The relatively unknown town of Bantul actually has much to offer in terms of attractions. When it comes to natural attractions, Bantul boasts stunning beaches and two of the best beaches in this town are Parangtritis Beach and Depok Beach. It is said that Parangtritis means 'water dropping from rocks,' and the name was given by a fugitive of the Majapahit Empire named Dipokusomo. The beach, which has rows of rocky hills and cliffs on its westernmost part, is packed with people every weekend and during holidays. As for Depok Beach, locals go there for more than just the scenery; this is also the place to get the best seafood.
Bantul is also home to several historical attractions. One of these attractions is the Selarong Cave. Located in Kembang Putihan Village, this cave was utilized by Diponegoro as a base camp in his guerrilla campaign against the Dutch known as the Java War. It lasted from 1825-1830.
There are also religious attractions in the area, and these include the Jagatnatha Temple, the Manunggal Grand Mosque and the Ganjuran Church.
Bantul Restaurants & Dining
One of the Bantul delicacies that people should try is the peyek tumpuk or heaped peanut fritters. Created by Mbok Tumpuk in 1975, this snack used to be found only in Bantul. Now, it can be found in snack stores throughout Yogyakarta. This snack is made with flour, eggs and peanuts. Peyek tumpuk is fried twice: once at high temperature and another time at medium temperature.
Meanwhile, those who have a sweet tooth are guaranteed to enjoy geplak. This delicacy is made with coconut, glutinous rice flour, sugar (either cane or brown), pandan, water, vanilla and salt. Natural food colouring is used to make the sweet treats pleasant to the eye. Geplak comes in various flavours such as orange, strawberry, ginger and durian.
Another popular Bantul fare is satay, or a roasted skewered cut of meat. Most satays are usually roasted with bamboo skewers and spices, but there is also a satay which is simply salted and roasted in spokes (satay klatak).
As expected, a small town like Bantul does not really have nightlife to speak of. The town is not packed with bars or clubs. The only places where people can enjoy some drinks and some night-time entertainment are the hotels in the area. For instance, there are some hotels that which feature gamelan music in the evenings.
However, if there is one drink that people should try while in Bantul, it is the wedang uwoh. It can only be found in Imogiri, and is sold at the Mataram Imogiri King’s Graveyard. This hot herbal drink is similar to the beverage that the royal family of the Islamic Mataram Kingdom enjoyed during the reign of Sultan Agung. In this drink, leaves of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg are mixed with ginger, sapan-wood and sugar. Wedang uwoh is known to warm the body and boost stamina. It is even known to help cure colds.
Bantul may not have malls, but this does not mean a visitor cannot enjoy a shopping experience in this town. In the absence of malls, traditional markets thrive.
Tourists who are looking for worthwhile souvenirs should stop by the Gabusan Art Market in Parangtritis Street. Established in 2004, this market is where one will find handicrafts from all over Bantul. Handicrafts made from clay, leather, metal, wood, even water hyacinth plants are all sold here at affordable prices. The market, which covers an area of 4.5 hectares, has more than 400 sellers in its 16 stalls.
Another recommended stop for souvenirs is the Manding Village Leather Handicraft Centre. The Manding people are known for processing leather, a skill passed on by their ancestors and the centre has become a popular destination for tourists looking for leather shoes, belts, bags, wallets, even jackets. The craftsmanship of the products is so remarkable that the Manding townsfolk are able to export their products to Spain.
When it comes to earthenware, Kasongan is the place to go. Located in Kajen Village, this place is most associated with good quality pottery items which are sold in both local and international markets.
Because there are a lot of beaches in Bantul, it is not surprising that most of the activities to be enjoyed in this area are related to water sports. Swimming is a given, as well as sunbathing. Eating the freshest seafood in the Fish Auction Market must also be in every visitor's itinerary. Fishermen dock at Depok Beach and as a result there are many food stalls in the area which serve dishes made with the freshest catch.
Along the shore, kids and adults alike can do more than just build sandcastles as the beaches of Bantul are ideal venues for kite flying, thanks to the ocean breezes.
Two rather unexpected activities to try out in Bantul are still related to the beach, but not in a way one would usually expect. Due to the rocky hills of Parangtritis Beach, hang-gliding is good here, as is rock climbing. Both activities may at first seem to be for the adventurous only, but even regular folks should give it a shot. After all, the best reward is the stunning view of the ocean from the top.
People who are interested in visiting Bantul will have to prepare for a road trip. Buses are the common mode of transportation between cities, so travellers have to ride a Bantul-bound bus to get to the area. While bus fares are cheap, travellers should not expect too much convenience and buses are often packed. Travellers who want a more comfortable journey are advised to spend a bit more on a rental car.
Just like the rest of the country, Bantul has a tropical climate. While the weather is mostly hot, it does not mean that the residents enjoy extended summers and due to the town's proximity to the Indian Ocean, the citizens of the regency also have their share of bad weather. In fact, some fishermen are often forced to look for another source of income because the weather sometimes makes it impossible to head out to sea. Those who are interested in visiting the area must check the weather updates first.