. The villagers here are well-known to be the great lobster hunter of the southern sea. The normal lobster costs Rp. 150,000/kg and the high-quality lobster may cost as high as Rp. 300,000/kg. We didn't get to eat the lobster as we preferred to eat local foods instead 🙂

As a side note: avoid coming here in the midday as it gets super hot!

  • Transportation options:
    • Motorcycle (with a "driver"): Rp. 50,000/person return
    • Jeep: Rp. 350,000/person return
  • Entrance:
    • Gondola ride (optional): Rp. 150,000/person (local) or Rp. 250,000/person (foreigner)
  • Parking: Rp. 5,000

Bukit Bintang

We skipped Bukit Bintang as we wanted to eat a famous local lamb satay. Bukit Bintang is a hill where you can see Jogja at night.

Late Lunch at Sate Klathak Pak Pong

Sate Klathak Pak Pong is a famous satay restaurant, where they only served lamb dishes. What made this place famous was, of course, the lamb satay. Unlike a typical Indonesian sate which is served with either sweet soy sauce or peanut sauce, sate klathak is a Jogja version of satay served with broth. We tried other dishes as well and they were quite delicious.

Alun-Alun Kidul

A "car" at Alun Alun

In the evening, after having a quick dinner with my local friend, we went to Alun-Alun Kidul (or Alkid), a huge square that used to be a sacred place for religious ceremonies during the Majapahit Kingdom. Located nearby the Royal Palace, this square hosts 2 huge banyan trees. There were many myths concerning these trees -- one of them is: whoever manages to pass in between the trees with eyes closed (for approximately 50 or more meters), his or her wishes will come true.

Despite the fact that many people, including me, don't believe these myths anymore, I was curious enough. The first thing that runs through everybody's mind when looking at people attempting to go through between the trees is: "Are you kidding me? Is it THAT hard?" Boy, was I wrong! I tried twice and I failed miserably. No doubt it was a fun activity for me and my family!

At this Alun-Alun, you can also rent decorated "car" with lights for Rp. 35,000 (circling the square two times). It was quite fun.

Day 4 - Departure

My family went for a last-minute shopping at Malioboro in the morning. For lunch, we went to Kedai Rakjat Djelata. It was recommended by my local friend. There was a mixed rice (nasi campur) and it was pretty good! Unfortunately, most ala-carte foods are available in the evening, so there were not many choices when we were there.

We took a flight in the afternoon from Jogja to Jakarta. The airport is really nearby the city and it costs Rp. 30,000 on good days.

Contact Details of Guides/Drivers

If you need a driver + car to explore Jogja, you can contact the following guides/drivers. I contacted Pak Donny and liaised with him, who appointed Pak Tono to be our driver. We paid Rp. 450,000/car for an MPV (Toyota Avanza) including the driver (not including tips and parking).

Pak Donny owned a guest house near Mt Merapi so it was convenient for us to take a shower there after the jeep tour. He also came up with the 3-day itinerary, which can be customised according to our needs (hence, we skipped some places). Pak Tono is a nice and flexible driver (he's funny too!). I'd highly recommend them! Contacts of Pak Donny and our driver Pak Tono are below. It is possible to contact Pak Tono directly if you prefer.

  • Mr Donny: +62 878 392 592 34
  • Mr Tono: +62 877 392 425 63

My advice before contacting them is to figure out how many days you will be in Jogja and which places you absolutely don't want to miss when you are there. You can tell that to Pak Donny and he can come up with a nice itinerary. This itinerary is important to save the time wasted travelling between different places.

For the Merapi Jeep Tour, it will be booked by Pak Donny/Pak Tono in advance if you are planning to do it. But if you need the contact number of the driver, I put it below.

  • Mt Merapi Lava/Jeep Tour - Mr Yudi
    • WhatsApp: +62 85 743 495 565
    • Phone: +62 85 739 873 459

Budget Breakdowns

  • Transportation
    • Car rental for 12 hours a day (mostly it's more than 12 hours, which is OK) including personal driver: Rp 450,000 per car per day. Not including tips for driver and parking
    • Parking for 3 days cost around Rp. 60,000
    • GrabCar from the Alun-Alun to the hotel: Rp. 15,000
    • GrabCar to the airport: Rp. 30,000
  • Accommodation
    • Favehotel Kusumanegara: Rp. ? (thanks to my brother, who sponsored our accommodation!). It is quite a distance from Malioboro. You can find a pretty cheap accommodation around Malioboro. Make sure to book way in advance as it gets fully booked.
  • Attractions - see the breakdown of costs above. Places that we skipped were not counted in the cost below.
    • Local: Rp. 350,000/person
    • Foreigner: Rp. 850,000/person

Anyway, I hope you find this itinerary useful! Let me know below if you have any questions or comments!

4 Days in Yogyakarta: The Ultimate Itinerary for Instagram-Worthy Spots