Like most Southeast Asian cities near the equator, Yogyakarta (read as Jogjakarta) is warm and humid. Summer here is very humid and sticky. Located in the center of Indonesia’s Java Island, Jogjakarta (or Jogja for short) is flanked by a chain of volcanoes to the north and by the Indian Ocean to the south. Its annual average temperature is 27° Celsius (65° Fahrenheit); the warmest is 35° Celsius (95° Fahrenheit) while the coolest is 18° Celsius (65° Fahrenheit). Humidity is 75% on average. Because it is located to the south of the equator, the coolest months are June, July and August, while the hottest are April and December.
Yogyakarta and the rest of Indonesia experience two seasons: the dry and wet seasons. The wet months are from September to April. The heaviest rains and yearly cyclones pour hard in February, but the wettest months are December, January and February. Most visitors avoid these months, because the overall atmosphere gets to be very irritating and sticky, and could flood anytime. The best months to come are from May to August during the dry summer season, primarily because there is no rain. Yogyakarta is rain-free for only four months in a year. A good number of tourists, however, still visit during the rainy season since hotels and fares are at discount rates. Anyway, it usually rains only in the afternoon. Jogjakarta weather is very predictable. It is therefore easy for tourists to plan their day’s or week’s schedule, working around the most uncomfortable times of the day, in order to make the most of one’s vacation.
Cyclones are not the only concerns of Yogyakarta residents. The city is located within a seismically active region, and so locals are in a constant threat of earthquakes and volcanic activities. The most recent major quake took place on May 27, 2006, with an epicenter about 25 km away from the city proper. Over 3,000 homes were leveled and 6,000 people killed. The most recent major volcanic eruption, on the other hand, was the Mount Merapi eruption in October 2010. Lava reached the nearby villages and killed 353 people. The volcano rumbled and stirred for two months. Experts believe that the next major eruption will come in the next 10 to 15 years.
Thousands of tourists don’t seem unfazed by any impending natural disasters, however, since droves of visitors still come every month. Since Jogja is an ancient city, the top tourism draws are its old buildings and monuments. The three most popular buildings are the Kraton (or Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono’s palace), Central Post Office (or Kantor Pos Besar) building, and Bank Indonesia building, both of which are near the Sultan’s palace. Other important landmarks are the Tugu Monument in downtown Yogyakarta, the Dutch port Benteng Vredeburg in front of the President’s Palace (Gedung Agung), Imogiri graveyard southwest of town, the Dutch residential town of Kotabaru, and Kotagede, which used to be the city’s economic center since it used to have a huge marketplace and was the home of rich batik merchants. Kotagede features ancient Javanese architecture, as well as very tempting silver handicrafts.
With so many intriguing historical and cultural attractions to see, the often unfavorable and very sticky weather in Yogyakarta won’t matter much as tourists begin to understand just how beautiful this ancient city truly is.