Yogyakarta holds the cultural heart of Indonesian Java, and there’s no better place to explore the vibrant customs and arts of this island. In Yogyakarta, visitors are confronted with a heady mix of traditional dance, Javanese poetry and the country’s highest art forms. The best hotels near Yogyakarta are ideally located in the historic core. Once travelers have landed in Jakarta, Yogyakarta is the first place to go on Java. It has all the trappings and commercialism of a major tourist city, yet the kind of tenacity it takes to maintain its fascinating culture. Glimpses of traditional Javanese life are always just around the corner. Yogyakarta briefly served as capital of the archipelago, and it maintains an air of regality and a degree of autonomy that allows a local sultan to rule in certain capacities. The sultan lives in the Kraton Compound, essentially a walled city within the city. It is home to tens of thousands of residents who live in grand colonial-era houses. Walking tours of the Kraton grounds are highly recommended. Shopping outings begin in the Main Market, a partially enclosed venue where locals go to pick up clothing, spices and produce. Yogyakarta is also the best place to pick up high-quality handicrafts in Indonesia. Shoppers will find exceptional batik textiles as well as traditional and contemporary artwork. After a day of sightseeing, shopping and museum-hopping, there’s nothing better than sampling local cuisine from the street stalls of the city center. Local fare is sweet and lightly spicy. Gudeg jackfruit curry is a favorite dish, along with sweet coconut pastries and other bite-sized snacks. Adisucipto International Airport is immediately outside the city center, conveniently close to accommodation in Yogyakarta. Flights mainly connect to cities on Java and elsewhere in the archipelago.
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