The largest Buddhist monument in the world
On the following day after our very packed cultural sightseeing day we had at Prambanan archaeological park and nearby temples, the next obliged visit was to Borobudur temple, a little bit more far from Yogyakarta than the previous one at some 40 kilometres northwest from the city, around 1 hour away. This is the most visited monument in the entire country and also the finest, without any doubt one of the key reasons why to visit Indonesia. No wonder it is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Once again, as it was the case for the Prambanan complex and surroundings, a day is well more than enough to visit the entire place and the nearby minor temples. In fact, half a day is all you will really need in this case, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the site at a slow pace. It was such our case that on this same day we flew to Surabaya later in the late afternoon. In the other hand, of course, there are way too many more temples scattered nearby and all around Yogyakarta that could easily keep you busy for some days should you be looking to visit them, or at least the most important ones.
Borobudur in any case will impress you from the beginning, and the many hundreds of pictures you can take in such short time from every angle is priceless. The most spectacular one is when heading towards the exit when you will get to see the entire temple from far on two of its sides and all of its height and levels. Expect nevertheless thousands of tourists everywhere, unlike much quieter Prambanan.
For more information about Borobudur check the Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Indonesia’s currency is the Rupiah (IDR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
How to get there
The archaeological park is located 40 kilometers to the northwest of Yogyakarta. The cheapest way to get to Borobudur is by bus. While buses depart from Jombor bus station in the north of Yogyakarta, you can get either a taxi or the Transjogja buses 2A or 2B from downtown to the bus station. A single ticket on the Transjogja is IDR 3600, and the bus from Jombor to Borobudur bus station is IDR 25000. The total journey time from downtown Yogya is around one hour and a half, taking in consideration both buses and possible waiting time in Jombor bus terminal. You can pay for your ticket once inside the bus. The most comfortable option, however, is by getting a car with a driver previous negotiation of the fare and keep it for as long as you need, even if this is for the entire day. This way not only will save you loads of time, but you will also move comfortably, saving you the walk under the heat which is in fact a long one between the other temples.
Entrance costs and opening hours
As of October 2015, the entrance fee to Borobudur archaeological park is IDR 250000 (125000 for students or seniors), but if you are planning to visit both Borobudur and Prambanan sites in the same day then you can get a ticket for both even if this is not clearly announced at the entrance gates. But remember, the ticket is only valid for the same day. For the most up-to-date information on times and prices, check the official website here.
The sites are open from 06.00am until 17.00pm. The best time to reach the main temple is at opening time, since around 9.00am the hordes of tourists start to arrive on mass, but around 15.00pm the site becomes quite empty again when the majority of people on tours are leaving the site. In any case, and in order to see as many places as possible, do not plan to come here later than 10.00am. From own experience, the sites listed below are absolutely possible to see if starting your day at 10.00am, allowing you plenty of free time in the afternoon.
What to see and how to plan your visit
- Borobudur Archaeological Park
-Candi Borobudur Built in the 9th century during the Sailendra Dynasty in typical Javanese Buddhist architecture, it holds the title as the largest Buddhist monument in the world with also the most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world. It has 9 levels, 6 of them square and the remaining 3 concentric, with a large stupa at the top in its centre. Several dozens of smaller stupas with Buddhas inside them scatter along all the levels in a complex system of corridors and stairs.
-Candi Pawon Is the second oldest temple in the area after Candi Mendut (mentioned below). Located around 1.75 kilometres to the east of Borobudur. Compared to Borobudur this might look to you as worthless to visit, really small yet still is a beautiful place to see in combination with the other ones.
-Candi Mendut Is the oldest of the three temples. Located 3 kilometres to the east from Borobudur, little over 1 from Candi Pawon on a straight line. Extremely well preserved and restored, lie inside a beautiful garden. Also, as mentioned in the one above, it is nice to combine those minor temples with the visit of the main and huge Borobudur, because on their own alone are not much special.
Since the largest city near all those temples is Yogyakarta, the chances that this will be your city base are almost 100%. Therefore, and on the same note I described this for that travel guide, I leave the same information here below:
Searching for a good deal was, in the other hand, not that easy. Most of the usual hotel search engines retrieved results for night without breakfast, while the very few showing included breakfast were setting the total cost per night quite high. Still, after a longer search and effort we managed to find a great deal at one of the top hotels in the city! A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
We stayed at the Meliá Purosani, in Jalan Suryotomo no. 31. Literally a very short walk from the old Dutch Fort, 10 minutes to the Sultan’s Palace north gate, and barely 20 minutes away from the Tugu train station along Malioboro Street, where buses to Prambanan and Borobudur also depart. It is really almost impossible to beat this central location, not to mention the property itself. Huge, large and beautifully landscaped outdoor heated pool, huge included breakfast and every possible facility you can imagine as sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and gym also free of use to anyone staying in. The staff was extremely polite and professional at any time since we stepped inside until we checked out, and cannot think of any reason why to say something negative. The room was truly generous spacious, with nice view to the garden and pool, extra large comfortable bed and really nice decor everywhere. It will be without any hesitation my first choice should I return to this city.