Solo lies some 100 km south of Semarang and some 60 kilometers east of Yogyakarta. As the 'twin' sister of Yogyakarta, this city looks much like the later. But because Solo is not a provincial capital, this city has preserved much of its Javanese character. This also means that Solo is less touristy than Yogyakarta. Solo is a former Royal city and home to two Royal enclaves; that of the Kasunanan Kingdom and the Mangkunegaran Principality.
Historically, the Kasunanan Kingdom was the true heir of the Mataram Sultanate which ruled the whole Java from the 16th century to the late 17th century. In 1745 the Sultanate moved its court to Solo, however by the end 18th century it had suffered from internal court intrigues, rebellions and foreign manipulation by the VOC (the Dutch East India Company). In 1755 the Sultanate was split, with the Kasunanan Kingdom, ruled by the reigning sovereign (Pakubuwono II) based in Solo and the Yogyakarta Sultanate, led by the rebel prince Mangkubumi (later Sultan Hamengkubuwono I) in Yogyakarta. Later in 1757, another rebel prince named Raden Mas Said formed the Mangkunegaran Principality, the move was motivated by the disappointment of the prince with the king, who had collaborated with the VOC. During the following Dutch colonial rule, the kingdoms, termed as Vorstenlanden in Dutch (Land of the Princes), enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy and were recognized as vassal states of the Dutch empire (much like the Princely States of British India). After independence, however unlike Jogja, the two kingdoms lost their autonomy and rule over the city due to political reasons.
Today's Solo is a bustling economic centre of some 800,000 (with the suburbs). It is in close proximity to the temples of Prambanan. The town is a centre of art and education, offers some good shopping and has some range of tourist facilities.
Solo is very well known of its charming and soft-spoken people. It is said as the least westernised city in Central Java.
Solo's Adisumarmo International Airport (IATA: SOC), 10 km north of town, is a small airport. There are 8 flights a day to Jakarta. Silk Air provides a direct service to Singapore. Malaysia's low-cost airline, AirAsia,  flies daily to Kuala Lumpur. If using taxi, you should buy a ticket in a ticket shelter. 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.
You can also fly to Yogyakarta's Adisucipto International Airport. The distance between Yogyakarta and Solo is only 60 km and any taxi will be glad to take you. There is also close to hourly service on the commuter train service betweeen Yogyakarta and Solo. Ticket cost 10,000 idr.
The main bus station is actually not in Solo city itself, but in Kartasura, some 12 km west of the centre. There are regular services throughout the island, including Jakarta (10 hours) and Surabaya (5 hr).
The city bus terminal, Terminal Tirtonadi, services more local destinations such as Yogyakarta, for Rp 8,000
Express trains to Jakarta take around 8 hours. Other trains take longer, sometimes much longer. Express trains serving Solo include Argo Lawu, Argo Dwipangga, Bima and Gajayana expresses (to/from Jakarta, all AC), Argo Wilis and Lodaya (to/from Bandung), Argo Wilis and Sancaka (to/from Surabaya).
The main station is Solobalapan. Other stations are present, i.e. Purwosari and Solojebres, but only used for ekonomi and local services to Yogyakarta.
The city's main avenue, Jl. Slamet Riyadi has paved pedestrian paths (citywalk) located along its sides courtesy to Mayor Jokowi. On Sundays, this avenue is closed for traffic and becomes a playground for various kind of sports activities for Solo's citizens. Many hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and tourist attractions (Museum Batik Danar Hadi, Sriwedari Park, Museum Radya Pustaka) are located alongside the avenue. At the end of the avenue is the entrance (gapura) to the alun-alun (city square) and the royal palace complex (Keraton Kasunanan).
Taxi is the easiest way to go around. It is cheap, and you can even book it for the whole trip. You can negotiate for the price. Ask in your hotel reception if they can arrange one for you. Or they may also have a car to rent (mostly including the driver).
Becak (traditional pedicabs) are an entertaining way of seeing the city, albeit quite slowly. Expect Becak drivers to quote prices inflated to at least 3 times for the average tourist.
Main facade or entrance of Keraton Kasunanan, the clock tower on the background is called Panggung Songgobuwono
The tranquil grounds of the House of Danar Hadi
Keraton Kasunanan. Palace of the Pakubuwono Kings. A large and beautiful palace built in 1675 that combines traditional Javanese and classical European styles. Facility: museum, art and cultural centre.
Puro Mangkunegaran. Palace of the Mangkunegara Princes. A beautiful palace built in 1757 with an awe-inspiring main audience hall. Facility: museum, art and cultural centre. Entry fee: Rp 15,000, photo fee Rp 3,500.
Museum Batik Danar Hadi, (House of Danar Hadi), Jl Slamet Riyadi 261, Surakarta 57141 . Houses the 10,000 piece private batik collection of batik magnate Santosa Doellah, the owner of Batik Danar Hadi. It is reputedly the biggest in Indonesia. The museum displays a wide variety of batik from different cultural influences and periods - Javanese, Chinese, Indian and even colonial Dutch. An interesting piece is the dutch-influenced "Snow White" and "Little Red Riding Hood" batik, which depict scenes from the namesake fairytale stories. Adjacent to the museum is a batik shop as well as a restaurant (Soga Cafe) offering traditional javanese and dutch colonial menus. Behind the museum is a workshop which allows visitors to see the process of traditional batik making from start to finish. The building itself is an architectural gem; a former 19th century mansion of a Javanese noble family named Ndalem Wuryaningratan with an architectural style that combines traditional javanese and classical european styles. Entry fee: Rp. 25,000. Entry fee to the museum includes a guided tour of the collection conducted in English.
Jurug Zoo. Facility: zoo, aquarium.
Sriwedari Park. Javanese art and cultural centre with a wayang kulit puppet show and wayang wong Javanese dance at night, childrens playground, and a food court with traditional Javanese restaurants).
Sahasra Adhi Pura A new Hindu temple under construction 5 km east of Solo, it is a Kundalini yoga centre that has 50 miniatures of sacred sites from around the world.
Sunrise on September Equinox 2006, Sahasra Adhi Pura.
Mandi lulur A traditional skin-care done by rubbing special spices to the skin to exfoliate it. Very relaxing. Many hotels offer this service. Or ask your hotel reception for a reputable place.
Sepoor Kluthuk Ride in an old train, with stops at Loji Gandrung and Kampung Batik Kauman, costs about Rp 100,000.
Batik, Indonesia's national fabric is synonymous with the culture of Java itself. Batik making in Java is an ancient tradition that has been passed down through generations. Traditional batik making is characterized by the wax-resist dying technique, in which melted wax is applied to the fabric using the Canting a kind of utensil that has a metal cup to hold the melted wax and a tiny spout to drip it. It is held like a stylus and used to cover the predrawn pattern lines to allow it to be dyed afterwards. The process requires painstaking precision as Batik patterns are sometimes extremely complex, this method is called batik tulis, the word tulis literally means to write and refers to the canting tool which resembles a writing tool. The varieties of batik patterns are also rich in meaning and philosophy; such as the Sidomukti pattern, which symbolizes prosperity and happiness and worn during weddings. Some batik patterns used to signify social status and hierarchy such as the Parang pattern which used to be exclusive to the nobility. Nowadays, the traditional method is threatened by conventional mass printed batik, especially cheap imitations spawned from Chinese factories. In 2009, UNESCO, a UN agency dedicated to the world cultures designated the Indonesian Batik as a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity", the declaration is of course aimed to help save the traditional method of Batik making. Solo is one of the main centres of production for Batik, with renowned areas such as Kampung Kauman or Laweyan that are home to traditional Batik merchants. Three of Indonesia's biggest batik manufacturers; Batik Danar Hadi, Batik Keris and Semar are also based in Solo.
Batik. You can buy anything made with batik in Solo. The fabrics range from silk to normal cotton. The ones made by hand (batik tulis) is of course more expensive than the ones made using the 'stamp' (batik cap). Beware though that most of batik will lose some color during first few washes -- washing with similar color is highly recommended.
Danar Hadi, Jl Dr Rajiman 164. ☎ +62 271 644126.
Keris, Desa Cemani Selatan Laweyan. ☎ +62 271 721217.
Semar, Jl Laksda Adisucipto 101. ☎ +62 271 722937
Kampung Batik Laweyan, Jl. Dr. Rajiman Laweyan.
Kampung Batik Kauman, Nearby Kraton Kasunanan. The batik products of Kauman village are made from natural silk and weaving silk materials, and premmisima cotton.
Pasar Klewer, a traditional market for textile, mostly batik. Located off the west gate of Keraton's North Square. As in any other traditional markets in Indonesia, you will have to bargain.
Pusat Grosir Solo 5-story tall wholesale centre of clothing items located nearby Keraton Solo and Pasar Klewer (Klewer market) where you can find many shops selling batik with competitive price. Great for a one-stop shopping centre.
Mall and shopping centres
Solo Square, Jl Slamet Riyadi No 451.
Solo Grand Mall, Jl Slamet Riyadi No. 313
Ciputra Sun, Jl Ronggowarsito. (Proposed)
Singosaren Plaza, Jl Gatot Subroto
Megaland, Jl Slamet Riyadi
Luwes Mall, Jl Veteran
Ratu Luwes, Jl S. Parman
Sami Luwes, Jl Honggowongso
Gading Luwes, Jl Veteran
Batik Semar, Jl Laksda. Adi Sucipto 101 Surakarta
Batik Semar (Bale Sattwika), Jl Raden Mas Said 148 Surakarta
Batik Semar (Pasar Klewer), Los Baru no 4-5 Pasar Klewer
Discount Outlet (PGS), Jl Mayor Kusmanto Surakarta
Ngarsopuro, Jl Slamet Riyadi. Night Market with beautiful lamps. (Just open every saturday night)
Windujenar. A popular antique market in Solo, along with Triwindu, beware of counterfeits but if you look carefully you might find a royal item from the palace.
Soga Restaurant & Lounge, Jl. Slamet Riyadi 261.  ☎ +62 271 727020, located within the House of Danar Hadi complex. This is a proper casual dining restaurant, the cuisine offered is a blend of traditional Javanese as well as some western/dutch colonial cuisine. Dishes are presented elegantly and the atmosphere is grand and cozy, with colonial antiques and batik decorating the interior as well as TVs. Live piano and music every night. A nice alternative to the street food culture that is prevalent in Solo. The food is moderately priced and delicious, Approx. US$5-10/person
Kentucky Fried Chicken, Jl Jend A Yani 234. ☎ +62 271 724797. American style fastfood. Approx. US$4/person.
McDonald. Jl Dr Rajiman 152. ☎ +62 271 630100. American style fastfood.
Tirai Bamboe. Jl Ronggowarsito62. ☎ +62 271 668738. Go early for dinner. It was full by 7pm when we were there.
Gudeg is also worth a try, even though people said that gudeg originally comes from Jogja, however, Gudeg Solo is quite different from the one from Jogja. Gudeg Jogja is dried and sweet. While Gudeg Solo is saltier in flavor with more gravy. Gudeg Margoyudan is a famous example. Its specialty are chicken feet (thus the moniker 'Gudeg Ceker'). The other unique feature is, it opens 1AM in the morning and by 5AM it will close. After the night travel around Solo, warm Nasi Gudeg will be a great treat for stomach. Even though this is street food, most of the time you have to take the long line up before served.
Nasi Liwet is almost similar to "Nasi Uduk" which is very famous in Jakarta or west Java.
It is rice, which is cooked with santan (coconut milk). The vendors for traditional nasi liwet easily be found in Keprabon street. The most famous vendor is Bu Lemu, but along the Keprabon you can find many of the vendors add the name Lemu after their own name.
Serabi Notosuman, is a popular traditional pancake made from coconut milk, flour,sugar and other ingredients (often sprinkled with chocolate as a variation). They taste sweet. You may notice that in certain holiday periods they are often sold out quick, also often taken as a gift (oleh-oleh). Such is the popularity of this dish that one may endure a wait of 2 hr. You can find them in Notosuman street (most Solonese knows Serabi Notosuman) and several their other outlets.
Other than Serabi, Solo offers a rich varities of snack, ranged from dry snack, (onde-onde ceplus, kripik cakar, kripik paru, kerak nasi goreng) to keleman (fresh snack) (solo, wajik, jadah, kue ku, lapis, cara bikang). Sosis Solo has been identified as the specialty snack from Solo, is made of chopped beef combined with spices wrapped in a thin egg pancake. You can find many varieties of traditional fresh snacks once you walk into Pasar Gede.
Soto Triwindu, Jl. Teuku Umar No 41 Keprabon. 06.00-15.00. Soto is a Javanaese soup that contains meat, sprout, rice and many other. Usually for breakfast and lunch.10.000.
Dawet or called 'cendol' in west java/Jakarta tastes good and cools you down during the hot days in Solo.
This drink is made with coconut milk and brown-javanese sugar and sort-of gelatine. Thus it is sweet and usually served with ice-cubes.
Gempol plered is made from coconut milk with rice balls and a looks like some kind of 'pangsit'. Sometimes it served with rock ice. The taste is mix between sweet and little bit salty.
Bakmi jawa 45 sari, jl pulanggeni 45 Tipes , Surakarta, ☎ +62271730364. bakmi Jawa is a popular traditional bakmi from solo. Try Tea Jawa with special sugar and strong flavour. The food is moderately priced and delicious, Approx. IDR 10.000
Istana Griya, Jl. KH. Dahlan No 22, ☎ +62 271 632667 (rudi_istanagriya.tripod.com), . 18 room homestay minutes from the public bus station. Standard, deluxe and suite in Solonese architectural style. Very friendly staff.
Mandala Wisata, Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan no. 12, ☎ +62 271 712270. Near the entrance to Solo city, a few min from the airport. A/C, TV, hot/cold water, and free wifi.Approx US$20/night.
Omah Gading Guest house, Cluster Gading Regency D2, ☎ +62 271 7993904. CableTV, kitchen with cook appliances and family rooms.Approx US$45/night for house with 2-3 A/C bedrooms.
Rumah Turi Eco-Hotel, Srigading II no. 12 Turisari, ☎ +62 271 736606, . The region's first green boutique hotel steeped in modern minimalist style.
Sahid Raya, Jl. Gajah Mada 82, ☎ +62 271 644144, . 4 star. Next to Solo Palace.
Novotel, Jl Slamet Riyadi 272, ☎ +62 271 724555 (email@example.com, fax: +62 271/724666), . 4 star. 141 spacious and contemporary rooms. Business centre, meeting rooms and a ballroom. Outdoor swimming pool and fitness centre, massage therapy and a restaurant and bar. Close to shopping centres, traditional markets, buses and trains close by.(,S 7° 34)
Sunan Hotel Solo (previously the Quality Inn Solo), Jl. Ahmad Yani 40, ☎ +62 271 731312 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +62 271 738677), . 4 star with coffee shop, meeting room, music room, fitness centre, and Japanese restaurant. 5 km from the Pasar Klewer, 15 min from Adi Sumarmo International Airport and 6 min from Balapan Train Station by Taxi. Business facilities, conference and bangueting service. 127 rooms including 1 president suite, 2 suite, 8 junior suites, 14 executive business rooms and 102 deluxe rooms.
De Solo Boutique Hotel, Jl. Dr. Sutomo 8-10, ☎ +62 271 726788, . 19 chic rooms and suites. Adisumarmo International Airport (20 min), Balapan Railway Station and Tertonadi Bus Station (15 minutes).From USD$50.
Lor-in Solo, Jl. Adisucipto 47, ☎ +62 271 724500 (email@example.com, fax: +62 271 724400), . A 5-star hotel located close to the airport. Offers several spa programsUS$90-1,000.
Baron Indah Hotel, Jl. Dr. Radjiman no. 392 Laweyan (Behind Solo Grand mall), ☎ +62 271 729071 (firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com), . 27 standard and 10 deluxe room, free airport transfer, in-house spa, free wi-fi internet connection at lobby and restaurant, business centre, meeting room, in-house and outside laundry.Rp 462.000 nett/room/night for std, Rp 558.000 nett/room/night for deluxe.
Yogyakarta is a more tourist city located close to Solo. The easiest is by car, or charter a taxi (approx. 30 min). Taking the train can also be an option, Prambanan Express (Prameks) leaves frequently during the day (usually catering for the commuter workers) from Solo Balapan and Purwosari Station. Ticket costs Rp 10,000 (US$1.1) one way. Train ride is about one hour and the last stop will be Tugu Station in Yogyakarta right in the northwestern side of Malioboro, and Maguwo station close to Adisucipto airport.
Borobudur, the largest Buddhist structure in the world located in Magelang, can be reached from Solo. A particularly scenic route would be to travel through the Selo and Ketep pass in Boyolali, located between Mount Merapi and Merbabu with breathtaking views of both mountains and directly to Magelang, without going through Yogya. The whole journey should take around 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours with a rented or private car.
Tawangmangu, a hill station located on the slopes of Mount Lawu, a dormant volcano which straddles the border between Central Java and East Java. It is an hour drive from Solo, and is a popular weekend getaway for the Solonese. Tawangmangu is famous for its natural scenery, with waterfalls (Grojogan Sewu and Jumog Waterfall) and breathtaking views. For those who are not faint-hearted, it is also possible to climb to the top of Mount Lawu (3,265 m) from Tawangmangu, which is a 7 hours hike. Nearby Tawangmangu are the ruins of the Sukuh Temple (Candi Sukuh), a Hindu temple built at the end of the period of Hinduism (15th century) in Java. The temple is famous for its unique shape, which resembles Mayan pyramids as well as its erotic iconographies. Another temple within the vicinity of Sukuh is the Cetho Temple, located high above the sprawling tea plantations of Kemuning.
Sangiran Early Man Site, is an archeological site located 15 km from Solo. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an archeological treasure trove of fossils and remnants from the prehistoric era. The most important discovery however was the skeleton of the Java Man (Pithecanthropus erectus) an important predecessor of the modern human. The site contains a museum housing the archeological finds as well as an archaeological park.
Prambanan temples are a large set of Hindu temples located 50km away. It is easy to stop off at the temples on the way to Yogya.and service to Prambanan just only Rp 5,000 if using local bus to Yogyakarta from Terminal Tirtonadi.
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