The third stop in our SEA by Train vacation in Indonesia, Borobudur.

As soon as we got to Malioboro Street from Prambanan, we immediately looked for a taxi service that would take us to Borobudur. We were able to haggle for a lower rate of IDR 200,000 from the original 400,000. It’s around a two-hour drive from Yogyakarta to Borobudur.

Most tourists visit Borobudur as part of a day tour. We, however, wanted to experience the Borobudur sunrise. I’ve read a lot of blogs describing how wonderful it is. We wanted to see for ourselves.

Be Informed

Borobudur is the single largest Buddhist structure in the world. The temple was built on the 8th century and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

Borobudur Temple Complex

Borobudur Temple Complex Schedule:
6 am to 5 pm

Borobudur Temple Complex Admission Rate:
IDR 230,000 / IDR 110,000 for students
These are rates for foreigners. Indonesians pay less, around IDR 30,000.

Visitors are required to wear a sarong while inside the temple, regardless if you are wearing pants or long skirts. Sarongs are available at the reception and is part of the admission ticket.

Please be aware that Borobudur, like Prambanan, is considered a holy place and people still go to these places for pilgrimage. There are a lot of temple staff making sure that everybody acts accordingly.

You may also hire a guide at the reception, rates start at IDR 75,000.

Sunrise & Sunset Tour by Manohara Hotel

One of the most visited sites in all of Indonesia, Borobudur is never without a throng of people. The best way to see Borobudur, and avoid the crowds, is on a sunrise or sunset tour.

Located inside the Borobudur temple grounds and managed by the temple authorities, Manohara hotel is the only place where these exclusive tours can be booked.

Borobudur Sunrise/Sunset
Borobudur Sunrise/Sunset Schedule:
Sunrise – Guests are allowed to enter the temple complex at 4:30 am
Sunset – Guests are allowed to stay in the temple until 6:30 pm

Borobudur Sunrise/Sunset Rates:
Foreigner – IDR 380,000
Locals – IDR 250,000
Hotel guests – IDR 230,000

A torch is provided for these tours. Also, a light breakfast or afternoon tea is included with the ticket. You may check their website for further details.

If you’re planning to stay at Manohara, make sure to book early. We made inquiries three months before our visit and the hotel is already fully booked.

Rajasa Hotel

Just a few meters from the Borobudur temple grounds is Rajasa Hotel. A great option if you’re going on a Borobudur sunrise tour. Just make sure to let the reception know. They lock the gates at night, you’d have to wake them up to open it for you in the morning.

Get the room at the back of the hotel, it has a great view of rice paddies and the surrounding mountains. An air-conditioned room with hot shower, free-flowing Java coffee and free breakfast is IDR 250,000. Fan rooms are also available. Temperatures, even at noon, is not that hot, and gets real cold at night

If you’re able to book a room in Manohara hotel inside Borobudur temple complex or at another hotel, I suggest checking out Rajasa for the food. Prices range from only IDR 15,000 to 25,000. I enjoyed everything we ordered and are some of the best meals I’ve had during the entire trip.

You may send them an email for further inquiries.

Sunrise

We arrived at Manohara Hotel at around 4:15 am. At the front desk, you will be provided with a torch and a sarong. A hotel staff will accompany you to Borobudur’s entrance. From there you can make your way to the top of the temple to watch the sunrise.

Borobudur is hidden by the numerous trees inside the temple grounds with only its top most stupa peeking from above the tree tops. Once you’re past these, you’re guaranteed to be awe-struck by the sheer enormity of the monument.

Despite arriving at Borobudur around 4:15 in the morning, and the tour scheduled at 4:30 am, there were already a good number of people at the top choosing the best spots and setting up their cameras.

Set in a plain, you can see the lights from houses and buildings around Borobudur. I can only imagine how it must have been like for those who re-discovered this ancient monument.

Once the sun starts giving off its faint glow, you begin to see more of the horizon and appreciate just how dramatic the backdrop is. With two twin volcanoes surrounding Borobudur, the Sundoro-Sumbing and Merbabu-Merapi. I absolutely love how the light made the mountains look blue, it was like one of those old paintings.

The already majestic experience was made more special by the sun rising between the volcanoes Merbabu and Merapi. How postcard perfect!

Middle Levels

After a few good hours of just staring at the beautiful sunrise, we started exploring the massive Borobudur. Since we’re already at the top most level, we decided to go about the temple from the top going down in a clockwise manner. Opposite how pilgrims do it, ascending from the foot of Borobudur to the very top.

Borobudur’s ten levels are grouped in three divisions symbolizing the three realms of Buddhist cosmology, the world of desires, the world of forms and the formless world.

The three middle levels of Borobudur represent the formless world. Here, the platforms are circular, no reliefs on the walls and has a more open feel. There are a total 72 stupas on these levels, each housing a Buddha.

At the very peak of Borobudur is a large, central stupa. A representation of Nirvana.

Lower Levels

There are six levels comprising the Lower levels. These terraces are square in shape and are adorned by intricate reliefs. The closer the levels are to the base of Borobudur, the more intricate the carvings and the higher the walls become. These, I believe, represent the world of forms.

This time we didn’t hire a guide, so there’s no one to explain what the reliefs are about. From what I’ve read, these represent Buddha’s journey to attain Nirvana.

The platform at the base of Borobudur is said to represent the world of desires. A portion of the base have been carved out to show the reliefs hidden there by the addition of the platform.

Final Thoughts

I will not be exaggerating when I say that Borobudur is truly awe-inspiring. Looking at the temple makes you feel so small and wonder how the people of Java were able to build the behemoth structure centuries past.

So, should you shell out the extra IDR 150,000 and lesser hours of sleep to see the Borobudur sunrise? The answer is an astounding YES! Don’t even bother thinking twice about it. It’s a small price to pay considering the experience you will get.

The amazing view and a few hours of having to explore the majestic Borobudur temple with fewer guests is worth so much more than the additional Rupiahs.

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27 Comments

  1. rainbowjournal

    Hello, Thanks for visiting my blog! Did you mean if we took a packaged tour going to Borobudur? We went there ourselves, hired a van and bought tickets for the Borobudur Sunrise Tour at Manohara Hotel. :)

  2. Borobudur sunrise

    this packed borobudur tour from more days rainbowjournal?

  3. Rainbow Journal

    Majestic truly is a fitting adjective for Borobudur! Hope you do get to visit the temple one day.

  4. Christian Melanie Lee

    Majestic temple…whoa! Hope that makapunta ako sa temple na yan one day.

  5. Rainbow Journal

    Surrounding Borobudur are expansive rice fields. We were lucky that the hotel we stayed in has a great view. Hope you were able to get some tips from this article when you visit Borobudur. :)

  6. Slick Master

    Aside from the temple, I love the photos which appeared like a provincial scenario here – I mean the wide-ranging fields. Well, I hope I can visit this place soon!

  7. Rainbow Journal

    Thanks Alexa! I'm sure you've been to many places too. :)
    I also like the look of your blog. Clean, simple and contemporary.

  8. Alexa Santos

    You made me envious because of your article! lol but its a nice blog anyway :)

  9. Rainbow Journal

    Stephanie Mayo , I suggest bringing your own sarong when you visit Indonesia. Most temples there, especially in Bali, require guests to wear a sarong. It will save you from renting sarongs at each temple. :)

  10. Rainbow Journal

    There are a lot of places to see and things to do in Indonesia. When you visit Borobudur, do see it at sunrise or sunset. :)

  11. Stephanie Mayo

    Rainbow Journal Yes, this was new to me: that visitors are required to wear a sarong while inside the temple. :)

  12. Janice Lim

    Wow! I've never traveled to Indonesia before but when I do, I'll definitely visit this place.

  13. Rainbow Journal

    Hope you were able to get some ideas from this article when you visit Borobudur. :)

  14. Stephanie Mayo

    I hope to visit there someday soon. :)

  15. Rainbow Journal

    That's good to hear. I hope you'd make/find time to see Borobudur at sunrise. :)

  16. Brian Macasa

    Awesome!!! We really are planning to go there by December! Good thing you gave me an idea! :)

    http://doktour.blogspot.com

    CHeers!~

  17. Rainbow Journal

    Borobudur truly is breathtaking. :)

  18. Kaycee Enerva

    breathtaking!

  19. Rainbow Journal

    I think it would be great if you can take your wife with you. It's really romantic. Para break na din from all that Koreanovela. Hahaha! :)

  20. Rainbow Journal

    Hopefully you'd get a chance to travel Indonesia soon and see such amazing places as Borobudur! :)

  21. Jerome Lupisan

    Man, didn't think about the sunrise when I went there. Now here's an itch to go back there. At Rp 250000 a night, that's quite a good price.

  22. Sherlane Fortunado

    Thank you for sharing your travel adventure with us. I have never been to Indonesia and blog like this inspires me to travel and see the place on my own eyes. Adding this in my bucket list.

  23. Rainbow Journal

    Borobudur is indeed a beautiful place.
    I remember our trip to Thailand. We bought pants at a store in Khao San Road so we don't have to keep on renting sarongs. :)

  24. Rainbow Journal

    Borobudur still has that feel, especially if you go there on a sunrise/sunset. And there are also monks and common people doing the pilgrimage.

  25. Cla Martinez Badong

    I wonder if the temple has maintained its holy atmosphere common with places of worship, which is soothing & calming to ones psyche.

  26. Lauren Ashley

    Cool! The place is beautiful. Just like in Thailand. When you enter the temple you need to wear sarong I f you are wearing shorts or skirts.

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