Best place to view Borobudur sunrise!

Best Place to View Borobudur Sunrise Title Pic

The majestic UNESCO Heritage Listed Buddhist Temple of Borobudur is a MUST-SEE when visiting Central Java and I know it is on most tourists’ travel itineraries. But how about capturing that postcard perfect picture of the Borobudur sunrise…do you know where to go?

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I guarantee that most tourists that make their way to Java, all have one very important site on their list of things to see and do. Yep, I bet the famous Borobudur Temple {Candi Borobudur} is on each list. And if it’s not, it should be.

I’m an old time fan of Borobudur Temple, the first time I visited was back in 1995, and I actually visited the temple several times that year as I was living nearby in Semarang. But the one thing I never got to see and do, and it has been on my to see and do list ever since…and that is; view the sunrise with a postcard perfect panoramic view of Candi Borobudur.

After many, many years of not visiting Yogyakarta…or Central Java {I was off exploring Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Nusa Tenggara Timor} …in 2013 I finally made a plan to go back to Yogya…a place I loved dearly. And yes, the first thing on my list of things to see and do was; the sunrise at Borobudur.

After a little bit of investigation I realised that there were actually two different options of viewing the sunrise at Borobudur, and over the last two years {on my annual trip to Indonesia}; I have tried out both of the sunrise tour options and I want to share with you the details of the two different options {and locations} so that you can decide which one is best for you when you are heading to Borobudur.

I couldn’t possibly decide, which one is better…{what’s the meaning of better, anyway?!} they are both unique in their own way and your experience will differ depending on all sorts of out-of-our-hands experiences such as; other tourists that are present on the same day as you {you know those really loud annoying tourists that can spoil the most magical, serene moment just by opening their mouths for a split second? Yeah, those. I can’t guarantee none of them!} and also the weather conditions plays a big part in those postcard perfect panoramas {totally out of my hands! For this. I suggest pray to Buddha super hard the night before!}

Anyway, let’s get onto it.

2 options of viewing the Borobudur Sunrise

OPTION A:

This tour option, is a new one to me, I hadn’t actually heard about this special spot until a trip in 2013. The special spot {that I was told not many people know of – though I don’t know how true this is?} is at; Punthuk Setumbu, just 2.5 kms West of Borobudur Temple.

From the loket {ticket office} you will need to do a short walk {10-15 mins} up a hill to get to the viewing point. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds when walking up a narrow, steep, uneven, wet, muddy and slippery dirt path…in the dark. {Thank god for the flashlight app on my iPhone!} There were also guides with flashlights available to assist you on your journey up the steep hill.

Once you get to the top of the hill, you can catch your breathe while waiting for the first signs of light from behind the horizon line. Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi are in fine view and the bright morning sun rose up between the two volcanos. The panoramic view is quite spectacular.

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Borobudur Temple standing grand through the thick clouds.

Alas on the morning I was there, the cloud cover did come in quite thick, and although it obscured the view of Borobudur and it’s surrounds, it also created a mystifying view. And even though I couldn’t get that postcard perfect photo, I still thought it was really cool to be standing up there on that hill watching the sun rise on a new day in Indonesia.

Entrance tickets: Domestic: Rp15.000 / Foreigner: Rp30.000

 

OPTION B:

This tour option is through the Manohara Hotel, which is situated on the grounds of the Borobudur Temple Complex, this is where you can access a special pass to enter the temple at 4.30am. This means; after donning yourself with a sarong and a flashlight, you only need to take a short stroll through the dark grounds before you can enter the temple, and before the general public visitors are allowed in at 6am. This is super cool, as Borobudur gets super busy as the day goes on and as all visitors, domestic and international, all try to avoid the heat of the day by visiting as early as possible.

A 4.30am start is plenty of time to walk slowly through the temple {I say slowly as it’s super dark} and walk up all those stairs to get to the top of the monument. Find yourself a great spot around/next to a stupa or two with a clear view of the villages and valleys below and the horizon line while you wait for the sun to rise and shine.

The bonus of being at the temple for sunrise, means you get an early start on exploring the temple’s many buddha’s, stupa’s and the hundreds of intricately carved relief panels before any other tourists have even entered the complex {remembering that general opening hours are 6am and tourists have to walk all the way around and up each of the 6 levels of the temple} and as you are already on the top level, you can begin to slowly descend down each level.

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Sun shining through the stupas.

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*I was quite lucky as when I visited Borobudur for sunrise, it was also full moon! So when I looked one way; to the west, I could see the bright moon and when I looked the other way; to the east, I could see the sun rising on the horizon between the two volcanoes; Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi…{but wouldn’t you know it…I forgot my tripod! Argh! I blame the sleepy brain from the alarm going off at 3am! Pretty gila!}

Entrance tickets: Domestic: Rp250.000 / Foreigner: Rp380.000

*In-house guests {staying at Manohara Hotel}: Rp230.000 / Also; free unlimited entry to Borobudur 6am-5pm.

So, there’s the two options for experiencing and capturing that magnificent Borobudur Sunrise. I do hope that if you are in Central Java, and plan to visit Borobudur Temple, that you’ll make that extra effort to get up super early and take in that sunrise glow to get you started on a new day’s adventures in Java. It really is very special.

If you would like to read and learn more about Borobudur Temple check out this earlier post I wrote here.

And now for capturing the sunset at Borobudur…hmmm…this is still on my list!

Have you seen a Borobudur sunrise or sunset before?

Where’s your favourite viewing point?

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