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Visit the innumerable shops, markets, cafés and restaurants of Malioboro Street (Jalan Malioboro), an enthralling and entertaining district. Malioboro Street dissects the heart of Yogyakarta’s city center while its adjoining side streets offer further retail and dining options. During the colonial years, the street was the center for the Dutch government. It was later used as a ceremonial boulevard for the Yogyakarta Sultanate. The name is said to come from the Duke of Marlborough, a prominent figure during the British rule of Indonesia.
The street is a great place to shop and bargain for Indonesian souvenirs. Browse through the many stores, which occupy both colonial-era and contemporary buildings. Make selections from the work of the artists and artisans that set up on the sidewalks. Popular items include batik textiles, handcrafted sandals, leather goods and sarongs. Beringharjo Market is a bustling one-stop location for souvenirs, jewelry, fresh produce, herbs and spices.
Enjoy an authentic dining experience at one of the street food restaurants, called lesehans. Kick off your shoes, sit on the floor on a straw mat and order from the menu of local delicacies. Sample bebek goreng (fried duck) and nasi gudeg (spicy curry with rice and jackfruit). Satisfy your sweet tooth with a leker, which is a crispy pancake packed with fillings such as banana, berries and chocolate.
Continue south past Beringharjo Market, where the street changes name, to see important city landmarks. Visit the Fort Vredeburg Museum, which charts Indonesia’s battle for independence. The museum stands inside an 18th-century fortress built by the Dutch East India Company. Opposite is the Gedung Agung, one of the nation’s presidential palaces.
Be sure to visit the Keraton Yogyakarta, a palace complex, royal residence and sublime example of Javanese architecture. See displays of Javanese musical instruments in addition to Buddhist, Islamic and Hindu statues. Watch performances of gamelan music, traditional dance and Wayang puppetry.
Malioboro Street is busy 24 hours a day. Arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds or in the evening, when it is at its most animated.