Central Java : The Historical Heartland of Indonesia

There is never enough time to explore Indonesia wonders. With over ten thousands islands that scattered around the mainland, the country offers a diverse and alluring sights beyond ones can imagine. Central Java travel guide will introduce you to the world-class monuments of Borobudur and Prambanan. The enchanting Javanese cultures from the Islamic sultanates of Yogyakarta (Jogja) to the active volcano of Merapi and great mountain range of Merbabu. Let me introduce you to the cultural centers and historical heartland of Indonesia 

Central Java Travel Guide & Things To Do in Indonesia

1. Borobudur Temple

The largest compound Buddhist temple in the world has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage since 1991. The 9th-century Mahayana temple consists of hundreds of Buddha statues and intricate reliefs that was built magically by human in a symmetric architecture. The panoramic view from the top will leave you in awe!

Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


Unfortunately, most of the broken structures were kept in the museum as the temple was heavily covered deep in the forest when its first discovered. Including 432 seated statues and 72 further images that has been restored with the UNESCO’s help in the 1970s. You can notice that some of Buddha statues are headless that caused from earthquake and Buddha statue thieves

Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


Tips:
Open Tue-Sun from 06.30-16.30. It’s recommended to book a ticket in advance. Temple ground ticket Child 240k IDR / Adult 400k IDR – available all day. Temple structure Child 305k IDR / Adult 455k IDR – schedule start at 08.30

*Ticket included tour guide, canvas bag, a pair of flip-flops that required to wear when visited the temple structure

Sunrise at Punthuk Setumbu in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


2. Sunrise at Punthuk Setumbu

Combined Jogja two main attractions in one frame, how could you afford to miss the sunrise over Merapi mountain. In a panoramic view overlook Borobudur Temple and Jogja fertile landscape. Spare some times to watch the twilight before the sunrise at 6am. Take an easy 45mins drive from Jogja to reach small hill of Punthuk Setumbu, and another 10mins walk from the parking lot to one of the best sunrise spot in Yogyakarta (Entrance Fee 50k IDR)
 

Sunrise at Punthuk Setumbu in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Sunrise at Punthuk Setumbu in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


3. Mendut Temple

If you have free time after watching the sunrise at Punthuk Setumbu and wait for the schedule to enter Borobudur. Consider to plan your visit to Mendut Temple that located only 3.5km east of Borobudur, the simple architecture yet peaceful monastery hosts a magnificent 3m-high figure of the Buddha in an original setting that distinctively from any other temples in Java

 
Mendut Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Mendut Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


Tips:
 Mendut Buddhist Monastery on the opposite side also welcome guests for mediation at 7pm daily. Entrance Fee of 10k IDR can also be used to enter a Buddhist temple of Candi Pawon

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4. Prambanan Temple

The largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia of Prambanan was built in 9th-century in the believe of Trimurti (three great Hindu divinities). The main shrine of 47m was dedicated to Shiva the destroyer of the universe, twin temples beside were built to dedicate to Vishnu and Brahma

Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


You can see hundreds of stone blocks collapsed from 2006 earthquake lay around the monument, the main structure has been restored but there is a lot of work need to be done in this heritage site

Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


Tips:
Open Daily 06.30-17.00. Entrance Fee for Child 15USD / Adult 25USD, the ticket included Sewu Temple, Candi Bubrah and Lumbung Temple that located in the same park. You can choose to walk, rent a bicycle or take a shuttle that available at the Prambanan temple exit

Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


5. Sewu Temple

The 8th-century monuments of Sewu is the second largest Buddhist temple in Indonesia that was built to devote to Mahayana Buddhist King that ruled Medang Mataram Kingdom. Candi Sewu also translated as the thousand temples, although the complex consists of only 249 temples that was discovered through Mount Merapi volcano debris in 1960s

Sewu Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Sewu Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Sewu Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


The beauty and belief still shine through the ruin constructions that were broke down by nature. Calm and mystic atmosphere were covered throughout the area

Sewu Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


6. Plaosan Temple

The mid-9th century Buddhist-Hindu temple of Plaosan was built by the daughter of Samaratungga, a descendant of the Sailendra Dynasty. The combination of two religious appeared in the architectural design of dragon carved and temple guardian statues of dwarapala in two restored identical temples

 
Plaosan Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


Tips:
Open Daily 07.30-16.30, Entrance Fee 5k IDR. The restaurant of Pawon Mbah Noto Plaosan offers a perfect view overlook Candi Plaosan and Mt Merapi. And if you’re not templed out yet, consider to take a trip to another significant temples in Jogja, such as Ratu Boko & Sambisari that located on the way back to Jogja town

Plaosan Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Plaosan Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


7. Taman Sari

The water castle or Garden for Sultan of Yogyakarta was built between 1758 and 1765. The place consists of bathing space, mosque, underground tunnels and hidden pleasure rooms. Most of the ruin buildings caused by Diponegoro’s Java war and an earthquake in 1865. Taman Sari located in the middle of residential area, some of the buildings are now belong to the locals

 

Tips: Open Daily 09.00-15.00, Entrance Fee 15k IDR

Taman Sari in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Taman Sari in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia

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8. Yogyakarta Palace

Yogyakarta is the only region headed by a monarchy in Indonesia. Keraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat is a palace that separated into 7 core complexes and a museum displays royal artifacts. The place has been listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2023 and remains a high historical values as it is the seat of the reigning Sultan of Yogyakarta and his family

 

Tips: Open Tue-Sun on 08.30-14.30, Entrance Fee 25k IDR

Taman Sari in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


9. Malioboro Street

The main shopping street of Jalan Malioboro located in the heart of Yogyakarta. It’s the place where people go hunt for affordable souvenirs, local cuisines, batik made products and all sort of entertainments. Don’t miss a chance to experience vibrant nightlife in the most famous street in Jogja

 

Tips: You might also want to check out Alun-Alun Kidul, the park where most of the locals hangout – food and entertainment activities can be found around the park

Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


10. Timang Beach

Adrenaline rush type of person? Take a 1.5hrs drive from Yogyakarta to reach Gunungkidul. Being famous for its man-made Gondola, the traditional method for fisherman to catch lobster in the area. To reach Timan beach, you’ll require to take a jeep through a bumpy road before taking a gondola to Panjang island. Besides the extreme adventure, the place offer a spectacular backdrop of the Indian ocean that will surely worth your Instagram post!

Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


11. Jomblang Cave

Consider one of the nature wonders in Jogja that only 80 people are allowed to access per day. To enter the cave, you’ll be tied with the rope and lowered down 80m from the top manually by local staffs. A well-shaped wet cave can be slippery and muddy inside, the proper attire need to be prepared. The cave located 1.5hrs drive from Yogyakarta and it’s much easier to go with the tour


12. Dieng Plateau

The locals known as one of the most sacred places in Java. The name translated as the land beyond the sky or the place of the gods. From its spectacular landscape, Dieng Plateau located 2,565 meters above sea level. The floor formed from the caldera complex of Mt. Prau large ancient eruptions

Dieng Plateau in Central Java, Indonesia
Dieng Plateau in Central Java, Indonesia
Dieng Plateau in Central Java, Indonesia


Dieng Plateau located 2-3 hours drive from Yogyakarta and definitely worth a few days of exploration. The collections of ancient temples such as Arjuna, the Sulphur lake of Sikidang Crater, the majestic landscape of producing veggies and tea plantation. Or catch the remarkable sunrise at Gunung Prau or Sikunir Hill Dieng that famously known among beginner climbers

 

*Please note that the weather is much cooler than the surrounding lowlands. It can be reached minus especially in Jul and Aug

Gunung Prau, Dieng Plateau in Central Java, Indonesia


Tips:
Hiking Mount Merbabu or travel deep in the jungle to watch the lava from the active volcano of Mount Merapi at night are one of the famous activities for adventurous travelers

Gunung Prau, Dieng Plateau in Central Java, Indonesia
Gunung Prau, Dieng Plateau in Central Java, Indonesia


How To Visit Yogyakarta

Traveling to Yogyakarta

By Plane:

Yogyakarta International Airport offers a flight both domestic and international that made it very convenient to travel. The airport located 45km from the center that will take around one hour drive. Grab and shuttle is available for transport from the airport to Jogja town

 

By Train:

If you’re in Java, traveling by train is one of the good options you should consider. The view is scenic, clean seat, and convenience as most of the train stations are all in downtown area

Yogyakarta, Central Java Travel Guide

Traveling to Yogyakarta

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Traveling in Yogyakarta

The attractions are quite far and in a different direction from each other. You can choose to rent or hire a motorcycle/car, Grab, or go with the tour

Please note that temples and museums are close on Monday, and Borobudur temple structure is hard to book. So, you may need to prioritize those first on your travel itinerary

Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia


Where To Stay in Yogyakarta

The area around Alun-Alun Kidul or Taman Sari is pretty much convenience to travel to other attractions, food and cafes. Or if you keen to live in the center or the main shopping street, Jl. Malioboro will offer a more vibrant vibes

 
Yogyakarta, Central Java Travel Guide

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