Jul 22, 2019

8 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Borobudur @ Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Hello again!

We’re still on the topic of travel in the month of July. Today I’m dropping 8 travel tips for Borobudur.

Located in Yogjakarta, the Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It was built around 750 AD and have gone through several reconstructions. Due to the large temple area, work to restore the temple still ongoing in parts of the temple.

The temple has 9 layers symbolizing the nine levels to nirvana. Unlike other temples where there is an indoor structure, this temple is open and exposed. You don't see the typical joss sticks, offering and burning of offering papers. Worshippers come from around the world to chant and bring their intention to be fulfilled.

1. Borobudur location

First of all, you need to know that Borobudur is not anywhere near the city area. Public transport is also not easily available. To get to Borobudur Temple, we hired a personal driver. It might cost some money, but it was worth it.

2. Sunrise viewing

A lot of tourists try to catch the sunrise at the Borobudur. But take note that sunrise means at 4am local time. It is pretty challenging to wake up that early and trying to catch transport to the temple. Be super early because the sunrise doesn't last that long. Yogyakarta is located in the East, so naturally, the sunrise is short and early. Alternatively, you can rent a homestay around the temple area for the convenience of waking up at 3am to catch the sunrise.

3. Is it child-friendly

Take note that the temple is not exactly child-friendly. It is an open area with no shading. It requires long walk under the sun. And the steps are also high and uneven. Some steps can be as high as your knee. There are some climbing to do. Strollers are not allowed in the temple to protect the temple structure.

4. Is it elderly-friendly

This depends on the strength. As mentioned, the area is in the wide-open ground. When sunny, it might be tiring to walk under the sun. And when rainy, the steps are slippery. It does take a lot of knee strength to climb the temple. Anyone who had recently done knee or ankle surgery is recommended to delay their trip.

5. Ticket cost

The entrance ticket cost me 350,000 Rupiah (USD25) for an adult foreigner. It is not cheap, but it is good to know that the entrance fee will go to the efforts to conserving and upgrading the facility of the temple.

6. Is it worth to hire a guide?

After the ticket counter, there are many independent local guides that offer their services. Generally, people in Yogyakarta are honest and humble people. The guides charge a reasonable price. We paid about 100,000 Rupiah (about USD7) for a guide. He explained the chronology events of the temple, the Buddhism teaching, art carvings on the wall and also some photo tricks like where are the best spots for photos. I think the price we paid worth it, but I leave it up to you to decide if you need one.

7. Entrance & exit

I think it is also worth to mention that the exit is not the same path as the entrance. To go back to where you came from, there's an option of taking a horse ride or a motor car. My friend booked the horse ride with the tour guide, which totally against my no-animal-cruelty policy. Since we're rushing for time to catch the flight and I don't want to ruin the rest of the trip, I obliged to riding the horse cart.

We had to pay to ride back to the entrance because the car was parked there, about 5km away. Otherwise, you can take a taxi off from the exit.

8. Any tourist traps?

As soon as you enter the parking lot of the temple, there are swarms of locals selling souvenirs to you. I'm not talking about 1 or 2 people. They came in a swarm. I can calculate about 10 to 15 people surrounding our car as soon as we entered the carpark. They brought along t-shirts, keychain, postcard, etc. to sell to you as a souvenir. They're not tourist traps per se, but it is hard to get rid of them as they are very persistent.

Other than that, I don't see any tourist traps. They trip was pretty straight forward - you go to the counter to get your ticket and walk to the stupa.

I really enjoyed my trip there. I'm glad we did slip in the trip despite our busy schedule and to catch a flight right after. Although I'm not a Buddhist, there is a sense of peace and calm as I climb up to the top of the temple. Each level signifies the path in our life, and eventually when we reach the top, we'll be able to feel the calmness within us. I highly recommend the guide because it gave us so much insights and information. 

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