Jamu Herbs Market, Yogyakarta

Okay, here it is; first ever Indonesia post: Jamu Herbs Market, Yogyakarta.

Jamu Herbs Tour - Yogyakarta Jamu Herbs Tour - Yogyakarta Jamu Herbs Tour - Yogyakarta

And it will be the first of many, but please be patient because I have to organise, process and upload all the photos onto my Flickr account before I can start to write posts – very complicated this blogging life, you know!

The reason we get to have a little sneak preview at the Indonesia trip is because right now our Destination of the Month is Markets of the World, so we are visiting the Jamu Herbs Market in Yogyakarta.

You’re wondering what on earth is Jamu, aren’t you?

What is Jamu?

Jamu is an old medical practice which is still used today in Indonesia and especially in Yogyakarta. Traditionally, to treat ailments, physicians would prepare a potion, known as jamu, and prescribe it to their patients.

Jamu herbs market

Jamu herbs on display at the herbs market in Yogyakarta

Jamu is made from different plants, of which on such a vast archipelago as Indonesia, there are many varieties. The jamu is sold as a bag of mixed herbs and is boiled in a wok and drank like a tea. A disgusting tea.

In Indonesia, there is no national security. If you are sick, you pay, and doctors fees can be quite expensive. Jamu is still used today by those who cannot afford to see a doctor of modern medicine and pay for treatments. Of course, there are those who swear that jamu is better than modern medicine too.

There aren’t many written documents about jamu; it’s a traditional medicine and jamu recipes tend to be taught to the next generation and remembered, rather than written down.

The Jamu Herbs Market, Yogyakarta

When the people of Yogyakarta have some kind of ailment – which can be anything from headache to cancer – they buy a jamu remedy from their local practitioner or from the jamu herbs market, where many jamu are sold already mixed.

There are street vendors who buy a few of the more popular jamu and sell them as drinks on the street.

In Yogyakarta, instead of stopping at a vending machine for a can of Coke, the people stop at the lady with the cart for a jamu.

They say that the worse the jamu tastes, the better the effect. I can tell you that it is absolutely the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. When we were with our guide in the herbs market, she made us taste and guess different herbs and spices. We tried one that was the most foul thing I’ve ever had. I thought she was trying to kill us.

To make the jamu bearable, they add lots of palm sugar.

It was the most foul thing I’ve ever had.

My top Jamu herbs market purchase

The best thing we bought at the Jamu herb market was an ear candle. Well, two each actually – you get one for each ear.

It’s a long candle made from rolled wax, which you stick in your ear and light. When the candle has burned down nearly to your ear you remove it. All the wax and dirt from your ear is left inside the strip of candle that is left. They were brilliant. We only paid 5,000 rupiahs and we saw them in Bali a couple of weeks later for 50,000 rupiahs.

Ginggang Jamu Bar

When we left the market we had the pleasure of visiting a traditional jamu bar which serves jamu just like tea and people sit and drink it in a social manner.

Jamu Herbs Tour - Yogyakarta

This place was over a century old and was small and dingy, filled with big heavy wooden tables with wooden benches. It was definitely the kind of place that only the locals know and where you’d never dare go alone.

Once seated, our guide ordered a small selection of jamu drinks for our group of four. Each one was more horrendous than the next. We took a cautious sip and passed it along hoping that the next glass of murky swamp water would be slightly better. It wasn’t. Our guide sat sipping her own equally disgusting concoction in amusement.

If you fancy a Jamu or two on your next visit to Yogyakarta, the place is called Jamu Ginggang and it is on Jl Masjid:


View Larger Map

You can also find it on Foursquare.

We had lots of fantastic experiences in Yogyakarta, which I’ll be sharing with you very soon. Many of them were thanks to the Via Via travel agency that we used. If you are going to Yogyakarta I’d highly recommend their tours.

I would like to remind you that all the photos used on InMyShoesTravel.com are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

Filed Under: asiafeaturedIndonesiaJavaMarketsReligion and CultureYogyakarta

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About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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