Everything you Need to Know about Malioboro

Malioboro may be just a street in Yogyakarta, but it is no ordinary one. The boulevard, which is said to be named after the Duke of Marlborough, is the main road of the city. Though the street is generally known as Malioboro, the name changes many times along its length (it is called Ahmad Yani further south). During the reign of the Hamengkubuwono I (the first Sultan of Yogyakarta), the street was included in the original design for the capital. On special occasions, this was also the route taken by the royal cortège. Since the first Sultan's time, the city has developed around this ceremonial passage.

At present, Malioboro remains an important avenue for the city's residents. It is the centre of Yogyakarta's largest tourist district, and is surrounded by plenty of hotels and restaurants. It is also considered as a shopping destination. However, the significance of Malioboro is most proved by the fact that every new city administration has tried to make improvements in the street immediately after coming into office.

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Malioboro Attractions

The best thing about Malioboro is that a stroll along the street is all one has to do to enjoy the attractions. For instance, there is a monument found on the north-eastern corner of the road built to commemorate the guerrilla assault of the revolutionary forces against the Dutch on March 1, 1949. Behind this monument is another attraction, which is the old Vredeberg Fort. Built by Hamengkubuwono I for the Dutch, the fort featured officers' quarters, barracks, a hospital, a jail and a warehouse; at one point, it served as home to as many as 500 Dutch soldiers. Today, the fort has been transformed into a museum called Benteng Budaya (or 'Fortress of Culture'). The old barracks have been turned into air-conditioned diorama galleries.

Across the museum is the State Guest House, which was built in 1823 as the Dutch Resident's mansion; after an earthquake in 1869, it was rebuilt and became the Presidential Palace when Yogyakarta became the Capital of the Republic during the revolution.

Other attractions in the area include the Kepatihan (the Dutch Prime Minister's complex) and the Margo Mulyo Congregation Reformed Church.

Malioboro Restaurants & Dining

Because Malioboro is lined with restaurants, both residents and tourists have more than enough dining choices.

A recommended dining spot in Malioboro is Legian Garden Restaurant. On a road as busy as Malioboro, this restaurant offers patrons a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. As the name suggests, the restaurant has a garden setting: diners enjoy their meals beneath the trees with Balinese traditional music and Javanese gamelan in the background. Established 23 years ago, this place serves the best in Indonesian, Chinese and European cuisine, as well as vegetarian fare. Legian Garden Restaurant is open from 11:00 to 22:00.

At night, the dining scene becomes alive with lesehan, which are food mats rolled out that offer a variety of dishes cooked over makeshift gas burners. Fried chicken, fried pigeon and rice dishes are staples, as well as gudeg (a Yogyakarta delicacy made from young jackfruit and coconut milk).

Malioboro Nightlife

Just like hotels and restaurants, there are also night clubs and bars along Malioboro Street. It is these establishments that make the night come alive along Yogyakarta’s main road. In these places, people get to enjoy drinks with loud and thumping music in the background, as delivered by the clubs' guest DJs. One simply cannot help but dance in such a lively and energetic environment. One recommended establishment in the Malioboro area is Bintang Bar. Here, punters can enjoy affordable drinks in a nice environment. There is live music from Thursdays to Saturdays, and genres include blues, rock and reggae.

Most of the hotels along the street also contribute to the nightlife scene because of their respective clubs and bars. Three great examples are the Inna Garuda Hotel, Mutiara Malioboro Hotel and Hotel Ibis Yogyakarta Malioboro.

For those who want a different kind of nightlife, they can visit Gedung Senisono, a former society club built in 1912 that currently serves as a theatre and exhibition hall. This is the venue for Saturday night open-air concerts, drama and poetry readings.

Malioboro Shopping

Malioboro is the ultimate place for shopping. The promenade is popular not only with locals, but also with international tourists. There are hundreds of shops and street stalls along the road, and most of them sell Indonesian handicrafts, batik and antiques. There are also malls in the area.

One of the most remarkable places to shop in Malioboro is the Beringharjo Market. Considered as the largest traditional marketplace in Yogyakarta, the Beringharjo is housed in a large building (as big as a city block) that was built in1925. The building was reconstructed in 1991 as the three-storey Beringharjo Market Centre. The crowded and dimly lit market accommodates many stalls that offer a wide selection of merchandise such as fresh produce and household items.

Shoppers are advised to be extremely cautious when shopping in Malioboro. There are pickpockets who take advantage of the thick crowds; there are also people who offer their services as a guide, but they are actually hoping to get a commission on every item purchased.

Malioboro Activities

The main activities in Malioboro are limited to walking, eating and shopping. Walking the entire length of the boulevard already serves as a sightseeing adventure, thanks to the historical attractions and structures that line the street. Because Malioboro is also home to restaurants, tourists should not fail to try out what Yogyakarta has to offer in terms of cuisine. Travellers are encouraged to eat at least one dish on a lesehan, dining cross-legged on a mat. Of course, shopping should not be missed and the best buys that the main street has to offer are batik designs, sarongs and leather goods.

Most hotels have spas, which are the best places to visit after a long day of walking. Those who want to cool down can go for a swim in the hotel's swimming pool. Moreover, those who are in the mood for exercise can visit the gym or other sports facilities in the hotel.

Malioboro Information

Yogyakarta can be reached by plane (through Adisucipto International Airport), by bus and by train.

The best way to get around Malioboro is by foot. One need not have a mode of transportation to go from one place to another, since the stalls and stores are lined up in the street and located right next to each other. However, there are many kinds of transportation available for those who need them. These include taxis, trishaws (becak), horse carts (andong or dokar), cars and motorbikes.

Like other parts of Yogyakarta, Malioboro also has a tropical monsoon climate. The wet season is from October until June, but heavy rainfall is most expected from November to April. The dry season is only three months long, from July to September. For tourists who intend to do a lot of shopping in Malioboro, the dry season is the best time to go.

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