Tourist villages will help the city turn itself into a center for tourism, culture, and education in Indonesia.
One of these villages is Pulesari in the district of Sleman, which is famous for its salak, or snake fruit, and its long-held traditions.
Standing at the foot of Mount Merapi, 900 meters above sea level, Pulesari has officially named a tourist village in 2012. It was named the best tourist village by the Sleman administration in 2014.
The village has pristine natural landscapes and crystal clear rivers in its many salak plantations.
According to village chief Didik Irwanto, most visitors to the village enjoy river trekking and cooking classes where they learn to make unique dishes from the snake fruit.
Didik said there are at least 12 dishes made from salak that visitors can learn to make in Pulesari, including dodol (toffee), kerupuk (crackers), bakwan (fritters), bakpia (bean cakes), and even sambal (chili sauce).
The village has also preserved many long-lived traditional ceremonies and art forms that visitors can attend and observe directly.
One of them is the Adat Pager Bumi ceremony, held every last Wednesday in Sapar, a month in the Javanese calendar. The ceremony celebrates local legends Khoul Nyai Pulesari dan Kyai Ahmad Nurrohman. Its procession includes a parade of cone-shaped offerings of food, including the ubiquitous salak.
The village also stages regular performances of traditional dances including the salak dance, the kubro siswo and jathilan.
Accommodation, sometimes the bane of tourists in small villages, is not a problem for Pulesari.
There are now a total of 46 homestays with rooms to accommodate up to 600 guests in the village. Prices range from IDR 50,000 ($4) per night for two to IDR 150,000 for a group of 10 people.
Visitors can also opt for package deals — which provide accommodation, meals, and tickets to events. A variety of one-day packages are available with prices ranging from IDR 50,000 to IDR 100,000.
But many actually go for “live in” packages which at IDR 175,000 – IDR 265,000 prove to be a good deal as well as offer them a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture.
Village head Didik said village residents work together to provide comprehensive tourist facilities in Pulesari.
“Everybody wants to get involved. Tourism is bringing a lot of good things to the village,” he added.