Looking for solo travel vacation ideas in Southeast Asia? You needn’t look further than the city of Jogja. Also included are my recommendations on some Instagram worthy photo spots!
We may not always have the luxury of travelling with companions. And if you’ve yet to travel solo, and are hesitant to do so, I strongly recommend it! It’s an entirely different experience altogether which helps you learn so much more about yourself. But this is a topic for another day.
Due to bad weather, I did not get to try the main attraction I went to Jogja for, which was the Jomblang Caves. This was somewhat disappointing, but I am thankful for having a fantastic local guide (thank you Prita!) and tour operators who arranged for a fun alternative and made my trip equally memorable.
If you intend to head to Goa Jomblang, just remember they only make one drop per day (usually in the late morning), and it is heavily weather dependent activity because of safety.
You will also want to bring along a shower cap for hygiene purposes (helmets are provided), and gloves and boots are provided too. I was told it can get a little muddy at the bottom. Head torches and insect repellent are also strongly recommended.
I got my personalised 5 Day Central Java package through Beyond X Boundaries, who are mavericks for experiential travel.
The benefit of this was the flexibility of having a local guide and assigned transport with you throughout your stay to make it hassle free, and also having the freedom to visit destinations without needing to follow a group or being constrained by time limits at each location.
However, if you are backpacker and your preference is to do a solo trip without having any local guides, you can easily visit these places on your own which I think are pretty cool nonetheless! And of course, these are suitable travel ideas for non solo travellers, with friends and family as well.
1. Prambanan Temple
My first stop in Jogja took me directly from the airport to the impressive Prambanan Hindu Temple, a UNESCO Heritage site. It is also known as the Roro Jonggrang Temple, built in the 9th century, and is the largest Hindu Temple in Indonesia, arguably the largest in Southeast Asia.
This is a great travel site if you are a fan of architecture, history or cultural heritage, with lots of stories behind the temple and the conservation efforts that are ongoing around it.
The temple compound itself consists of four main temples with many sub-chambers, with lots of Instagram worthy corners for you to take photos for the Gram.
Venue guides are provided on site, and if you are looking for English speaking guides they also have them in abundance.
You should cater about 1 to 1.5 hours here, unless you get swarmed by local school girls with a talent for singing, like I did. Then add about 30 minutes.
Till today I don’t know why the students flocked to me the way they did, could be something my guide Prita told them while I was busy on tour. But you can safely assume this won’t happen most of the time!
Estimated Cost: USD$18
2. Pindul Cave Tubing
My second morning was where I made my trip to the Jomblang Caves, a 25m sinkhole in diameter, and 50m deep. I stumbled upon some wonderful photos of Goa Jomblang on Instagram from a couple of people that I follow, and have told myself since then I must pay a visit!
Unfortunately it did not materialise this time round, but I still managed a wet and equally fun-filled day, with a good alternative for both solo travellers and travellers with friends alike, that can happen even if it’s raining – Pindul Cave Tubing!
There are several points of the tubing session where you will have the option of jumping off rocks and reliefs into the water. This is both inside the caves as well as further down stream along the river tubing session.
Even for those who are a bit afraid of heights, this is a must try and incredibly fun!
You can have a look on the feed of my Instagram account in March 2018: (@john.yeong ) to see how it looked like!
Estimated cost: USD $3.75
3. Borobudur Sunrise
Who likes early mornings? I don’t. So you could imagine my struggle to wake up at 4.15am!
Nonetheless, this was one of the more unforgettable mornings and the Borobudur Temple is a MUST visit if you are a traveller visiting the city of Yogyakarta. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and quite simply breathtaking.
This place is best seen at sunrise, when the air is fresh and full of birdsong, and the mist is just clearing.
You would definitely not want to arrive late for this, as depending on different seasons there could be quite a crowd at the top, which takes a little away from the overall experience.
It doesn’t take my advice or a rocket scientist to figure out that you’d do well to bring your cameras along for this trip!
Many picturesque moments regardless of which time of day you visit.
Probably the icing on the cake for me, and not part of the usual Borobudur Sunrise package, was having breakfast on the hillside with a fantastic view of Borobudur – thanks to Beyond X Boundaries.
The usual Borobudur package includes breakfast but it is in the main hall, just in case anyone is wondering where they can get breakfast after the sunrise!
Estimated Cost: USD$20
4. Pinus Pengger Pine Forest in Bantul
The Pinus Pengger Pine Forest was an unplanned part of the itinerary for my trip, but turned out to be one of the nicest places, where picture taking is concerned.
You could even bring a book along for a quiet read, if spending a few hours here is your intention.
This is usually a quiet area, without busyness and noise that comes with huge crowds of people that define most touristy spots.
Plenty of Instagram worthy corners for your photos as well, some of which you may even have seen on Instagram but never knew where on earth this surreal place was. Now you know!
This place is best visited in the late afternoon, closer to sunset, though just a word of caution…
The drive there can be pretty long, and if you’re someone who easily gets mountain sickness, you’d probably want to take a nap on the drive up.
Estimated Cost: Free-of-charge, only parking fee
5. Merapi Lava Jeep Tour
I decided to take in this off road ride on a Jeep that was arguably the bumpiest in my life. If you are a traveller who loves nature, and a fan of bouncing around in a moving vehicle, then this is just for you.
You will even have the option of standing up during the ride (albeit firmly holding onto the handles) just to enhance your jeep ride experience.
There are various local operators for this activity, and there are generally three routes, categorised by short, medium and long which will determine your time taken from 1.5 hours to 2 hours. And it costs about Rp 350,000 to rent the jeep.
As part of the tour you will get to also visit certain sites and mini museums of the most recent Merapi Volcanic eruption.
Estimated cost: Rp 350,000
6. Batik Art and Silver Making
And if you are into culture and heritage or wish to try your hands on making something, then you may want to consider Batik Art at the Tirtodipuran complex, where you experience using candles and wax to make your own mini Batik Artwork.
You could also try Silver Making at Kota Gede which I realise I am terrible at! The shop owners were giggling and how much I was perspiring just to get one done! But I think it turned out looking real nice? What do you think? (See picture above)
So there you are! 6 highlights from my Jogja trip, although there was more than just this that I visited. Other temples, and other beautiful sites worth checking out – including cycling tours for those who are cycling enthusiasts!
More travel ideas to come soon from my London and UK trip, as I attempt to catch up on months of backlog for my blog! Thank you for your patience, your support of my work, and I hope you enjoyed this read.