Borobudur raises a mix of conflict feelings. In one side this structure is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. In the other hand, the price of the ticket raised recently to 20$ for foreigners, more than any museum and monument in Europe. So what to do?!?!… blow up the budget to get the ticket or see the temple from a far distance?
For a while that the issue of price discrimination between national and foreigners is popping up in my mind but with the time I kind of get used to this, as usually, the price is not substantial if your currency is euros or dollars. But sometimes, in places that are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, this difference is significant, excluding many people that are traveling but don’t have a big budget, making the so-called “world heritage” accessible only for a few. (See my text about Lions Rock in Sri Lanka). So as also a way to stand my point of view I decide not condone with this strategy that I consider discriminatory.
So I choose the backpacker option of seeing the Borobudur temple from a far distance… the most popular is the Setumbu Hill, but I went a bit far up in the mountain to Sukmojoyo viewpoint where you have better views to the mounts that surround the valley: Yup, Merapi and Merbabu volcano. But… there’s many times a “but” in the stories and the clouds hide the sunrise wrapping the volcanoes. But this cloudy sunrise left a thick layer of mist that took a long time to raise from the ground, creating a magic and enchanted landscape.
So from my experience, the conclusion is: or you spend the 20 dollars and join the crown to visit the Borobudur temple… or if not it doesn’t worth much to move there just to see the sunrise and the silhouette of the temple at a far distance.
So basically, in my opinion going to Borobudur without get in the temple is like going to Rome and don’t see the Pope!!! 😉
About the village of Borobudur, we can say that is not much more that a stop over in the tourists tour that visit the temple, with nothing specially characteristic that worth to visit. The local market, nearby the bus terminal has the typical lively atmosphere but with the vendors, exploited by the tourism, become a bit pushy.
Where to sleep in Borobudur:
There are some accommodations in Borobudur, but the prices are a bit inflated due to the proximity to the temple, so I choose the Casa Java Homestay, located in the village of Candirejo, about 3 km from Borobudur. The owner, Dino is a very friendly host making all possible for you to feel comfortable in his homestay.
There are rooms, with and without toilet and a dorm that cost 80.000 Rp per person.
It really worth to stay here, in a quiet and peaceful rural area, full of nature, a river and bamboo forest… a nice place to make short walks. Here you can rent a scooter or hire the service of a tour guide (the cost is slightly the same) and move around.
Address: Candirejo, Brangkal, Borobudur, Candirejo, Borobudur
How to visit Borobudur:
- If you are in Yogyakarta you can rent a motorbike and start the trip to Borobudur around 3 a.m. The scooter costs 50.000 Rp/day. At Borobudur, you can decide if you just see the sunrise from the Setumbu Hill (need a 30.000 Rp ticket) or visit the temple.
- If you cannot manage to ride a motorbike you can join one of many tours available in Yogyakarta, that cost around 100.000 Rp to 140.000 Rp but that only include transportation and sometimes a breakfast.
- You can spend one night in Borobudur and wake up early to see the sunrise from Setumbu Hill and visit the temple after that, as it opens at 6 a.m. and the sunrise is around 5.30 a.m.
- There are lots and lots of people visiting the temple, arriving on big buses during all day, most of them Indonesians, as the ticket id very cheap for local people. So don’t expect to be alone.
How to go from Yogyakarta do Borobudur:
There are buses leaving every 15 minutes from Terminal Jombor, located in the north of Yogyakarta. It’s a small terminal and is easy to spot the bus to Borobudur.
The trip takes 1 hours and the ticket cost 20.000 Rp.