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  • Vanessa Liwanag

How to Have the Perfect Long Weekend in Yogyakarta

Rich Javanese culture and the nicest people on earth are just some of the highlights of a long weekend in and around Yogyakarta. We share to you the best attractions to visit and immerse yourself in as you visit a region brimming with inspiration and an active art scene in the heart of Java in Indonesia.

Day One - Yogyakarta City Tour

Drop off your bags in one of the newly refurbished hotels in the center of Yogyakarta, the Neo+Awana Hotel. It is a 4-star establishment that deserves its top place in many online hotel reviews as it's location is ideally situated near prime attractions that include the colorful Alun Alun Kidul square where all the fun starts in the evening and the famous Sultan's Palace where the Royal Family are still residing and governing the people of Yogyakarta.

Get yourself one of the colorful becak rides conveniently parked at the entrance of the hotel and start off your city exploration by visiting the palace and watch an enchanting performance of a Gamelan orchestra playing in the courtyard. There are cultural perfomances daily which vary from Gamelan music playing to poetry readings at 10 AM so its best to come to the palace in the morning to witness the perfomances before continuing on an interesting tour of the many rooms and museums that house the Royal Family's potraits and collection of batik masterpieces.

Lunch time at the Javanese restaurant, Bale Raos, located at the entrance of the palace is fully recommended as you get to try dishes from an exotic menu approved by the Royal Family. Try the Bebek Suwar Suwir, a delightful duck dish that would truly satisfy anyone's palates or the royal Nasi Traditional Set, a favorite of Sultan Hamengku Buwono VII which includes a combination of dishes with original red rice from the Wonosari region, served together with Gecok Ganem (meatballs cooked with the favorite sauce of Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX), Oseng Daun Papaya, tempe (soybeans) cooked in Javanese sugar and Lombok Kethok (meat stew with sweet spicy flavor, combined with red chili slivers. Delicious!

After a satisfying fill, head on to some shopping action at the popular Beringharjo Market in the middle of busy and bustling Malioboro Street. Beautiful dresses and scarves showcase the best Batik designs at bargain prices in this beloved local market. Get ready to stay here for a minimum of 2 hours to be able to explore each nook and cranny that includes other stalls selling fresh ylang ylang flowers, local rattan handicrafts and other various curiosities.

Cap the night with a traditional evening performance of the Wayang, a puppet play depicting the Ramayana saga at the Museuem Sonobudoyo.

Day Two - Prawirotaman and Prambanan Temple

Start the morning by heading off to an artsy street called Prawirotaman, just a skip and hop away from the Hotel Neo+Awana. Kick off a busy day with a healthy serving of some freshly pressed fruit juices and wonderful baked goodies at Mediterranea by Kamil, opened since 2012 and visited by many people who appreciate their usage of local ingredients and fresh produce in its' European-inspired dishes. Its right on the continuing street across Prawirotaman at Jalan Tirtodipuran so you won't miss it.

Continue your day with one of the tours arranged by Via Via, which has their headquarters on Prawirotaman Street. Walk in and speak with one of their friendly conseillers to coordinate a visit to the Prambanan Temple, which is just 30 minutes away via private car or motor bike. A visit to this UNESCO World Heritage site is a good idea for a Saturday afternoon as you can continue to watch the spectacular perfomance of the Ramayana Ballet in the evening on its premises.

The Prambanan Temple is is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia! This has got to be in your bucket list to check before moving on to another amazing destination that must be on your list as well in the region...the beautiful Borobudur Temple.

Day Three - Sunrise at Borobodur Temple and Village Walk with Atik

Authentic luxury is truly embedded in unique experiences and visiting the majestic Borobodur Temple is pure luxe. We highly recommend booking one of the tours from Kaleidoscope of Java led by Atik, one of the original settlers of the village that once upon a time, surrounded the famous temple in the past.

Start off at the foothills and walk past the luxurious resort hotel Manohara to have an exclusive access away from the crowds to the temple. The misty fog surrounding the premises of the massive temple will have you sit still in awe on one of the original lava-stone boulders that make up this unique 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang. Step onto level 2 of the temple to have your own space and time to take in the splendor of a beautiful sunrise that would be Instagram-worthy to share to all.

Atik shared her experiences and some stories from her Javanese roots at the top of the temple with us and we were all focused on her inspiring rendition of Javanese history, amidst a backdrop of stunning stupas and stone-versions of Buddhas surrounding us.

The villages that dot the valley surrounding Borobudur Temple have locals who still practice traditional Javanese rituals and create artisanal crafts and delicacies. Atik showed us the way to the villages as we walked through winding paths lined with teak trees and bamboos until we reached a small community of women and children making some tempe and tofu delights that had us yearning for more.

We were offered a beautiful bead necklace at the end of the tour, created by the wonderful children who were all smiles as we waved goodbye and headed back to the city of Yogyakarta.

Three days in the region in and around Yogyakarta is perfect for those with a tight schedule and who are off to other great adventures in different regions and cities in Indonesia. We highly recommend heading off to the Bromo Volcano after Yogyakarta to have a whole new experience and start off another 3 day weekend over there.

All photos courtesy of Vanessa Liwanag, Pixabay and Creative Commons.

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