Borobudur is the most visited attraction in all of Indonesia. It’s spectacular and is the biggest Buddhist temple in the entire world!
But rules for visiting change so often, that you can easily be confused by all the conflicting information. Here I give you up-to-date, checked on-site, reliable information about visiting Borobudur in 2023, including climbing up the temple and the best spots for the sunrise.
Borobudur is part of my extensive 14-day Java Backpacking Itinerary.
Trust me to be your Borobudur guide and tell you all you need to go before you go!
Can you visit Borobudur in 2023?
Yes, you can visit Borobudur in 2023. Borobudur temple is open for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday from 7:00 until 17:00. Ticket booths for Borobudur open at 6:30 and close at 16:30.
This means that if you buy a ticket at 6:30, you have to wait until 7:00 to enter. If you buy a ticket at 16:30, you have until 17:00 to explore the temple and if you arrive after 16:30, the ticket booths will be closed.
Borobudur is closed on Mondays! That only applies to climbing the temple. Exploring the Borobudur Temple grounds is possible on Mondays.
More info on the official website. Keep in mind that even it is not updated regularly.
Can you climb up Borobudur in 2023?
Yes, you can climb up Borobudur in 2023. Only 1200 people per day can go up to the stupas of Borobudur. Thankfully, the temple management has divided this number by the hour. Thus, every hour starting at 8:30, 150 people climb up Borobudur Temple.
The exact hours when the counter resets and another 150 people can go up are 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, and 15:30.
To climb up Borobudur, you must buy a special ticket online which costs 455.000 IDR (30.5$). For comparison, the standard ticket for foreigners costs 375.000 IDR (25$). This ticket cannot be combined with Prambanan (the so-called combo ticket), nor Ratu Boko.
You can buy the special ticket from the official website. Make sure to pick your time slot accordingly.
The special tickets are often sold out for the next several days.
A trick is to check the availability again after 16:00 when some tickets are made available again. If you’re still out of luck, try again after 18:00.
By purchasing the special ticket, you get a Borobudur guide (included in the price) who will give you some information about the temple, and a pair of upanat shoes, which you must wear to climb up Borobudur.
The guides are pretty strict about you following them and listening to every little bit of information they have to give. They will only let you explore independently (but under their watchful eye) for the last 10 minutes. It is not possible to climb Borobudur without an assigned guide.
Can you watch the sunrise at Borobudur in 2023?
No, you cannot watch the sunrise at Borobudur Temple. This is because the first tickets to climb the temple are sold at 8:30, whereas sunrise is at 5:25 – 5:53 (depending on the month).
This was possible in the past (before the pandemic) and many tour operators haven’t updated their information, thus misleading travelers.
However, it is possible to watch the sun rising OVER Borobudur by going to a nearby hill.
Where to watch the sunrise over Borobudur?
There are a couple of hills around Borobudur where you can go to watch the sunrise over the temple. Unfortunately, none of the hills are free to enter.
Dagi Hill is a private property of the Manohara Resort. Their Sunrise package costs 750.000 IDR (50$) including entrance to Dagi Hill for sunrise, entrance to Borobudur plus climbing up the temple, breakfast, and a guide. Pricey!
Dagi Hill is pretty close to Borobudur. That’s not the case with the other hills on the list. Watching the sunrise from them, you’ll see Borobudur as a small spikey dot in the distance. You’ve been warned.
Bukit Rhema, Chicken Church (Gereja Ayam)
Bukit Rhema used to be the quirkiest place to watch the sunrise over Borobudur due to the bizarre chicken-shaped church on top of the hill. It has a fascinating story, I urge you to read more about the Chicken Church, Gereja Ayam.
Unfortunately, after COVID the opening time of Bukit Rhema is 7:00, thus impossible to watch the sunrise there.
It is still an awesome place to visit with uber-cool views from the top of the chicken’s head (it’s actually a dove, read my article), so I recommend a visit after Borobudur.
Barede Hill is open for a Borobudur sunrise in 2023! The viewpoint opens at 4:00 allowing you ample time to watch the colors of the sky change as the sun comes up.
The entrance fee for Bukit Barede for foreign tourists is 50.000 IDR / 3.35$.
Setumbu Hill is open for a Borobudur sunrise in 2023! Reach the viewpoint on top before 5:00 to catch the colors changing before the actual sunrise. The hike to the top takes around 15 minutes.
Punthuk Setumbu is the most popular hill for organized tours that offer sunrise over Borobudur. I recommend this one from GetYourGuide.
The entrance fee for Punthuk Setumbu for foreign tourists is 50.000 IDR / 3.35$ (usually included in the price of the tour).
How to get to Borobudur from Yogyakarta
Virtually all visitors to Borobudur come from Yogyakarta. You’re probably staying there yourself at the moment too! Check out these authentic things to do in Yogyakarta that go beyond the usual travel guides’ recommendations!
Reach Borobudur for Sunrise
If you want to get to Borobudur for sunrise, there are only two possible ways: an organized tour or a motorcycle.
If you don’t want either, the only other way is to sleep somewhere around Borobudur Temple itself. ADA Homestay is an awesome option – clean, cozy, cheap, and walking distance away from the temple.
Those who follow my blog know that I rarely recommend guided tours, but if you want to go to Borobudur for sunrise, want to sleep in Yogyakarta, and can’t drive a motorcycle, it is the only remaining option. Check out these offers below:
If you decide to drive to Borobudur from Yogyakarta, leave around 3:00 to be there at 4:30. The road is pretty good, and driving at night isn’t as hard as it sounds at first. Been there, done that.
Get to Borobudur using public transport
If you want to visit Borobudur during the day on the cheap, then Jogja’s public transport has got you covered!
First, you need to take a TransJogja city bus to Terminal Jombor. The routes are integrated into Google Maps, so it’s best to check there. However, the timetables are not reliable, but the buses are relatively frequent. A ticket costs 3600 IDR (0.25$), payable at the bus stop (halte) or inside the bus.
At Terminal Jombor, there are hourly buses going directly to Borobudur. The bus ride takes around 75 minutes and costs 30.000 IDR (2$).
Do you need a Borobudur Guide?
No, you really don’t need a guide to go to Borobudur, nor inside the temple grounds.
If you buy the special ticket that allows you to climb up the Temple though, you will be allotted a guide who will guide you through the temple. You cannot roam around on top of Borobudur by yourself!
Historical information is readily available online. It’s been over 200 years since Borobudur was discovered by an expedition led by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (although not by him particularly). There aren’t really any secrets that the Borobudur Guides know, but the internet is hiding.
Raffles is the same sir closely associated with the history of Singapore.
History of Borobudur (that a guide would tell you)
Borobudur is one of the most impressive temples in Southeast Asia and the world at large. It is the biggest Buddhist Temple in the world! Borobudur was built in the 9th century during the Buddhist Shailendra dynasty, and discovered in 1814 during the British Invasion of Java.
During these almost 1000 years, the temple was buried in volcanic ash and overgrown with jungle vegetation. It took the Brits more than 2 months to clear away dust, trees, and debris just to reveal the temple.
The most likely explanation for the name Candi Borobudur is that it’s a temple (candi) dedicated to Buddha (budur) near the village of Boro.
Borobudur was restored between 1907 and 1911 using the same materials that it was built with, a strategy called anastylosis. If you’ve ever been to Ephesus in Turkey, you’ve seen the Library of Celsus, which is the best example in the world of this type of restoration.
Today Borobudur is the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia with more than 3 million visitors yearly.
Architectural Design of Borobudur
What makes Borobudur spectacular is that it’s a single stupa! If seen from above, it’s completely symmetrical and looks like a Buddhist Mandala. The base of the temple is a square with a side length of 118 m.
In total, there are over 2500 reliefs and 504 Buddha statues spread over three levels.
Kamadhatu (first level)
The lowest level, called Kamadhatu, represents the world of mortals. There are 160 scenes depicting consequences from Pratītyasamutpāda, although most of these remain hidden behind restoration encasements.
It’s also called “The world of desire”.
Rapudhatu (second level)
The middle level, called Rapudhatu, is the transitional realm between the mortals and the heavens. There are 432 Buddhas and miles of reliefs and decorative panels.
It’s also called “The world of forms”.
Arupadhatu (third level)
The uppermost level, called Arupadhatu, is the abode of the gods. There are 72 Buddhas of course the biggest Buddha at the very top.
It’s also called “The world of formlessness”.
See, this could totally be your short Borobudur guide, now just go and marvel at all the basreliefs!
Where to next?
You’d probably want to visit the other UNESCO heritage site in (more like ‘around’) Yogyakarta – Prambanan. I have a guide on how to visit both Borobudur and Prambanan in 1 day or you can check out this one about watching the sunset at Prambanan.
On a very related note, I recommend the Prambanan Ramayana Ballet as an after-sunset experience.
Check out all these other experiences and tours in and around Yogyakarta!
Just note that if you buy the special ticket to climb Borobudur, you cannot buy a combo ticket for both temples – only singles.
While in the city, are you sure you’ve visited all of the best places in Yogyakarta? Some of these, like authentic markets and kampungs, are not on any other guide, anywhere!