9 Unique Places To Visit In Yogyakarta For An Amazing Nature Escape

9 Unique Places To Visit In Yogyakarta For An Amazing Nature Escape

Yogyakarta has everything you could possibly need for an epic adventure – recharge yourselves as you take on thrilling experiences and revel in nature's beauty!

Having stressful days and sleepless nights? Maybe it’s time to make your great escape to one of these incredible Indonesian destinations: Bandung, Belitung, Medan, or Yogyakarta. With picturesque landscapes and boundless nature, there’s no better place to switch off, relax and recharge. 

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Indonesia is a popular vacation destination that remains absolutely inviting to tourists all year round. Be it the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of Bintan, or the bustling city centre of Jakarta – the allure of this country is truly inexplicable. However, look beyond the idyllic beach paradise and financial heart of the country, and you will find a hidden gem that is often overlooked – the beautiful city of Yogyakarta!

Affectionately known as Jogja, Yogyakarta is located on the island of Java and can, in fact, be described as the cultural heart of Indonesia itself! It is well known for its traditional cultural landmarks such as temples, as well as its numerous mountains, forests and waterfalls where visitors can soak up the wonders of nature at every turn.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? If you haven’t been to Yogyakarta, fret not! Here’s a list to get you started on what to see and do on your first trip:

1. Race down Gumuk Pasir on your sandboard

Image credit: Hendrojkson

Mention sand dunes and one would probably think of golden sandy stacks in the African Sahara or perhaps the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. But did you know that you can have just as much fun at the sand dunes, Gumuk Pasir, right here in Yogyakarta? Yes, you read that right! Get your sandboards ready as you slide down the giant mounds of sand!

Don’t worry if it’s your first time because there’ll be someone to guide you. The key to a smooth ride down is to apply some wax to the surface of your board before you go! There are also different ‘routes’ that you can sandboard down, so if you’re not confident, just take the easy one on your first few tries. We also recommend going early in the morning or later in the evening when the sand isn’t too hot. Make sure you bring an extra shirt along as well since you will be covered in sand once you get to the bottom!

Cost: IDR90,000/hour for sandboard rental (~S$9.10), unlimited time ~IDR140,000 (~S$14.20)

How to get there: It’s better to take a taxi or rent a car. From Yogyakarta, drive south toward Parangtritis until you reach the gate entrance of Parangtritis Beach. Instead of going through, take a right and turn left at Depok Beach. Go straight till you reach Gumuk Pasir.

2. Rappel down Jomblang Cave

Image credit: Goa Jomblang

If you’d like to take your nature adventures up a notch from cave tubing, then this is something to look forward to! Jomblang Cave is a vertical cave with a collapsed doline, constructed from a geological process when the ruins formed a sinkhole, which results in the cave having a wide mouth. From the bottom of the cave, you will be able to see majestic rays of light spilling in.

For this caving tour, the crew will guide you through the usage of rappelling equipment, as well as help you descend 60 metres off the cliff into the depths of the cave. When you reach the bottom, you’ll witness the surprisingly calm serenity of darkness. Continue on your adventure by tracing the tunnels and other connecting caves, before emerging from Grubug Cave where you’ll get to see and take photos under the ‘light from heaven’! How enlightening is that?

Cost: IDR450,000 (~S$45.50)

How to get there: Transportation will be covered by the cave tour operators.

3. Go underground cave tubing at Goa Pindul

Nature enthusiasts will definitely enjoy this one! If you love a good outdoor activity, why not head to the Goa Pindul caves for cave tubing? But wait! What’s cave tubing, exactly? The idea is pretty straightforward – cave tubing involves touring a cave through riding a rubber tube down the water channels within the cave itself. Since the rivers running in the caves can come up to 15 metres deep, locals came up with a much more efficient, effortless (and fun!) way of exploring the cave via bobbing down the river course on these tubes! How’s this for nature’s lazy river?

On the cave tour, you’ll get to come up close and personal with clusters of bats which reside within the caves, as well as get to examine gorgeous natural stalactite and stalagmite formations. Ticket fees are roughly priced at IDR45,000 (~SGD5) per person and this includes a helmet, rubber tube, life vest, rubber shoes, and an experienced cave tour guide who will help you navigate the cave river! Don’t worry, the waters are so safe and gentle that even children are permitted to join in on this cave tubing experience!

We definitely recommend going in the morning at about 9-10am so the water is not too cold. You’ll also be able to catch some rays of sun filtering through, into the cave. This is a spectacular sight and experience not to be missed!

Cost:  IDR45,000 (~SGD5)

How to get there: Transportation will be settled by the cave tour operators, who usually conduct a door-to-door pickup service.

4. Hike up Mt. Merapi

Image credit: Stephan Waeber

Mount Merapi or Gunung Merapi is the most active volcano in Indonesia located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta. If you’re up for an adventure, we recommend taking it up a notch by watching the sunrise from the peak of lofty Mt. Merapi instead! Coupled with breathtaking and sublime scenic views, watch the early morning rays peek through and eventually spread across the horizon, emblazing everything in a soft yet fiery red and gold. This hike truly makes for quite the spiritual experience indeed!

Image credit: (instagram) @fishgoblooop

Aside from that, you can also opt for the Merapi Lava tour which is a jeep tour to different areas such as the Museum Sisa Hartaku, translated to ‘My Remaining Treasure Museum’. This museum showcases various artefacts related to the Merapi eruption in 2010. You’ll also get to explore an old unused bunker! Choose from short, medium or long routes for this tour; for a rough gauge, the short route tour ranges from 1.5-2 hours or so. Be sure to pack water, snacks, sunglasses and a sunhat – and you’re all ready to go!

Cost: Differs with different tour guides, ~USD80/pax for 2 people (~S$109/pax)

How to get there: A tour is highly recommended for a hassle-free experience.

5. Hike to ‘tree photo spots’ at Kalibiru National Park

Image credit: Matta Tour

Whilst you’re in Yogyakarta, set aside a day to take a day trip to Kalibiru National Park. Hike through the luscious green forests and marvel at the wonders of nature with every step you take. However, the best part of this National Park is not only the opportunity to enjoy nature but the other features along the trail that add excitement to your hike, such as ziplining, rappelling and hiking up to photo spots. The vantage point from a ‘photo tree’ or ‘tree stage’  gives hikers a breathtaking view like no other. Plus, some of these are adorably shaped like little hearts!

Perched high above on a little platform, swing your legs off the edge and take in deep breaths as you marvel at the gorgeous panoramic view of the thick foliage, Menoreh Hills and Waduk Sermo (Sermo Dam) all stretched out before your eyes. Don’t forget to bring your camera to snap some shots of this sweet view!

Cost: Entrance fee: IDR10,000 (~S$1.10); additional charges for adventure activities and photo spots from IDR10,000 to IDR35,000 (~S$1.10 to S$3.50)

How to get there: A popular option would be to hire a driver or a taxi for the day. Otherwise, public transportation to the park involves multiple changes and multiple routes.

6. Catch breathtaking sunrise views at Mangunan Fruit Garden

Image credit: (top) Hariyanto K (bottom left) Kebun Buah Mangunan (bottom right) Palup15

Renowned for its resplendent sunrise views, catching the sunrise at Mangunan Fruit Garden is certainly worth losing your sleep for. We recommend that you reach at around 5am for the best experience. At dawn, you’ll be greeted by a sea of clouds enveloping the forest canopy below, an ethereal sight to behold as you stand at the terraces looking out into the horizon beyond. Stretch your hands out and you’ll feel as if you can almost touch the clouds, the incredible view overwhelming your senses as golden rays of sunlight stream through the cracks. Once the mist dissipates, you’ll be treated to an excellent view of the Oyo River, meandering through lush valleys.

Cost: Rp5,000/person.

How to get there: A popular option would be to hire a driver or a taxi for the day. Public transportation to the park otherwise involves multiple changes and multiple routes.

7. Wander around the Imogiri Pine Forest

Image credit: (instagram) @nxycarissa

Located in the cool, temperate highlands of Mangunan, the Imogiri Pine Forest is a fascinating place to explore.  Also known as Hutan Pinus Imogiri, you’ll find this sprawling area filled with tons of towering pine trees, culminating in a beautiful sight. Locals frequent this area during the weekend for picnics and outdoor events, as there is a small circular amphitheatre with an open stage in the middle of the forest. Take a deep breath of fresh air and be rejuvenated by nature’s beauty as you revel in this otherworldly atmosphere. There are various swings, lookouts and benches along the way which make for great photo spots, so don’t forget to bring your camera along and snap away!

Cost: Free entry, only a small charge on vehicles for parking.

How to get there: A popular option would be to hire a driver or a taxi for the day. Public transportation to the park otherwise involves multiple changes and multiple routes.

8. Go temple hopping

There’s no question about it – in Yogyakarta, visitors will definitely have to include its stunning temples and temple ruins in their itinerary. Marvel at these architectural wonders, which evoke a certain sense of mystery and grandeur, and imagine the glory and splendour of their yesteryears. There are three to take special note of: Borobudur, Prambanan Temple, and Ratu Boko.


Image credit: Justine Hong

The Borobudur Temple is a stunning sight to behold. This 9th century Mahayana Buddhist Temple is the largest Buddhist Temple in the world, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No wonder it’s the most visited tourist site in Indonesia! This magnificent temple consists of stacked platforms, topped by a central dome and decorated with over 2,500 panels and 504 Buddha statues – 72 of which are used to encircle the central dome. Here, visitors can marvel at a fine example of traditional Javanese Buddhist architecture and Gupta art influences from India.

To avoid the crowds, opt for a sunrise tour, which will allow you to witness the magic of sunrise over the temple grounds shrouded in early morning mist – a simply astounding sight that will truly be etched in your memory forever.

Cost: IDR450,000 (~S$45.50) for non-Indonesian Adult

How to get there: Take a minibus as part of an organised morning tour, or hop onto a public bus at Jombor Bus Terminal that will bring you to Borobudur. The bus journey will last for approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

Prambanan Temple

Image credit: Johan Wieland

Located not too far from Borobudur temple is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and temple – the Prambanan Temple, a 9th century Hindu temple dedicated to Hindu deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia too! Stand in awe at the majestic, towering structures which resemble mini pagodas with their pointed design.

The style and architecture of the Prambanan Temple uses typical architectural designs with Hindu influences based on Vastu Shastra, which refers to a traditional Hindu style of architecture based on “science of architecture” theories from ancient India. The temple features include mandala temple plan arrangements and high towering spires. The entire temple was built to replicate the holy mountain, Meru, which is believed to be the home of Shiva and the temple complex, to parallel the Hindu universe according to Hindu cosmology.

Image credit: Crisco 1492

A Ramayana Ballet performance is held every evening from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, with the Prambanan Temple as a captivating backdrop. Ramayana ballet is a traditional dance based on a Hindu epic of King Rama. The dance incorporates local Javanese culture, style and music so this performance is certainly a good way for one to experience the local arts culture. With over 200 professional dancers and musicians on the open air stage, watch the story of King Rama come to life before your very eyes in this enthralling performance! For performance schedules and ticket prices, click here.

Cost: IDR325,000 (~S$33) for non-Indonesian Adult

How to get there: Take the TransJogja bus service (no. 1A) from Malioboro Street directly to Prambanan. Alternatively, take a bus from the Ubulharjo bus station.

Ratu Boko

Image credit: Anandajoti Bhikkhu

Although this isn’t exactly a temple, another site that is still worth visiting is Ratu Boko, located on a plateau about a few kilometres south of the Prambanan temple complex. Locals named this archaeological site after King Boko, a legendary king from local folklore.

Its initial purpose still remains a mystery until today. Researchers first came to the conclusion that this site must have been a palace – due to the remains they excavated, which included stone pillars and other ornamented statues. After a Buddhist statue was unearthed, it was then thought to be a place with Buddhist influences. However, over the years, artefacts such as Hindu deities have been discovered as well. It was then converted to a defensive fortress used during various battles. Doesn’t the site’s multifaceted beauty simply make you want to visit? These magnificent ruins are definitely worth visiting! Do come here to catch the sunset behind the stone columns – it is truly an amazing sight.

Cost: IDR325,000 (~S$33) for non-Indonesian Adult

How to get there: Take the free shuttle service (that comes bundled with the combo entrance ticket) that runs between Prambanan and Ratu Boko.

9. Take a rustic gondola ride at Timang Beach

Image credit: Pandora Voon

You might not expect this to be on the list but that’s exactly what sums up Jogja – a country with surprises around every corner. Timang Beach is a natural, white-sand beach located between Siung and Sundak beach. However, when you are here, don’t just lie in the sun and frolic in the waves, but try out the famous beach gondola! This little cable cart is made of wood and attached to a rope pulley system, allowing guests to zoom across the choppy reef below.

Image credit: (instagram) @nxycarissa

Talk about pure exhilaration indeed! Brace yourself as you leave a cliff platform and have the wind whip your hair across your face, all whilst muffling your shouts of excitement. In just a few seconds, you will reach the other platform – possibly drenched but definitely reeling from the wild ride! This is an activity for the thrillseekers, but do take note that insurance does not cover this ride. If this ride seems too daunting for you, you can also choose to walk across via the suspension bridge instead!

Feeling hungry after that adrenaline rush? Feast on fresh lobsters that have been perfectly grilled with garlic butter at the restaurants nearby! Peel the soft, juicy meat from the shells and just devour them whole – you’re in for a gastronomic experience you’ll never forget.

Cost: IDR200,000 (~S$20.20)

How to get there: There is no public transport to the beach, so your best bet would be going on a day tour, hiring a local driver, or renting your own car/motorcycle.

So, there you have it – our ultimate list of things to see and do in Yogyakarta that’ll guarantee you a smashing first visit. Besides satisfying both the nature lover and adrenaline junkie, a trip to Yogyakarta will also appeal to those who love to wander around historical monuments and landmarks.

From temples and adventure activities to the picturesque splendour of nature, Yogyakarta is most definitely the place to be on your next holiday. Your next adventure starts NOW!

Brought to you by Changi Airport Group.

About Authors

Carissa Ng
Carissa Ng

Carissa is fascinated by the complexity of globalisation, and the interdependence of diverse cultures. Her mind constantly drifts off to dreams of travelling around the world, because she wants to explore every continent and city. She is also a sleepyhead-sloth who has a huge weakness for rainbows, sushi, all things Korean, and adorable chubby babies.


Beatrice Tan
Beatrice Tan

Beatrice absolutely loves stargazing and often fantasises about going into space one day. However, since she won’t be an astronaut anytime soon, her heart is set on being a globetrotter instead. She is always craving for a new adventure, and believes that travel nourishes the soul. You can most likely find her strolling around the museum, or in a quiet café with her nose buried in a book, and a soy latte in hand.