Borobudur: a magical place

One of the main reasons we went to Yogyakarta was to visit Borobudur. It is the biggest Buddhist temple in Indonesia, wow!

A bit of history

The temple of Borobudur is composed of two million stone blocks, mounted one on top of another to build a symmetrical stupa. It was built between the 8th and 9th century but it is not known exactly who made it! Its base has no less than 118 meters in diameter. In total, Borobudur has 6 square levels topped by 3 circular levels. If we see it from the sky, Borobudur has the form of a tantric mandala that represents the Buddhist vision of the cosmos: it begins with the terrestrial world and ends with nirvana, the Buddhist paradise.

How to get to Borobudur from Yogyakarta?

It is possible to get to Borobudur on our own, but as we were only three days in Yogyakarta we decided to go through an agency to do the combo of the two temples (Borobudur and Prambanan) in a single day. We chose the agency Losari and his excursion “sunrise from the hill + visit of Borobudur + Prambanan” for 140,000 IDR per person (10 €). The agency takes care of transportation by van (we were only 4 people) and you will have to pay the entrance fees to the temples.

Visiting Borobudur

Departure from the hotel

We woke up at 3 in the morning, ugh! The driver came to pick us up first and very punctual, so we set off towards the point where we would see the sunrise. On the way we stopped to pick up a couple of English people and continued for another hour on the way. The driver explained a little what we were seeing on the side of the road, and it was quite nice although we were still half awake!

View from the hill

After an hour’s ride we finally reached the lookout , located on top of a hill with direct views of the temple. It was still dark when we parked in a parking lot where there were already quite a lot of people. The driver tells us that we have an hour or so to see the sunrise and return to the car. So we start to go up to the lookout, and 10 minutes later we are there. By the way we advise you to wear closed shoes because up there is full of mud, and if it has rained the previous night much more!

We waited almost half an hour before the sun began to come out. There was a lot of fog that day and even a little rain, but when the sun started to come out the view was beautiful. We really liked the views from the hill, but thought the temple was closer! If you want to make nice photos, you better leave your goPro in your bag and prepare a camera with a decent zoom!

Arrival to Borobudur

After dawn we returned to the car and headed towards Borobudur. The temple opens its doors at 6 but at 6 and a half there were already a lot of people! And here we saw a brief introduction of what awaited us during the rest of the day: hundreds of young students would greet us and begin to scream like hysterical fans when we raised our hands to say “Hello!”. Welcome to Indonesia mister and miss!

The guide had already paid the tickets for us so we walked straight in and were given a coffee and tea. If you wish you can hire a volunteer guide in exchange for a tip. The ticket for foreigners is 270,000 IDR (about 20 €) but if you buy the combined ticket you will pay a little less. Indonesians pay much cheaper.

Visiting Borobudur

Once inside the enclosure, we had a couple of hours to visit the temple and Borobudur museum. And seeing the number of people there were already, we decided to start directly by the temple and climb up to the top as soon as we arrived. Arriving at the temple it’s awesome! And even though it was very early, the heat was already suffocating.

When descending to the lower floors we crossed the different levels in spiral to admire the precious bas-reliefs and the statues. It is a magnificent place!

Our moment of fame

When we were sitting on top of the temple trying to rest, several groups of students came to ask us to take selfies with them! They stopped us for pictures, interviews in English and a thousand questions. The first 400 selfies are funny, but in the end our cheeks hurt from smiling so much! It took us over 30 minutes to go back down the stairs, because everyone was saying “excuse me mister and miss, selfie with me?” And everyone wanted a photo. Even the parents wanted “selfie with me!”. A real moment of glory (and surely the only one) 😉

The museum

After visiting the temple, we went to see the museum but we did not find it interesting. It is a garden where you will see original stones of Borobudur, and also some explanations on its restoration. But it was empty!

Getting out is really a maze! Can you imagine the path at Ikea, where you are forced to go through all the sections before you get out? Well the exit of Borobudur is the same but with a market of souvenirs and gifts… only that there are no shortcuts here! We walked through a lot of aisles with t-shirts, jewelry, etc … and 15 minutes later we managed to find the exit. Luckily the driver had to be accustomed and waited for us!

Our opinion about Borobudur

We really liked Borobudur. The monument is simply stunning and original! Its construction and architecture are very different from any other temple we have visited, and we really liked it! The temple is part of the World Heritage of UNESCO and we advise you to visit it without hesitation if you are in Yogyakarta.

Tips for visiting Borobudur

  • Wear long clothes, otherwise they will lend you sarongs at the entrance.
  • It is very hot so bring water and something to protect you from the sun.
  • Bring good shoes (especially if you go to see the sunrise).
  • Take at least two hours to visit Borobudur, the place is great and you will stop fourteen thousand times when asked for photos!
  • Try to go during the week, as the weekend there are more people and it is more expensive.
  • Buy combined tickets to visit Borobudur and Prambanan, save a few rupees!

After visiting Borobudur, we set out for Prambanan.