Finding Middle Ground in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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If you’re over touristed areas like Bali and not into humongous cities like Jakarta, then Yogyakarta might be a good middle ground to try out in Indonesia. It’s safe, much safer than Jakarta and Manila for single females, the people are friendly, and there’s plenty of stuff to keep you occupied for a few days.

The city, which is also written and pronounced Jogjakarta and abbreviated as Jogja, has you covered for temples, volcanoes and religious rituals. The street food is good, not great, but it’s cheap. And there are non-touristy beaches, which is increasingly becoming a rarity over here.

Here are some tips of what to do when visiting Yogayakarta:

Temples

Two temples you should visit are Prambanan and Borobudur. Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist monument. It dates back to the 7th century, 300 hundred years before Angkor Wat was built. It’s a breathtaking sight, and even if you’re templed out you should go here and to Prambanan. This temple is a Hindu complex from the 9th century, and the only thing that makes it better is going on a clear day when you can see Mount Merapi dominating the landscape. You can easily spend an entire day at each one.

Horse dances

I’m not sure if these are open to the public — we happened to see one while traveling through Java. Basically, it’s a traditional dance in the middle of the night, where boys riding wooden horse puppets go into a sort of trance and are possessed. I don’t know a ton about it (if you do, please tell us below!) but it is most common in rural areas and pretty much nonexistent in urban areas. It’s utterly spooky and a little terrifying (there are whips involved), and something you definitely won’t forget anytime soon.

Mount Merapi

One of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, Mount Merapi is totally worth a visit. You can choose from short treks or going all the way to the top. There are two ways to get there. You can get there from the north from Jogjakarta, or from the south by going through Kaliurang with a stop at Tlogo Muncar waterfall, which, if you believe, will make you look younger. Hiking to the top of the volcano takes about six hours. There are stops along the way for supplies but you’ll need plenty of layers of clothing and sturdy shoes.

Do you have any Jogja suggestions?

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About Author

Maureen always knew she wanted to travel. In college, she studied and traveled through the Caribbean and Central America, and the first time she fell in love was with Mexico City. After graduating, she spent several years teaching EFL in Europe, the Americas and Southeast Asia and traveling in every spare moment. She's currently living in Hong Kong, and getting lost while traveling is her main hobby.

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