Yogyakarta is modern, cosmopolitan and has a lot to offer, being easy to stay here for a week or more without getting bored.
From stylish cafes, trendy restaurants, concept shops… Yogyakarta has a lot of cultural events going on in this city, away from the traditional dance and music, mostly tourist orientated.
This post is just an unpretentious short list of spots that worth to visit while you stay in this appealing city. But there’s a lot more to explore that is impossible to find in a short five-days visit to Jogja… the nickname for Yogyakarta, used by locals.
Yogyakarta has a perfect balance between the
… a few places to chill
Cokelat Monggo is an reference shop in Jogja, selling chocolate made from Indonesian cacao. At Jalan Tirtodipuran there’s a shop exclusively dedicated to this brand selling a big range of chocolate bars, but you can laos find Monggo products in other shops in Yogyakarta. The cafe next door is a chill place to hang out and try one of the chocolate treats available on the menu.
If you are walking on the long a exhausting Malioboro street, Margo Mulyo is a cool and unpretentious eatery to take a rest, eat or drink something in a place full of character… also very popular between the local population.
Kedai Kebun Forum, at Jalan Tirtodipuran, is a cultural association that promote several events and where you….can see art exhibitions, watch a movie and get updated about what’s going on in Yogyakarta art scene… There’s also a restaurant in a cool and quiet spot surrounded by trees and bamboos that is a nice place to hang out, reading a book and enjoying a Indonesian coffee.
A good place to experience local lifestyle are the markets, locally called “pasar”… there are many around Yogyakarta, but from the ones that I visit I strongly recommend the Pasar Kotagede (also written as Kota Gede) as it is small, with the building focus on food products and with the streets around selling a bit of everything. Is better to go early morning when the market has more people and shows up more vibrant.
Is totally away from the Yogyakarta tourist beaten track, and not many foreigners come here… so be prepared to be the star!
A stay in Yogyakarta can avoid the batick, as is part of the city identity… and as soon our eyes get used to the intricate patterns of this traditional art of dyed, you’ll be attracted by the diversity of designs, styles and colors of this fabrics. The batik is good souvenir from this city, which is also representative of the Indonesian culture that in Java are used mostly as man shirts and as sarong by the women.
There are hundred of shops specialize in batik, some selling the fabric by meter, other as a sarong, a shirt, trousers, scarfs, shawls, etc… Even if you are not in the shopping mood, it worth visit a visit to a couple of these shops!
- Along Jalan Malioboro there are also many shops, from the simple to the more sophisticated. Outside along the sidewalk there are an endless number of streets sellers, most of them with batik items.
- Pasar Beringharjo (Jalan Malioboro) is definitively the highest concentration of batik sellers but the quality maybe is not the best and it’s quite busy place.
- In front of Pasar Beringharjo, there a big and old school shop Mirota Batik (Jalan Malioboro), with big choice of products made form different batik technics, with a beautiful decoration that really worth to visit, even if you are not in the mood for shopping. It’s a classic shop that looks more like an institution in Yogyakarta and which is also a good place for souvenirs.
- The Batik Winotosastro (Jalan Tirtodipuran) is a traditional shop of hand made batik that also includes a factory, that you can visit and learn the different processes to make the batik… and in the end you’ll understand why some of this fabrics are so expensive!
- There is also some antique shops specialized in batik articles in Yogyakarta which you can find a few along Jalan Tirtodipuran.
- Jalan Gamelan, inside the Kraton, has also a few shops but more focus on cloths made form batik fabrics, some of them sophisticated and made more for western customers.
… because food matters
And because food matters… eating is also an important issue when we travel and an enjoyable food experience can change the perspective and the all experience of a place, that can be a city or a country.
The Indonesian food in not properly vegetarian, with the chicken being present in almost all menus. But there are a lot of dishes without meat or fish available in restaurants, warungs (restaurants), masakan padang and also at street food stalls that are a constant presence everywhere, since early morning until evening.
The tofu and tempeh are very popular, and eggs and steam vegetables (spinach, morning-glory and papaya leaf) are also common. Salads made with compressed rice and steam vegetables with a sweet peanut sauce – gado-gado and lotek – are also easy to find, mostly at street food stalls:
Here are some budget eateries that I try, most of them nearby them located near Mantrijeron (where I slept) and kampung Kraton areas.
- Mirang Raya, Ruman Makan Massakan Padang (Jl Parangtritis, 117). Tasty food with many options and cheap price. Some of these Rumah Makan (restaurants) restaurants work on the self-service system, and not really matter the quantity that you put on your plate, but you pay according to the number of items you choose to your plate. A vegan meal costs 10.000 to 15.000 Rp.
- Duta Minang, Rumah Makan Massakan Padang (Jl Mayjen D. I. Panjaitan, 50). The classic padang food with many delicious options in a more sophisticated atmosphere but also with the cheap prices, with a meal with tempeh, tofu, vegetables and egg cost 20.000 Rp.
- Gudeg Bu Hj. Rini (Gudeg Wijilan). Jl Wilijan, 7… if you visit Yogyakarta you must try the gudeg… a jackfruit curry that despite the less attractive look is delicious!!! Along with this street, you’ll find a dozen of gudeg restaurants, but this one was recommended by local people and has friendly prices and a casual environment. A gudeg dish, with rice, egg, krecek (a yellow sambal) and gori (unripe jackfruit curry with coconut milk and sugar) costs around 11.000 Rp…. this is the original version but meat can be added.
…a bit of a bite on the Yogyakarta street food
And as in any Asian country, the street-food is part of the gastronomic experience. And Indonesia offers a big choice always for a cheap price. And it’s safe! At least I have been eating street food daily for the last 6 weeks and no stomach problems!
There are street food everywhere around the center of Yogyakarta, and on a short visit is impossible to have a stomach to try everything… but in these particular places I found the tastiest options… vegetarians options:
- Jalan Kemasan on the way to Kotagede Market (Pasar Kotagede), early mornings. Inside the market and in the shops around the market building there are also food stalls, that is good opportunity to try the Indonesian sweets that usually are not too sweet and buy some savory snacks to take-away.
- Along Jalan Malioboro you find many food stalls with bakso (meatballs soup) and mie (noodles) options mainly concentrated on the top north of the street. There are as also food hawkers selling lotek (a mix of vegetables with peanut sauce on top… my favorite!), mainly located in the south part of the street.
- There are also some street-food stalls along Jl Mayjen D. I. Panjaitan, with soups, nasi and gado-gado.
- Deep fry stuff. Locally called gorengan, is widely available everywhere, but usually just in street-food stalls. Banana, tofu (tahu), chicken and tempeh are the most common ingredients of gorengan. At Yogyakarta is also easily available bolang baling… that are basically deep-fry dough with different shapes and slightly different taste, some of this are like doughnuts.
Yogyakarta street Art
Yogyakarta stands up for it’s cultural and artistic activity that is visible in the vibrant street art that is spread a bit everywhere in the city, as also for the number of galleries, antique shops, cultural centers and art associations.
The street art in Jogja is alive and creative, filling empty spaces of the city with a colorful creativity and a sharp imagination. Just walk around and let yourself being surprised by the art that comes out from the small alleys or abandons walls!… Mantrijeron is a good place to start!