Borobudur and Prambanan – Why you should visit!

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Borobudur

The majority of the people visiting Indonesia will at least visit one temple, because that’s one of Indonesia’s things: Temples! Although my tolerance for historic monuments and cultural relics is restricted to the sheer minimum, I was however quite enthusiast at the prospect of visiting the impressive temples of Borobudur and Prambanan!

Why you should visit Borobudur and Prambanan?

  • You will learn a lot about the Indonesian culture, the zaman Hindu-Buddha or “Indianized period”, ( 4th to 15th centuries).
  • You will for sure experience a shivery feeling while standing in front of those majestic curiosities
  • They are just picture perfect, so don’t forget your camera
  • A visit of a Temple combined with another activity can become an extraordinary adventure.

So, get your camera gear and sunglasses and prepare for some really fun cultural stuff!

Borobudur

On Google Maps
Borobudur is the world's largest Buddhist shrine made of 55 000m3 of stone and listed as UNESCO… Click To Tweet

Its narrative panels tell the story of the lives of Buddha and his reincarnations. The temple was built during the 8th and 9th century.
At the top you’ll come face to face with sculptures of Buddha sitting in a stûpa. Try to reach through the bell and touch the sculpture. Apparently, if you succeed, everything you’ve ever wished for comes true… Try very hard, I never managed to touch even a millimeter of those stone statues even though I was quite excited by the outcome and very dedicated to the life changing touch!

The impressive temple of Borodudur
Buddha of Borodudur without the stûpa

That being said, the temple of Borobudur is very impressive and I have to admit that I experienced a “goose-bumpy” moment as I first laid my eyes upon that massive monument.

The site of Borobudur seen from the temple

If you plan on visiting Borobudur, keep in mind:

  • The stairs are steep
  • The weather is very hot
  • You have to cover shoulders and knees to enter the holy site; bring your own sarong if you wear shorts and a tank top and if you don’t own one, a sarong is provided at the entrance of the place.
  • It’s the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia, so be ready to have a bit of a meltdown if you’re visiting during high period. The best time to visit is during the shoulder period and especially during Ramadan, we almost had the temple to ourselves!
  • I have to admit that getting out of the site is a bit of a hassle, since the authorities let the tourists go on a long, hot and tedious pilgrimage through a small market (that almost has the size of a village) of tourist stalls.

How to travel to Borobodur from Yogyakarta?

There’s no right or wrong decision here, you are spoiled for choices: You can travel to Borodudur by public transport, by car with a driver, by motorbike or even by bicycle. Choose according to your fitness level, your budget and your need for comfort.

We chose the (air-conditioned) car with the driver. It’s a tailor-made solution. We also made small a detour to the temples of Mendut and Pawon.

Prambanan

On Google Maps

The temples of Prambanan

Prambanan is a Hindu temple from the 10th century and is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage. Click To Tweet
The Prambanan site encloses the temples of Prambanan,  Sewu, Bubrah and the temple of Lumbung. The temple of Prambanan itself is composed of 240 temples…so, lots and lots of temples to see!

Cycling from Yogya to the Prambanan Temples

As I already wrote before there is more than one way to get to the temples departing from Yogyakarta. We decided to try a non-motorized alternative: Cycling! Yeayyyy!!!!

Where can you book your tour?

The competition of tour operators in Yogyakarta is fierce! You can book your trip at your hotel, on the internet or around Jl. Prawirotaman street in the city centre, a self-proclaimed stronghold for tour operators!

Here’s where I’d like to invite you to discover Via Via Yogyakarta on Jl. Prawirotaman (where else) an Eco friendly and sustainable cooperative and travel agency. Here you can book your trips, shop, enjoy Yoga classes, book a table or sleep in their guest house.
Indonesian students guide the tours, which makes the experience even more fun, because you get to see the Indonesian culture from their point of view and through their individual personalities.

We booked our cycling adventure with them and truly had a blast. Click To Tweet
You don’t have to be overly sporty to do this trip, but its’ recommended to start early in the morning, because of Yogya’s traffic jams and the heat.

By the way, go to ViaVia half an hour before your trip, there you can eat a hearty breakfast!

What do you see while cycling?

Once you left Yogyakarta’s centre on your bike (and survived during your cruise through the huge intersections) you’ll cycle through idyllic Javanese villages, sugar cane and rice fields. It’s about 25km cycling from Yogyakarta to the temples.

Water buffalos in a village on our way to the temples
Endless ricefields

When you arrive at Prambanan you’ll have the possibility to book a minivan with Via Via to go back to Yogyakarta or you can still cycle back if you feel up to it. Don’t laugh, when we did the cycle tour it was so hot, I happily admired the majority of the Prambanan temples from shady spots puffing and huffing along with a really red face. But… we cycled back!

So, quite honestly, if you are fit enough to cycle, just go for this trip. It was a fantastic trip, with really nice people, great laughter and it was a refreshing experience after 3 days of temple visits in Yogyakarta.

The Yogyakarta Bicycle Gang

I’d like to think of this happy trip as my own little Yogyakarta Bicycle Gang get-together.

By the way, Indonesia has almost an endless plethora of temples up its sleeve, so go wild and enjoy your visit!

What will be your highlight on the trip to Indonesia, do you already know what you want to see? Let us know!

Stay tuned for some more tips for your trip in Indonesia.

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