EXPLORING BOROBUDUR AND PRAMBANAN: Indonesia’s Centuries-old Temples

THE BOROBUDUR TEMPLE COMPLEX. Truly impressive in its architectural design and magnanimity, the Borobudur Temple is one of the most visited travel destinations in Indonesia.

Aside from Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are two of the most popular religions in the country of Indonesia. Temples of these denominations are found across the archipelago, but it is in Central Java where two of the oldest, most impressive and most visited temples can be found. They are the Buddhist temple of Borobudur and the Hindu temple of Prambanan.

This is the 2nd leg of our great Indonesian getaway. Please refer to the Indonesian primer and the 1st leg of our travel if you want to learn more about our travel in Indonesia.


WATER LILY. Just like what I have always been encountering in my visits to other Southeast Asian countries, I saw this beautiful water lily in the complex of Borobudur.

As these temples are relatively near the city of Yogyakarta, it is wise to visit them while you’re already at the area. After our beach-hopping in Yogyakarta during Day 1, we went temple-hopping during Day 2. We asked our tour guide/driver if he could accommodate us again for another day and he happily agreed. We used his Toyota Innova to tour the temples.


4:30 AM – Wake-up time

5 AM – Head to Punthuk Setumbu (Setumbu Hill) for sunrise viewing

6:15 AM – Climb up the stairs towards the top of Setumbu Hill

6:30 AM – Sunrise Viewing

7:30 AM – Head to Borobudur Temple

8 AM – Explore Borobudur Temple

11:30 AM – Head to Prambanan Temple

1 PM – Explore Prambanan Temple

3 PM – Head back to homestay, wash up, prepare things and go to the airport.



SETUMBU HILL (Indonesian: Punthuk Setumbu)

Sunrise in Borobudur.
SUNRISE IN BOROBUDUR. This is the magnificent view that greeted us that morning when we went up Punthuk Setumbu.

Setumbu Hill is the perfect place to be if you want to catch the sunrise overlooking Borobudur Temple.  While it is bombarded with many tourists and travelers, locals and foreigners alike, the place is still a haven for nature lovers as plants, flowers and trees bound the area. You can even see and hear birds chirping during your time here!

Mt. Merbabu and Mt. Merapi
TWO MOUNTAINS. There are actually two mountains that can be seen atop the hill of Setumbu. These are Mt. Merbabu (on the right) and Mt. Merapi (on the left).

While going up the hill can be tiring, it is very much worth it when you get to see the view up above!

FIND YOUR HAPPINESS. Something that really makes me happy is witnessing a beautiful sunrise. It was still a bit dark when we reached the viewpoint, just about the perfect time for the sunrise. And we were not disappointed- an overflow of warm colors in the sky with Mt. Merapi in the background greeted us that morning!

Small shops and stores can be found along the trail of the hill. They sell snacks as well as drinks. They also sell souvenirs such as shirts, key chains, ref magnets and small caricatures of Borobudur Temple and other Indonesian icons.

THE SQUAD. Here’s the Shembot Squad during that beautiful sunrise in Borobudur.


BOROBUDUR TEMPLE. I was impressed with this architectural wonder of Indonesia! Truly a must-visit when you go in this part of their country.

Location: Kedu Valley, southern part of Central Java, Indonesia

Borobudur Temple is one of the United Nations’ World Heritage Sites in Indonesia, along with Komodo National Park, rice terraces of Bali that use the subak system and the Prambanan Temple Complex. It was one of the places we were really looking forward to seeing during our visit in this country. Suprisingly, Borobudur was visited by a lot of people even during the weekday we were there! I guess it really is that popular I shouldn’t really be surprised!

MANY VISITORS. It was a weekday when we went to Borobudur but there still were a lot of people visiting the place! I guess it’s really that popular not just with foreigners but more so with locals!
BUDDHIST TEMPLE. As one of Indonesia’s Buddhist temples, Borobudur features statues of Buddha, the “Enlightened One.”

FACTOIDS: Touted as the world’s largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur Temple was constructed between the 8th and 9th centuries. The whole Borobudur temple complex was built in three tiers: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and a monumental stupa at the top. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of Buddha.

HEADLESS. One characteristic of this temple is that it has statues of Buddhas with and without their heads!

According to UNESCO, the vertical division of the temple into base, body and superstructure perfectly fits the conception of the Universe in Buddhist cosmology. More so, the whole structure of Borobudur is said to show a unique blending of the central ideas of ancestor worship related to the idea of a terraced mountain combined with the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana.

PATHWAYS. The pathways of Borobudur reminded me of some of the temples that we have visited last year in Cambodia.
INTRICATE. These designs on the walls of the temple show the artistic prowess of the Javan people who built the temple centuries ago.

The temple has been used by the Buddhists from its construction until sometime between 10th and 15th centuries when it was abandoned. It was rediscovered in the 19th century and then restored during the 20th century. Thanks to the people of Indonesia, we are now able to visit it and experience for ourselves its beauty and magnificence.

Photo 25-02-2018, 10 08 29 AM
THE APEX. This is the top of the Borobudur Temple. As you can see, there are lots of tourists and travelers visiting the place!
Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
BELL-SHAPED STUPAS. One of the unique features of Borobudur is the bell-shaped stupas that it has on the upper part of its complex.

On our way for the exit after visiting the temple, we were surprised to find out that vendors were selling animals like these owls. Shouldn’t they just be in the wild or even at the zoo? They’re wide awake in the middle of the day! Tsk.


PRAMBANAN. This Hindu temple complex consists of tall and pointed structures.

Location: Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta

After visiting the Borobudur Temple, we then headed to Prambanan Temple. Just like Borobudur, Prambanan is a beautiful and impressive structure!

STILL BEAUTIFUL. Prambanan Temple is still beautiful even from afar.

Factoids: Built in the 9th century, Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. It is dedicated to the Hindu trinity: Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Destroyer and Transformer). The temple is characterized by tall and pointed architecture and by the 47-m high central building inside a large complex.

SPACIOUS. The temple structures of Prambanan are spaced evenly in the complex.
INTERESTING STRUCTURES. Just like Borobudur, Prambanan has these interesting designs and structures that show the skills of the Javan people who created it centuries ago.
TALL AND POINTED. Here’s one of the temple structures of Prambanan.
HINDUISM. This wall in the temple shows the gods of Hinduism.

The Prambananan Temple Compound consists of the main Prambanan Temple (also called Loro Jonggrang), Sewu Temple, Bubrah Temple and Lumbung Temple.

THE SHEMBOT SQUAD IN PRAMBANAN. Here’s the squad in the temple complex of Prambanan.

It is said that since the reconstruction of its main temples in the 1990s, Prambanan has been reclaimed by the Hindus in Java as an important religious center for their rituals and ceremonies.

WHO TO CONTACT (same as the contacts that we had in Day 1)

For homestay: Mr. Agung – 082242321100

For car rental: Busro Trans: Rental Mobil Dan Motor – 081903725501, 087839942403, (0274) 513-473


15,000 IDR (individual) – Entrance fee to sunrise deck in Setumbu Hill

540,000 IDR (individual) – Temple tour (Borobudur and Prambanan)

500,000 IDR (group) – Whole day car rental

TOTAL (per pax): P2,427


Thanks for reading, guys! Watch out for my next blog post, which will feature our travel to one of Indonesia’s most popular, most beautiful and most active volcanoes: Mt. Bromo!

MUST-BRING. Don’t forget to bring your cameras when you go to this must-visit place, okay?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jonathan says:

    Dang! That was stunning! I love the temple and the 2 mountains. Blogs like this makes me want to get a passport.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jonathan! Go ahead, get a passport and explore more of the world. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jonathan says:

        Hahaha, I wish to travel the PHL first though, but as I said, I think I need one now hahahaha

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hehe I’ll support you on that! Time to get your passport now. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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