I was considering if I should write a post about visiting Yogyakarta in October of last year in addition to my upcoming spring break trip there, and decided that I will just combine the two trips into one post. But, Borobudur deserves a post of its own!
Most tourists come to Yogyakarta to visit Borobudur, but what they might not realize is that Borobudur is about 2 hours OUTSIDE of Yogyakarta! My hotel in Yogyakarta offered to organize an official taxi for me at double the price of a Grab taxi. I was worried about not being able to find a Grab that wanted to go on such a long drive, but since there are many people who take day trips there I didn’t have any problems. Grab is worth using in this city!
I was thrilled to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site! It’s the world’s biggest Buddhist temple, standing 113 feet tall and consisting of nine stacked platforms topped by a central dome. It was built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Circling this central dome are 72 bell-shaped stupas, each containing a seated Buddha statue.
Kid TIP: Leave your stroller at home for Borobudur! There are a ton of stairs and I was able to climb with my son strapped on my chest at 10 months old, but now I would put him on my back to make the climb easier. You will get a fantastic leg workout by doing the steps while carrying a toddler!
Many people go to Borobudur at sunrise for all of the gorgeous pics. My son was 10 months old when I was visiting so there was no way in HEEEELLLL that I planned on waking him up a minute earlier than he felt like getting up so that was NOT going to happen for me. Instead, we found a guide via our hotel who picked us up and brought us to the temple for a private tour at 7AM.
A few benefits of skipping the sunrise tour also became evident. I had my KITAS with me so I was able to get in at a fraction of the sunrise tour prices that I saw advertised everywhere. Also, by coming a few hours after sunrise but still before the main tour groups, I hardly saw or heard any people. My guide was able to show me the carvings on the temple and took some decent pics of S and me without any tourists around to crowd our photos.
Save your money: if you are planning on seeing Prambanan (the Hindu temple located just an hour from Yogyakarta) as well as Borobudur, ask for the combo ticket.
Of course, by the time we climbed all of the steps to the top level after doing our mini photoshoot, there were a couple of groups of local kids to contend with who wanted to practice their English with me, but we were still able to avoid them for the most part.
Where to Stay
If you’re interested in catching the sunrise from Borobudur, then you might consider staying at the Manohara Resort (about $140/night). It’s the only hotel directly on the grounds of the temple. While it is supposed to be very lovely, I am much too budget-conscious to stay there!
Instead, we stayed at Wahid Borobudur (about $30/night) which has a small swimming pool, free breakfast and is only about a 15-minute walk from the main entrance to the temple. You can easily just stay one night if you organize your time well, but I gave myself two nights here just in case.
Where to Eat
I looked at google maps and nothing showed up around me that looked appetizing. Most people just take day trips from the city so it was all just really basic food around. Instead of wandering around to try to find something off the map, we just ate at our hotel.
Love Yogyakarta!! Thanks for the memories. Did you encounter the hawkers as you left the temples? They felt like paparazzi. Totally worth it though! The mystic aura is captivating!
I just recently went there for the first time. It was such a short trip, so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time, but I did see Borobudor at sunrise. Totally not worth the 3am wake up call! I should have done what you did. Thanks for sharing your tips!