Things to do in Yogyakarta, Borobudur and Prambanan, Indonesia

A visit to the points of interest of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, including Horse drawn carriage tour of Yogyakarta, Jalan Malioboro shopping street, Keraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Taman Sari Tugu Yogyakarta, Prambanan (UNESCO world heritage site), Day trip to Borobudur (UNESCO world heritage site), Day trip to Mount Merapi Volcano, Day trip to Surakarta (Solo).

Things to do in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is a city on Java Island, Indonesia.  Things to do in Yogyakarta as well as day trips from Yogyakarta include;

  • Day trip to Borobudur (UNESCO world heritage site)
  • Prambanan (UNESCO world heritage site)
  • Horse drawn carriage tour of Yogyakarta
  • Jalan Malioboro shopping street
  • Day trip to Mount Merapi Volcano
  • Day Trip to Solo / Surakarta

You’ll find hotels in Yogyakarta at very low prices, this could be the city you splurge on a luxury hotel.

Day Trip to Borobudur

Things to do in Yogyakarta - Day trip to Borobudur

The main reason most people visit Yogyakarta is to take a trip to the Borobudur Temple.  If photos of the Borobudur Temple and its grounds are not enough to make you want to visit then maybe the fact that they are a UNESCO world heritage site will tempt you.  For me Borobudur was as impressive as Siem Reap in Cambodia, in fact Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.  Borobudur dates back to the 9th century and is the most visited site in Indonesia which is impressive considering most tourists visit Bali.

Things to do in Yogyakarta - Day trip to Borobudur

A popular time to visit Borobudur is for sunrise and for this I’d recommend staying in Magelang close by.  However, I visited at around 2 pm and dressed in local clothes bought from the Jalan Malioboro shopping street in Yogyakarta.  The local visitors at Borobudur temple were keen to photograph a foreigner dressed as a local.

I visited Borobudur, Mount Merapi and Prambanan in a day using a car and driver I hired in Yogyakarta.  You should check out the price for a car and driver whilst visiting Indonesia, it will surprise you how cheap it is.


Things to do in Yogyakarta, Prambanan

Prambanan and its grounds, like the Borobudur Temple complex are a UNESCO world heritage site.  Whereas Borobudur is a Buddhist Temple the site of Prambanan is a Hindu shrine.  Prambanan is a Hindu Temple which is the largest in Indonesia as well as one of the largest in Asia.  It dates back to the 9th century.  As a result it’s about the same age as Borobudur.  Prambanan used to be called Shivagrha after the Hindu god Shiva.  In addition, the largest shrine is devoted to Shiva.  It’s possible to take a personal guided tour of Prambanan if you wish to know every detail of the complex and again this is a very cheap service.

Things to do in Yogyakarta – Horse drawn Carriage Tour

Things to do in Yogyakarta - Horse Drawn Carriage

Yogyakarta is very cheap, everything is cheap including shopping on Jalan Malioboro street, the hotels and restaurants.  The best way to see the city as a tourist is by horse drawn carriage and guess what?  It’s cheap too.  Don’t forget to negotiate a price with the driver before taking a tour of Yogyakarta.  The driver will probably speak very basic English, just enough to negotiate a price.  On a horse drawn carriage tour you’ll see most of the things to do in Yogyakarta.  Furthermore, points of interest you’re likely to see on the horse include Keraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat (palace), Taman Sari water castle as well as Tugu Yogyakarta.

Jalan Malioboro shopping street

Things to do in Yogyakarta - Jalan Malioboro shopping street

Jalan Malioboro street is the place to go for batik clothing.  In fact, you can buy more things you could imagine made from batik.  This is a good place to buy your outfit for a day trip to Borobudur.  Don’t forget to bargain for the price and don’t be afraid to walk away if the price is too high, there are plenty of shops competing with each other for your business.  Furthermore, they have some traditional hats which a great addition to a batik outfit.

Mount Merapi

Things to do in Yogyakarta - Mount Merapi

Mount Merapi is a very active volcano, in fact it’s the most active in Indonesia.  Chances are if you visit Merapi that you will see it smoking (above).  Mount Merapi last erupted in 2010 and then again in 2013.  Mount Merapi is designated as a decade volcano which are the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to the number of people living close by.  Other notable decade volcanoes are Mount Rainier in Washington, Mount Vesuvius in Italy as well as the Santorini Caldera in Greece.

Things to do in Yogyakarta - Mount Merapi Volcano

It’s possible to walk through previous lava flows and see the destruction Mount Merapi has caused.  You can see the remains of a car (above), this was part of a destroyed village I was walking through.  There was a huge lava flow running through a forest which was an incredible site too.  One of the major Indonesian highways was split in two during the last eruption, of course this has now been repaired but you can clearly see the destruction the lava flow made on each side of the highway.

Day Trip to Solo / Surakarta

Things to do in Yogyakarta, Day Trip to Solo / Surakarta

Surakarta is located in central Java, additionally it’s also known as Solo which is much easier to remember.  On a visit to Solo you’re likely to visit several historical palaces.  The palaces are full of royal artefacts.  For this reason, I recommend Solo if you like to visit historical palaces.  Interestingly, I was told by my guide that a previous British guest of his was former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Enjoy your Visit and Day Trips from Yogyakarta

There are lots of things to do in Yogyakarta and lots of interesting day trips.  I recommend making Yogyakarta your base for a few days whilst enjoying a few days trips.  Make sure you investigate the private car with driver option, you’ll be surprised how cheap it is.

Check out the temples of Bangkok, also Paricutin Volcano in Mexico, a natural wonder of the world.

2018-08-19T13:07:48+00:00July 28th, 2017|Asia, Indonesia|40 Comments


  1. Arnav Mathur July 29, 2017 at 5:22 am - Reply

    Never knew that there was place with striking similarities to Siem Reap as well. Looks like a trip to Yogyakarta city is there on the cards. Am glad you mentioned about the active volcano as well apart from the Borobudur temple, as It gives me the best of both worlds. Old temple visit and then an adrenaline boost checking out Mount Merapi.

  2. Lisa July 29, 2017 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Yogyakarta looks and sounds beautiful, I’d definitely love to visit there one day. Were you a little worried when you saw Mount Merapi smoking, or was it just fascinating? Nice to know that Yogyakarta is so cheap; I’d definitely do luxury!

  3. Mimi July 29, 2017 at 11:45 am - Reply

    I’d really like to visit Yogyakarta, there are so many amazing sites surrounding it. The two UNESCO sites Borobudur and Prambanan look as good as any ancient site I have visited. The fact that Borobudur is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world is amazing. I think I’d be a little worried visited Merapi volcano as it looks so active.

  4. Jamie July 29, 2017 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Yogyakarta and the surrounding area look like interesting locations in Indonesia, I love UNESCO sites. It would be weird to walk through the previous lava flows and see the destruction, what happened to the car in your photo is incredible. Your photo of Mount Merapi with the smoke coming out is amazing too!

  5. Kate Storm July 29, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    This makes me excited for Indonesia! I’ve been really wanting to visit recently. The Borobudur temple looks beautiful but that volcano steals the show–what a beautiful photo! I’d love to try a horse drawn carriage tour of Yogyakarta too.

  6. Lynne Sarao July 29, 2017 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Yogyakarta looks like an amazing place to visit. I’m surprised it’s not more well known. I’d love to explore the temples and the volcano. I could spend the entire day walking around and taking in the views. I’m now going to add this to my bucket list so thank you!

  7. Mariella Molestina July 29, 2017 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    I love Indonesia! It is such a beautiful and each city provides such a different experience and vibe than the previous! Yogyakarta is a destination I’ve been too and I fell inlove with the Borobudur temple right when I set foot on the grounds. It literally takes you breath away, I’m glad that you got to experience it, as not many people visit the site like other touristic sites around the world. BTW, love your pictures!

  8. Courtney CJ July 30, 2017 at 12:57 am - Reply

    I love visiting cities where a little bit of money can go far. I would definitely be interested in visiting the UNESCO temples and seeing the Merapi volcano. The first one I saw was in Italy and now I love witnessing their splendor in person.

  9. Abigail Sinsona July 30, 2017 at 4:20 am - Reply

    Wow your photos are incredible, James! I have both the Borobodur and Prambanan Temple Compounds in my travel bucket list. You’re so lucky to see them! You just fueled my wanderlust for these destinations!

  10. Parnashree Devi July 30, 2017 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Yogyakarta is a city I’ve never heard of in Indonesia. I love the architecture of Borobodur and Prambanan Temple. I would love to go someday, these UNESCO site are definitely on my list. I love your photography!

  11. Cliff July 30, 2017 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    I never knew that Indonesia had these UNESCO temples to see. I will definitely visit the Hindu temple, Prambanan, Indonesia. I love it!

  12. Danik July 31, 2017 at 7:23 am - Reply

    I would totally put this area on the list to see when I eventually get to Indonesia and I would take your advice on splurging on a luxury hotel. Those temples look totally amazing 🙂

  13. Bhushavali July 31, 2017 at 8:45 am - Reply

    You got me! The fact that its UNESCO site, is enough to add it to my wishlist! Prambanan is just impeccable!
    Haha!!! Would love to see you wearing the traditional local outfits of India when you visit India next time!
    People living around a volcano that erupted in 2013? That needs some serious guts!

  14. Ania July 31, 2017 at 8:49 am - Reply

    This looks like such a lovely place. One of my bucket list items is to visit as many UNESCO sites as possible, this looks like it’s getting bumped on my travel bucket list. Great photos too.

  15. Julian July 31, 2017 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Stunning area, Borobudur surely seems like a worthy trip to take. So much to see in Indonesia, we really will finally get there next year. Thanks for these inspirations.

  16. Jitaditya Narzary July 31, 2017 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Enough can’t be said about the archaeological heritage of Indonesia but I feel there is much more to it. The remains of a car near the volcano was something, not really expected around a tourist spot. Guess you need to do a separate post on Merapi itself.

  17. ada July 31, 2017 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Photos are definitely enough for me to visit Borobudur! It looks incredible! I watched some documentary recently about the most dangerous places to live and Indonesia with Mount Merapi was one of those places! I am going to Bali this year but I hope I can come back to Indonesia one day for longer and get to explore more, some wonderful places like Yogyakarta!

  18. Fiona Mai July 31, 2017 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Yogyakarta is definitely a must-visit destination in Indonesia for both culture and scenery. By the way, I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog posts, which are very informative, concise and full of beautiful photos! 😀

  19. Vicki Louise July 31, 2017 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    This is so timely as I’m in Indonesia right now. I have just visited Solo and Semarang in central Java but unfortunately could not fit in a visit to Borobodur temple. I’d love to go though, and the sunrise/sunset there would make for one heck of a photograph!

  20. Matt July 31, 2017 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Such a wonderful destination . . . that I missed! Sadly I ran out of time and just couldn’t get there, I loved reading about it though and just means that I have to return to Indonesia. When I do, I’ll definitely be checking back. Thanks for the tips, especially about hiring a car with driver.

  21. Jean July 31, 2017 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Count me in! Looks like an amazing place for an adventure. I honestly had no idea that Yogyakarta had so much on offer. I really need to rethink my Indonesia adventures.

  22. Cat August 1, 2017 at 2:01 am - Reply

    I can see why Yogyakarta is a great place for photographers. There are so many historic sites to explore! I particularly love how stunning Prambanan looks!

  23. Kevin del Prado August 2, 2017 at 7:18 am - Reply

    I happened to visit the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and will probably include Borobudur and Prambanan temples to my bucket list too. They do look like beautiful temples.

  24. Patrick Rossol August 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    A temple tour is such an amazing experience, seriously jealous as they are both UNESCO heritage sites. I liked all the specific information you are sharing about the temples, especially the fact that Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

  25. Marcelle August 5, 2017 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Wow, the tour from Yogyakarta to Borobudur, Mount Merapi and Prambanan looks impressive!

  26. A.R August 6, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

    I am an avid trekker and mountaineers so would love to trek and climb around the vicinity of Mount Merapi. Hiking through the former lava flows, path of destruction and even to the summit but I don’t think the latter would be permitted. The visit to the UNESCO temples would be very interesting too, the biggest Buddhist temple in the world is an impressive fact!

  27. Chiera August 6, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

    What an amazing adventure! Your pictures are absolutely amazing. I’ve said it before but I absolutely love the idea for this blog, from London all the way to Yogyakarta is a long way by land!

  28. Kate August 6, 2017 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I have no experience at all in Indonesia, but these places all look so cool. I love checking out ancient site. Can you hike at all on the volcano? I would guess not but, curious.

  29. Garth August 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Wow firstly those lava flows look quite haunting with the remains of that car, never seen a photo like that. Borobudur looks very impressive I would love to visit that temple, maybe one day? thanks for sharing, great photos as usual 🙂

  30. Ling Ge August 6, 2017 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Indonesia has always been high on my list. Borobudur and Prambanan look amazing and I think would also find them just as impressive as Siem Reap. Mount Merapi would be an interesting visit too; just seeing the destruction of nature shows that we should always respect it.

  31. Angie August 7, 2017 at 12:19 am - Reply

    We recently visited Borobudur & Prambanan and wrote a blog post on it so yes, I agree, they are must-see attractions in Indonesia/Java! I didn’t make it to Mount Merapi and I do feel I missed out (it was rainy season when we were here and it rained … a lot!!). Great suggestions here, pinned for the future

  32. Anita August 7, 2017 at 7:54 am - Reply

    I have never been to Indonesia. Your article makes me think again about visiting this country and especially Yogyakarta. With so many Things to see it looks really appealing.

  33. Tracy August 8, 2017 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Definitely somewhere I would love to visit! Not sure about being so close to an active volcano though!!!

    Will pin for future reference!

  34. yukti August 12, 2017 at 4:38 am - Reply

    Yogyakarta looks like a heavenly and divine place. These ancient temples with stunning architecture looks so heavenly and divine. Being the world’s largest Buddhist temple, it is now in my wishlist too. By reading about Mt. Merapi and seeing you walking on the broken cars, it looks scary as if this volcano can erupt at any moment.

  35. Shona @ August 12, 2017 at 9:28 am - Reply

    I’d love to see Borobudur. As with the Angkor temples and Machu Pichu, the amazing creativity and workmanship astound me.

  36. Stephanie August 21, 2017 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Wow, Yogyakarta looks amazing. Love the idea to hire a car and do day trips to see Borobudur, Mount Merapi, and Prambanan. I would love to be there for sunrise at Borobudur. What an amazing place to visit. Thanks for sharing!

  37. Abigail Sinsona August 22, 2017 at 12:16 am - Reply

    Wow these are unbelievably amazing and to know that they’ve been around for many centuries. I just recently went to Angkor Wat so I would love to visit these temples in Indonesia as well. Your photos have inspired me to want to go some more, James!

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  39. Jordan December 4, 2018 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Yogyakarta is my favorite city in Indonesia. Not only, is there great markets and food option but also fun nightlife. The day tours you mention are some of the best in the country and I love you photos!

    • James Smith December 4, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Thanks, Jordan – I agree, more people should choose Yogyakarta over Bali!

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