As soon as I discovered this place, it went on the places to visit list right away. So when I was in Singapore, I had to take a trip to Indonesia just so I could visit this place. Borobudur is the largest Buddhist monument in the world with a base of 123m by 123m. It has 2,670 reliefs (stone carvings on the walls), hundreds of Buddha statues and a wack load of stupas. It's located in a nice area where you have mountain back drops and green areas. It is believed the construction of Borobudur took 75 years in the 8th and 9th centuries. It became abandoned for centuries and covered in volcanic ash and jungle growth. It became apart of folklore and superstitious beliefs. It was rediscovered and dug up in the early 1800s. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is supposedly the largest tourist attraction in the country, but when I was there, there was hardly anyone there.
Now it's probably the coolest man-made thing on this island, probably the whole region. It's easily accessible from Yogyakarta. There are a few hotels located in the area if you want to get an early start or to explore it more. There is a ok museum here and just outside the main gates you have a bunch stalls that sell standard tourist junk and a few little restaurants.
In January of 1985, nine bombs exploded here damaging some of the stupas. Husein Ali Al Habsyie was sentence to life in prison for being the mastermind for this bombing and several others. It also survived a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that damaged much of the region.
It's opened from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the possiblity of doing a sunrise tour if you want. I don't remember the entrance fee but it was quite cheap and very reasonable for what you get to see.
Dieng Plateau is an area located a few hours northwest of Yogyakarta that offers a variety of sites. There are temples here, not the most ornate, but home to the oldest Hindu temples in Java. Like alot of other temples on this island, they were forgotten about until some European discovered them. A lot of this area had to be drained so it can be explored and catalogued.
Kawah Sikidang is a volcanic crater that you can walk around. There are some vents where the water bubbles and a large mud pond that steams and bubbles violently. Becareful as your walking around here as only the large mud pond had a barrier (and that was being built when I was there. You don't want to scald yourself all the way out here. And it stinks here, the sulphur smell took a little bit to stomach.
There are other attractions in this area as in lakes with beautiful colours, caves (which I didn't go to) and various other temples and areas. One of the main reasons to come is that it is a beautiful area to be in.
You have to pay to get into the area but it's not very expensive at all. I just did a day tour from Yogyakarta but you may want to stay in Wonosobo or Dieng Village to experience the area more.
Prambanan is a Hindu temple complex that is over a 1,000 years old located about 17-18 km north east of Yogyakarta. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is a marvel to see even after the 2006 earthquake that damaged much of the area. A lot of the smaller temples were destroyed but the large ones remain largely intact. Of the main temples, the largest one, Candi Shiva is quite nice and is dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer. Some of the other ones are Candi Brahma, Candi Vishnu, Candi Nandi and Candi Sewu.
There are some other temples in the area but are nowhere as grand as Prambanan, but still nice to visit cause the surrounding area is fairly nice. At the entrance to the complex there are a bunch of souvenir stands which sell basically all the same stuff. Of course there is also places where you can grab a drink or a bite.
I don't remember the exact cost to enter (I think it was like $10), but I did one of those tours where they drive you to the places and drop you off and includes entrance fees and a breakfast. That was cheap enough so I don't think it was that much to get in. Prambanan is open from 6 in the morning to 6 in the evening.
Well, Mendut is not worth a trip on it's own, it's an excellent side trip from Borobudur and a most likely stop if you arrange your trip from Yogyakarta. From what I was told the person who built this was the father of the person who built Borobudur. What really makes this temple worthwhile is the 3m high Buddha which is said to be the best statue in any temple in Java. Another interesting thing about the statue is that it has a western style way of sitting with both feet on the ground instead of crossed legged. Mendut along with Borobudur and Pawon share a religious relationship and are located in a straight line. When I was there the entrance fee was 3,000 rupiahs (end of 2007)
Outside of Candi Mendut there are a couple of decent souvenir shops and a Buddhist complex that you can walk around in.
The city of Yogyakarta (pronounced as Jogjakarta and is also a Special Region) is the premier tourist destination in Java and also it's cultural heart. It was also the capital of Indonesia for 3 years until Indonesia won it's independence. One of main reasons it is a popular destination is because of it's location. To the west is Borobudur which is a massive Buddhist monument. To the east is Prambanan which in an ancient Hindu complex. And to the north is the often smoking Gunung Merapi. Another attraction is all the culture and arts that are located here. There are often wayang kulit puppets shows being performed. Batik shops are just about everywhere in the tourist area with some silver work and the ceremonial Kris' thrown in. And of course there is the Kraton which is like a walled city inside of Yogyakarta that serves as the residence of the Sultan and his family and also for the people that work for him.
Although I enjoyed Yogyakarta, from reading guide books, I was expecting a little more. It had a great selection of hotels and restaurants to choose from. The gangs (side streets) are fun to wander around and all the sights for tourists are located in a fairly small area. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see a few punk rockers as I am always glad to see different places that have a subculture going on. There is a huge selection of souvenirs stands that if one person annoys you that you can just walk to the next one. The "Batik Mafia" was annoying which were people/stores that would buy batik for cheap from the students or government centre and try to sell it to you for a grossly inflated price. It was hard to walk anywhere without someone trying to take you to a batik shop. Almost always the shops were going to close the next day for a few weeks or the collection was going somewhere else and they would give you the hard sell. Some of these shops do have some of the most amazing batik though.
- Castles and Palaces
- Arts and Culture
Located on the north west coast of Java, Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, and by far the biggest in the country with an official population of around 8.8 million, a greater metropolitan population of 23 million and an area of around 661 km2. It is also an old city with the first reference to Jakarta coming around the 4th century but being a place of importance for the last 500 years. It is the city where the Dutch first started to take control of Indonesia. For me it was mostly an arrival and departure point. There are some sites to see like the giant flaming man's genitals err I mean the National Monument. I also heard that is not a bad place to go shopping and considering how cheap the country to travel in I can believe this. But I found this to be a quite dirty city. It appeared to me to be a bunch of slums with some nice fancy areas thrown around. You can see that a lot of money is being spent here in order to make it more appealling. The international airport is fairly nice and has good connections making an easy place to get to. But with so much else on this island, it would be hard to justify spending too much time here.
Tawangmangu / Chandi Sukuh
Tawangmangu is a small hill resort on Gunung Lawu, close to Surakarta (Solo). The town itself is nothing spectacular but the bus ride from Solo is nice and the reason to go there can be a nice 3 hour walk (one way) through a very beautiful hilly landscape with forests and ricefields to Chandi Sukuh. The temple reminds more of a Mayan pyramid and there are some sculptures around that are supposed to be erotic but are more humorous.
You can walk back or take a ride on a scooter downhill and get the bus.
is a small beach area at the southern coast of Easter Java. There are not many foreign tourists (at least in 2003). You can stroll the long and wide beach to the estuary of a river or just hang around and watch the sea and the local people bathing. People in the eastern part of Java obbey the islamic rules stricter than in central Java so women go swimming covered up. Consider this when dressing for the beach yourself.
The bus trip from Ponorogo is very scenic.
Kalibaru Plantation Tour
From Kalibaru tours to the nearby rubber and coffee plantations can be booked easily from hotels or hostels. On the rubber plantations you get shown the process from the harvest of the caoutchouk to the rubber for sale to the industry.
is a beautiful crater filled with water. It is famous for its sulfur springs. From the PHPA at Pos Paltuding the hike up to the crater takes about an hour. Best time is early morning about dawn. From the rim of the crater a trail leads down to the springs where workers collect the sulfur and carry it downhill in heavy baskets. Walking down there is possible but should be done with caution as the trail is steep and the sulfur fumes are exhausting.
I went with a booked tour from Bondowose (? I am not sure anymore, just that the tour was not really great), so I cannot say anything about access to the starting point.
- National/State Park
Ramayana outdoor stage performance Prambanan
A beautifully cheorographed Ramayana nightly outdoor performance with the Prambahan Hindu temple complex in the background. A major tourist attraction. It is a short distance from Yogyakarta and worth seeing as there is not much to do at night at Yogya anyway.
Ramayana is a Hindu epic of good vs evil where the Monkey Hanuman save the Queen Shinta from the demon who has kidnapped her.
After show, the tourists get to take a photo with the performers.
Royal Palaces of Yogyakarta
There is still a living line of Yogya kings. There is long traditional of court culture, pomp and festivals. Was too late to visit the Royal palace but saw the traditional architecture from the outside. Apparently there is a royal ritual of washing palace heirlooms with water and rose petals every year and a scramble by the public to collect the water and rose petals thought to have mystic power.
Solo, a nearby town, is another royal town. The river Solo is the origin of the famous Indonesian song "Begawan Solo" describing life as the journey of the river from the source to the sea.
Jakarta Medan Merdeka (Freedom Square)
At the heart of sprawling Jakarta, this a huge square with a landmark obelisk Monumun Nasional (Monas) or National Monument. Bought ticket to go up for a panaromic view but the queue to go up the elevator, gave up.
Instead spent time to visit a museum at the basement of the tower which have 48 dioramas depicting major history events of Indonesia. Was surprised to see many battle scenes between the Indonesian and Dutch conquest and later the fight for independence. Very educational experience.
Borobudur - a must-see UNESCO site
This amazing Buddhist Monument is a like a small hill in the middle of the Kedu plain of rice fields with coconut trees and distant volcanoes with Mt. Merapi looming in the background.
There are 4 terraces with panels of sculpture depicting stories and symbolism of the life of Buddha before and after enlightenment and the as you go up the higher form of achievement towards Nirvana (Enlightenment). On the highest terrace are Buddha statues and stupas. It is a panormic view up there.
When climbing the steps, turn left at each terrace and go around in a clockwise direction to follow the narration.
With a guide, you will be become an expert of Buddhism after reaching the top. Take your time to enjoy this world wonder.
Sunrise at Mt. Bromo
A fascinating thing to do is to be up in dawn and driven to outer rim of a volcano crater, then walk down which was steep and dark and so finally sat on a pony led by rope of the pony owner who walked the way. Then crossed the crater until the steps to climb up the caldera of Mt. Bromo, a volcano within a volcano.
It was wonderful to feel cool air, the crowded excitement as the sun rise to illuminate the giant crater and and all the volconic cones inside the crater and the surrounding volcanoes in the distance.
Can see smoke coming out of the active Mt. Bromo creating an uneasy fear of when it will suddenly explode again.
It is quite a distance to get here but worth coming if you are crossing between Java and Bali as it is located at eastern tip of Java island.
Recommend a tour to arrange for all the transport including the overnight accommodation at Ngadisari.