If you are in Yogyakarta, you shouldn’t miss out on a day trip to the mystical Borobudur Temple. Everything you need to know, such as, how much money you’ll need to plan and where you ideally spend the night, we have summarized for you in this Borobudur Temple Guide. Get up early – it’s Borobudur Sunrise time!
Borobudur Temple – Fast facts
Borobudur is derived from the words Bara and Budur. The word Bara means ‘complex of temples’, Budur stands for the ‘above’. Thus, compounded under the Borobudur Temple is a complex of temples located above – on a mountain.
The Borobudur temple complex, designed like a hill, is the largest Buddhist monument in the world, which was built between the years 750 and 850, and thus proud to be 300 years older than Angkor Wat.
The complex is made up of 76 stupas, spread over nine floors and encircling a stupa almost 11m in diameter. Pilgrims pass each of the nine floors seven times clockwise, leaving behind a 5km path.
On the walls of the entire complex carvings can be witnessed that embody the life and work of Buddha.
How to get to Borobudur Temple
The Borobudur Temple is located just outside of the city of Yogya in Java. About 40 km northwest of the city.
We recommend to visit the temple at sunrise, that’s why it would be ideal to start the journey from Yogyakarta around noon.
Tip # 1: You may find other travelers in Yogya on their way to Borobudur, which could make your Grab or Uber trip a little cheaper.
Tip # 2: There are Uber and Grab drivers who don’t want to drive you all the way up to Borobudur for the displayed price within the app. The reason, therefore, is quite understandable, as they have to drive all the way back. Often they cancel the booking and reach out privately to negotiate the price. This can be a bit annoying but you surely will find a ride.
Tip # 3: If you have a scooter already, you can also drive all the way up on your own. Through this, you are flexible and beyond that, you also save a couple of rupiahs.
Where to stay at Borobudur Temple
Prior to our arrival at Borobudur Temple, we researched where to stay best, in order not to get up ridiculously early. As we wanted to do the sunrise tour driving up from Yogya on the same day was not an option. Wahid Borobudur* seemed perfect as it wasn’t only close to the starting point of the Borobudur temple, but also a great value for money.
✐ Address: Jl. Medang Kamulan, Borobudur
$ Price: approx. $30 for a double room
The given fact that visiting the Borobudur temple is a quite touristy thing to do also reflects in prices of accommodation within the area. Accordingly, we were glad to find an accommodation with great and spacious rooms as well as a pool. Even though it was more costly than we would have normally spent per night.
➳ Head this way* and find more accommodation during your time at Borobudur Temple.
Visiting Borobudur Temple – your Borobudur Sunrise!
After arriving at our accommodation, the following opportunities to visit Borobudur were given:
➳ Entrance Borobudur Temple Day ticket: approx. 350,000 Rupiah p.p.
➳ Entrance combined ticket Borobudur + Prambanan: 570,000 Rupiah p.p.
➳ Entrance Borobudur Sunrise Tour (Manohara Hotel): 450,000 Rupiah p.p.
☼ Opening hours Borobudur Temple: 6.00 am – 5.00 pm
You will receive a $ 10 discount when presenting a student card. That applies for all tours but the sunrise tour.
We decided in favor of the sunrise tour, which was clear before arrival because we love sunrises. Not only to see, but also to capture them with our cameras.
So we went to bed early because the next day started early: around 4 am the alarm clock rang, as the free “shuttle” provided from our accommodation brought us to the entrance of the temple at 4.20 am. Shuttle bus sounds different from what we’ve actually received. As the two of us have been the only guests that night, interested in going to Borobudur for sunrise, we got two scooters including drivers. Quickly jumped on it, 5 minutes later we arrived at the starting point.
During sunrise, the temples in Borobudur can just be reached through a single entrance. Smart, as exactly here the Hotel Manohara is located, which again charges an entrance fee. More precisely, you’ll have to pay 450,000 rupiahs for entry at 4.30 am.
If you do not necessarily want to see the temples during sunrise, the usual entrances open at 6 am and close at 5 pm. There is nothing additional to pay beside the usual ticket, so you only pay 325,000 rupiah.
The tickets had already been pressed into our hands by our drivers, we grabbed two flashlights (!) and went for a walk. We always followed the signs and with a few more visitors in the back, we walked through the dark. After the control gate, only a few more steps up and we were there, in the middle of some flashlights. The bright light blinded us and it was hard to see something for a short while. A few tourists had already gathered up here and essential questions quickly came up: Where does the sun go up? Which is the best place?
So, we looked for the best place, planned the camera position and settings and stayed there for a few minutes. After us, more and more tourists climbed up the stairs, which dampened our mood a bit. It was also naive to expect, there would be just a few people but we thought it would be quieter because we did not choose the best weather.
Tip #1: Bring a jacket and a pullover, it becomes cold!
Minutes passed and slowly the sky lit up. The sun was rising, trying to break through the clouds, but unfortunately did not make it. It became brighter and the location special, with a mystical atmosphere, because of mist lying in the surrounding valley. A mysterious and magical moment!
With the sunrise, most visitors left the complex again but we walked around and looked for some nice photo opportunities. Always nicer with fewer people.
After we had processed the first impressions, we slowly strolled back the way and crossed the – in our eyes pretty disturbing – maze of a gazillion of tourist traps.
Tips for visiting Borobudur Temple
Tip #1: Calculate, it won’t be dirt cheap!
Think twice if the trip, accommodation and the ticket are worth the money. A certainly insane experience but especially when traveling on a budget, not exactly cheap.
Tip #2: Decide in favor of an accommodation close to Borobudur, not in Yogya. Something where you can relax after coming back from your trip.
Tip #3: Be early, it will get crowded!
Be there early enough, it gets quite crowded during sunrise. We were there during low season and many tourists were here already. Hard to imagine what it looks like in high season.
Tip # 4: The exact time the sun rises varies.
Do you come to the sunrise, look ahead to see exactly when the sun is rising. That varies a lot depending on the season.
Tip # 5: Have a look at the weather forecast!
Have an eye on the weather. We had a bit of bad luck as it was quite cloudy and the golden sun rays were missing. For Borobudur and Java in general, it seems to be characteristic that the weather is often cloudy.
Tip # 7: Do not forget flashlights.
For the way up flashlights are needed. So be sure to bring some.
Tip # 8: Right clothes.
A jacket should be in the luggage and shoulders covered.
Conclusion – Borobudur Tempel: Yay or Nay?
Frankly speaking, we found the tourist attraction a bit overpriced. Without a question, the temple complex is impressive, magical and somehow unique. But $30 for the sunrise ticket is quite a lot, especially when you are used to normal Indonesian prices already. The moment in which you stand rooted and can not get a word out was unfortunately missing. Not because of what we saw, but rather because of the many visitors who were chattering and taking pictures with mobile phone flashes. This somehow destroyed the beautiful atmosphere. Sure, we also took pictures but tried to be calm and quiet. We have to say that pure nature without tons of visitors impressed us much more. For example, in Hpa-An, Myanmar.
We can only advise you to consider if you want to spend comparatively a lot money on this attraction. If not, consider visiting the temple at the regular times, because you pay far less. Or consider a different destination.
We certainly had a wonderful start of the day but would think twice if we had to make the decision to visit Borobudur Temple again.
We hope we were able to help with your decision and have given you enough tips around the Borobudur Temple! If you have any questions, just let me know.
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