Before travelling to Indonesia a few weeks ago, I really didn’t know too much about the cities and places outside of Bali. While I had heard of Yogyakarta, I had no idea how to pronounce it and not a clue what the ideal Yogyakarta itinerary might include. I definitely did not expect to find something as magical as the Taman Sari Water Castle – a site that truely took my breath away.
For me, Taman Sari Water Castle is definitely one if the top places to visit in Yogyakarta and probably one of the top things to do in Indonesia – it really is a magical place.
While we prayed for a dry, sunny day the morning of our visit, the skies decided to opened up and show us the “water castle” in all its glory – covered in a fresh layer of raindrops! While many on out trip were at first disappointed that their “perfect Instagram shots” were ruined by the bad weather, we soon realised that the rain had cleared away most other visitors, so it was much easier to get beautiful photos with no one else in them. But…let me back track a little as I’m sure you are sat there wondering, “What even IS Taman Sari Water Castle?!” Let me explain.
What is Taman Sari Water Caste?
Taman Sari Water Castle (or Palace as some people call it) is the site of a former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, dating back to the mid 18th-century. The castle was a place of rest, and sometimes meditation, for the Sultanate who had his own private bathing pools located here. The area around Tamn Sari is called Kampung Taman and there are almost 3,000 local residents living here, in the area that was once part of the larger Water Castle complex. You can find small shops and stalls sending hand-crafted goods or little coffee shops, with locals sitting around playing checkers or chess. The entrance fee to Taman Sari is just IDR 12,500 per person, which is less than 1 dollar!
Where is Taman Sari Water Castle?
The Water Castle is situated around 2km south of the Palace of Yogyakarta (know locally as the Kraton). The best way to get to the water caste is either to rent a motorbike or to take a becak ride, a traditional cycle rickshaw famous as been a top mode of transport in Yogyakarta.
What to see inside
The main attraction inside Taman Sari, and the best preserved area, is the Umbul Pasiraman – which was the bathing area for the Princesses and where the Sultan would “hunt” for his wife! Rain or shine, it is a beautiful area to walk around with interesting architecture, beautiful blue pools and many rooms which a local guide can explain the function of.
There is one main pool, which you will see when you walk through the main gates then a smaller, more private pool, hidden behind closed doors over to the right. Be sure to explore both!
View this post on Instagram
A hat I bought in Portugal, a dress I bought in Istanbul, flip flops from Mexico and a backdrop of a Water Palace in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Momentos and memories from a life of travel. ❤️ . . . #tripofwonders #tamansari #wonderfulindonesia @indtravel Thanks to @pernikgaya for the photo and @Plotagraph for editing help!
The underground tunnel and mosque
One of the best kept secrets in Yogyakarta (although not so secret anymore thanks to everyone finding it on Instagram!!) is the underground mosque as part of the Taman Sari complex. A short 5 minute walk from the bathing pools you will find a concrete stairs that you walk down, going deep underground, through a tunnel and out into what looks like a courtyard with many sets of stairs leading up to a doorway. It is both a dream for photographers and architecture lovers alike.
View this post on Instagram
In the palm of the hand | En la palma de la mano #nicanorgarcia #travelarchitectures In the Taman Sari Water Castle complex you can explore some underground passages that take you to different isolated structures. One of them is that one used as a mosque and only accessible from a tunnel #tripofwonders #wonderfulindonesia
Special thanks to the Indonesian Tourism Board for inviting me #TripOfWonders press trips so that I could discover such amazing cultural places around Indonesia. As always, opinions are my own. Thanks to the other bloggers on this trip for taking such stunning photographs, which I have embedded in the post. Be sure to check them all out on Instagram! Looking for more Indonesia travel tips? Here are the top things to do in Jakarta.