With most of us only eligible for a few weeks’ holiday a year, trying to fit in all that we want to do can be a challenge. Do you opt for beach break at the expense of city culture and wall-to-wall shopping? Or do you opt for the hustle and bustle and waive the chance to relax and regroup on the warm sands of a paradise isle?
With holiday time at a premium and surplus cash in short supply, more and more people are opting to head for destinations that combine the very best of both worlds – city and sea. Western Europe offers several excellent in-season options – think Barcelona, Nice, Venice… but where do you go if you want to escape the winter weather?
South East Asia provides the perfect answer. The islands of Indonesia stretch from the southern tip of Thailand and Singapore, in a gently sweeping curve towards the northwest coast of Australia. Most of the population are found in Sumatra and Java and this is where most of the action is, though if you have time to explore further afield it is well worth making your way to some of the lesser-known outlying islands.
Yogyakarta is located on Java’s south coast and is the capital of Yogyakarta state. It is well known for its arts and crafts, many open-air markets, cultural dance and drama events and a series of famous temples and monuments that must be seen to be fully appreciated. Yogyakarta is home to a large student population, giving the city a vibrant and forward-looking feel that is often missing from other South East Asian destinations. It has been popular amongst travellers for some time, but over the past few years it has become increasingly popular as a travel destination in its own right thanks to its compelling mix of urban centre and the beautiful paradise islands located nearby.
The Borobudur and Prambanan temples are a must-see destination during your time in Yogyakarta, as is the Sultan Palace and the many historical buildings that surround the old section of the city. But the beauty of Yogyakarta is as much about what lies outside the city as what lies within. Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and a night walk to its summit, ready to watch the sun rise over the peak, makes for a trip whose memories will stay with you for a lifetime. When you have had your fill of sightseeing, climbing and shopping action, head to Karimunjawa, the small archipelago of 27 paradise islands which are the main beach destination for those living in or visiting Yogyakarta in search of sun and relaxation. There are other beaches within easier reach but if you are looking for picture-postcard perfection then this is the place for you. The islands are famous for their diving and snorkeling, offering clear turquoise waters and fine white sands, fringed by sweeping palms just groaning under the weight of another long day of hot summer sun.
Thanks to its exotic location, any time is a good time to visit Yogyakarta. With festivals for every season, you can rest assured that whenever you visit, you will not be short of entertainment.