Gay Yogyakarta Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Yogyakarta Indonesia 2018
A laid-back and cultured metropolis, if Jakarta is Java’s industrial heart then Gay Yogyakarta is surely its beating soul.
One of Indonesia’s many unexpected treasures, Yogyakarta has it all – delicious street food, luxury hotels, quirky coffee shops and the glorious Borobudur and Prambanan temples! Everything that is … except for an acceptance of the LGBT community,! It’s fair to say LGBT travelers should look instead to Taipei, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City or Bangkok if their interested purely lies in hedonistic gay nightlife and saunas.
While other Muslim majority cities like Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur have surprisingly large gay scenes, in Indonesia LGBT rights are rapidly being rolled back and acceptance is on the decline. Even in other large cities like Jakarta, Medan and Bandung the gay community is forced into the shadows as history seems doomed to repeat itself. See homosexuality in Indonesia for the latest on-goings here or read an explanation for the latest spike in LGBT bigotry and hatred here.
While homosexuality is still currently legal in Indonesia (except in the ultra-conservative northwesternmost province of Aceh) we don’t recommend planning your big, fabulous ‘here and queer’ gaycation to Yogyakarta. There are still, however, plenty of other reasons to visit contemporary Yogya with its strong focus on tradition, culture, and arts.
You can always use a VPN to connect with local guys in Yogya and discretely meet up – or perhaps just to get the inside scoop on the latest gay gathering places that seemingly change overnight. Public displays of affection or any talk of sexuality in Indonesia is taboo, which thankfully means any outright persecution of LGBT travelers in Yogyakarta is unlikely as long as you use caution and discretion.
We don’t even want to condone returning to the closet or any of the ugliness befalling the Indonesian LGBT community – but we also strongly believe in cultural exchange and that gay people should be free to travel everywhere and anywhere they want.
In the case of travel to Gay Yogyakarta, that means adapting to a more conservative society, for which you will be rewarded with luxury hotels cheaper than you ever imagined, a vibrant design community, history, culture, food and a more than a few epic nightlife venues… We just hope Indonesia changes direction soon and embraces all of its citizens equally.
Blued is one of the most popular hook-up app used by Indonesian gay men, but was recently removed from the Indonesian Google Play store with most other LGBT apps. We strongly recommend you set up a high-quality VPN on your phone before going to protect your privacy, to remain anonymous and to keep access to your favorite websites and apps.
Gay Yogyakarta Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Yogyakarta Indonesia 2018
Because gay life in Yogyakarta is covert and secretive at best, during the day travelers have nothing to do but sit poolside, indulge at a spa or check out the cities top attractions – which should keep you busy for a few days at least!
All travelers in Yogyakarta should take caution in less-developed areas with valuables and take taxi’s or Grab (the local Uber) at night – and always listen to local advice when exploring. Remember – gay or straight – public displays of affection are not normal here and best totally avoided, but especially those between same-sex people.
Having said this, we absolutely loved exploring the hot and crazy markets, finding designer cafes hidden in quiet side-streets and watching sunrise and sunset at some of the world’s most breathtaking ancient temples.
Overall, Yogyakarta is a safe city where a common-sense approach to travel will generally ensure you have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city.
Yogyakarta City Tour– The ideal tour for travelers with only a short time in Gay Yogyakarta and who just want to see city’s best must-see attractions, including the Keraton Palace, the Taman Sari Water Palace, and the Beringharjo Traditional Market. Let your expert guide teach you all about the city’s unique past, and see how this rich culture lives on even today.
Borobudur At Sunrise – A top highlight of Yogyakarta is easily watching the sunrise light up the beautiful Javan landscapes. This 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple is actually one of the largest in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage site to boot. Trust us, this is one site totally worth getting out of bed for!
ViaVia Travelers Café and Restaurant – A known gay and lesbian-friendly hotspot focussed on community-based and sustainable tourism. They have a delicious restaurant with vegan options, popular guesthouse, and a variety of quirky tours with something for everyone’s taste. They even host yoga classes and have live jazz playing every
Merapi Jeep Course Tour – Observe the sheer beauty of Mount Merapi as you explore the foothill of this active stratovolcano on a rugged jeep tour. Stop by the Museum Sisa Hartaku informing people of the devastation of the last Merapi eruption, explore hidden volcano and come to understand how this island nation deals daily with the struggles of its explosive geology.
Ramayana Ballet Performance – If you are visiting outside of the rainy season don’t miss the epic story of Javanese culture and heritage performed on a grand outdoor stage. This beautiful dance-drama ballet offers a theatrical and musical experience never to be forgotten – focussing on the story of Prince Rama, adapted from the engraved facade of Prambanan Temple which also provides the background for this unique performance.
Jomblang Cave – Head out on a amazing caving adventure with professional local guides so all you need to do is take plenty beautiful photos of the sunshine flooding into this huge cave 50 meters above your head.
Night Food Tour – Head out after dark to discover the best of traditional Yogyakarta food including the famous Nasi Gudeg, Nasi Campur, and Bakmie Taste. You will also learn about Yogyakarta’s signature drinks that are sure to warm you up while you travel on a tuk-tuk around the city to all the best foodie spots!
Prambanan Temple – The other must-see temple in Jogya is the majestic Prambanan Temple, and the best time to go is sunset. Wander the grounds of the largest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia and pick-up a local guide if you want some insight into its fascinating details and history. Another UNESCO World Heritage site and – along with Borobudur – is one of the two things you cannot miss while in town.
Yogyakarta Private Car Charter – We really cannot recommend driving around Indonesia but if you are traveling a group you might want to consider planning your own day itinerary and just letting the driver find the easiest routes to get to where you want to be! This way you can explore Yogyakarta and all its highlights at your own pace and with no stress!
Naturally, a city the size of Yogyakarta has plenty more to explore!
We recommend getting a full guidebook if you are staying for more than a night or two. It probably won’t have any information on Gay Yogya – that’s what we are here for – but it will have useful tips and an exhaustive list of the best attractions across Indonesia to assist you on your fabulous adventure!
Given the current LGBT hostilities in Indonesia, it is safe to say no gay hotels in Yogyakarta will be opening any time soon, but travelers to gay Jogya are unlikely to experience an outright discrimination if they book into upscale international hotels. In fact since sex and sexuality of any kind are taboo in this society, even at a smaller guest house you are more likely to find the owner doesn’t ask any questions and leaves you to yourself. Still, discretion is advised in this conservative society.
If you are traveling as a gay couple in Yogyakarta, you should have no problem booking double rooms in high-end hotels and in our experience, we only encountered slightly concerned staff who then became embarrassed for their mistake after questioning if we wanted 2 single beds.
Some hotels might just automatically change your reservation to two single beds – how you want to handle this is up to you, and remember even in the current hostile environment homosexuality is still currently legal in Indonesia (except in the ultra-conservative northwesternmost province of Aceh)
Now that’s out of the way – let’s talk luxury, specifically how Yogyakarta has some of the cheapest luxury hotels in the world. Prices are insanely cheap here compared to North American and European hotels, even when compared to the rest of Asia. Standards are still extremely high though – so it’s a great place to splurge!
Some Yogyakarta hotels are more popular with queer travelers due to their location and inclusive environment or vibe, and these are the options we have features here. These gay-popular hotels in Yogyakarta are frequented by members of the LGBT community and have received rave reviews. Each hotel and area offer something very specific, so be sure to choose the right style and location to meet your needs. Of course, there are also hundred’s more hotel and hostel options in Yogyakarta if none of these suit your desired budget, facilities or area!
The Phoenix Yogyakarta Mgallery By Sofitel ☆☆☆☆☆ – Set in a colonial building dating from 1918, this refined hotel with personality makes for a remarkable travel experience – no matter if you are gay, straight or unicorn. The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta offers the luxury of a bygone era where everyone is welcomed equally and invited to experience memorable moments from the very first step into the hotel. Our favorite choice to discover the charm of Gay Yogya, this landmark hotel is set in the heart of Yogyakarta, close to Malioboro street, and offers décor and style which revisits the classical era with a fusion of Asian and European decor. This MGallery by Sofitel branded hotel, features an innovative restaurant, a fun wine bar with creative cocktails, inviting swimming pool and indulgent day spa. Ideal for gay travelers in search of a unique and memorable stay that won’t break that bank – Seriously this has to be one of the cheapest 5-star hotels in the world with a prime city center location, near Tugu and Malioboro, the iconic shopping street. Many rooms offer a balcony overlooking the magnificent pool and all guests have access to complimentary cultural activities such as Jamu Class, Yoga, and an interesting hotel tour. Naturally, there is also unlimited complimentary WIFI, refreshing welcome drinks complete with traditional local snacks and staff who ensure every single guest feels welcome and completely at home!
D’Omah Hotel Yogya ☆☆☆☆ – The unique boutique hotel is very gay-popular and well know within the LGBT travel community, and all only 20 minutes from the heart of Yogyakarta. Preaching love, pride and authenticity, spend time discovering the d’Omah Village Resort, and you’ll very swiftly sense their passion for creating striking antique wooden buildings, interior design, and wonderful Javanese objet d’art. An opportunity to get in touch with real Java with free breakfast, a Jacuzzi and sauna, plus a gym and a spa. If that is not enough there is also natural spring swimming pools and a local art gallery. Very gay-friendly, and a completely exceptional experience you will not soon forget.
Grand Aston Yogyakarta ☆☆☆☆☆ – A upscale hotel in the center of Jogykatara housed in a quirky, contemporary building. We loved the elegant, modern rooms with 24/7 room service, outdoor pool and relaxing spa amenities. The Sky Lounge gives you the opportunity to enjoy an after sunset party with a 180 degree Jogja view, or you are just a short walk from the famous Malioboro street and Galeria Mall if you want to do some exploring.
Yogyakarta Marriott Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – A modern yet elegant hotel lined with palm trees, we love staying at the Marriott Hotel worldwide thanks to their support of the LGBT community through their Love Travels marketing campaign. At the Yogyakarta Marriott Hotel, we found sophisticated and stylish rooms with beautiful views and luxe marble bathrooms. There are also 3 restaurants, an indoor/outdoor pool, world-class spa and a fitness center.
Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta ☆☆☆☆☆ – A luxury resort hotel at the base of a volcano with 246 guestrooms and suites, stunning indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a refined spa, International dining, patisserie, wine lounge, and bars. Relax in natural surroundings and tranquil atmosphere with plush, Javanese-style rooms or stay active in the fitness center and tennis courts.
Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – A gay-popular luxury hotel in Yogyakarta elegantly set in 22 hectares of beautifully landscaped hotel gardens on the scenic outskirts north-western of the city. Refined rooms with views of Mt Merapi and lux amenities, multiple dining and bar options, a beautiful pool, gym and free area shuttle complete the package. Did we mention that this is the lowest priced Hyatt we have ever seen – and the Hyatt sauna is rather cruisy on Friday night!
GAIA Cosmo Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – A designer cosmopolitan hotel offering oh-so-sleek rooms with understated, modern decor. Newly opened, the stylish bar offers panoramic views over Jogya and there is a beautiful outdoor pool with a sundeck. One of the most frequently booked hotels by other gay travelers offering design at a very, very affordable price.
Ibis Styles Yogyakarta ☆☆☆ – A modern, pop art-inspired hotel in the lively Malioboro area with a fun rooftop bar and contemporary, colorful rooms. Sure, the Ibis is never anything exciting but they offer low, prices and quality accommodation with no surprised.
ViaVia Travelers Guesthouse ☆☆ – A simple 7-room guesthouse but they are very gay-friendly with a great garden/pool to relax in, quiet location away from the main road and friendly staff. The local neighborhood is also full of interesting restaurants, cafes and coffee shops and we love the focus on alternative tours/ sustainable tourism here.
Sae Sae Hostel ☆☆ – Prices are so low here you don’t need to stay in a dorm to say money, but if you want to meet other travelers this smaller hostel offers a warm, family-like atmosphere that helps guests to feel instantly at home. There are clean rooms, helpful staff and a spacious common area in the middle of their green garden to help you meet other travelers to explore the city with
Bars and Clubs in Gay Yogyakarta
Varied sexualities are a key part of Indonesia’s cultural tapestry but thanks to an increasingly hostile climate, discovering the local LGBT scene in Gay Yogyakarta may take some time and effort.
In Gay Yogyakarta, almost every openly LGBT venue has been closed – including the popular Hugo’s and Embassy Club, but even the more mainstream Indonesian party scene has taken a hit with spot checks and urine tests for drug use becoming increasingly common. Be warned, the consequences if they find any trace of drugs can destroy your life.
Under these circumstances, it’s easy to understand why so many people are opting to avoid the nightlife scene in Yogyakarta and focus on the cultural attractions, but there are still a few standout venues in Gay Yogyakarta to visit – even if you should be discreet about your sexuality.
Of course, the homophobic and draconian approach taken by Indonesia will never ‘eliminate’ homosexuality and you can still meet plenty of queer guys in the bars and clubs of Yogyakarta. Indonesian society is still very sexually conservative meaning that any form of open sexuality, regardless of preference is taboo. So in essence, as long as you’re discreet, you are unlikely to have any issues.
New ga-popular bars in Yogyakarta pop up and inevitably close down frequently so get a VPN and try to meet locals on Grindr (it’s blocked otherwise) to find the latest hang-outs. For now, these are our favorite bars, clubs, and hang-outs in Gay Indonesia – none are outwardly ‘gay’ but still, you never know who you will meet!
Raminten Cabaret Show – Yes, we couldn’t believe it either but the authorities have yet to shut own this mystic and artistic restaurant dinner show full of (surprisingly talented) drag queens! Halleloo! They sell themselves as a “unique, antique and elegant” concept but all we saw was female impersonators of Beyonce, Jessie J, and Agnez Monica singing, dancing and just generally slaying the house down. Last we heard, the Raminten Cabaret / Drag Show in Yogyakarta is open on Friday and Saturday from 7-10 pm, but stop by and ask them about the night’s performance.
Banana Café– A gay-owned bar and restaurant with friendly wait staff and entertaining dancers who encourage plenty of fun. Go for the strong cocktails over the food and revel in this shabby/chic atmosphere far into the night.
Boshe VVIP Club – One of the most popular clubs in town (and the original location, now there is another in Gay Bali) known for its live music, skilled DJs, punk-rock style and glam karaoke rooms. There is a mixed crowd but it is rather gay-friendly and you never know who you will bump into on the dance floor. Many of the staff here are gay – if you are discreet you can ask them for more information on the scene in Gay Yogya.
Taphouse Beer Garden – Sure it doesn’t quite have the Germanic ambiance of the beer gardens in Munich, Hamburg or Vienna but this beer garden is popular with young and trendy locals who come for the impressive collection of local and imported beers. On the weekends there is a DJ and fabulous vibes, but even during the week, this is a great place to chill with on one of the bean bags or just to enjoy the western industrial interior in heart of Joyga.
Oxen Free – Another beer garden that is very popular with tourists and backpackers if you want to surround yourself with liberal people who are keen to party. Oxen Free is also a bit of a melting pot for local artists and musicians with frequent live music gigs, and always someone interesting to stick up a conversation with.
The Captain Urban Lounge – For some reason, many gays are obsessed with aviation, so we couldn’t skip this converted hanger bar that mimics the dining experience in an aircraft (I mean, go figure why anyone would want to do that right?). Worth a visit for the cockpit selfies, delicious food, and frequent live music gigs.
Cubic Kitchen & Bar – A oh-so-trendy cocktail bar with modern minimalist space and variety of spirits & wine. Young party animals flock to the second floor later at night when international DJ’s often playing for a very energetic crowd.
D’ Skybar @ ibis Styles Yogyakarta – Sadly Gay Jogya does not have epic roof-top bars that we came to know and love in Jakarta, Bangkok, and Hong Kong but stil – this cozy bar has affordable prices, nice views, and friendly staff. The hotel is also a nice choice for those on a budget!
Gay Saunas in Yogyakarta
There have never been any gay saunas in Yogyakarta and this is unlikely to while Indonesia as a whole has become increasingly aggressive to those with alternative lifestyles and is led by a President who has said there is no room for a gay community in Indonesia.
Your best option is to try the Hyatt Hotel sauna which is discreetly cruisy on Fridays, but try entirely at your own risk. With increasing police raids, public humiliation of those caught – not to mention the risk of a 5-year jail term – we would only recommend trying here if you are actually staying at the hotel with your own private room.
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!