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Yogyakarta

If Jakarta is Java’s financial and industrial powerhouse, Yogyakarta is its soul. Central to the island’s artistic and intellectual heritage, Yogyakarta (pronounced ‘Jogjakarta’ and called Yogya, 'Jogja', for short) is where the Javanese language is at its purest, the arts at their brightest and its traditions at their most visible.

Fiercely independent and protective of its customs – and still headed by a sultan, whose kraton (walled city palace) remains the hub of traditional life – contemporary Yogya is nevertheless a huge urban centre (the entire metropolitan area is home to over 3.3 million) complete with malls, fast-food chains and traffic jams, even as it remains a stronghold of batik, gamelan and ritual.

Put it all together and you have Indonesia's coolest, most liveable and lovable city, with street art, galleries, coffee shops and abundant cultural attractions. It's also a perfect base for visiting Indonesia’s most important archaeological sites, Borobudur and Prambanan.

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