Yogyakarta & Borobudur Area Guide 2014.07.04


Yogyakarta - center of classical Javanese fine art and culture

 What's it like?

Yogyakarta is the second largest tourist destination in Indonesia (after Bali), and is often referred to simply as "Yogya/Jogya". With a flying time of only one hour and 15 minutes from Bali, one-night tours and day trips to Yogyakarta are very popular with visiting tourists and locals alike. 

The city of Yogyakarta is also known as the "ancient capital of Java", and is the ideal base from which to explore nearby attractions of Borobudor and the ancient Hindu temples at Prambanan (both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites).

Yogya is also not as expensive as other cities in Indonesia, attracting both domestic and international tourists to the "Gateway of Java".

Click to view larger Yogyakarta Map

Tourist Attractions

Borobudur (World Heritage Site)



Time required: 2 hours - half a day

Borobudur is a world-famous Buddhist monument located about one hour's drive from Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta. The enormous monument was built some 1,200 years ago, and has survived a volcanic eruption, earthquake and terrorist bombing.

Coming from Sanskrit, the name means "Buddhist Monastery on the Hill" and today there are three monasteries in the surrounding area, making it Indonesia's most important center for Buddhism.

For centuries Borobudur lay abandoned until it was discovered in 1815 by Sir Thomas Raffles who governed Java at the time. From 1973 to 1983 the monument underwent huge renovations to stabilize its foundations, and in 1991 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Borobudur is the world's largest Buddhist temple and consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms. The monument is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and features over 500 Buddha statues. There is also a museum, rest areas and an on-site hotel.

The best times to visit Borobudur are at sunrise and late afternoon, when the temple is washed in beautiful light. If visiting during the midday heat, remember to keep hydrated and don't forget the sunscreen!

It should also be noted that under a new plan to protect the dignity of the temple, tourists wearing shorts and mini-skirts are not allowed to enter Borobudur. The temple management does however provide a sarong to cover up before entering the holy site.

Tip: Touching Buddha for good luck
Legend has it that anyone who reaches inside the front stupas on the top level and touches the Buddha's hand will receive good luck. Touching the statues is actually forbidden, so you may have to settle with just having your photo taken instead.

Opening hours Daily 6am - 5pm
Entrance fee USD 20 (Foreigner - Adult) / Rp. 30,000 (Indonesian Local / KITAS holder)

Prambanan (World Heritage Site)


 Time required: 1 hour to 1.5 hours

Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia and along with Borubudor, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The temple complex is located roughly 15 km northeast of Yogyakarta, making it an ideal place to visit if staying in the city (you can even cycle there).

The Hindu temple compound suffered severe damage in the Central Java earthquake of 2006, and some parts are fenced off and closed to visitors. There is still a lot to see though and it's definitely worth the visit.


The temples in the Prambanan area were built in the middle of the 9th century, about 50 years after Borobudur.

The compound is dominated by three main candi or shrines, the Brahma, Visnu and Shiva temples.The tallest of these is the Shiva temple, which stands at an impressive 47 m high. At the base of the Shiva temple, decoratvie reliefs tell the story of Ramayana.

As with Borobudur, the best time to visit is early in the morning or late afternoon.

Opening hours Daily 6am - 6pm
Entrance fee USD 18 (Foreigner - Adult) / Rp. 30,000 (Indonesian Local / KITAS holder)

Mendut (Buddhist temple)

Time required: 15 minutes to 30 minutes

Mendut (also known as Candi Mendut) is a ninth-centruy Buddhist temple located located about 3 km east of Borobudur. Mendut, Borobudur and Pawon are all Buddhist temples, and are located in one straight line. Mendut is the oldest of all three.

Adjacent to the temple is the Mendut Buddhist Monastery, where you can join the monks for prayer. Each year Buddhists in Indonesia also observe Vesak by walking from Mendut past Pawon and on to Borobudur.

Tip: Banyan Tree
A massive Banyan tree draped in hundreds of hanging branches dominates the park, and is believed to be a source of energy.

Opening hours Daily 7am - 6pm
Entrance fee Rp. 3,300 (Foreigner - Adult) / Rp. 1,800 (Indonesian Local / KITAS holder)

Pawon  (Buddhist temple)

Time required: 15 minutes to 30 minutes

Although much smaller in size than Borobudur and Mendut, the Buddhist Pawon temple has been referred to as "the jewel of Javanese temple architecture" due to its simplicity, symmetry and harmony.

The temple is about 1.5 km from Borobudur and is similar in design and decoration to the Mendut temple. As mentioned previously, Buddhists pilgrims walk past Pawon on the way to Borobudur to observe the holy day of Vesak.

Entrance fee into the Mendut temple also includes entry into Pawon.

Tip: Kalpataru relief
One of the outer walls of the Pawon temple depicts a relief of “Kalpataru”, the Tree of Life which divine powers can fulfill wishes.

Opening hours Daily 7am - 6pm
Entrance fee Rp. 3,300 (Foreigner - Adult) / Rp. 1,800 (Indonesian Local / KITAS holder)

Kraton (Royal Palace)

Time required: 15 minutes to 30 minutes

Built in 1756, the palace of the sultans of Yoga is a popular tourist attraction. The kraton (Indonesian for "palace") is located at the southern end of Malioboro Road, and is where the royal court has its traditional seat.

The complex consists of a number of buildings such as audience halls, museums, schools and mosques, and is also the residences of the sultan and the queen. Daily performances (included in the entrance ticket) are held in the kraton's inner pavilion from 10am until noon.

Opening hours

Saturday - Thursday : 8am - 2pm

Friday : 8am - 1pm

Entrance fee Rp. 12,500 per person

 Taman Sari (Royal Water Palace)


Time required: 15 minutes to 30 minutes

The Royal Water palace is located within the grounds of the kraton and was built by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I. The complex consists of 59 buildings including a mosque, meditation chambers, swimming pools, and a series of 18 water gardens and pavilions surrounded by artificial lakes.

The area around the Taman Sari castle complex is inhabited by a settlement called Kampung Taman with 2,700 residents, known for their batik and traditional painting craft traditions.

Opening hours

Daily 8am - 3.30pm

Entrance fee Rp. 7,000 per person



Most people wanting to explore the World Heritage Sites of Borobudur and Prambanan choose to stay in Yogya due to its close proximity to the temples and the wide range of accommodation available.

The cheaper options are located in the Sosrowijayan area near the Tugu train station, while for those on a bigger budget there's the Hyatt Regency and the Melia Purosani.

List of hotels in Yogyakarta

 Borobudur and surrounds


If you really want to take your time and explore the World Heritage Sites, it's possible to stay in the Borobudur area although accommodation options are fairly limited (compared to Yogyakarta).

There are a couple of budget guest houses scattered around the surrounding area, or splash out at the luxury Aman Amanjiwo resort. Hotel Manohara is the only accommodation set within the grounds of Borobudur itself, and is often booked up months in advance.

Hotel Manohara

How to get to Borobudur

Overnight tours and day trips

If you have limited time but still want to see the highlights of Yogyakarta, it's possible to do an overnight or day trip from Bali. There are many travel and tour operators that offer these packages, and it's best to shop around to get the best deal. Generally packages include return airfare, airport transfers, accommodation and meals.

Most flights will leave Bali at the crack of dawn, so be prepared for an early start!

Independent travelers

For those seasoned travelers who are used to organizing things for themselves, booking a flight to Yogyakarta is fairly straight-forward. For the best prices, try Air Asia or Lion Air.

You will need to arrange your own transport from the airport in Yogyakarta to your hotel, however taxis and buses are easy enough to catch. Most hotels also offer tours to the popular tourist attractions like Borobudur and Prambanan, or you could save some money and try using the public transport available.

Kura-Kura Bus Bali


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