BOROBUDUR – The Largest Buddhist Monument in the WORLD

Borobudur Buddha
If you are in Yogyakarta (or just Java), seeing Borobudur is a must! Borobudur is the largest Buddhist Temple in the world and is absolutely stunning to go see. However, it is a bit expensive for non-Indonesians so make sure you budget accordingly  There is a student discount, so if you have a student card be sure to bring it with you!


Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. There is no written record of who built the temple first, but it is believed it was built sometime between AD 780 and 840. When you walk up the steps into the temple you can feel the history and importance of the monument with every step and you just marvel at the size of the place.
The building was abandoned for centuries and buried underneath layers of volcanic ash from Mount Merapi. In 1812 the British ruler of Java got a team to investigate a hill that was supposed to be the site of an ancient monument. Borobudur was discovered  but it was not until 1835 that the entire area of the temple was cleared. A large scale restoration was carried out from 1907 to 1911 with ongoing projects since the. In 1991 Borobudur Temple was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.


It is too difficult to describe the beauty of this Temple. The sheer size is shocking and the temple itself is an impressive series of concentric circles that form a giant mandala.
When you first walk up after you pay the entrance fee you are welcomed by a huge white sign telling you that you are at Borobudur just in case you didn’t know where you were:
Borobudur Sign
Borobudur Entrance Sign
When you finally get past the entrance and the busy market area, you are greeted by the massive and impressive sight of Borobudur.
 As I walked up the many (many many many) steps I was truly awed by the sheer size of the temple.
 As I wandered around, I noticed that many of the Buddha statues throughout the temple were completely headless. Turns out people have been stealing them for a long time and selling them as art all throughout Indonesia. People haven’t been able to steal any recently, since there is now so much security.
Headless Buddha at Borobudur
Headless Buddha


When I made it to the very top I spent almost an hour wandering around and taking photos from every possible angle. You can see two volcanos in the distance and the surrounding land is absolutely stunning. I wish I had come closer to 6AM, so that I could have taken it in with the morning light. But it was still gorgeous!
Borobudur Buddha
Borobudur Buddha



International Visitor: 270,000 IDR
Sunrise International Visitor: 450,000 IDR

Where is it

Borobudur is located about an hour and a half northwest of Yogyakarta.

How to get there

There are a few options for getting to Borobudur. They are listed below from cheapest to most expensive:
  1. Rent a motorbike – This is by far the cheapest option. However, make sure that you are comfortable on a motorbike. The drive takes about an hour and getting there won’t be a problem early in the morning when the roads are quieter, but the journey back to the city during the day can be quite intimidating if you are not used to Indonesian (and Yogya) traffic.
  2. Rent a car/driver – This is the option I chose and I definitely think I could have gotten a better price if I had looked around. There were 2 of us and we rented a car for 400,000 IDR. The driver was knowledgable of the surrounding areas and answered all the questions we had about Yogya which was really nice! He also took us to get Kopi Lawuk, the coffee where a cat eats and poops out the coffee bean. The plantations are in this area, so it is worth it to stop for a coffee after seeing Borobudur. He also dropped off the other girl I was with at Prambanan (see post here). I went there the day before by bus, so he dropped me back at the hostel.
  3. Organized tour group – This is the most expensive and less personal of the options. This is also almost always a sunrise tour, so you will be waking up around 2 or 3 am. Most tour groups will be on a bus and will take you to see the sunrise at Borobudur. The sunrise ticket entrance is more expensive than normal hours (after 6AM), so you will have to pay extra for the sunrise that.
If I had known how to ride a motorbike, I probably would have chosen that over hiring a car and driver. However, I am really happy I didn’t do an organized tour. Renting a car with another girl was a bit more personal and relaxed. I never felt rushed and it was a really nice experience.
If you want to still see the sunrise without paying the extra amount to get into the park before 6 AM I would recommend renting a bike or car and getting to the park at exactly 6AM. While you may miss the moment the sun comes over the horizon, you will still get the beautiful morning light which is absolutely stunning.

How long to spend there

I recommend budgeting about 2 hours depending on how many photos you want to take. Make sure you get there before 9am to avoid the crowds of highschool aged students that want to ‘interview’ you for a school project to practice their English. After 10AM the park just becomes crowded with Indonesian students asking you ever 5 minutes if you can interview with them. It’s not a huge deal, but if you aren’t aware/prepared for it can be a little annoying. Just go into everything with a smile and a good attitude and you will have a great time!
Have you guys been to Borobudur before? What other tips do you have?

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