Indonesia consists of more than a thousand islands, and many of them are completely different from each other. Bali is packed with yogis and vegans, Flores is quiet and not so crowded with tourists, Sumatra is wild. And Java is the “capital island” and the second most popular tourist destination in Indonesia, and there is really something to do, Travellizy Team strongly believes it.
Jakarta: the heart of modern Indonesia
Jakarta is not the most tourist city, but if you start exploring the island of Java from here, you can linger for a day or two to see and understand how modern Indonesia lives. In the center of the metropolis with a population of 30 million people, there is Monas (Monumen Nasional), a monument of independence, and against its background, numerous skyscrapers pierce the sky. If before that you were only in Bali, then this Indonesia will definitely surprise you.
You can realize that Indonesia is a country with strong Muslim traditions when you get to the central mosque of Istiklal. Opposite it, you can also see crosses of the cathedral, there is a cafe where Harrison Ford dined near the central square.
The comfort of your stay in Jakarta highly depends on the area you are staying in. Try to settle closer to the center, this is where most cafes for foreigners are concentrated, and you do not have to get a long bus ride to the sights.
By the way, Jakarta doesn't have long to be the capital of Indonesia. Due to overpopulation and constant flooding, the government decided to move the capital to the island of Kalimantan, and the relocation has been already planned for 2024.
Yogyakarta: the cultural capital of the island
Yogyakarta, Jogjakarta or Jogja. No matter how you call it, it will not become less beautiful from this. If Jakarta is administrative, then Jogja is the country's youth and cultural center. Concerts and festivals are constantly held here, dozens of art galleries and museums are located also here, and the walls of the city are decorated with hundreds, maybe thousands of graffiti, one more colorful than the other. Some travelers stay in this city for several weeks, or even months, in order to properly understand and feel it.
In order to touch on the ancient history of the last Sultanate in Indonesia, go for a walk in the Kotagede district or in Taman Sari, the water palace. Earlier in this palace, the sultan used to watch the swimming concubines, but nowadays, you can take a spectacular photo against the background of bright turquoise pools. The area around Taman Sari is also very colorful, and an underground mosque is hidden in one of its corners.
You can see the songbirds, which are so loved by Javanese, as well as the famous black roosters, exotic iguanas and other animals in the bird market. In order to get food for every taste, aromatic coffee and a real gelato, you need to go to Prawirotaman street, and the history of the colonial wars in Java can be seen in Fort Wredeburg. For shopping, go to Malioboro street, and if you go along it to the south, you will see the Sultan's palace (Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat).
Yogyakarta, among other things, is also the world capital of batik. Fabric items with original paintings are sold here on every corner, and for only 10 euros, you can become the owner of a luxurious shirt or dress. Remember that price determines quality, and also that in Indonesia you can and should bargain.
There are good beaches just a couple of hours from Jokya, but the two main attractions that tourist want to see are located in the north.
Borobudur and Prambanan: temples not to be missed
The temples of Borobudur and Prambanan are different, but they equally attract tourists from all over the world. The first of them, in fact, is a huge stone book in pictures, a comic of a bygone era. Scenes from the Buddha's life are depicted on the walls of each of the levels of the temple-mandala, and bypassing all of them, you can slightly understand Buddhism as a philosophy. On the top of Borobudur, stone Buddhas are indifferent to everything, and there is an excellent view of the dawn and, if you are lucky and the weather is fine, the volcano Merapi, which shook the island once. The entrance to the complex costs € 22.5.
Prambanan is a completely different temple. It's not even a temple, but a complex of temples, the three largest of them are depicted on postcards from Java. But outside the Big Three, you can find a lot of interesting things, and there will be much less tourists.
Both temples can be visited in one day as part of the tour, stopping off along the way for a couple more waterfalls, but it is better to really feel their atmosphere by going to Borobudur and Prambanan yourself. To do this, you can rent a car with a driver, or you can sit on a moped with a breeze ride among the rice fields. And try to choose weekdays to visit the temples, because there are much fewer local and foreign tourists.
Bromo is the best place for dawn
There are a lot of volcanoes in Java, but the most famous and popular of them are Bromo and Ijen. To climb the first is very simple, you only need warm clothes and comfortable shoes, if you are going for the dawn. It will be hard to forget the view of the Bromo volcano in the rays of the dawn sun.
Visiting Bromo is more convenient, easier and even cheaper as part of a tour that can be ordered at any hotel. The secret is that Javanese don’t have to pay to enter the national park, but valiant rangers will take € 14 from a self-travelling tourist. On weekends and holidays, the entrance to the national park is more expensive - € 21.
The tour program includes a climb to the observation deck at dawn (you will have to walk 15 minutes from the parking lot to the car, or you can ride a horse), a trip along the erg, a sea of dust resembling Mongolian landscapes, and a climb to the crater of Bromo. Such a tour costs about € 25 per person.
Ijen: hell on earth
The ascent, and most importantly, the descent into the crater of Ijen is much more difficult, but it's worth it. After all, this is one of the few places on the planet where you can see the rocks, burning with a blue flame - the methane ignites emerging from the bowels of the earth. You can get to the entrance to the park on a rented car or moped, but then - only on foot. Of course, you can use the services of a rickshaw, that will take you to the very edge of the crater, but you still have to go down on your own.
Warm clothing and comfortable shoes will not be enough for the ascent and descent to Ijen. You will definitely need three more things - a headlamp, a good respirator and glasses that fit tightly to your face. The last two items will protect the lungs and eyes from sulfur fumes in the crater. All this can be rented directly at the national park, but respirators are often not of the best quality, so it is better to take them at the hotel.
And why all these torments? Just for the sake of the blue flame? No, not exactly. Firstly, in the Ijen crater, you can see how sulfur diggers work. As they break out with crowbars sharp-smelling bright yellow blocks, load them into wicker baskets and lift them up on their own backs. No mechanisms, only heavy manual labor. Secondly, at the bottom of the crater, there is a large blue lake with a sulphuric acid solution instead of water. The view of this at dawn is simply ethereal - yellow puffs of sulfuric smoke, a blue acid lake and rocks painted pink by the rising sun.
Lifehacks for traveling in Java
It is important to get a local SIM card immediately upon arrival in Indonesia. It is inexpensive - only € 4, and gives a lot of advantages. Many services in the country are available online: you can order food delivery, call a taxi, buy train tickets. Or post fresh photos on the background of the volcano on Instagram, without waiting for the return to the hotel.
Traveling around the city is the most convenient and easiest way with an online taxi called Grab. You can even link your account to a bank card, and then the trip fee will be automatically deducted from the account. An experienced driver can rent a scooter, but keep in mind that traffic in big cities like Jakarta or Jogja is sometimes not for the faint-hearted.
Trains are excellent for long distance travel. Tickets can be taken online through the application or on the website, and printed out in the machine at the station. For maximum comfort, buy tickets for business class or executive cars, where you will find air conditioning and soft folding seats.
If you can't find a cafe near your hotel or you don't like local food from the nearest warung, you can use Grab Food to order food online.
Java is an interesting part of Indonesia. It attracts with megacities-anthills and pristine jungles, active volcanoes and ancient temples. This is not a super-tourist Bali, but this is where the spirit of the ancient Indonesian civilization lives.