Whether you say “Jogja” or “Yogya”, the rich and royal destination of Yogyakarta is the perfect choice to plan some family adventure holidays. You and your clan will get a taste of Indonesia’s rich history set amongst a stunning volcanic landscape. Your kids will love how this living museum takes history and geography out of the classroom and into amazing sites. The lifestyle experts at Honeycombers Jakarta tell suitcases&strollers their tips for this exotic way to explore Indonesia with kids.
Yogyakarta is the home of classical Javanese culture. A visual and aural feast, this city is renowned for batik, ballet, music, drama, puppetry, poetry and amazing architecture.
Dutch colonial buildings line the streets of the city. But the big architectural drawcard is the ancient monuments. Being one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, Jogya has temples and palaces galore to explore that are awesome in scale and style.
The monarchy that ruled the area also played a major role in the creation of modern day Indonesia. For it’s loyalty to the Indonesian government during the War of Independence, Yogyakarta received the status of Special Administrative Region and is the home of the Sultan of Yogyakarta.
Watching over all this heritage is the majestic Mount Merapi.
The Buddhist temple known as Candi Borobudur is the most visited site in Indonesia for good reason. Built during the ninth century, it consists of more than a million stone blocks, massive bell-shaped stupas and 500 Buddhas and represents the levels to attain Nirvana. This temple of Javanese Buddhist and Indian features was rediscovered in the nineteenth century and has now been restored and listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Another must see UNESCO heritage site is Candi Prambanan, a Hindu temple built in the ninth and tenth centuries. It is suggested that it was built as a Hindu response to the Buddhist Borobudur, although it’s believed that both religions happily co-existed. It is distinguished by a complex of individual tall and pointy temples. Every full moon, stunning performances of the Ramayana Ballet are performed in the open air surroundings of the temple.
Long after the Buddhist and Hindu eras, the only colonial monarchy in Indonesia still influences Javanese culture and impacts lives from the Yogyakarta Palace (Jalan Rotowijayan 1, Yogyakarta, Indonesia). Here you can see soak up royal, political and cultural life by observing the activities of servants, viewing the curated collections of glassware, weapons and photographs and watching the process of making batik. There are also free art performances including puppet shows and traditional dancing.
One of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mount Merapi, is just a short drive out of Yogayakarta. For a close look at this impressive mountain, hop on a jeep tour. Make sure you agree on a fee with your driver before you set off and request the less bumpy route. Hang on to your hats anyway as it’s a bit of a Wild West experience!
If you love traditional pieces, come with empty bags. You can pick up beautiful batik, traditional wayang puppets, sculpture, silverware and ceramics. You can find a lot of these just by strolling down Jalan Malioboro promenade.
If you’re an avid art collector and like the style of traditional Indonesian art, then there are some fine paintings that can sourced here. Do your research before you come.
Perfect for a family dinner with a cultural fix, Purawisata and Gazebo Garden Restaurant is a sprawling 2.3-hectare site offering an extensive buffet set amongst outdoor gazebos. At 8pm every night guests are treated to a Ramayana dance performance. There is also onsite amusement with flying fox, mini train and aqua entertainment.
Gabah Resto (11a Jalan Dewi Sartika, Sagan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia) serves Western cuisine in an old colonial house, and is a particularly popular spot for Jogja expats.
With traditional gamelan music pumping in an open-air local hotspot, Restoran Jimbaran (Jalan Ireda, Komplek Purawisata, Yogyakarta, Indonesia) is a great place for seafood.
One of the city’s most famous eateries, Gajah Wong (79 Jalan Gejayan, Selatan Selokan Mataram, Yogyakarta, Indonesia) is an outdoor restaurant that offers guests themed areas to dine in. Choose from Javanese, traditional and colonial with corresponding music to match. Serving Chinese, European and Indonesian dishes, there’s something for everyone.
Hyatt Regency is a fabulous 5 star hotel with 24 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens, a 9-hole golf course and a jogging track. This lush and grand hotel has not forgotten the kids either – there is a 70-metre long water slide that actually traverses through a temple and will keep the whole family in the pool for hours. Another bonus is their free Hyatt horse-pulled carts offering daily rides from 10am each day.
Located in the centre of Yogayakarta, Melia Purosani is a great choice if your family would like to be within walking distance to many of the city sights. We love their personalised trishaws that line the street – not only photo-worthy, but convenient too.
This is one location where early rising children is a bonus! Head out in the wee hours of the morning to enjoy the fascinating sites, particularly Borobodur. Beat the heat and the hordes of tourists.
The city centre is ripe for wandering and the various modes of transport are fun to try out. Choose from a horse and cart or three-wheeled trishaws (known as becak) to navigate the streets. As with the jeep hire, make sure you haggle before getting in your unique mode of transport.
Car seats are not common so if you have a transportable safety seat you’re best to bring it. If you have a little one that can’t get around on foot, make sure you pack a baby harness to strap them on as streets and footpaths are not always pram-friendly.
It is not safe to drink the water from the tap in Indonesia. Only use bottled water for drinking and be wary of children drinking water in the shower or the bath. If you have infants it is safer to bring all your baby food with you. [For more tips about travelling to developing countries with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
By Honeycombers Jakarta; Images: PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur Prambanan Ratu Boko