It may be my poor pronunciation of the Indonesian language, but when I speak of a place called Yogyakarta, the usual response is 'Oh, you mean Jakarta, yeah I've heard of that'. Yet, whilst the country's frenetic capital may indeed be on the same island as Jogja (the friendly nickname locals have given Yogyakarta), this is a different place entirely.
Sure, it has the traffic, Javanese language and similar food, but Jogja is the island's soul. A cultural hub, it is famed for its art, its traditions and its history. It's also a fantastic place for international tourists to get a real taste of Javanese way of life.
Whilst there are countless day trips out into the region, we understand that sometimes you simply don't want to venture too far. If this is you, you'll be pleased to know that there's plenty to keep you occupied without leaving the city limits!
get in touch with Indonesian coffee farmers at klinik kopi
Over at Along Dusty Roads, we love a good cup of coffee. No, scrap that - we love a GREAT cup of coffee. Feel the same? Then a trip to Klinik Kopi is an absolute must on any visit to Yogyakarta.
This small coffee shop on the outskirts of town offers something a little different to caffeine lovers. Founded on a deep understanding of what it is required to produce the very best coffee, and a passion to share that with the world, the founders believe it is just as important to understand where the beans come from as it to enjoy what is served.
Focussing on small coffee farmers throughout Indonesia, they seek out those producing the very best beans and nurture their farming methods to improve the lives of small, often isolated, communities.
Roasting in-house, they produce small batches from every corner of the country, available to try in store, with the option to buy a small bag to take home.
Price: 15,000 IR for one cup of coffee.
Address: Jl. Kaliurang Km7.5 (Gg. Madukoro – Sebelah utara Gardu PLN)
devour a gelato
Choc-banana and nutella.
Do you have any idea how difficult it was to walk the streets of Yogyakarta searching for the most instagrammable wall for this photo BEFORE I could taste the ice-creamy wonderfullness?
In continual 30C+ days, there are only so many bottles of ice-cold beer you can drink before it's time for frozen dairy!
And, as someone who has tasted a lot of gelato (purely for research purposes), I can say that you're unlikely to find better in the city than at Il Tempo del Gelato.
Price: 25,000 IR cone and two scoops of gelato
Address: Jl. Prawirotaman 1, Yogyakarta
discover the local markets
There are few better places to visit than a local market in order to gain a sense of a country, its customs, culture and language are alive amongst the stalls and the people. This is no less true amongst the markets we visited in Indonesia.
Woven baskets weighed down with colourful tropical fruit, toothless old women with tissue paper skin and narrow alleyways full of the sounds and smells of a country waiting to be explored.
There are several markets within easy access to those staying in the tourist area of Yogyakarta. The most highly recommended by far is Pasar Beringharjo. Most famous for its Batik stalls, it is also a very traditional market where fruit and vegetable sellers can be found.
If you're short on time, I'd also highly recommend the traditional market at the end of 'Prawirotaman II' (not far from Green Host Hotel).
Whichever you choose, make sure you're there nice and early as most stalls close after 11 a.m.
check out some amazing street art
Wherever we roam, we seem to stumble upon incredible street art, and what was once considered vandalism is now brightening up run-down streets and hip neighbourhoods all over the world.
There is awesome graffiti all over Yogyakarta - just take a tuk-tuk anywhere within the city limits and you will discover any number of alleyways and shopfronts decorated by a local artist.
Not sure where to start? Try near your hotel! The Prawirotaman area and its tiny side-streets are covered with colourful street art depicting anything from local culture and historical fables to political issues or simply a cool image conjured in the mind of the street artist.
take part in a batik workshop
Whilst you may not be immediately aware of its name, it takes little time to realise that batik (an ancient waxing and dying process) is everywhere in Indonesia. It adorns the clothes of locals, and the souvenirs you've bought, the sarongs upon which you lie upon on the beach and the bedspread at the hotel.
In fact, it is here, on the island of Java that the finest batik in the world is produced. It is of little surprise then that Jogja, being the Javanese cultural hub, is a great place to witness the process of batik first-hand.
The smell of the hot wax, the bright-coloured dyes, the opportunity to view the painstaking work that goes into each and every design - it was fascinating and incredibly photogenic (yep, we've got photo journal in the works from our visit!). Looking for a great workshop? Check out Batik Winotosastro.
Cost of workshop: Rp. 50,000 per person, includes your own batik design on a small scarf
Address: Jl.Tirtodipuran 54, Yogyakarta 55143
take a ride on a bling bling car
Visit Alun-Alun Selatan Kraton during the day and you will find a simple large square, a few locals selling fast food from small mobile stalls and the odd tuk-tuk taxi awaiting a fare.
Return after the sun has set however, and the mood will have changed somewhat, the streets filled with people and the road offering a veritable selection of illuminated vehicles decorated with everything from Hello Kitty to Pokemon. Throw in a permanent soundtrack and heavy bass from individual sound systems and the entire thing feels a little, well, insane.
But hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Just one thing of note, there are no engines in these little cars so how fast you go depends on how fast you can peddle! Of course, this is Indonesia, so be prepared for a traffic-jam or two. If you're a solo traveller, make sure to head here with a few people from your hotel to share the work!
Once you've lived out your boyracer fantasies, be sure to test the myth of the banyan trees in the centre of the square (Pohon Beringin Kembar). Legend has it that once blindfolded, no person is able to walk between the two trees - but if you do, you will be granted a wish! It's a lot more difficult than it seems, and you will, inevitably, look like a bit of an idiot as you determinedly walk in completely the wrong direction!
Price: Rp. 30,000 per car for one loops of the square
Address: Alun-Alun Selatan Kraton, Yogyakarta
Getting to Yogyakarta
The city's small airport has both frequent international (specifically Singapore) and national flights into and out of Yogyakarta, with several airlines providing cheap airfares throughout the remainder of Indonesia. To find your best deal, check out Skyscanner.
Visas will be provided on arrival for UK citizens.
Along Dusty Roads visited Indonesia as part of a project with Skyscanner and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism - all views, spelling mistakes and photos are our own.