“Pine Forest Place to See”, Bantul, Yogyakarta

Hutan Pinus Pengger, which translates in English to “Pine Forest Place to See”, is one of several pine forests located in the highlands surrounding Yogyakarta. This particular forest used to be a production location for pine sap, but this industry petered out about 8 years ago. In 2014, the forest was re-purposed as an ecotourism site and was officially opened to the public in April 2016. Now, thousands of tourists from across Indonesia and beyond flock to the forest daily.

The current entrance fee is a flat Rp. 2.500 for all who wish to enter, regardless of age or country of origin. You’ll need to pay extra for vehicle parking, camping, hammock and bike rentals or additional amenities, such as forest stage rentals. On-site facilities include several warungs, a musholla, toilets, and parking. The forest park is open from 5:30 to 23:30, so you can visit at any time of day to witness sunrise, sunset, and everything in between. The forest is also popular at night because it offers stunning views of Yogyakarta’s city lights in the darkness.

Located high up in the hills of Bantul Regency, Hutan Pinus Penggar is cooler in temperature than Kota Yogyakarta below. There is a constant breeze sweeping through the trees, and if you listen closely, you’ll here the soft shhh shhh of the pine branches gently sliding past one another. The terrain in the forest is hilly with protruding rocks, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear. There are several footpaths through the forest that lead between art installations, lookout points, hammocks, and benches.

I definitely recommend pausing for a moment to appreciate the existence of a pine forest in a largely tropical country!

One of the main draws of Hutan Pinus Penggar is its cliffside location on Gungung Kibul. There are several distinct places in the forest where you can gaze out over the valley below, which includes Kota Yogyakarta, rice paddies, and even Mt. Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia. If you visit during the rainy season you may be greeted with overcast skies, but on a clear day the view is breathtaking.

A birds-eye view of Special Region of Yogyakarta, with Mount Merapi rising in the distance.

Hutan Pinus Pengger contains several art installations created from the intertwined, flexible, dried tree branches of the Saliara. These are scattered throughout the forest; among the installations are a flying broom, bird cages (which you can climb inside), and an intricate archway. Each of these installations has a deep, artistic meaning, but the written explanations are absent within the forest itself. The installations serve as tourist attractions within a culture very interested in Instagram. I’ve seen the term “instagenic” mentioned more than once.

Cetta Abhipraya represents the earnest and generous sharing of knowledge.

The most iconic art installation in Hutan Pinus Pengger is Panawacara, a giant hand set against the panoramic background of the region. Because this location is so popular, visitors are charged an additional Rp. 3.000 to enter the installation area. However, because each visitor is issued a numbered ticket, you don’t need to fight for your turn to stand in the palm of the forest’s hand. The entire process is actually quite orderly. During our visit, even though it was a Sunday, there weren’t many people waiting for a turn to experience the vista from the platform. There are several photographers available in the forest if you forgot your camera or would like a higher quality photo than you’d get using your phone. A printed photo costs approximately Rp. 15.000.

Panawacara, the giant hand, symbolizes the protection and conservation of our natural resources for future generations. This is sustainability at its finest!

If you’re not one for selfies or photo ops, venture toward the heart of the forest to find quiet benches, hammocks, and wooden structures set in the shade of the pines. If you’re sitting quietly and reading, talking, or eating a snack, it is likely that no one will bother you. If you’re a bule (foreigner), expect to be pestered rather frequently while you’re wandering about by locals wishing to take selfies with you. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, such photos are quite common in tourism locations because foreigners, especially white foreigners, are considered “special” and locals are excited to share their encounter with you with friends or family. Accept or decline these photo ops at your own risk – I’ve tried to decline before, but the requestor is usually quite persistent. I’ve found that usually (unless you’re swarmed by a very large group of excited locals, which is also common and quite overwhelming), it’s better to just give in and agree.

One of the wooden structures located in the heart of the forest.

Despite its highland location, Hutan Pinus Penggar is easy to get to from Yogyakarta. The forest itself is located along Jl. Dlingo-Patuk in the northmost region of the Dlinggo District of Bantul Regency. The road is currently in good conditions and is traversed daily by motorbikes, cars, and large tour buses. The forest is approximately 24 km from Yogyakarta. Depending on traffic, the trip to the forest from the city should take approximately one hour.

We opted to use a GoCar to reach Hutan Pinus Penggar since there were only two of us and the trip was a somewhat last-minute decision. Private drivers would be too expensive and we didn’t have time to research buses. This posed no problems reaching the forest, as we started in Yogyakarta where GoCars are plentiful. However, due to the forest’s somewhat remote location, we struggled to secure our ride back into the city. If you find yourself in a similar situation, there are ojeks (motorbikes for hire) located at the forest’s entrance, but since it was a nice day (no rain!) we decided to meander back toward civilization on foot until we were in range of a GoCar.

Be sure to visit the many vista points along Jl. Dlingo-Patuk if you find yourself “jalan-jalan” down the road. This was taken at Taman Batu Watu Amben.

Indonesia, in general, is not particularly pedestrian-friendly as far as infrastructure is concerned, but the road to Hutan Pinus Penggar is well-maintained. Walking along Jl. Dlingo-Patuk isn’t necessarily more dangerous than walking on any other road around Yogyakarta. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the large tour buses that may come hurtling around the curves in the road every few minutes! There are warungs scattered along the roadside, so if you decide you need a drink, a snack, or just a break, you can stop in at one like we did.

We stopped at a local roadside warung to charge our phone batteries so we could eventually request a GoCar back home.

All things considered, we didn’t spend more than an hour walking down the road from Hutan Pinus Penggar. If you put some advanced planning or forethought into your trip to the forest, you can cut this walk out of your itinerary altogether. A private car or bus is likely the smarter transportation option.

Hutan Pinus Pengger is definitely not one of Yogyakarta’s most “touristy” attractions, but it offers a nice trip if you’re looking to escape the bustle of the city for a few hours. If you’d like to make a whole day trip out of your journey to the area, add Jomblang Cave and Gunung Kidul beach to your list! Alternatively, you can visit Hutan Pinus Asri, Hutan Pinus Mangunang, or Puncak Becici.