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3 Days in Cultural Yogyakarta, Borobudur & Prambanan

3 Days in Cultural Yogyakarta, Borobudur & Prambanan

Yogyakarta is arguably the cultural capital of Indonesia. While it only has a modest population of over 380K people, the traditional arts and heritage around the region is Indonesia’s top tourist draw right after Bali.

Most notably, the city’s proximity to two key UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Hindu temple compounds of Prambanan and the world’s largest Buddhist monument of Borobudur, make it a truly bucket list destination which shouldn’t be missed by anyone, especially those with an interest in Southeast Asian heritage. It is also a great destination for traveling solo, as it is safe and easy.

Day 1 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

10.30am: Arrival at Yogyakarta’s Adisutjipto International Airport

Upon arrival and clearing immigration, you will notice there are several counters offering tour packages to Borobudur & Prambanan temples at the airport.

These packaged tours are good to consider especially if you are planning to visit Borobudur during sunrise, which requires you to depart from Yogyakarta as early as 3.45am. Transportation is difficult to find and it’s not exactly the best idea to self-drive during midnight and after!

11.30am: Brunch at Gudeg Bu Tjitro

Just outside the airport, you can find the famous Gudeg Bu Tjitro eatery. Gudeg is a traditional Yogyakarta cuisine made from boiled jackfruit mixed with palm sugar, coconut milk, chicken broth, lemongrass, kaffir lime and other spices. The richness in flavour will no doubt titillate your taste buds. Expect to pay around IDR 30,000-60,000 per person.

After lunch, head to the bus station just outside the airport and take Trans Jogja Line 1A, which will bring you to the Prambanan temple in about 30-45 minutes for just IDR 3,500! First bus starts at 6am and leaves every 20 minutes. Prambanan is at the final stop so you don’t have to worry about getting off at the wrong station!

Jalan Raya Yogyakarta-Solo, Maguwoharjo, Kec. Depok, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55282, Indonesia

1pm: Prambanan Temple

The temple compounds of Prambanan are adorned with gorgeous reliefs depicting the epic story of Ramayana, as well as references to the gods of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The first temple was erected in 850 CE and at its peak, there were as many as 240 temples, though some of them have since collapsed. But the massive site is still awe-inspiring. You can easily spend about 3-4 hours here and still have a lot to see!

Entrance to Prambanan costs IDR 252,000 per person, though it is better to buy a combination ticket with Borobudur Temple for a bargain price of IDR 420,000.

Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Opens 6am-6pm daily (ticket counter closes at 5.15pm)

4.30pm: Candi Ratu Boko

Head to Ratu Boko for further exploration and a magical sunset at around 5.30pm. Ratu Boko is the site where the former king of the Mataram Kingdom used to live. The Mataram Kingdom was influenced greatly by a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist culture. At its peak, the kingdom’s territory covered most of East Java and extended as far as Bali. Entrance to Candi Ratu Boko is IDR 25,000.

Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Opens 6am-5pm daily

6pm: Dinner at Prambanan Garden Resto

This is a wonderful place to have dinner as it is set against the backdrop of Prambanan temple lit in romantic orange light at night. The restaurant serves an Indonesian food buffet for IDR 92,000 per pax.

Jl. Solo Km. 16, Bokoharjo, Banyumas, Kabupaten Sleman, Jawa Tengah 55572, Indonesia

7.15pm: Traditional Ramayana Dance at Prambanan

Just next to the restaurant is an open-air stage where you can watch a traditional Ramayana dance performance involving over 150 artisans, dancers and gamelan musicians. More than just a dance, the performance narrates an epic Hindu story based on king Rama, with origins in India.

The show is from 7.30-9.30pm, but you will need to be seated 15 minutes before the show starts. Please note that if it rains, the show will be moved to Trimurti Theatre. Ticket costs range from IDR 125,000 (second class), IDR 200,000 (first class), IDR 275,000 (special class) and IDR 375,000 (VIP class).

Jl. Jogja – Solo Km.16, Prambanan, Tamanmartani, Sleman, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55571, Indonesia
Opens 7.30-9.30pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

9.30pm: Back to Yogyakarta to rest

You can take a bus on Trans Jogja Line 1A again and get off at Tugu Station/Yogyakarta Station, which is right in the city centre. Depending on how far your accommodation is, you can either walk or take a taxi from the station.

Day 2 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Option A

3.45am: Early sunrise start at Punthuk Setumbu

If you booked a sunrise tour from the airport the night before and do not mind roughing it up in the early hours, then you’ll be rewarded with a majestic view of the Borobudur Temple emerging from the mist during the orange sunrise from Setumbu Hill.

Sunrise in Borobudur is usually around 5.15am. However, the early journey is necessary because it is around a 60-90 minute drive away from Yogyakarta.

Jl.Borobudur Ngadiharjo KM3 Kurahan,Karangrejo,Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java, 56553, Borobudur, Karangrejo, Borobudur, Jawa Tengah, 56553, Indonesia
Opens 3am-11pm daily

Option B

7.30am: Depart from Jombor bus terminal

For those who’d like to get a little bit more beauty sleep, you can always start a little later and still be awed at the amazing view of Borobudur.

After breakfast at your accommodation, take a taxi or Trans Jogja line 2A/2B to Jombor bus terminal, where you can then take a bus to Borobudur for IDR 15,000-25,000 per way. Journey time is around 60-90 minutes. If you do not want to be bothered with the hassle of a public bus, you can always take a taxi right away to Borobodur for approx. IDR 200,000.

Jl. Magelang, Sinduadi, Mlati, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55285, Indonesia

9am: Borobudur Temple

You will get off at Borobudur bus terminal, which is within walking distance (100m) to the temple. If you hadn’t bought the combined ticket with Prambanan temple the day before, you will now need to pay IDR 280,000 to enter Borobudur.

Borobodur is the world’s biggest Buddhist temple and the scale is simply spectacular. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Borodobur was built in the 9th century, likely during the era of the Mataram Kingdom.

It is now a major pilgrimage site, visited by some hundred thousands of people every year, especially during Vesak. Vesak is observed during full moon, usually in May or June, which is a key milestone in Buddhism. Vesak celebrates the birth, death and the enlightenment of Buddha Gautama.

It might take you 4-5 hours just to explore this magnificent site!

Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia
Opens 6am-5pm daily

1pm: Lunch at Manohara’s Witarka Restaurant

Near the foot of Borobudur, you can walk to Witarka Restaurant where you will be served with a range of Indonesian food with a view of the temple! Menu starts from IDR 25,000 and above.

Badrawati, No. 10, Borobudur, Komplek Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Borobudur, Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56553, Indonesia

2.30pm: Explore surrounding temples

Candi Pawon

Take a cab to Candi Pawon, another Buddhist temple right in the mid-point of a straight line connecting the three key temples in the region. The walls are decorated with beautiful reliefs of trees and half-bird creatures, while the roof is crowned with five stupas.

Desa Borobudur, Kecamatan Borobudur, Kabupaten Magelang, Wanurejo, Borobudur, Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56553, Indonesia

Candi Mendut

In this temple, you can also find beautiful ornaments of heavenly beings such as dewata, gandarwa and apsara. Inside the main temple, you can find three Buddha statues.  Once you’re done exploring the two temples, you can head back to the bus station to return to Yogyakarta.

Jalan Magelang, Sumberrejo, Mendut, Mungkid, Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56501, Indonesia

6.30pm: Dinner at House of Raminten

Enjoy a range of local cuisine while admiring the strong traditional Javanese ambiance inside the House of Raminten. It’s an excellent place to sample various local specialties, with meals starting from IDR 5,000 to around IDR 20,000 per portion.

Jalan Faridan Muridan Noto No. 7, Kotabaru, Gondokusuman, Kotabaru, Gondokusuman, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55224, Indonesia
Opens 24 hours daily

Day 3 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Explore the vibrant city of Yogyakarta after a quick breakfast at your accommodation.

8am: Taman Sari Water Castle

This gorgeous water castle is a former royal garden of Yogyakarta’s sultanate. It has a beautiful artificial lake with pavilions and pools around the complex. If your flight time is earlier and you can only afford one place to visit in Yogyakarta, make sure it’s this one!

Jl. Komp. Taman Sari, Kraton, Patehan, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55133, Indonesia
Opens 24 hours daily

10am: Kraton Yogyakarta

This palace complex is the seat of Yogyakarta’s sultanate and you can take some time to appreciate the Javanese architecture here. If your flight time is earlier,  you may need to skip this and focus more on the water castle and PASTY market.

Jl. Rotowijayan Blok No. 1, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
Opens Sun-Thu 8.30am-12.30nn or Fri-Sat 8.30-11am

11.30am: Soak in the atmosphere of PASTY’s market

A walk through PASTY is a must for animal, bird and plant lovers. PASTY is short for Pasar Satwa dan Tanaman Hias Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta’s Market of Animals and Ornamental Plants). PASTY has a unique, authentic vibe as you listen to melodious bird songs while passing through stores selling everything from cactuses, roses, orchids to hedgerow plants.

Jl. Bantul KM 1 No. 141, Mantrijeron, Gedongkiwo, Mantrijeron, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55188, Indonesia
Opens 8am-5pm daily

1pm: Make your way to the airport

Make sure you arrive at least 2 hours before your flight!

Places to stay in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.


KaliKala is an excellent home stay located right at Yogyakarta’s city centre. Rooms are cooled by a fan with shared bathroom for every two private rooms. Free WiFi is available throughout and the property also offers tour desk and car hire.

Price range: SGD 14-23

Address: Minggiran Baru MJ 2 No. 977, Suryodiningratan, Mantrijeron, Mantrijeron, 55141 Yogyakarta, Indonesia


Hotel Indies Heritage Prawirotaman offers gorgeous accommodation with colonial architecture. The hotel features an outdoor pool and a restaurant, as well as free WiFi in all rooms. Conveniently located right at the heart of Yogyakarta, this is a great place to base yourself at.

Price range: SGD 42-99

Address: Jl. Prawirotaman MG III No. 3, Mergangsan, 55153 Yogyakarta, Indonesia


Melia Purosani, Yogyakarta‘s rooms are designed with immense Javanese charm with views of either the city or lush tropical garden. Conveniently nestled in the centre of Yogyakarta, the hotel also offers the exclusive Yhi Wellness spa to help you rejuvenate if you feel “templed out” after a long day of exploration.

Price range: SGD 83-184

Address: Jl. Suryotomo 31, Yogyakarta 55122, Indonesia

Getting to Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Connectivity between Singapore and Yogyakarta is quite good. Flight duration typically takes about 2 hours 10 minutes and they cost from SGD 400 onwards.

AirAsia runs daily flights to Yogyakarta at 11.10am-12.30nn, returning back to Singapore at 07.25-10.35am.

SilkAir departs to Yogyakarta at 8-9.50am every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; or 3.40-5.05 pm every Sunday. It returns to Singapore at 10.35am-2pm every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; or 5.50-9pm every Sunday.

Getting around Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Taxis are the easiest way to get around. Taxi fares start from IDR 6,000 and you should be able to get to most places within Yogyakarta for around IDR 15,000. After dark, taxi fare starts from IDR 20,000 even if the metered fare is less than that. They can be easily found in front of shopping centres and major hotels. Board reputable operators such as Blue Bird (which also runs Pusaka and the premium Silver Bird). You can order a Blue Bird taxi 24/7 via (0274) 641 1234, 453 4545, 453 4546, 453 4547.

You can also take a becak (rickshaw), which can be found practically everywhere in Yogyakarta. A typical ride in a trishaw should cost you less than IDR 10,000 for nearby places and around IDR 20,000 for those slightly farther away. You will need to haggle a lot and don’t be afraid to “walk away” if they charge too high (sometimes they’ll call you back and offer a lower price). Rickshaw drivers don’t usually speak English, so you may need to show them maps and the Indonesian name of the places you want to go to.

Indonesia’s Uber for motorcycles, GO-JEK is another option to consider.

For those who would like to self-drive, you can rent a car from TRAC. Keep in mind, however, that driving is on the left side in Indonesia. If you’re not an experienced driver, it’s better to stick with other alternative transportation methods as traffic can get chaotic at times.

Other important notes

Time difference

Yogyakarta and the surrounding temples are 1 hour behind Singapore.

Best months to visit

Yogyakarta is suitable for a visit all year round. However, the dry season between July to September has the least amount of rainfall.

Things to pack

  • Modest and breathable clothes
  • Umbrella in case of rainy weather
  • Insect repellent


Be careful of pickpockets and snatch thieves in crowded places, public transportation and roadsides. Keep your valuables at the front and away from the street side and exercise the usual common sense.


  • Ambulance: 118
  • Police: 110
  • Search and rescue team: 115
  • Fire department: 113

"New Year's Eve in Asia"

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