Post Summary: The best temples in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and what to expect!
So you’ve seen the beautiful Pura Lempuyang or Tanah Lot temples in Bali.
Maybe even Pura Luhur Poten at the base of Mount Bromo too! Old world culture inspires you, and the beautifully restored temples and monuments bring you a sense of wonder!
If you’re looking to experience more beautiful temples in Indonesia, we highly suggest traveling to Yogyakarta.
Yogyakarta is one of Indonesia’s ancient cities, with a king and queen still ruling today!
It is one of the most cultured and complex cities in all of Indonesia, and a perfect stop to explore the ancient wonders and architectural beauties of Central Java.
In this post, we’re sharing some of the best temples in Yogyakarta to visit on your next trip to Central Java.
We’re also including the best times to visit, admissions prices, and tips on making the most of your trip to this part of Indonesia!
Borobudur and Prambanan In 1 Day
Visiting The Best Temples In Yogyakarta
First of all, where is Yogyakarta, Indonesia?
Yogyakarta, Indonesia is located on the island of Java. Here, the island is sectioned into three parts, West Java, Central Java, and East Java.
Yogyakarta is part of its own special region, located on the southern shore of Central Java.
The blend of fresh, creative minds and beautiful history makes Yogyakarta a magical place to visit.
Surrounding the ancient city are several Hindu and Buddhist temples to visit and explore.
In order to reach Prambanan or Borobudur Temple, there are several options, and we will be sharing the best times and routes to visit each.
We will also be sharing smaller temples in Yogyakarta, and why they deserve a visit while in Indonesia as well!
Borobudur Temple is a UNESCO world heritage site. This famous Yogyakarta temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
It is located in the Kedu Valley of Central Java, an hour’s drive northwest of the city of Yogyakarta. It’s located in the center of the island of Java, Indonesia.
Borobudur Temple is also the most visited site in the entire country.
It is said that about 4 million visitors every year come to see this ancient Indonesian wonder.
History of Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple was estimated to have been built in the 8th or 9th century during the Syailendra Dynasty reign.
It covers 2,520 square meters and was built in three tiers.
The first tier is a large stone pyramid-like base. The second tier includes three circular platforms with balustrades (or walls that support a terrace) with intricately carved designs.
The third and top tier consists of 72 individual stupas, each with their own Buddha statue enclosed inside.
In total, there are 504 Buddha statues in and around Borobudur Temple.
Dutch explorers in the early 1800s rediscovered the temple on an expedition to Semarang, Central Java.
They found it completely overgrown with trees and plants, covering it from view. It took two months to uncover and even more time to restore.
Borobudur Sunrise Tour
Along with the many tours to visit temples of Yogyakarta, there is an option to experience a Borobudur sunrise.
This means you are able to pay for a special sunrise entrance ticket before general admission is allowed.
This service was originally provided to accommodate photographers who wish to catch the sunrise over the many ancient stupas at the top of Borobudur temple.
However, its popularity has grown to include people who wish for a spiritual experience, or visitors who simply want a quieter time to visit Borobudur temple.
This special Borobudur sunrise entrance time is between 4:30 am and 6:00 am.
Many hotels and tour groups will arrange transportation for you, but check with the staff to coordinate this early pickup time!
Borobudur Sunrise Ticket Costs
It costs $35 USD (or 520,000 IDR at the time of this post) for foreigners and 162,500 IDR for local visitors.
In our humble opinion, unless you are a photographer, it’s not worth the price.
It’s very much a tourist trap, and it will be very crowded during this time as well.
SHOULD YOU PAY FOR THE SUNRISE TICKET TO BOROBUDUR?
The kind of experience you are wishing to have during a Borobudur sunrise tour will determine whether the ticket cost is worth it to you or not.
Personally, we think it’s an extremely high price to pay for 15 minutes of a sunrise.
Our suggestion is to go as early as possible for general admission.
That means arriving promptly at 6:00 am. This is when the sun has just risen, so you will get maybe 15 minutes of early morning fog and bliss.
After that, the sun will rise and crowds burn off to avoid the heat. If you can stand the hot weather, this is when Bodubudur is actually the quietest!
Read More: 8 Tips For Taking Amazing Travel Photographs
Highlights Borobudur Temple And Tips For Visiting
Come as Early As Possible for General Admission To Borobudur Temple
We opted to visit Borobudur Temple as soon as it opened for general admission.
This meant that the gates opened at 6 am, and we arrived barely in time for sunrise, without paying the sunrise prices!
We would do it this way again in a heartbeat!
Almost as soon as the sun rose, the crowds scattered, leaving us with a glorious pocket of time with the top all to ourselves.
Spend Time Exploring the Stupas of Borobudur Temple
Borobudur temple is famous for its stupas, which cover the top of the temple.
Wander around the top to find a cluster of them all to yourself, and take photos with the stupas in the foreground and the beautiful Central Java hills in the background.
Inside each one is a Buddha relic, and it is considered good luck if you can reach your hand inside and touch the ear of the statue!
Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia.
It’s located in the Special Region of Yogyakarta and is a 16-kilometer drive outside of the city.
This is a busy area of Yogyakarta, so if you are driving there, expect the trip to take anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour to reach the Hindu temple complex.
It is the largest temple compound dedicated to the Hindu God, Shiva.
Because of its significance to the area, the city of Yogyakarta dedicated the land surrounding the temple as sanctuary land.
This prevents modern day buildings from encroaching on the view or tainting the experience of visiting Prambanan Temple.
There is an interesting mythical story about its origins, which we will explain further below.
History of Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple was said to have been built in the 8th century. During its peak days, there were a total of 240 temples in the Prambanan complex.
Today, only eight main temples, eight small shrines, and two smaller temples remain intact.
The rest are scattered in piles of deteriorating rubble around the complex.
Here’s the short story of its mystical origins…
A powerful bachelor wanted to propose to the queen of the area surrounding Prambanan temple.
The queen didn’t want to marry him, but the bachelor was persistent.
Eventually, the queen thought of a plan to ward him off and gave him an impossible task of building 1000 temples before sunrise.
The bachelor summoned the spirits and ghosts of the land and began building.
He was nearly successful in his attempt, so the queen asked for her servants to begin building a fire and pounding rice, which is a sign for dawn.
The spirits and ghosts thought sunrise had come, so they left before the 1000 temples were finished.
WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT PRAMBANAN TEMPLE?
Prambanan Temple is known for its unique mythical origins and beautiful architecture.
Like Borobudur Temple, you can freely walk around the complex and explore to your heart’s desire (Just make sure you are being respectful!).
There are a lot of bulk ticket options available at hotels and tour companies, which makes obtaining admission to Prambanan easy and affordable to experience.
TICKET PRICES FOR YOGYAKARTA TEMPLES
Ticket prices for Borobudur and Prambanan are cheapest when bought together. Here are the prices separately:
- Borobudur Temple Entrance Fee: 350,000 IDR
- Prambanan Temple Entrance Fee: 350,000 IDR
If you buy both tickets together, the total cost for an international tourist is 580.000 IDR which is around $40 USD.
You can save even more money if you bring your student ID, and get a student discount entrance ticket to Borobudur and Prambanan.
Domestic visitors pay 40.000 IDR for an entrance ticket to both Borobudur and Prambanan Temples.
Read More: 10 Things People Don’t Tell You About Indonesia
OTHER TEMPLES IN YOGYAKARTA
Yogyakarta is full of beautiful and ancient temples.
We found it to be an incredible way to learn about the history of Indonesia, and discover new things about different religions, cultures, and architecture styles.
If you wish to see more during your stay in Yogyakarta, here are some more suggestions for your time in Central Java:
- Ratu Boko
- Sewu Temples
- Tama Sari Tourist Village
- Candi Mendut
- Candi Pawon
- Sambisari Temple
- Plaosan Temple
- Pawon and Mendut Temples (near Borobudur)
GETTING AROUND YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA
Hire a car for the day in Yogyakarta if you plan to visit smaller temples (i.e. not Borobudur or Prambanan).
This will likely cost between 450.000 and 650.000 IDR for a 12 hour day.
Hiring a car means that you will have a driver at your beck and call, and go anywhere without having to wait for a taxi!
If you are brave enough, you can also opt to rent your own motorbike!
This is a very easy and affordable way to get around town, but you must be comfortable driving in chaotic traffic!**
**We would only recommend this option for people who have had prior experience driving motorbikes.