While everyone seems to be all about Bali, Indonesia’s most visited tourist site is actually located on a different island, the island of Java. Borobudur is one of the largest buddhist temples, and one of the most impressive religious buildings in Asia… perhaps even in the world. Borobudur is an absolute must see when visiting Indonesia. Catch a sunrise and admire the view from the top of the temple, surrounded by fog and high hills this might be one of the most unique sunrises you will ever see in your life. Find below more info on Borobudur and why it should be on your bucket list!
Where is the Borobudur Temple
Northeast from the famous city of Yogyakarta you will find the Borobudur Temple. It is located roughly 40km out of the city, making it a slight drive and adventure to get there, but more on that later. Yogyakarta is home to many other impressive Indonesian landmarks and beautiful natural sights, so be sure to also check out Mount Merapi, Prambanan, Taman Sari and the stunning surroundings of Yogyakarta, filled with rice fields and spectacular views. There are so many things to do in Yogyakarta that you could easily spend a couple of days, or even weeks here! Find a map below with the location of Borobudur as well, just to give a bit of an indication where it exactly is!
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Where to stay in Yogyakarta
For the budget backpackers and solo travelers – We would highly recommend using Hostelworld.com to find the perfect hostel just for you. A large range of hostels in Yogyakarta is available, all suiting to your personal preferences. We personally stayed at Sae Sae Hostel and loved our stay here, the rooms were clean, staff was friendly and there was a great atmosphere.
For any type of traveler – We have used AirBnB in Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Indonesia and have always been happy with our stays! AirBnB offers a large range of accommodation, from private rooms to complete villas, all depending on your budget and preferences. We personally stayed at Trava House, and loved our week at this guesthouse. Staff is extremely friendly, a delicious breakfast was included and the whole hostel is stylish and has a cozy atmosphere, like a home away from home! Check out Trava House here now. And to make it even better, if you use this link and sign up here now for AirBnB you will get a 30$ discount on a future stay!
How to Get to the Borobudur Temple
Now depending on your timeframe, skills, budget and sense of adventure to get to the Borobudur temple. We have listed three different options below to help you find an option that suits you best!
Option 1 – for the adventurous and budget travelers, rent a scooter. Driving a scooter or motorbike is very common in Southeast Asia. For a couple of dollars or euro’s you can rent a decent scooter, giving you freedom and options to go anywhere you like. Rent a motorbike and simply drive to the temple yourself. This also means that you can leave whenever you want, no need to wait on the rest of the group. However, driving a scooter is not for everyone, riding a scooter in Indonesia can be more hectic due to traffic and conditions of some of the roads. Oh, and don’t forget that they drive on the left side of the road here. There is parking available for motorbikes close to where the buses enter the premises.
Estimated costs: Per scooter you are looking at 60.000 – 80.000 IDR per day, plus another 15.000 IDR roughly for gas.
Option 2 – for the less adventurous, and slightly more comfortable option, order a GrabCar. Driving a scooter or motorbike is not for you? Or perhaps traveling with a family? The next budget friendly option would be to order a GrabCar. Grab is like the Uber of Southeast Asia, the only difference is that you can pay cash on arrival, no credit card needed. As long as you have internet connection you can order a GrabCar from wherever you are. At the Borobudur temple there is even an assigned pick up point for GrabCars. GrabCars are available for 1 – 4 people a car, which makes it also easier and convenient for larger groups. You can download the Grab app here!
Estimated costs: Depending on time of day, availability and location in Yogyakarta it is roughly 150.000 IDR to 200.000 IDR per GrabCar, one way.
Option 3 – for the tour-lovers. Now if you rather not organize anything yourself, just prefer to be picked up and dropped off, we would highly recommend you to book a tour. A little bit of Googling or using TripAdvisor will show you the large amount of tours available, and often guesthouses, hotels or the resort you are staying at can advise you further. These tours often include pickup, transport to the temple, entrance fee for the 4.30am sunrise, or a later in the day tour, and drop off back to your accommodation.
Estimated costs: Highly depends on tour and amount of people that do the tour. A little bit of Googling to specify your personal preferences should give you a better indication.
How to catch the sunrise at the Borobudur Temple
Now that we have covered where to stay in Yogyakarta and how to get from Yogyakarta to the Borobudur temple, let’s discuss the most important part of this article: how to actually catch the sunrise at the Borobudur temple. Also for this there are several options, depending on budget, time and transport mode.
Option 1 – on a budget, with motorbike or scooter. Watching the sunrise at the Borobudur temple can have a hefty price tag, one that is not everyone is able or willing to pay. If you are not planning to planning to enter the temple for sunrise, this might be your best option. Head to Punthuk Setumbu, a hill located a couple of kilometers away from the temple and watch the sunrise over the temple, instead of from the temple. The entry fee to the viewpoint is 30.000IDR (Aug ’18).
Option 2 – Pay the entry fee for the 4.30am entry via the Manohara Hotel. If you are committed to watch the sunrise at the Borobudur there is basically only one way, get the special entry ticket from the Manohara Hotel. The ticket office opens from 4am, and you will be allowed to enter the temple from 4.30am onwards (for any other visitor it is 6am). In Aug’ 18 the entry fee for an adult was 450.000 IDR. You can find all info about buying the ticket and the documents you need to bring right here.
Option 3 – Wait till 6am. If you don’t feel like paying the extra amount of money to enter early or to see it from a viewpoint, simply get here by GrabCar or motorbike and wait till 6am. From this moment onwards you can buy a ticket for 362.500 IDR per person. Please note there is a student ticket available, but you will be required to show a valid student-ID that has a date of validity on there. You will then be allowed to enter the temple and join everyone who bought the ticket at 4.30am. However, you might miss the actual sunrise, but you will still be able to see the beauty of the temple without the large masses of tourists coming from the tourbuses there. Visiting Borobudur is definitely one of the most expensive things to do in Java, and will increase your cost of traveling Java significantly. However, if you love history and architecture, and beautiful sun rises, it might be worth it to spend the money!
The Borobudur Temple
The Borobudur temple is a buddhist temple, built in the 9th century. The complex is a large structure consisting of 9 levels, decorated with 2672 relief panels, 504 buddha statues, of which 72 are located inside a stupa, located around the central dome of the temple. These stupas is what you will most likely recognize the temple from as these are often seen in photos of Borobudur. The stupas are perforated, and if you look closely, in the right light you will see the buddha statues inside the stupa.
If you want to catch the sunrise you will most likely start at the top as this will allow you to have a great view over the temple and the mountains itself. After that you can wander around the temple to admire the beautiful architecture and the hundreds of relief panels along the different levels.
Please note there is a correct way to enter the temple and to exit the temple. There will be signs before the entrance, entering the temple the correct way and exiting it the right way is a sign of respect to the temple. To make it easier there is only one entrance to the temple, the East entrance. You are supposed to enter the temple from the East entrance and then to continue circling the temple clockwise for three times, this Buddhist tradition is called Pradaksina. You are instructed not to exit the temple on the Eastern side but to simply follow the signs “Keluar” or Exit. Find some more photos from the Borobudur temple below.
Know Before You Go – Borobudur Temple
Opening Hours – For the general public the temple opens at 6am and closes at 5pm. If you want to admire the sunrise or sunset at the temple follow option 2 at the above section.
Dress Code – As you are visiting a place of worship it is required to follow a certain dress code. Whilst we witnessed people in tank tops and shorts, we strongly advise you to stick to the dress code the temple has. Simply cover your knees and shoulders. If you are wearing shorts or a short skirt/dress you will most likely be politely asked to wear a sarong before entering the temple.
Be respectful – You are visiting a religious site that has been around for hundreds of years, just so others can enjoy it be respectful. Clean up after yourself, don’t scratch the carvings or stones, don’t smoke at the temple, don’t remove any parts of the temple, don’t climb on the temple (there are stairs everywhere) and don’t sit or stand on the stupas. In the end wouldn’t we love for generations to come to admire the same sights as we are currently visiting?
The adventure of Java doesn’t have to end in the city of Yogyakarta, as there is so much more to see. Explore volcanoes and beautiful landscapes, or the bustling city of Jakarta. With the amazing train network in Java it is extremely convenient and affordable to get around the island, so be sure to check out our complete guide to train travel in Java or find all our other articles on Java right here.
And there you have it, everything you need to know about catching the sunrise at the Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta. However, should you have any questions left do not hesitate to leave a comment down below.