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Surakarta

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Travel Guide Asia Indonesia Java Central Java Surakarta

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Introduction

Surakarta or Solo is the second tourist destination in Central Java after Yogyakarta. Yet, as the last seat of the Mataram kingdom, for most Javanese it still is their number one cultural centre. Perhaps because of that, Surakarta is much more laid-back than Yogyakarta. On the main thoroughfare, Slamet Riyadi Street, no rows of shops and stalls like on Yogya’s Malioboro Street. At the two palaces no hawkers luring you to a batik shop. Instead Slamet Riyadi street has broad sidewalks shaded by trees. And if you are in for batik, you can roam Laweyan batik quarter without being accosted.

Why do the names Solo and Surakarta refer to the same town? When in 1740 the Chinese revolted to the Dutch East-India Trading Company (VOC) and the susuhunan (sultan) of Mataram, Pakubowono II, changed his allegiance from the Chinese to the Dutch, his vassals captured his kraton (palace) in Kartasura. In 1743 the VOC forced a peace treaty which restored Pakubuwono II to the throne but effectively made him a vassal of the VOC. However, his kraton in Kartasura was in ruins. After consulting soothsayers he decided to make the village of Solo, 10 km to the east of Kartasura his new residence and renamed it Surakarta. So Solo is the older and often preferred name, perhaps because it is short. The vowels 'o' in Solo should be pronounced like the 'a' in 'saw', not like the 'o' in 'sow'. Actually, in a true translitteration of Javanese script Solo should be written Sala.

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Neighbourhoods

Kauman Batik Village

In a Javanese town kauman designates the quarter around the main mosque where the orthodox muslims live. The kauman of Solo is also the oldest part of town where the palace servants (abdi dalem) used to live. It is also the quarter where the making of classical Solo batik is kept alive, with the motifs that used to be worn in the palace. There are more than 30 home industries in Kauman Batik Village, where you can see classical Solo batik made, try your hand at it, and buy directly from the makers. The quarter should be explored on foot or with a pedicab, while taking in the blend of Javanese and Dutch architecture of many ancient houses.

Kampoeng Batik Laweyan

Kampoeng Batik Laweyan was a centre of the batik craft even before sunan Pakubuwono II moved his court to Solo village. Distinct from Kauman Batik Village, Laweyan has hundreds of modern, patented batik patterns, which use brighter colours than the classical kraton motifs. Discover the shops while strolling through the narrow streets, among them Batik Omah, Batik Sidomukti and Batik Mahkota. The latter offers batik courses from a 2-hours introduction to a 3-day intensive course. While taking a course you can have your lunch at Wedangan Rumah Nenek, in a ancient building of Javanese-Dutch design; open daily from 10:00am until midnight.

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Sights and Activities

The must-see attractions in Surakarta include two palaces. One is the Kraton Hadiningrat, residence of the susuhunan’s from Pakubuwono II until the present Pakubuwono XIII. The other is the Mangkunegaran, the place alotted in 1757 by the VOC to a rival cousin. At a cannon shot’s distance from the Kraton is the former Dutch Fort Vastenburg. Other heritage buildings and landmarks are on walking distance from the palaces.

City walks

  • From Mangkunegaran Palace, three kilometres one way - Walk 250 metres south along Diponegoro Street towards Slamet Riyadi Street, perhaps halfway doing some shopping at Triwindu antique market. Going westward along Slamet Riyadi Street after 650 metres you reach the House of Danar Hadi (batik museum). At 200 metres distance from Danar Hadi is Radya Pustaka Museum. Next you pass by Sri Wedari recreation park and stadium with the Keris Museum. At 300 metres from Radya Pustaka Museum, opposite the stadium: the former residence of a rich merchant, now boarding school MAN 2. Back to the south side of the road, it’s another 600 metres to the mayor's residence, Loji Gandrung, and 200 metres further west is Solo Grand Mall, in case you want to do some shopping. When you walk another 950 metres westward, you find Omah Lowo (bat house) on the corner. Try to arrive here shortly before nightfall (magrib) to see the bats leaving for their nightly hunting. If by now you are hungry, there is Orient Restaurant close by.
  • From the Kraton, three kilometres round walk - After exiting the Kraton walk 700 metres north along the right hand side of road - passing the busy T-junction at the eastern end of Slamet Riyadi Street. At 100 metres from that crossing you have the main gate of Fort Vastenburg at your right hand. Proceeding for 150 metres, you see the colonial Bank Indonesia Building at the crossing on the opposite side of the road, now a numismatic museum. Adjacent to the museum lies the Town Hall complex. Back on the east side of the road, walk 150 metres turning right across the bridge, and you face Pasar Gedhe (market). Here you have Tien Kok Sie Temple on your right hand. Retrace your steps to the crossing opposite Bank Indonesia (staying on the east side of the road) for a clockwise detour around Fort Vastenburg. After having rounded two corners (700 metres) you face on Mayor Sunaryo Street a former Colonial Hospital, recently restored. On the same street you can have have a refreshment at the Galabo food court.

Getting out of town

The out-of-town attractions of Surakarta seem to parallel those of Yogya, yet are quite different. There are two temple sites on the western slope of Mount Lawu: Candi Sukuh and Candi Ceto. The mountain itself with its resorts Tawangmangu and Sarangan is favourite among climbers. And Sangiran Early Man Site acquired UNESCO heritage status in 1996.

Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat

Kraton, Panggung Songgo Buwono

Kraton, Panggung Songgo Buwono

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This is where the Mataram ruler, named susuhunan or sunan, resided and resides, from Pakubuwono II who had the palace built to the present Pakubuwono XIII. The title Pakubuwono means 'the nail that fixes the world', and that neatly describes how elder Javanese still see him. The palace grounds are vast and written explanations are absent, so one needs a guide. A typical guide holds Pakubuwono XII (deceased in 2004) in awe, praises his wisdom and follows his commands to the letter. Those commands include what one is allowed to take a picture of and what not.
When one enters as usual from the northern alun-alun, one walks in through:

  • The waiting hall named Pagelaran Sasono Sumewo, litterally the place to pay homage.
  • The audience hall Siti Hinggil Utara; the roof is designed for reverberation, try clapping your hands.

One then passes two gates and a courtyard to the palace proper. The shaded courtyard named Pelataran Kedhaton features black sand from the south coast, signifying that this is the territory of the legendary queen of the South Sea, Loro Kidul. The sawo trees here were planted by Sunan Pakubuwono IV, therefore they are over 200 years old. On the north side of the yard stands the tower Panggung Songgo Buwono, the ‘tower supporting the world’. It has five floors representing the five senses, whereas on the sixth floor the susuhunan meets queen Loro Kidul in meditation at least once a year. Incidentally. the main colour of the tower and other buildings is blue, also a reference to the south sea. East of the courtyard is the Sasono Sewoko hall, where dignitaries and court members were received by the susuhunan. One cannot enter this nor can one enter the living quarters behind it. Instead one is guided to the museum facing it. The susuhunans must have been very proud of their horse carriages.

Visiting hours: Monday through Thursday: 9:00am to 2:00pm, Saturday and Sunday: 9:00am to 3:00pm, Friday closed. Ticket price: domestic IDR 10,000; foreign IDR 15,000.

Mangkunegaran Palace

Why are there two palaces in Solo? At the demise of Pakubuwono II in 1749 there were competitors for the succession. His younger brother, Prince Mangkubumi, vied for the throne, as well as a cousin, Raden Mas Said, son of his elder brother. Whereas the first in line of succession was his son, who eventually became Susuhunan Pakubuwono III. It was up to the VOC to mediate, which they did by dividing the kingdom. By an agreement of 1755 Prince Mangkubumi got to rule in Yogyakarta as Sultan Hamengkubuwono I. And in 1757 the cousin was allowed to set up court in the Mangkunegaran Palace as Adipati Arya Mangkunegoro I. His full title was: Kangjeng Gusti Pangeran Adipati Arya Mangkunegoro Senopati Ngayuda Lelana Djayamisesa Satriyatama Mataram Prawiradiningrat (how they loved these long titles!). So the Mangkunegaran is that cousin's palace as it stands today. Although the kingdoms were effectively dissolved in 1950 by Indonesia's independence, the family still inhabits the palace. That is why a guided tour is compulsory for the museum in the palace. But one is free to roam the grounds and the pendopo or reception hall by oneself. The decoration of the pendopo ceiling is famous. The eight rectangles feature different colours which guard against threats to the soul, according to Javanese mysticism. On the border around these one can identify the signs of the zodiac.

Visiting hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 2:00pm, Sunday 8:30am to 1:00pm. On Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 to 12 rehearsals of music and dance take place in the pendopo. Ticket price: domestic IDR 10,000; foreign IDR 20,000.

Fort Vastenburg

Fort Vastenburg, Main Gate

Fort Vastenburg, Main Gate

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When the VOC had subjugated the susuhunan (ruler) of Kartasura and the latter built his new Kraton in Solo village, the VOC built a small fort - named Grootmoedigheid - near the palace, ostentiously to protect the susuhunan, but mainly to be able to keep him in check. Several decades later work was begun on a much bigger fort which became known as Vastenburg. Eventually within the walls there was accommodation for the commander, five officers, nine lieutenants, three captains and all the infantry and cavalry they commanded, including stables for the horses, a hospital, a prison and several stores. Alas, all these buildings within the walls have not been preserved. The last officers' houses which were still present in 2001 were demolished by the private owner of the estate in preparation of his plans to build a shopping mall. This caused an outrage from history scholars and students, inciting mayor Jokowi (who later became governor of Jakarta and president of the Republic) to scrap the shopping mall plans. The present status of the fort is in limbo. Since the government designated the fort as cultural heritage the private owner is not allowed to change anything. On the other hand the government can't afford to buy the fort from the owner. The main gate and the guard room above it have been restored. A plaque on eye height indicates how high water rose during a flooding on February 24, 1861.

Museums

  • House of Danar Hadi - The headquarters of the top batik brand Danar Hadi comprises an antique batik museum, a batik production hall and a shop, as well as the historic Ndalem Wuryaningratan mansion. The latter is not open to the casual tourist, but used for weddings and conventions. The batik collection of Danar Hadi Museum is considered the finest in Java, comprising the styles of Solo, Yogya, Pekalongan, and elsewhere. Photographing is not allowed in the museum, but in the production hall, which one visits afterwards, one may take pictures at will. A guided tour ends at the upmarket shop; if you just want some batik for souvenir, you will get better deals in Kauman Batik Village , Kampoeng Batik Laweyan or Pasar Klewer. The Danar Hadi collection does not have examples of batik from other islands than Java. For these one can visit the Batik Museum in Pekalongan. Address: Jl. Slamet Riyadi No. 261. Phone: 0271 – 722042. Hours: Museum: daily 9:00am to 16:00pm, Showroom: daily 9:00am to 9:00pm. Admission: Antique Batik Museum IDR 15,000.
  • Radya Pustaka Museum - Surakarta Radya Pustaka Museum is the oldest museum in Indonesia. Founded in 1890 during the reign of Pakubuwono IX, it was moved to its present location op Slamet Riyadi Street on January 1st, 1913. Among the museum’s collections are statues, traditional clothes, leather puppets, old photos and books, gamelans, and other ancient artefacts. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 8.30am – 3.30pm; Mondays closed. Admission: IDR 5,000.
  • Museum Keris Nusantara - A keris is a traditional Javanese dagger. Popular belief endows an ancient keris with magical powers, capable of protecting the owner. Therefore such keris-es are treated for with due ceremony. The Museum Keris was opened as recently as August 9th 2017 by President Joko Widodo, a native of Solo. At the occasion the President promised to donate his own five ancient keris-es to the museum. Over and above the 400 plus keris-es the museum has other traditional weapons from all over Indonesia. Address: Jalan Bhayangkara No. 2 (south of the Sriwedari Stadium). Hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays,Thursdays, Saturdays: 9.00am – 3.00pm; Fridays: 8.30am-11.00am; Sundays: 09.00am-1.00pm; Mondays closed.
  • Museum Bank Indonesia - The Indonesian Central Bank, 'Bank Indonesia' inherited many fine buildings from the Javasche Bank, the main bank in colonial times. The former Javasche Bank office in Solo was designed by architects Hulswit, Fermont and Cuipers in neo-classical style. Recently a new, modernistic office has been built across the road and connected with the old building by a walkway. And the former office has been converted into a banking and numismatic museum. Addres: Jendral Sudirman Street No. 4 (between Fort Vastenburg and the Town Hall). Telephone : (+62)271-641837.

Markets

  • Triwindu Antique Market - From the Mangkunegaran Palace it is only a few steps to Pasar Triwindu, the antique market. They sell both Javanese antiques, like masks and wayang puppets, and western bric-a-brac, like chandeliers, typewriters and coffee pots. If you are looking for a genuine souvenir, not one made for tourists, you might find it here. Address: Jalan Diponegoro. Open: Monday through Saturday 9:00am to 4:00pm, Sunday 9:00am to 1:00pm.
  • Pasar Gedhe - Gedhe Market is a traditional market in Solo, located in the center of city, close to the Chinese quarter and the Buddhist Vihara. The name gedhe (large) refers to the roof of the market buiding, which was designed by famous Dutch architect Thomas Karsten. The market sells daily needs such as vegetables and fruit. One can also find here traditional Solo delicacies, such as risoles, pastel, spring rolls, cabuk rambak, klepon, grontol, dawet telasih and herbs. Address: Urip Sumoharjo Street, across the bridge in front of the town hall.
  • Pasar Klewer - Klewer Market is Solo’s textile market, wholesale and retail, famous for batik. December 27th, 2014, the whole market was destroyed by fire. The cause was reported to be electric short-circuit, not surprising in the old and crowded building. But some traders suspect the city government set the fire to accelerate its renovation plans. The completely new and more spacious building has been inaugurated by President Joko Widodo on April 21st 2018. Address: Dr Rajiman Street facing the grand mosque. Open: 7:00am to 5:00pm.

Heritage buildings

  • Balai Kota (Town Hall) - There are several office buildings in the Town Hall compound. The pendopo or reception hall is considered a landmark, yet it is not old. The original pendopo was destroyed by fire in 1998. So what one sees now is a reconstruction. One is free to walk the grounds. At the rear a bunker has recently been discovered during excavations for an additional building. The bunker is thought to have been intended as a refuge for the Dutch residen (government supervisor) in case his residence might be attacked. The new building will now not be constructed there. Address: Sudirman Street.
  • Eks Pengadilan Tinggi Agama building - The building known among Solonese as Gedung Eks Pengadilan Tinggi Agama (Former Religious High Court Building) was not always a religious court, nor is it nowadays. Originally it was the residence of a rich merchant from Banjarmasin. He probably lived in the central building, whereas business offices and servants were housed in the U-shaped block around it. In 1938, the building was designated by the Dutch Governor General for use by the Religious High Court, and it had this function until 1987. Since 1992 it is home to the “MAN 2” vocational boarding school. “MAN 2” is short for Madrasah Aliyah Negeri 2, implying that it is a state-run school on religious basis. The complex covers 4,439 square metres. The two-storey buildings along three sides house offices, classrooms and boarding rooms. Whereas the landmark central building now functions as a mosque. It features original leaded glass windows and floor tiles. The dome is a captivating view from the inside. Interested visitors are advised to ask the watchman for permission. Address: Jalan Slamet Riyadi No. 308 (across the road from Sriwedari Stadium).
  • Former Colonial Hospital - On the south side of Mayor Sunaryo street, facing Vastenburg Fort, three evidently colonial buildings have recently been restored. The restoration was none too early, some walls already having collapsed. Since independence the buildings have been used by the Diponegoro Division of the army. But they were built around 1900 as a hospital. Address: Mayor Sunaryo Street, the extension of Slamet Riyadi Street.
  • Loji Gandrung, the mayor's residence - The house known as Loji Gandrung was built in 1830 as the home of a Dutch plantation owner by name of Johannes Augustinus Dezentjé (1797 - 1839), who married a Javanese princess, Raden Ayu Tjokrokoesoemo. Javanese gandrungan means ‘dance party’ and loji is an adaptation of Dutch ‘loge’, big house. It seems the Javanese were much impressed by the partying going on in the house. After Indonesia’s independence until today Loji Gandrung became the official residence of Surakarta’s mayor. With an exception during the aftermath of Soeharto’s power grab in 1965, when the army used the house as an interrogation centre of alleged left-wingers. Among them the lawful mayor of Solo at the time himself, Oetomo Ramelan. When there is no event going on, the watchman allows one to roam the grounds and have a peek into the reception hall where the dancing was going on. The statue in front of the house represents General Gatot Subroto, who planned here his assaults on the Dutch forces during the war of independence of 1948-49. Adress: Jalan Slamet Riyadi No. 261 (between Solo Grand Mall and Sriwedari Recreation Park).
  • Omah Lowo (Bat House) - For some time this mansion functioned as an office of the Veterans of the Independence Struggle, and therefore is named Gedung Veteran. However, the popular name is Omah Lowo, as nowadays it is inhabited by hundreds - no: thousands - of bats. Lowo is the Javanese word for bat. Originally the residence of some high Dutch official, the house has stood empty since the late 1990ies. That’s why the bats could invade the house, and one can smell them! Arrive here shortly before evening prayer (maghrib). It’s as if the call to prayer is the cue for the bats to come swarming out! Address: Slamet Riyadi Street, opposite the high rise Aston Solo Center Point building.

Temples

  • Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetho are quite different from the mainstream destinations Borobudur and Prambanan. No tourist crowds, no rows of souvenir sellers and superfluous guides. On public holidays you may have the company of some local sightseers, but not very many. The buildings are not as impressive as Borobudur, but the more intriguing. And the trip over there alone, through winding steep mountain roads with terrific views, is worth your time. Both Hindu temples were built in the 15th century, when the Majapahit empire was crumbling and Islam conquering the coastal areas of Java. When going to see the temples leave early and make it a full day trip. The easiest way to get there is to hire a car with driver for a day. More adventurous is doing the 90-kilometre round trip from Solo by ojek (motorcycle taxi). And the cheapest way is to take a bus from Tirtonadi Terminal in Solo to Karangpandan, hop on a minibus until the fork beyond Karangpandan village for Candi Sukuh, or to Kemuning village for Candi Cetho, then hire or ojek from there.
  • Candi Sukuh - Candi Sukuh stands at an altitude of 910 metres, overlooking the Solo plain. Unlike other Hindu temples in Java it is shaped as a truncated pyramid. It is said to be dedicated to Bima, the warrior god of Mahabaratha epos. A headless Bima statue and a stylised womb depicting Bima’s birth may prove this. But the temple must have served other purposes, which can only be guessed. Many elements are not purely Hindu, but indicate a revival of a pre-Hindu fertility cult. Near the parking space is a sign pointing to another temple, candi Planggatan. The two kilometres mountain road to this site in Tambak village is breathtaking. But of the temple itself only some stone rubble remains. Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm. Admission: domestic IDR 7,000; foreign IDR 25,000. Indonesian language website
  • Candi Cetho - The 9 kilometres from Candi Sukuh to Candi Cetho take you through tea plantations and past deep valleys to an altitude of 1,450 metres. It feels like the road will take you into the sky. The actual temple is a truncated pyramid, located on the highest of eleven terraces. The split entrance gate and the wooden pendopo on the terraces have been reconstructed in the 1970-ies after Balinese examples. The temple itself has also been restored, but inexpertly. Distinct from Candi Sukuh, Candi Cetho still is an active place of Hindu devotion. That’s why one is obliged to wear a kain oleng, which is for hire for IDR 5,000. While you are here, take the short walk to two recent additions of Hindu devotion, candi Kethek and puri Sarashati. What with the janur (palm leaf) decorations and white and yellow cloth, you might imagine you're in Bali. A village has sprung up at the foot of the temple. A few losmen are waiting for the stray tourist who wants to stay over. You might do so to go hiking in the neighbourhood. A three to four hour hike along the slopes of Lawu mountain takes you to Tawangmangu, where there is ample choice of accommodation. And in seven to eight hours one can reach the summit of Mount Lawu from Candi Cetho. This alternative route is less eroded and therefore ore rewarding than the traditional route from Cemoro Sewu. Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm. Admission: domestic IDR 10,000; foreign IDR 25,000. Indonesian language website

Mount Lawu

Mount Lawu (3,265 metres) is the most popular mountain to climb in Central Java. Every year hundreds of Indonesians make the trip. In olden days people used to stay a week or more on the top to meditate. This was possible because there is a water hole, named Sendangdrajat, at 3,100 metres, only about 150 metres below the summit. Nowadays there even live people at this height, who depend on that water hole. You can have a hot coffee and mi rebus at a warung. Mount Lawu lies on the border of Central and East Java. The traditional trail starts at Cemorosewu (1890 metres asl) and is just inside Central Java. Because of its heavy use this trail is badly eroded, littered and dusty in the dry season. An alternative route to the summit starts at Candi Cetho. It is longer because one starts at lower altitude, but more rewarding for leading through relatively unspoilt nature. If you don’t want to camp near the water hole, you should set out around midnight. For the traditional trail hire a guide at Tawangmangu or at Sarangan, who may also take you on his motorbike to the start of the trail. For the alternative trail guides are available in Cetho village.

Sangiran Early Man Site

The Solo river valley, north-east of Solo, is an important source of prehistoric fossils. In 1891 Eugene Dubois discovered the first ‘Java Man’ skull cap on the bank of Solo river at Trinil. And in the 1930-ies Von Koenigswald found several more at Sangiran, also on the bank of Solo river. Since then half of the world's findings of Homo Erectus skulls were made here, along with countless animal bones and flake tools. In 1996 Sangiran Early Man Site was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as number 593. This encouraged the Indonesian government to develop the site for tourism and education of the public on evolution. Four visitors' centers have been built in the 56 square kilometres Sangiran site, near the locations of original discoveries. The first one, Krikilan Cluster, opened in 2011. The displays at the museum are about evolution generally, but also provide details on the discoveries in the Sangiran area and the conditions that led to so many fossils being preserved here. The compound also houses the offices and the work rooms of the conservators and the storage facilities - almost daily more fossils are found by villagers and brought in here. The Ngebung cluster elaborates the discovery in 1934 by Koenigswald of flake tools which soon after led to the discovery of Homo Erectus fossil remains. The Bukuran cluster focuses on early man fossils found in Sangiran and on human evolution; in an annex, Museum Manyarejo, the focus is on the cooperation between the local population and the professional archaeologists. The Dayu cluster presents information on the latest research. Website in Indonesian. Open: daily except Mondays 8:00am to 4:00pm. Directions: Sangiran is 19 kilometres from Solo. Take a bus at Tirtonadi Bus Station direction Purwodadi, drop off after 15 kilometres at the turnoff right to Sangiran. Find an 'ojek' for the 4 kilometres to the Krikilan and other visitors’ centres.

  • Trinil Museum - The museum at Trinil, 80 kilometres east of Solo, where Dubois made his historic finds in 1891, is more modest than the centres at Sangiran. It boasts copies of the humanoid skulls found there, the originals are in the Netherlands. It also has educational displays for local visitors. Trinil is located in Ngawi Regency, on the road from Solo to Madiun. At 11 kilometres before one reaches Ngawi is the turn-off north for Trinil. From the turn-off it is 3 kilometres.
  • Pati Ayam Archaeological Site - The Pati Ayam site, near Kudus town, is a recent addition to the fossil discovery sites in Java.

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Getting There

By Plane

Adisumarmo International Airport (SOC IATA) (14 kilometres north of the city). Direct flights from Jakarta (one hour), Bali (one hour) or Kuala Lumpur (two hours). One-way flights from Jakarta cost around Rp500,000. Up to 20 flights per day from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta and Halim Perdanakusuma airports operated by Garuda, Citilink, Lion Air, Batik Air, and Nam Air.

By Train

Surakarta is almost midway between Jakarta and Surabaya. Train from either takes 6-8 hours.
The commuter train Prameks connects Surakarta (Balapan and Purwosari station) with Yogyakarta (Tugu station) ten times a day. The train stops at Yogya's Adisucipto Airport (Maguwo station).

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Getting Around

The city's main avenue, Jl Slamet Riyadi has pavements (sidewalks) courtesy of Mayor Jokowi. On Sundays, it is closed to traffic between 06:00 and 09:00 for various leisure activities for the town's citizens. Many hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and tourist attractions are on this street. At the end of the street is the entrance to the alun-alun (palace square) and the royal palace complex.

Because it is still quite small, travelling within Solo is relatively easy, but quickly getting frustratingly slow due to weight of traffic.

By Car

Taxis are cheap, and you can book for the whole trip. You can negotiate for the price. Ask in your hotel reception if they can arrange one for you. Taxis are available on the airport and train stations.

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Eat

The food of Solo can be typified through the use of frying, coconut milk, and a mix of sweet and savory flavours. Some dishes may be plant-based (e.g. pecel) but being vegetarian cannot be guaranteed due to the widespread use of fermented fish seasoning (terasi). The selection of meat available, and the preparation, will be based on halal precepts. Solo's culinary life is 24 hours, with some stalls only opening at 02:00 and being sold out by 05:00.

  • Galabo Food Court - Much is made of this road-side food court, which was established at the initiative of former mayor Jokowi, who later became president of the republic. You find it along Mayor Sunaryo Street, the eastward extension of Slamet Riyadi Street. The iron roofing on first sight makes one think of a bus station. Here in the evening you can savour the local cuisine. During daytime a few stalls may be open to serve a drink, like es campur.

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Drink

Because of Islamic dietary laws, most eating places do not offer alcohol, and only few licensed hotels and restaurants will offer national and international brands of beer and wines. Solo's local alcohol is called ciu, a local adaptation of Chinese wine. Drink it at your own risk.

The folks of Solo love sweet drinks combining natural fruits with coconut water or coconut milk, and palm sugar. Dawet (known as cendol in West Java and Jakarta) adds little green jelly worms into the mix. Usually served with ice.

Gempol plered is made from coconut milk with riceflour balls, with a sweet and slightly salty taste.

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Sleep

  • Arini, ☎ +62 271 716525, +62 271 739214. Approx Rp150,000.
  • Caka Homestay, Jl Cakro 2 No. 15, Kauman, ☎ +62 271 634743. Clean fan rooms with outside bathrooms; has a swimming pool. Rp120,000. edit
  • Kusuma, Jl Rajiman No. 374, ☎ +62 271 712740, +62 271 726153. Approx Rp180,000.
  • Mulia Keprabon, Jl Ahmad Dahlan No. 7, ☎ +62 271 661884. Approx Rp100,000.
  • Istana Griya, Jl KH Dahlan No. 22, ☎ +62 271 632667, e-mail: rudi_istanagriya@tripod.com. 18 room homestay minutes from the public bus station. Standard, deluxe and suite in Solonese architectural style. Very friendly staff.
  • Mandala Wisata, Jl Perintis Kemerdekaan No. 12, ☎ +62 271 712270. A few minutes from the airport. A/C, TV, hot/cold water, and free wifi. Approx Rp200,000.
  • Omah Gading Guesthouse, Cluster Gading Regency D2, ☎ +62 271 799-3904. Cable TV, kitchen with cooking appliances and family rooms. Approx Rp450,000 for a house with 2-3 A/C bedrooms.
  • De Solo Boutique Hotel, Jl Dr. Sutomo No. 8-10, ☎ +62 271 726788, fax: +62 271 714887, e-mail: desolohotel@tahoo.com. 19 rooms and suites. 20 min to the airport, 15 minutes to Balapan train station or Tertonadi bus station. From Rp500,000.
  • Ibis Hotel, Jl Gajah Mada (Next to Novotel), ☎ +62 271 724555, fax: +62 271 724666. 3 star
  • Novotel, Jl Slamet Riyadi No. 272, ☎ +62 271 724555, fax: +62 271 724666, e-mail: reservation@novotelsolo.com. 4 star. Business centre, meeting rooms and a ballroom. Outdoor swimming pool and fitness centre, massage therapy and a restaurant and bar. Close to shopping centres, traditional markets, buses and trains close by.
  • Riyadi Palace Hotel, Jl Gajah Mada No. 23, ☎ +62 271 713300, +62 271 717181. 3 star.
  • Rumah Turi Eco-Hotel, Jl Srigading II No. 12, Turisari (Real close to the northeast corner of Solo Paragon Mall.), ☎ +62 271 736606, fax: +62 271 712928, e-mail: sales@rumahturi.com. The region's first green boutique hotel steeped in modern minimalist style. Winner of the ASEAN award for energy efficiency. Has a no smoking/no noise/no food policy in the elevated pendopo on the roof with soft teak floor, for use as a meditation space, for yoga practice or relaxing.
  • Sahid Kusuma Hotel, Jl Sugiopranoto No. 20, ☎ +62 271 646356. 4 star
  • Sahid Raya Hotel, Jl Gajah Mada 82, ☎ +62 271 644144. 4 star. Next to Solo Palace.
  • Sunan Hotel Solo (previously the Quality Inn Solo), Jl Ahmad Yani No. 40, ☎ +62 271 731312, fax: +62 271 738677, e-mail: info@thesunanhotelsolo.com. 4 star with coffee shop, meeting room, music room, fitness centre, and Japanese restaurant. 5 kilometres from the Pasar Klewer, 15 minutes from the airport and five minutes from Balapan station. Business, conference and banqueting facilities. 127 rooms including a presidential suite, two suites, eight junior suites, 14 executive business rooms and 102 deluxe rooms.
  • Alila Solo, Jl Slamet Riyadi No. 562, ☎ +62 271 677-0888. 5-star hotel Rp1,000,000.
  • Baron Indah Hotel, Jl Dr Radjiman No. 392, Laweyan (Behind Solo Grand mall), ☎ +62 271 729071, e-mail: info@baronindahhotel.com. 27 standard and 10 deluxe rooms, free airport transfer, spa, free wi-fi in the lobby and restaurant, business centre, meeting rooms. Rp462,000.
  • Lor-in Solo, Jl Adisucipto No. 47, ☎ +62 271 724500, fax: +62 271 724400, e-mail: sales@lor-in.com. A 5-star hotel located close to the airport. Spa. Rp1,000,000.
  • Roemahkoe Heritage Hotel, Jl Dr Rajiman No. 501, Laweyan, ☎ +62 271 714024, e-mail: info@roemahkoe.com. Bijou boutique hotel in a former wealthy batik merchant's house, built in 1938, in the Laweyan batik district. Set behind walls on a busy road, the splash of fountains helps to deaden the noise of traffic.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is becoming more widely used in Indonesia, and warung Internet (warnet) - Internet cafés - are emerging everywhere. A lot of restaurants and cafés in big cities normally have wireless internet available for free. Internet connection speed in Indonesia varies between ISP and location. Prices vary considerably, and as usual you tend to get what you pay for, but you'll usually be looking at around Rp3,000 to Rp5,000 per hour with faster access than from your own mobile phone. In large cities, there are free WiFi hotspots in many shopping malls, McDonald restaurants, Starbucks cafes, 7 Eleven convenience stores, and in some restaurants and bars. Some hotels provide free hotspots in the lobby and/or in their restaurants and even in your rooms.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

You can use 112 as an emergency number through mobile phones. Other numbers include 110 (police), 113 (fire) and 118 (ambulance).
The international phone code is 62.

If you have GSM cellular phone, ask your local provider about "roaming agreement/facility" with local GSM operators in Indonesia (i.e.: PT Indosat, PT Telkomsel, PT XL Axiata). The cheapest way is buying a local SIM card, which would be much cheaper to call and especially use internet compared to your own cell phone's sim card.

The Indonesian mobile phone market is heavily competitive and prices are low: you can pick up a prepaid SIM card for less than Rp 10,000 and calls may cost as little as Rp 300 a minute to some other countries using certain carriers (subject to the usual host of restrictions). SMS (text message) service is generally very cheap, with local SMS as low as Rp129-165, and international SMS for Rp400-600. Indonesia is also the world's largest market for used phones, and basic models start from Rp 150,000, with used ones being even cheaper.

Post

Pos Indonesia provides the postal service in Indonesia. Pos Indonesia is government-owned and offers services ranging from sending letters and packages to money transfers (usually to remote areas which have no bank branch/ATM nearby) and selling postcards and stamps. Sending a postcards, letter or parcel is relatively expensive, but fairly reliable. It takes several days at least to send it within Indonesia, at least a week internationally. It is recommended to send letters from a Pos Indonesia branch, not by putting it inside orange mailbox (called Bis Surat) in the roadside, because some of the mailboxes are in very bad condition and aren't checked regularly by Pos Indonesia. Opening times of post offices usually tend to follow general business hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm (sometimes shorter hours on Fridays), Saturdays from 8:00am to 1:00pm, closed on Sundays. Bigger cities, tourist areas and central post offices tend to keep longer hours, into the evenings.

Private postal services based in Indonesia include CV Titipan Kilat (CV TIKI), Jalur Nugraha Ekaputra (JNE), Caraka, and RPX. There are also foreign postal services that have branches in Indonesia, including DHL, TNT, UPS, and FedEx.

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Surakarta Travel Helpers

This is version 35. Last edited at 11:27 on May 29, 18 by theo1006. 2 articles link to this page.

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