Yogyakarta itinerary with teens
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5 Day Itinerary Of Yogyakarta With Teens (+ Planning Guide) (2024)

Last Updated on March 23, 2024 by Nicole

Our last destination in Indonesia on our 17 day trip was our four night stay at the Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta on Java. This was going to be our first city experience on our trip to Indonesia and we were really looking forward to it. We spent the first two weeks exploring jungles, wildlife, beaches, and remote villages all over Indonesia. Now my family of 6, with 3 teens and one young adult (aged 13, 14, 16 and 20 years old), would be touring major historical attractions, and learning about Indonesian food, style, and culture. Here is our planning guide to prepare you for your time in Yogyakarta and our amazing 5 day itinerary.

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At A Glance

I know you are busy. If you only have a couple minutes to spare, here are the key takeaways from this article.

  • Yogyakarta is a city in Indonesia on the island of Java where you can easily experience history and authentic Indonesian culture in a fun and interesting way with your teens.
  • The stunning World Unesco Heritage Sites of Borobudur and Prambanan are only a short drive away.
  • You can also take a 4×4 jeep tour on Merapi, an active volcano.
  • Highlights in Yogyakarta included a food tour and shopping.

If you can find more time, try to read my full article. It explains my suggestions, gives you details about experiences that you will have, and provides travel tips.

Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
Hanging around our The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta.

Planning Guide To Visiting Yogyakarta With Teens

Prior to booking, I had heard that Yogyakarta was a vibrant city filled with many universities and students. In addition, it was a cultural and artistic centre with several art schools, galleries and shows. I was very curious to find out how this would translate in a conservative muslim country.

Happily, Yogyakarta did not disappoint. The city was clean and had great energy. Like many Asian cities, moped and motorcycle traffic was crazy. However, people were kind and went out of their way to be helpful.

I particularly liked the fashion sense. Young women were out and about everywhere. Most wore skinny jeans and long sleeve tops (notwithstanding the heat!) and then, wore brightly covered headscarves.

We took a food tour in Yogyakarta (which I will discuss below) and our guide was female. She wore western clothes and her head was uncovered. This was our first female guide in all of our Indonesian travels.

She had a relaxed easy going vibe that was common in most of the young women that we saw in Yogyakarta. She told us that the majority of young women in Yogyakarta cover their head because they want to and it is fashionable, not because they are told to do so.

Travel To Yogyakarta

We had to travel from Pangkalan Bun on Borneo to Yogyakarta, after spending four days trekking for orangutans (4 Day Adventure Trekking Orangutans In Borneo With Teens), and this was not an easy route. 

We opted to fly to Semarang on Java, a quick 1 1/2 hour flight and then, be driven the 3 hours from Semarang to Yogyakarta. 

There is an airport near the city of Yogyakarta but no direct flight from Pangkalan Bun. Once I calculated the flight times, layovers and connections, I decided that I would prefer the 3 hour drive.

Besides, I love road trips. I think that you really get a feel for an area when you get to look out the window and see everybody going about their every day lives.

The drive was interesting. We saw beautiful mountains and volcanos surrounded by lush jungle and rice paddy fields. However, we also saw many single story storefronts, industrial shops and restaurants along the road. They were much more sophisticated than anything that we had seen on the other islands that we had visited, but still very basic compared to North America. Nonetheless, it was clear that the local economy was busy.

The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta

We stayed at the Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta. It was absolutely beautiful, had great food and was in a fantastic location.

It is set in a 1918 Colonial building. The style and furnishings were all consistent with that timeframe and blended Asian and European decor effortlessly. The public areas also combined indoor and outdoor living with gorgeous fountains, plants and decor.

Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The main floor hallway at the Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta.
Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta
The outdoor courtyard in the centre of the Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta.
Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The pool.

Food at The Phoenix Hotel

Every morning, we enjoyed an enormous complimentary buffet breakfast offered outside in the centre of the hotel. The food catered to many different palates and traditional breakfast choices from around the world. 

Every night, they also set out a buffet dinner celebrating different regions of the world which was spectacular and available for purchase.

I found the staff at the Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta to be wonderfully pleasant and excellent at what they did.

Shopping In Yogyakarta

The location of The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta was amazing. We stepped outside the front door and walked around 15 minutes to find ourselves at the start of the Malioboro shopping district.

All day and late into the night, locals set up stalls along the sidewalk selling their arts and crafts. We visited this area a couple of times and was one of my favourite things to do in Yogyakarta. I loved the hustle and bustle of the street. Interestingly, we were only a handful of tourists in the area. The majority of people browsing and hanging out in this area were locals.

Malioboro Street is walking distance from Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta
Shopping on Malioboro Street near the Phoenix Hotel.

We also enjoyed shopping at Malioboro Mall another 10 minutes walk along Malioboro street. This mall is multi-level and air conditioned (thank goodness!!).

On the main floor, several kiosks were set up and vendors sold clothing made out of batik, a traditional Javanese technique to colour and print cloth. The rest of the mall had very reasonably priced North American style shops. We spent a few hours shopping there one day and had a lot of fun.

Day One In Yogyakarta With Teens

On our first day, we arrived after a long day of travel and got settled at the hotel. We then went exploring and shopping along Malioboro street.

Day Two In Yogyakarta With Teens

On our second day, we took a half day food tour. We were determined to find all the delicious food that Yogyakarta had to offer!

I love taking food tours. In addition to eating lots of yummy food, food tours often take you to different parts of a city that may not be in areas normally visited by tourists. You also are introduced to traditional foods or exciting trends to which you might remain oblivious if you simply wandered the streets on your own.

Originally, this tour was by motorcycle. We were each supposed to climb on the back of a motorcycle driven by a local to each of the locations. However, after witnessing a motorcycle accident on our way to Yogyakarta, we decided to reorganize our tour with a car and driver, in addition to a guide.

The food tour was excellent. We went to five different locations and tried many traditional Indonesian foods. There were a couple of items that we really enjoyed eating but for the most part, we loved seeing the different parts of the city.

Also, as I said earlier in this article, our guide was young and female and it was really cool to talk to her about her life and the current trends in Yogyakarta.

Download my personally crafted 17 day Indonesia travel guide with my hotel and restaurant recommendations, tours and activities that I enjoyed.

First Stop On Food Tour

Our first stop was to the Bakpia Bathok 25 Factory where they made bakpia, a traditional baked good. We toured the factory and watched dozens of workers make them under pretty poor safety standards.

Open flames were everywhere and enormous cauldrons of boiling liquid were carried by workers barefoot or in flip flops. Our tour took us into every part of this factory and also included hopping around these open flames and boiling cauldrons of liquids – a little nerve racking but fascinating!

Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The kitchen where the bakpia is made.
Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
Barefoot and carrying boiling water!
Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The green bean paste filling being prepared.

Bakpia are filled with many different savoury and sweet fillings. The most popular one in Yogyakarta is a green bean paste.

At the end of the tour, we got to try every flavour and we took on the challenge happily. We tried most of them and loved the chocolate and pineapple filled ones. Luckily, we got to take home a few complimentary boxes.

Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
Different flavours of bakpia in take away boxes.

Second Stop On Food Tour

Next, we drove to an Indonesia restaurant tucked away in a local neighbourhood and tried a couple of traditional dishes.

One was Lotek, an Indonesian salad with raw and lightly cooked vegetables, a hard boiled egg and peanut sauce. Our guide told us that this is a regular daily meal. I loved the peanut sauce.

Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The kitchen where our traditional food was made.
Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia

Third Stop On Food Tour

From there, we went to a large stand filled with Indonesian candy, sweets, and baked goodies. We stood in front of this stand for about 30 minutes, simply smiled, pointed and ate to our heart’s content.

Some of the treats were yummy while others were a little odd for our North American taste buds. However, the kids had a blast here.

Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
Some of the candy choices.

Fourth Stop On Food Tour

At our fourth stop, we tried a plate of different cooked/grilled meats. At this point, we were already quite full and couldn’t eat much. In addition, unless you are a ravenous carnivore, the food wasn’t the most appetizing looking.

Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The meat selection on our food tour.
Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The plate of meat served to us.

Last Stop On Food Tour

This was by far the coolest destination on our food tour. We ended up at the Sultan’s Square just before dusk and it was already filling up with Indonesian families playing, eating and walking around.

There was a carnival atmosphere to this place. Funky cars decorated with lights lined up around the square ready to take people on a ride. Vendors sold balloons and bubble makers.

Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The Sultan’s Square just before dusk.

In the centre of the square were two enormous ancient trees. Our guide paid for blindfolds for the kids, and then, we sat back and watched to see whether any of them could walk 75 yards (70 metres) in a relatively straight line in between the two trees. Two were successful and one was not. It was hilarious to watch.

Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The two ancient trees that the kids had to walk through blindfolded in order to win the game.
Phoenix hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
Juliet and Harrison blindfolded for the game.

There were many food stands all around the square and an area on the grass with little plastic foot stools meant to be tables. Here we sat on the ground and tried a ginger drink which was warm and sweet. We also got to choose several different “toppings” to add to it. Although our stomachs were about to burst, we all enjoyed this traditional beverage. It was a wonderful way to end a phenomenal food tour.

Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta Indonesia
The stand where we got our ginger drinks.
Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta
Relaxing and having our drink in the Sultan’s Square.

Day 3 Of Yogyakarta Itinerary

We took a full day private full day tour to see Borobudur and Prambanan Temples and it was extraordinary.

Borobudur is a significant and ancient Buddhist temple located about 25 miles northwest of Yogyakarta. It is one of the world’s largest and most famous Buddhist monuments, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was built in the 9th century. The temple is known for its unique and massive structure, consisting of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. The entire structure is adorned with intricate carvings and features over 500 Buddha statues.

Borobudur fell into disrepair and became hidden by volcanic ash and jungle growth for centuries before being rediscovered in the 19th century.

It was simply astonishing to see this breathtaking temple. It is in extraordinarily good condition and we were welcome to walk and explore in and around it as much as we liked. The views were absolutely stunning at the top.

Yogyakarta itinerary with teens
Borobudur Temple, Yogyakarta
things to do in Yogyakarta with teens
Borobudur Temple, Yogyakarta


Next, we drove to Prambanan to explore. This is another notable temple complex about one hour’s drive from Borobudur Temple. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unlike Borobudur, Prambanan is a Hindu temple compound and is renowned for its impressive architecture and intricate stone carvings. It was also built in the 9th century.

We also loved touring this beautiful historical site and like Borobudur Temple, could not believe it was originally built over 1200 years ago.

Yogyakarta attractions with teenagers
Prambanan temple, Yogyakarta

Day Four Of Yogyakarta Trip With Teens

On our last full day in Yogyakarta, we did the half day Merapi Volcano Tour. What makes this a particularly exciting activity is that it is on an active volcano and you ride in 4×4 jeeps allowing you to explore a lot of different spots on the volcano, all with fantastic views. In several spots, it feels like you are on the set of the Jurassic Park movie.

For the most part, this was a ton of fun. However, as part of the tour, we visited a museum that highlighted the volcano’s destructive past.

Merapi is one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its frequent eruptions. In fact in 2010, it erupted to disastrous consequences.

Villages and farmlands were covered in ash, and infrastructure, including roads and buildings, suffered significant harm. The number of casualties was tragically high, with dozens of people losing their lives.

Yogyakarta attractions with teens
Mount Merapi, Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta vacation with teens

In the afternoon, we went shopping for souvenirs along Malioboro shopping district and had lots of fun.

Day Five Of Yogyakarta Holiday

Today, we packed up and started our long way back home.

Last Word

We loved our time in Yogyakarta. The drive there was fascinating. The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta was truly beautiful with wonderful staff. The city had a terrific vibe and it was cool seeing the blend of traditional and modern life that we found there.

We enjoyed the food tour and exploring Borobudur and Prambanan Temple complexes. We had tons of fun on the 4×4 jeep tour (although it was unsettling learning about the volcano’s dangerous past).

All our kids loved this part of our trip to Indonesia. It was nice to have a city experience together with visiting the extraordinary cultural sites.

Download my personally crafted 17 day Indonesia travel guide with my hotel and restaurant recommendations, tours and activities that I enjoyed.

If you would like to save this article for future use, please click on the “Save” button on one of the photos below. If you think someone else might enjoy reading it, please feel free to share it on your social media channels. Thanks!

We loved our four day stay in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It is a very cool city with a vibrant art scene. We stayed at the beautiful Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta, explored the city on an awesome food tour and loved the fashion scene. #travel #familytravel #Asia #Indonesia #Yogyakarta |bakpia, blindfold, fashion, food tour, game, Indonesia, kids, lotek, Malioboro, Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta, Sultan Square, teen, Via Via Travel |

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  1. Great food blog to visit once again my stomach is churning. Hotel definitely looks beautiful! Thanks!

    Great that the articles can be easily downloaded too!

  2. I love Indonesian food and I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the food in Yogyakarta. Phoenix hotel looks like a great choice, nevertheless! And the food tour by Via Via Travel looks great, just my kind of thing to do! Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. I would love to have some terrific Indonesian food one day. I’m sure it exists and I was just very unlucky while in Indonesia!

  3. I’ve never been to Indonesia yet, so definitely haven’t been to Yogyakarta! I’m sorry to hear the food wasn’t great, but that food tour looks like it gave you the opportunity to try some local favourites. Interesting about the fashion… they must be very used to the heat to wear long sleeves!

    1. The food tour was wonderful and interesting! It was so hot. I was barely able to cope in a light sundress much less jeans and long sleeve tops.

  4. I am intrigued by the pictures of the hotel. You stayed in a really nice place. It is interesting to see you have been on a food tour. You get to know a lot about a culture through their plates. Nice to see, really. But the fourth stop will be really really unappetizing to me as I am not a meat eater. I would like the first and third stops. Hope you enjoyed the ginger drink as well.

    1. Yes, the meat stop was pretty unappetizing for all of us, even though we are not vegetarians. But, the rest of the stops were yummy!

  5. The hotel looks lovely and traditional. It is a shame about the food- you would think there would be lots of flavour and exotic items. I love a food tour- you learn so much right?

    1. Especially since Thailand has some of the best food around and it doesn’t seem all that far away. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go back and keep looking for yummy food.

    1. The rooms were very similar to the rest of the hotel. Very large with beautiful traditional furniture. It was a wonderful place to stay.

  6. I didn’t make it to Yogyakarta when I was in Indonesia. The hotel looks like a great choice, and I like the colonial look too. Shame about the food there, at least it was healthy!

  7. long-sleeve shirts plus head scarves? not sure how I can manage with the humidity and warmth in Asian cities! Anyways on a different note, I think I would spend most of my time in the sweets stall haha.

    1. Don’t forget skinny jeans too! We were overwhelmed with the heat so it was amazing to see. My kids loved the sweets stall as well!

  8. Long sleeve shirts plus veil? I am not sure how to deal with humidity and warmth in Asian cities! Anyway, on a different note, I think I’ll spend most of my time at the candy booth haha.

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