It is entirely possible to visit both UNESCO temples around Yogyakarta – Borobudur and Prambanan in 1 day using only public transport. Here I will tell you how with precise, up-to-date information about public transport.
Full disclaimer: I recommend you spend an extra day for some authentic things to do in Yogyakarta and thus visit Borobudur and Prambanan on two separate days. But if you’re in a hurry, then this guide is for you.
Borobudur and Prambanan are part of my full 2-week Java Backpacking Itinerary.
Borobudur and Prambanan in 1 day at a glance
This is an example of a 1-day itinerary from Yogyakarta to Borobudur and Prambanan:
- TransJogja bus #2B, #8, or #9 (after 06:00) to Terminal Jombor;
- Direct bus to Borobudur. Arrive around 8:00; Check this out if you want to watch the sunrise over Borobudur;
- Explore Borobudur until 10:00;
- Bus back to Jombor. Arrive at 11:00;
- Bus K2J to Malioboro. Arrive around 11:30;
- Have lunch, and explore some of Yogyakarta’s attractions.
- Train from Yogyakarta Tugu Station or Bus 1A/K3J from Malioboro to Prambanan. Arrive around 16:00;
- Explore Prambanan and watch the sunset around 17:30-18:00;
- Optionally, watch the Ramayana Ballet.
- Go back to Malioboro. Arrive around 19:00 (22:30, if you watch the Ballet).
Borobudur in the morning
There’s no way you haven’t heard about sunrise at Borobudur. It’s so widely advertised that it’s hard to imagine visiting Borobudur after 8 AM.
If you want to learn where to watch the sunrise over Borobudur, I have this specific Borobudur Guide with up-to-date information about climbing up the temple and the best hills to go to.
But here I’ll tell you outright that sunrise at Borobudur is incredibly overrated. The hills where the sunrise is possible to watch are so far from the temple it appears as a tiny dot in the distance.
Instead, go to Borobudur at a more convenient time using public transportation from Yogyakarta.
- Take bus #2B, #8, or #9 from Malioboro or Prawirotaman (check routes on Google Maps) to Terminal Jombor (ticket 3600 IDR (0.25$) purchasable on the bus);
- Take a direct bus from Terminal Jombor to Borobudur. It leaves about once every hour and costs 30.000 IDR (2$).
Buy the combo ticket for Borobudur and Prambanan temples online at the official website. It costs 675.000 IDR (45$). It’s pricey, I know. If you want to climb up the temple, it’s going to cost you even more. Read all about current regulations for climbing Borobudur and prices.
Borobudur Temple opens at 7:00 and closes at 17:00.
Go back to Terminal Jombor around lunch
Borobudur is a massive temple, but it’s only one. Visit it, marvel at it, walk around it, visit the nearby museum where the rest of the artifacts are stored and you might spend 90 minutes there.
Before you go back to Yogyakarta, consider popping over to what I can only describe as the most bizarre temple in the world – the Chicken Church (Gereja Ayam). It’s only a short Grab taxi ride away, which will cost you ~15.000 IDR (1$) for a motorcycle and ~30.000 IDR (2$) for a car.
Around lunch go back to Yogyakarta with the same bus you came by. It will drop you off at Terminal Jombor again. Since I mentioned lunch, why don’t you check out these Indonesian street food snacks?
There is no direct bus from Borobudur to Prambanan.
Yogyakarta to Prambanan in the afternoon
So you just returned from Borobudur and want to go to Prambanan on the same day. Nothing bad with that, although if you have time, leave it until tomorrow. Why not go grab a bite at one of the authentic places to eat in Yogyakarta?
There are two ways to get from Yogyakarta to Prambanan using public transport: by bus or by train.
Bus from Yogyakarta to Prambanan
Important: 1A and K3J are the exact same bus line going from Malioboro to Terminal Prambanan and back!
From Terminal Jombor, take bus #K2J to Malioboro Street. From the same Halte (bus stop) take bus #K3J or #1A to take you to Prambanan.
There are three bus stops on Jalan Malioboro: 1, 2, and 3. All of them are okay.
Note that you will have to change buses at the Adisutjipto Airport bus stop (Bandara Adisutjipto). You’ll take another bus #K3J or #1A that leaves immediately. Follow the assistant’s instructions there.
There’s a minor problem with the buses going to Prambanan: K3J / 1A is a Teman Bus, NOT a TransJogja bus, and since 01.01.2023 DO NOT accept cash as payment.
There are a variety of options to pay with, most of which are suitable only for locals with local bank cards. The easiest is to add credit to your GoJek Pay account at an Indomaret / Alfamart store and then pay with the GoJek app inside the bus.
Train from Yogyakarta to Prambanan
The Commuter train line between Yogyakarta and Surakarta is another convenient way to reach Prambanan.
Frequent trains depart from Yogyakarta Tugu Station and make a stop at Prambanan Train Station.
You can check the schedule at the official KAI Commuter website. There is on average 1 train per hour with the first one as early as 06:50.
The ticket costs 8.000 IDR (0.55$), but you must use a special card that you can buy at the counters of Yogyakarta Station. No need to book in advance.
Prambanan is a large complex of 240 temples which takes a bit more to explore than Borobudur. I recommend around 2 hours to walk around the temple grounds, take pictures, explore the museum, and enjoy the ancient architecture.
Operating Hours and Frequency of Yogyakarta Public Transport
The TransJogja public buses operate between 6:00 and 21:00.
The earliest you can arrive at Terminal Jombor is around 6:30. The earliest you can arrive at Borobudur is around 8:00.
The latest you can get a bus from Borobudur back to Jombor is around 19:00.
The K3J / 1A bus starts operating at 6:00 from Malioboro 1. The earliest you can arrive at Prambanan is around 7:00. The first train departs Yogyakarta Station at 06:50 and reaches Prambanan at 07:10.
The latest you can get a bus from Prambanan back to Malioboro is around 20:00.
The frequency of most TransJogja buses is every 10 to 20 minutes. The K3J/ 1A bus runs every 10 minutes.
The trains from Jogja to Prambanan are on average once per hour.
How to avoid the crowds at Borobudur and Prambanan?
To avoid the crowds at the two most popular temples in all of Indonesia, all you have to do is reverse the order in which you visit them.
Go to Prambanan in the morning before lunch. Most people and tour groups go for sunset.
Go to Borobudur in the afternoon. Most people and tour groups go for sunrise.
All the logistical information in this article is applicable no matter which temple you choose to visit first.
If you’re traveling to Yogyakarta during the Indonesian rainy season, take a raincoat for Prambanan, as it usually rains in the afternoons!
What about an organized tour?
If this whole thing with taking public buses, changing in Terminal Jombor, going back and forth isn’t really for you – I understand.
I realize the convenience that organized tours present and that you don’t really need to worry about which bus to take, from where, how to pay, where to get off, when the last bus to go back is, et cetera.
If this is you, why don’t you check out this tour that will take you to both temples with private transport and everything planned out? It’s well-priced considering you get a private driver for the whole day, but keep in mind the entrance tickets to Borobudur and Prambanan are not included.
Are Borobudur and Prambanan the only temples in Yogyakarta?
Yogyakarta has the highest concentration of ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples in all of Indonesia! Other temples in Yogyakarta include Sewu, Plaosan, Ijo, Mendut, etc., as well as the famous palace Ratu Boko.