Yogyakarta was established after a civil war in 1756 between princely brothers, in a disagreement about relations with the Dutch and their use of Javanese slaves in Dutch Guiana (now Suriname). With special status this is the only Indonesian province headed by a monarch, the Sultan. Today it is the more laid-back and cultured alternative to the capital city and business center of Jakarta, on this most populous of Indonesian islands. Gadjah Mada, one of Indonesia's most prominent universities, along with several more private institutions, make this an academic center too, with students making up almost 30% of the population. A center for classical Javanese fine arts and culture such as painting, gamelan music, poetry, drama, puppet shows and dance, the city is also home to an emerging scene of independent filmmakers, experimental musicians, performance and visual artists.
Tourist attractions of Yogya, as it is also called, include: Jalan Malioboro filled with restaurants, inexpensive shops, and crowds of friendly students; the Hindu temple of Prambanan with towers reminiscent of (but predating) Angkor; and the Candi Borobudur, (or Barabudur), an 8th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument with 504 statues of Buddha, once lost and deserted for centuries in nearby Magelang. The "kraton," or Sultan's palace, is at the core of the modern city. Gunung Merapi, just to the north, is Indonesia's most active volcano, with regular eruptions since 1548.
There are also beaches to enjoy at Parangtritis, Baron, Kukup, Krakal and Drini. Silverwork, batik, earthenware pottery, masks, bamboo furniture and leather handcrafts are made locally. The museums Sonobudoyo, Affandi, Kakayon and Vredeburg provide more reasons to visit. Hundreds of budget hotels can be found in Yogyakarta, many of them on Sosrowijayan, by Malioboro, or in the Prawirotaman area, about 3km south of downtown.
Adisucipto International Airport connects the city to major Indonesia hubs such as Jakarta (a trip of 7-12 hours), Surabaya, Bali, Makassar, Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, and Pontianak. There is also air service to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Trans Jogja buses will get you from the airport to Prambanan Bus Terminal or to Giwangan Bus Terminal. The Pramex Train connects Maguwo Station, in front of the airport, with Yogyakarta 15 times each day; also the towns of Kutoarjo, Solo, Balapan and Palur.
The city is located on one of two major railway lines across Java between Jakarta/ Bandung and Surabaya. The Tugu Railway Station serves business and executive class trains, and Lempuyangan Station serves economy class trains. Both are downtown.
Maps in English can be found at the Tourism Authority offices next to Hotel Mutiara on Jalan Malioboran, at the airport and the train station.
Yogyakarta's taxis are metered and traditional three-wheeled pedal-powered carts, known as becak, can be found all around the city. Regular buses and the air-conditioned patas of TransJogja operate from 6am to 10pm, with stops at designated shelters where tickets can be bought.
Media and resources
Rebecca Tour & Travel will take care of all the details of a trip to this part of Java; all the tourist attractions and places such as Merapi Volcano.
Travelunik Yogyakarta is a gay-friendly tour operator helping visitors to experience the culture, history and scenery of Yogyakarta and Central Java.
For gay info see the Utopia website guide to Asia, and for general tourist information see the YogYes website.
The Taman Budaya is a local cultural center, with traditional music concerts, theater, and dance, plus film festival screenings.
The Ramayana Ballet Purawisata tells Hindu epic stories on stage, with traditional dance, and gamelan music. The Museum Sonobudoyo Yogyakarta also presents gamelan concerts and leather puppet shows, along with exhibits of keris and other traditional artifacts.
For a glimpse into Javanese mysticism, the influences of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam on the original animist religions of the island, and to better understand the way people experience the world from here, see Javenese Mystical Movements.
See map locations and website links for area businesses at our gay Yogyakarta listings.
"Varied sexualities are an integral part of Indonesia's cultural mosaic. Many married men, and women may also maintain same-sex relationships" - Utopia
To find the small but lively local gay scene, get your bearings at one of several places:
Banana Café (Jalan Parangtritis 64; phone 62 813-9205-6646), gay-owned and managed, inexpensive cafe/bar, Indonesian and international fare.
Boshe Club (Jalan.Magelang km6,5), large, mixed, gay-friendly dance club on Jalan Magelang, with good sound and lights, karaoke, and live bands nightly.
The Embassy Club, (Laksda Adisucipto km8.7), small disco just behind Hugo's, House music; periodic gay dance and drag shows.
Hugo's (at the Sheraton Mustika Resort and Spa Complex parking lot), upscale mix of LGBT and straight, gayest on Saturdays.
The Hyatt Hotel has a sauna that is cruisy on Fridays, but not blatently so.
ViaVia Travelers Café/Restaurant (Jalan Prawirotaman 30), glbt-friendly, world menu includes veggie items, promotes community-based, sustainable tourism. They also have a guesthouse (phone: 62 274-374-748).
1001 Malam Hotel (Jalan Sosrowijayan Wetan, Gt I/57), 16 unique rooms with bathrooms, private terraces, antique furniture, WiFi and home-like atmosphere. Dine on Indonesian or western dishes on your balcony or on the terrace.
d'Omah Hotel (Jalan Parangtritis, km8.5), in rural village of Tembi 20 minutes drive south of Yogya; cobblestone streets, friendly charming people, breakfast at the edge of rice fields, yoga practice.
Dusun Jogja Village Inn (Jalan Menukan 5, Karangkajen), boutique hotel rooms and suites, open-air restaurant/bar, swimming pool and sun decks, spa with full body massage, guest laundry, internet access.
Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta Hotel (Jalan Palagan Tentara Pelajar), deluxe rooms and suites with views of Mt Merapi, swimming pool, health spa with sauna, whirlpool and plunge pool; Asian and western restaurants, 24-hour guest laundry, satellite TV.
Mercury Guest House (Jalan Prawirotaman II MG III/595), elegant traditional Javanese 1927 building, gardens, swimming pool; restaurant serves from European, Indonesian and Chinese menus.
Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta (Jalan Laksda Adisucipto km8.7), luxury resort hotel 246 guestrooms and suites, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spa, International bistro, patisserie, wine lounge and bars, fitness center, tennis courts.
Tembi Rumah Budaya Hotel (Jalan Parangtritis km8.4, Tempi), nine traditional Limasan-style wooden bungalows in peaceful village setting; Indonesian restaurant, arts and music festivals, hiking, cycling and fishing.
Venezia Garden Homestay (Jalan Surami 55), low-budget rooms at the center, cable TV, restaurant and bar, guest laundry, WiFi, moto rentals.
ViaVia Travelers Guesthouse (Jalan Prawirotaman 30), 7-room guesthouse, breakfast served in garden, Indonesian and world kitchens restaurant; weekly live jazz, art exhibitions, performances, alternative tours/ sustainable tourism.