- Learn about ancient Javanese history at the Prambanan and Borobudur temples
- Hike through tea plantations and see the crop being harvested
- Travel through the East Javanese countryside by train
- Climb Mount Bromo at sunrise for spectacular views
|Arrive in Yogyakarta, Prambanan Temple & Ramayana Show
|Borobudur & Temples Tour, Yogyakarta Market
|Transfer to Surakarta via Mangkunegaran Palace
|Tea Plantations & Temples Tour
|Train Transfer to Mount Bromo
|Mount Bromo Sunrise Climb, Transfer to Surabaya
Day 1: Arrive in Yogyakarta, Prambanan Temple & Ramayana Show
Welcome to Yogyakarta! This relaxed small city is located in East Java, a province of the Indonesian island of Java, and is renowned for its arts, culture, heritage, and vibrant student population. Your driver will meet you at Yogyakarta Airport and take you to your hotel, where you and the kids can settle in. If it's already late, you might like to just rest and have some dinner. If you're looking for some immediate adventure and it's still early, head out into the city for a look around.
Visit Kota Gede, a historic neighborhood in Yogyakarta that was once the center of the powerful Mataram Kingdom. Walk through the remains of the palace, the royal cemetery, the royal mosque, and the defensive walls and moats while admiring the traditional joglo houses. Later, explore Sewon and Plasoan, majestic Buddhist temples located in Bugisan, which are neighbors of the Prambanan Temple Complex. Admire the exquisite sculptures and ancient artwork in this ninth-century wonder, then stick around for a memorable sunset.
You also have the option to have dinner at Prambanan's Puri Wisata Theater while watching the Sanskrit epic "The Ramayana," performed by dancers in traditional costumes. This is a fundamental text in Hindu mythology and a great opportunity to introduce the whole family to East Javanese culture.
Day 2: Borobudur & Temples Tour, Yogyakarta Market
After a good night's sleep, today it's time to head an hour out of Yogyakarta to the largest Buddhist temple in the world, UNESCO-listed Borobodur. This famous temple dates from the eighth and ninth centuries and was built in the style of a mandala, which symbolizes the universe according to Buddhist teachings. Let the kids loose to scramble up the steps surrounded by conical stupas and stop to admire the views of the surrounding countryside. There are always lots of Indonesian school groups here who are likely to approach you to practice their English, so your kids might enjoy making some new friends!Continue to Pawon to see the tiny temple designed as a place to keep King Indra's weapon, known as the Vajranala or "Flaming Thunderbolt." Then it's on to Mendut, older than both Borobudur and Pawon. This temple is home to an exquisitely carved 10-foot (3 m) statue of the Buddha. Once you've worked up an appetite with all your exploring, head back to Yogyakarta in time for lunch, and take a tour of Yogyakarta Market to learn more about local ingredients, specialties, and ready-to-eat snacks and drinks.
Day 3: Transfer to Surakarta via Mangkunegaran Palace
Say goodbye to Yogyakarta today as you transfer further east to Surakarta (nicknamed Solo), about two hours drive away. Java is one of the most densely populated places in the world, so there will be lots to see as you drive through cities, farmland, and villages, all buzzing with activity. The kids can ask to stop wherever they like, and there will be plenty of opportunities to take photos, buy some snacks or souvenirs at village stalls (keep an eye out for unfamiliar tropical fruit!) or further explore anywhere that looks interesting.
Before arriving at your hotel, stop at Surakarta's 18th-century Mangkunegaran Palace, a center of East Javanese culture and a remarkable repository for art objects, writings, and Javanese documents. Arrive at your hotel and take some time to settle in and rest.
Day 4: Tea Plantations & Temples Tour
After the previous day's drive, you and the kids can stretch your legs today on a tour of the countryside. After breakfast, start with an easy hike through the tea plantations that cover the surrounding hills. You might see tea pickers at work, collecting the freshest leaves into baskets on their backs.
Later, visit Sukuh Temple, at the foot of Mount Lewu, which is decorated with puppet-shaped bas-reliefs. It's considered the only erotic temple in Java, so depending on the ages of your kids, you might like to just take a walk around the complex and not draw attention to the more risqué carvings or to point them out and have a bit of a giggle. After, enjoy a bumpy but scenic drive to the 15th-century Ceto Temple on the northwest slopes of Mount Lewu, whose 13 terraces are spread out to the top of a hill. If the skies are clear, you may see impressive views over Mount Merapi, an active volcano.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Train to Mount Bromo
It's all aboard for a scenic train ride through East Java today. This mode of transport will provide a welcome change from sitting in a car for the kids, as they can move around and meet the friendly local people along the way. You'll ride the rails from Surakarta to Jombang, a journey of around 125 miles (200 km). Another driver will pick you up at Jombang Station and take you to your hotel at the foot of Mount Bromo.
After you arrive at the hotel, you can either relax in your room, head to the hotel pool or explore the surrounding area at your own pace. Make sure the kids get an early night, as tomorrow's sunrise adventure starts at 2 am!
Day 6: Mount Bromo Sunrise Climb, Transfer to Surabaya
It won't be easy to wake the kids early for today's 2 am start, but it will all be worth it as you set off by Jeep to the top of Mount Penanjakan. Look out over the Sea of Sand crater, home to five volcanoes, including Mount Bromo itself. Watch the early morning mist evaporate to reveal panoramic views of the sun rising over Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.
Once the sun has brightened the sky, climb back into your Jeep and descend for a different perspective of this lunar-like landscape. This is the base for your hike up Mount Bromo, which soars 7,641 feet (2,329 m) above sea level. Take your time and go at your family's preferred pace, but the hike isn't too long and should only take around 30 minutes. Sleepy teens or younger children can even choose to ride a pony up instead of walking. When you reach the summit, look down into Bromo's smoking caldera before continuing your journey to King Kong Hill for more spectacular views.
After all the day's early activity, it's time for a hearty meal and a transfer to Surabaya—the provincial capital and Indonesia's second-largest city. Kids will probably want to nap in the car en route and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the hotel upon arrival. If energy levels aren't flagging, you'll find plenty to discover in this bustling metropolis, and you could head out for street food in lively Chinatown, take a stroll through the winding lanes of the Arab Quarter, or admire the stately colonial architecture in the Old Town.