My group and I had just returned from Yogya on a 5 days 4 nights tour from May 28 to June 1. The trip would not have been so pleasant without the advice and feedback from so many people in this forum and I would like to share my experience there and which may be helpful to others.
I wrote to several tour agents through the yogyes.com (a very informative and helpful website ranging from hotel, car rental, restaurants etc) and after comparing their prices, I managed to get a tour agent who offered a 29-seater bus IDR 3 900 000 for 5 days and 12 hours per day (inclusive English speaking driver and fuel) but exclude parking and entrance fees. The rental of the bus covered Borobudur, Dieng Palteau, Prambanan, several Buddhist temples around Prambanan area, Mt Merapi, Ratu Boko Temple, Ramayana Ballet show, Sultan Palace, Taman Sari, Sumur Gumuling (the underground mosque) behind Taman Sari, some souvenir shops in the town, Pantai Parangtritis, airport tranfers and others.
I got a better deal in the hotel rate and entrance fee for the big number of people I have. I seems that hotel rate is a little bit cheaper than the on-line rate by booking through the travel agent and I got one free for every 10 pax in the entrance fee.
I would advise to stay in Manohara Hotel if you plan to have a leisure time in Borobudur Temple as the hotel offers unlimited access to the temple throughout the day from as early as 6am to 5pm. The hotel has a very big garden and the atmosphere there is simply marvelous. Though you may opt for other luxurious hotel around the area but you have to pay for the USD20 entrance fee (per entry).
Usually tourists will go to Dieng Plateau after visiting Borobudur as it is on the same route. Getting to Dieng Plateau is a very tiring journey. My bus took took almost four hours to reach Dieng Plateau from Borobudur and then spent about two hours visiting the Color Lake, Mirror Late and the bubbling hot spring filled with steam. One should think carefully if it is worth to travel at such a great length and long hours (to and fro took about 8 hours) and just to spend 2 hours there to see these things. The trip back to Yogya would have taken longer hours if the driver did not take a short cut through the narrow winding road in the villages. There were landslides along the hilly road and repair is underway. I was told by the travel agent the road will be closed until end of August for big vehicles.
In Taman Sari, engaging a guide is IDR 75 000 and please remind or caution the guide that no shopping along the way. If not he will take you to the art gallery and Batik shop and a least an hour will be wasted there.
In Sultan Palace, free guide is available for group and don't forget to give the guide some tips after the free tour in the palace.
Parangtritis Beach is quite beautiful, worth going. It has strong waves and one may try the 2-seater horse cart for IDR 20 000 for taking you along the beach. The trip will take roughly 15 minutes. Another package is IDR 100 000 which will take you from one end to the other and is roughly one hour. The ATV (all terrain vehicle) is available and is quite exciting.
If you rent a car, parking fee is needed in almost every place you stop including restaurant and the parking fee ranges from IDR 5000 to IDR 10 000.
In Mt Merapi, the rental of a jeep is IDR 250 000 which could squeeze in 5 people. 4 people will be very comfortable. Most of the jeep driver will provide helmet for the passengers but some don't. I don't know whether it's a compulsory but the jeep driver who did not provide us the helmets said it's very safe. I don't think the German soldier type helmet and helmets used for white water rafting could withstand any serious impact should there be any falling rocks. But better ask for one at least it is better than nothing.
The jeep will take you to ruined villages which once devastated by the earth quake and a house which turned into a small museum tells the eerie story of the past.
For Ratu Boko, the IDR 90 000 entrance is indeed a bit pricey though it comes with a complimentary snack where you can choose either fried fried, fired noodle or cheese banana. Never pick the cheese banana, it's not worth at all, just one piece of banana with cheese. For drinks you may choose either coffee, tea, or fruit juice. If you are going in a big group or so happen there are plenty of tourists, the time to prepare the food and drinks is simply terrible. It took almost 2 solid hours for the kitchen staff to prepare the food and drinks for my group of 28 people. The food there is terrible too. If the weather is not good, turn back, not waste your money there. Add another IDR 10 000 to watch the Ramayana Ballet show at Prambanan.
I hope the trip report will benefit those who are interested and keen to plan their trip there.
Thanks again and have a nice day.