Boyolali  is a midsize regency-town in Central Java. Nicknamed Kota Susu, literally meaning the City of Milk as Boyolali is famous of its milk producing farms. Located on mountainous area on the slope of Mount Merapi, the climate of Boyolali is mostly cool and pleasant. Located only 35 kilometers from Solo, Boyolali makes a perfect getaway for travelers who visit Solo or Yogyakarta. Boyolali sometimes is included as a part of Solo Raya (Greater Solo) urban agglomeration area.
For years, it lives behind the shadow of dynamic and prosperous city of Solo. But nowadays Boyolali has grown from a group of smaller villages to become a bustling regency with fast-growing economy.
Boyolali is officially divided into 19 districts and 267 sub-districts (villages). Unofficially, Boyolali can be divided into five main regions that each consists of several districts.
Boyolali is a land-locked regency and surrounded by other regencies and cities:
Boyolali regency consists of 19 official districts as follows Ampel, Andong, Banyudono, Boyolali (city downtown), Cepogo, Juwangi, Karanggede, Kemusu, Klego, Mojosongo, Musuk, Ngemplak, Nogosari, Sambi, Sawit, Selo, Simo, Teras, and Wonosegoro.
Unlike most Javanese places, the origin of the name of Boyolali is unclear. The ancient Javanese manuscript of Babad Pengging Serat Mataram never mentions this name even though it narrates the story that happens around the present Boyolali. It is believed that the name Boyolali appears in the 16th century, based on the folklore of Ki Ageng Pandan Arang or Tumenggung Notoprojo. He was the natural successor of Syekh Siti Jenar that once became the chief of Semarang. One day, Ki Ageng Pandan Arang decided to go in a journey leaving his wife and children at home. The journey takes so long that he eventually forgot his family. In the middle of the jungle, he takes a rest and muttered "Baya wis lali wong iki" which literally means "Have I forget everything". Hence, the name baya wis lali is becoming Boyolali.
While according to the Dutch-Javanese dictionary, Boyolali was called boyowangsul, suggested that the name is originated from a local term of a species of apple tree in Java.
Based on research conducted by Universitas Sebelas Maret, it is revealed that the town of Boyolali was established around June 5, 1847. Since 1982, the 5th of June is officially declared as the anniversary date of Boyolali.
The area of Boyolali is big, but the town itself is small. The traffic runs at full speed along Solo-Semarang national road that passes through the town, slicing the town into two parts. The south-west part of the town is where the residential area is located. It has a stadium, schools, and roads lead to Mount Merapi and Borobudur. While the north-east part of the town is where the business activities mostly happen. It has hospitals, government buildings, and markets.
The climate is tropical, with humid and hot weather much of the year. But due to the regency's latitude, some parts of this regency has pleasant climate. Keep in mind that surrounding areas of Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu are subject to heavy rainfall throughout the year.
Boyolali is served by Adi Soemarmo International Airport (IATA: SOC, ICAO: WARQ). Even though it is more known as the airport of Solo, the de facto location of this airport is at the eastern part of Boyolali. Adi Soemarmo Airport is used by four domestic airlines (Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Kalstar, and Trigana) and two foreign-owned airlines (Air Asia and Silk Air). It takes about 30 minutes to get into the center of Boyolali from this airport.
For years, it was the only international airport in central part of Java, until upgrading of Ahmad Yani Airport (Semarang) and Adi Sucipto Airport (Yogyakarta) later. Albeit the size is relatively small, this airport is somewhat sophisticated.
Adi Soemarmo International Airport offers adequate facilities as a midsized international airport. There are several ATMs, money exchange stations, tens of restaurants, shops, cafes, and immigration counters. There are eight flights daily to Jakarta, one flight daily to Kuala Lumpur via Air Asia, twice a week flight to Singapore via Silk Air, and several various less frequent flights.
From this aiport, there is a rare shuttle bus service to Tirtonadi Bus Terminal in downtown of Solo (ticket Rp 15,000) or, easier, you can just get a taxi to go to Boyolali. Just name your destination and pay the amount they ask, and you will be assigned to a registered taxi using a set fee charging system.
There is no regular bus whose concluding destination is Boyolali. But there are tons of buses that stops at Boyolali, including regular Solo-Semarang and Yogyakarta-Semarang buses that pass almost every five minutes. Just flag down any bus to Semarang or Solo and ask the driver to drop you at downtown of Boyolali. Regular and scheduled services can be found at Sunggingan Bus Terminal.
Car ride is particularly great choice to go to Boyolali. The road is well-paved and reasonably wide enough since it was established for serving the very busy Semarang-Solo route. The downtown area of Boyolali roads are also mostly well-maintained.
Boyolali has three small train stations : Telawa Station, Gedangan Station, and Jetis Station. For now, it is only Telawa Station that is still serving regular train schedule. There are some economy trains that stop at this station, namely Kereta Api Brantas serving Jakarta-Kediri route and Kereta Api Matarmaja serving Jakarta-Malang route. Please keep in mind that Kereta Api Banyubiru and Kereta Api Joglosemar serving Semarang-Solo route is no longer passing through this station.
Private car is the simplest way to explore the whole regency. Make sure your car in good conditions because some areas like Cepogo and Selo have steep and narrow roads. Most roads in Boyolali is paved and well-maintained.
Angkudes or angkot (angkuta), Indonesian public minibuses, is the most reasonable means of public transportation to get around this regency. Angkudes is the terms used in rural area, while angkot (angkuta) is the terms used in urban area. Angkudes in Boyolali has several routes, written on top of the car dashboards :
Morning walk around Boyolali is pleasant, the town is quite small and the weather is cool in the morning, but there is just not much to see in the downtown. It is better for you to head straight to the area outside the town center.
Cepogo cattle farm
Boyolali is famous of its milk-producing farms. One of the most prominent cattle farm in Boyolali is located in Cepogo, West Boyolali. This farm is located 13 kilometers from the city center on a temperate area of Cepogo highlands. If you drive your own private vehicle, it is expected that your vehicle is in a very good condition because the road is quite steep and narrow, even though the road is well-preserved.
Not only you will be able to see marvelous scenery along the way, but there are also farming activities that you can get involved in. And for sure, this place also serves fresh milk. But keep in mind that there is still no adequate accomodation available near here, so expect to stay at least 6 kilometers away from this place.
This is the infamous Merapi Volcano Theatre lies on a nearby hill of Mount Merapi. From this place, you will be able to see incredible view of the peak of the most active volcano in Indonesia. There are plenty of accomodations and restaurants available here. During the volcanic activity and eruption, this place is closed for public.
If you are coming from Boyolali, take the Boyolali-Mungkid route. It is conveniently located right on the side of the main road, so you won't miss it.
Mount Merapi also has an unforgettable sunrise experience that worth to be seen. Start with a challenging 5-hour walk begins at midnight and upon reaching the summit, enjoy a steaming cup of coffee as the sun rises over the spectacular landscapes.
Usually you need to depart from Selo Village at night, the starting point for your trek. Take an hour at the base to prepare and be briefed on the route and safety information by your local guides. Then, around midnight, begin your slow and steady climb to the summit. The trek takes around 5 hours and just before the sun rises, you will reach the top. Rest your legs and sit down to await the rising sun. As it emerges, you will be amazed at the spectacular landscapes and awe-inspiring views of the area.
Sedekah Gunung ceremony
Sedekah Gunung ceremony is a traditional ritual held on Lencoh, near Selo, every 1st of Suro in Javanese calendar. This ritual consists of sacrificing a buffalo and offerings into the crater of Mount Merapi. This ceremony usually starts at 10.00PM and ends with a giving rituals of sirah maeso (buffalo head) and rice. The process of offering starts at the village house and then the burial of a Buffalo head shall take place on the peak of Mt. Merapi, or if the condition is dangerous then it shall be buried in Pasar Bubrah, a slope very close to the top of the mountain. This ceremony was initially held based on the instruction of King Pakubuwono X. Since 2010, this ceremony is followed by a parade of hundreds of villagers carrying bright torches.
Kedung Kayang waterfall
This waterfall lies on Klakah, five kilometers to the west of Selo. This waterfall is surrounded by beautiful scenery, even though it is only 30 meters tall. The access to this waterfall is not well-built, but the complex is very suitable for camping and hiking. There are some minimalist restaurants and accomodations available near this place.
Umbul Tlatar Waterpark
Umbul Tlatar Boyolali Waterpark is located in water approximately 5 km from the downtown, which can be reached from the Public Transport Terminal Tlatar or Solo-Semarang Road, on the way to the north approximately 4 miles through winding roads. Along the way, you can see outspread paddy fields and villages of the local people.
Tlatar offer varieties of activities and facilities, including fishing, restaurant with typical dishes of fish, water playground, landscape, pool, spa fish (Gararufa sp.), and wood ball. It has a pretty interesting sights in the countryside, but unfortunately the management seems less than optimal. Abundant water resources make the region is able to make the type of water to cool the heat. There are two swimming pools, one for children and the another is for adults.
Kedung Ombo Reservoir
This huge dam, named Kedung Ombo Reservoir, is located on the border of Grobogan and Boyolali. This is a quite popular vacation spot for the locals. Besides cheap entrance fee, the view is quite tranquil. Another attraction is boat tours around the artifical lake towards the fish farming area on another lake-side, simply pay Rp. 10,000 boat ride will be escorted to the kramba fish and fish market. Beautiful panorama and pleasant atmosphere makes Kedung Ombo always interesting for the locals, from Boyolali and Grobogan. Lately Kedung Ombo also attracts lots more visitors from outside those regencies to enjoy grilled fish culinary. This artificial lake is also populated by famous chiclid fish (locals name it red devil) that are very abundant, you are allowed to fish them and bring them home.
Tirto Marto Pengging
This is a bathing site for the Surakarta (Solo) king and his families. It is located at Desa Dukuh, Banyudono District, about 12 kilometer from the downtown of Boyolali. On this place, there is Umbul Ngabeyan which was the place where King Pakubuwono X used to take a bath.
Candi Lawang Temple
Candi Lawang lies on the eastern slopes of Mount Merapi. Candi Lawang, literally means gate temple in Javanese is one example of archaelogical site found in Central Java. Administratively, it belongs to Cepogo district. The temple itself liees a fair distance off of the main highway. Getting to Cepogo itself is simple enough, as it is reasonably well signposted from Boyolali. From there however, you will have to ask locals for the way towards Gedangan. Once in Gedangan, lots of people should know the temples whereabouts. Albeit considered as protected archaelogical site, the temple itself is tucked behind some houses. Don't expect any ticket booth.
This candi is basically a complex, consists of six smaller temples. Made of volcanic stones called batu candi, the main buildings lies between two smaller temple structures. The rest three temples are on behind of the main building. This Hindu temple shares similiarities in structure with Prambanan temple, the major Hindu temple site of Central Java. It has three layers, which supports the remains of the gate and a Yoni (a female genital symbolism). A statue of Durga, an extremely popular form of the Hindu Goddess Shakti, who is the female counterpart of Shiva was also found here. The Remains around the temple indicates that construction may have been abandoned before it was finished or the temple was destroyed by the mighty Mount Merapi volcanic eruption, as much of the ornaments look unfinished.
Most activities in Boyolali are related to farming.
To hike to the top of Mount Merapi, you can start from Selo. Selo is the last village on your way to Merapi. Keep in mind Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcano in the world so that pre-cautions are required. It takes about six hours to reach the top. The best time to start this hike is late at night, where you are expected to arrive before the dusk to watch the sunrise.
Selo has local guides who will take you to Merapi :
Usually they provide services for transport and hiking to the peak for Rp 250,000 per pax.
Boyolali is probably the best place in Greater Solo area where you can buy farming products. Just head to Cepogo or Sunggingan area to shop in one of the traditional markets.
Boyolali has great connectivity to Jakarta via Adi Soemarmo International Airport, while Silk Air also serves direct flight to Singapore via Solo. You can easily reach Solo or Semarang via the public transports.