Home Other Countries Indonesia Day 04 in Indonesia – Exploring Vast Borobudur

Day 04 in Indonesia – Exploring Vast Borobudur

After a very good sleep at Venezia Homestay, our second day in Yogyakarta, Indonesia dawned on us. Marj, Popoi and I quickly freshened ourselves up for the day’s activities. The plan – visit Borobudur (a 9th-century Buddhist temple) early in the morning then at about 10AM head to Dieing Plateau for some highland views and nature immersion.

For this post, I’ll be focusing on Candi Borobudur because it definitely deserves a dedicated post. To me, it was even more fascinating than beautiful Prambanan visited the previous afternoon.

at Borobudur temple
Marj, me and Popoi in Borobudur Indonesia

Breakfast near Borobudur

We booked this trip through our guest house still, which did a very good job at accommodating us by the way. In fact, Aji, one of the owners drove us around for this day. I believe he was still in his late twenties and spoke good English. Certainly enjoyed talking to him, especially his stories about climbing various mountains in Indonesia.

Since this tour started around 5AM-ish and it takes around 1.5 hrs to get to the temple from the guest house, we were told we’ll set off first and have breakfast at one of the warungs near the Borobudur entrance.

Exploring Vast Borobudur

The temple is huge (reportedly the largest Buddhist temple in the world) so prepare for a lot of walking and climbing several steep stairs. Dedicate at least 2 hours for exploring this place; you won’t regret it.

We hired a guide named Midi, one of the official (licensed and uniformed) guides you can hire through the tickets counter. You may choose not to get a guide, but I wanted to hear the details, history and stories of the place so we went for a tour guide. Midi definitely made it worthwhile to pay for his services.

touring Borobudur with a guide
on the right is me with our very helpful guide Midi; on the left is the boulder listing the countries that helped restore this huge temple. The Philippines helped to. Find ‘Pilipina’ ^_^

Wearing the provided sarong was once again required before entering the main temple complex. A free bottle of water was also provided.

Midi wove a tale of how Borobudur was once an important part of a now defunct kingdom; that the place used to be bustling with both worshipers and traders. But then socio-political struggles and a succession of volcanic eruptions led to the abandonment of the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Buried under heavy ashfall and left to the mercy of the wildly growing jungle, Borobudur’s glory days ceased. As years passed, locals came to whisper tales of misfortune associated with the place.

Fast forward to 1811 when Java went under the rule of the British administration, Borobudur’s existence reached the ears of the governor in charge – Governor-General Raffles. He then sent a Dutch engineer to investigate and unearth the monument. It took years and different people to fully remove the ashfall and vegetation from this Javenese Buddhist architecture and years more to restore it. Now, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is once more alive with pilgrims and tourists flocking by the millions to explore its nooks and crannies.

things to see in Borobudur
explore the temple and enjoy to your heart’s content all the ancient carvings, scripts and symbolism all over the place
explore Borobudur for at least a couple of hours
my friends and I definitely enjoyed our 3 hours exploration of this UNESCO heritage site while being regaled with stories and history by Midi our guide.
stupas you can find at Borobudur temple
Stupas are a common feature in Buddhist temples. Midi said it symbolizes the three meager possessions of a monk – folded robes at the bottom, bowl for begging alms in the middle and the walking rod is that protruding vertical shape at the top.

How to Get to Borobudur and Budget

From the center of Yogyakarta, there are several ways one can get to Borobudur:

  • how to get there option #1 (convenient):  Book a tour with your hotel. They can arrange an air-conditioned van to take you to and fro. What we booked was a whole day tour that combined Borobudur and Dieng Plateau which cost us IDR 210,000/per person (that’s about $17 or Php 745.00). Not bad considering the distance covered plus this is inclusive of fuel and driver plus light breakfast.
  • how to get there option #2 (public transport):  Take the bus from either Giwangan or Jombor bus stations. This is information obtained from the internet and according to same info, this can cost aroud IDR 15,000-20,000. People have advised however not to take the bus if you don’t speak Indonesian because you might have a hard time.
  • how to get there option #3 (car rental):  There are are many car rental companies in Yogyakarta so search around for the best costs.
  • Travel Time from Yogyakarta central: 1 hour to 1 hour & 30 minutes depending on traffic. Since we set off at 5AM, there wasn’t any traffic and I think we arrived there in less than an hour.
  • Borobudur entrance ticket:  IDR 230,000 for adult non-Indonesians when bought at the temple’s ticket counter. Your hotel might be able to give you a discount on this.
  • Borobudur guide (OPTIONAL):  IDR 200,000 for about 2hrs. One guide can accompany 3-5 people though (or maybe even more). Since there were three of us, that meant we paid around IDR 67,000 each (about $6 or Php 240.00)
  • Exploration time:  Spend around 2 to 3 hours in the place. Take all the pictures you want! ^_~ Your guide can help you with this. Our guide was great at bringing us to spots where we can take photos as if we were alone at the place
  • Extra tips:  Best to wear a hat and don’t forget the sunscreen, especially if you’re traveling there during the hotter season. Speaking of season, there will be a huge crowd during peak season. No matter what time you visit though, the place is awesome and you’ll surely enjoy it.

DISCLAIMER: Prices / costs change depending on time and currency exchange rates. We had this trip last 2013 so costs must have really changed by now. (And yeah I blogged so late about this. *facepalm). Best to do research.

just how big is Borobudur
wondering how big Borobudur is? Have this picture for scale. The whole place, including the well-maintained grounds is HUGE

After Borobudur, the day wasn’t finished yet as we headed to Dieing Plateau to gaze down a volcano crater and wonder at a highland temple.


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