Yogyakarta may have once been a cultural sanctuary, but it’s now riddled with touts and scam-artists. Batik scams are so well established that fake galleries operate like real ones and sell low quality batik at exorbitant prices. The “guides” at the Kraton are in on it. As they give you a free tour and tell you how they are a college student, they are really priming to con you. Before you know it, you’ll be on the back of a scooter heading to the fake gallery. As you walk through the markets, any number of locals will ask you what country you are from to engage you in conversation in hope to sell you an over priced tour or a free ride to the phony gallery. The infrastructure is so well established, that you’ll spend more time getting out of scams and discerning real galleries from fake ones.
So why would you go? Despite the hassle around the Kraton and the Malioboro promenade, there is something fun about being tossed around a hot and lively small city. It also happens to be conveniently located near both Borobudur and Prambanan. Despite the seeming chaos when you first arrive, there is good food, interesting shopping and an excellent bus system. I don’t know why anyone would hire a driver or take a Bajaj for the day. Not only were the bus routes easy to figure out and cheap, but it’s a great way to meet local people.