The Ramayana ballet at Prambanan Temple is a popular cultural performance in Indonesia that retells the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana, through traditional Javanese dance and music.
Prambanan Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near Yogyakarta on the island of Java.
The temple complex is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, making it a fitting setting for the Ramayana story, which is deeply rooted in Hindu mythology.
The Prambanan Ramayana Ballet has been regularly performed since 1961 and is the biggest traditional dance performance in all of Indonesia (bigger than the ones in Bali)! Definitely worth a visit!
Schedule of the Prambanan Ramayana Ballet
You can watch the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday starting at 19:30.
During the dry season from May to October, the performance is held outdoors at the open stage just west of the Prambanan Complex and takes 2 hours – from 19:30 to 21:30.
You can see the detailed schedule here.
How to book a ticket for the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan?
Booking tickets through the official channel is a bit of a pain in the… The managing entity of Prambanan Temple, Borobudur Temple, AND the Ballet performance is one and the same and www.borobudursunrise.net is the official website.
Official Seller of Tickets
Booking a ticket for the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan involves messaging them on WhatsApp or Telegram or via email:
Then follow their procedure. Paying with a foreign credit card is charged 3% more. You can read it in detail here.
The easiest way to get hold of tickets for the Prambanan Ramayana Ballet is to book through Klook or Get Your Guide. Here is what I recommend:
- Just a ticket (choose class): BOOK THIS ONE from Klook;
- Prambanan Sunset + Ramayana Ballet: BOOK HERE from Klook;
- Ramayana Ballet + Dinner: BOOK THIS ONE from Get Your Guide.
There’s a ticket desk outside of the open stage where you can buy tickets. However, that’s not the best option because:
- You have to go to the ticket desk a few days in advance;
- There might still be no tickets left;
What Classes of Tickets Are There?
Simply put, the ticket classes available are:
- VIP: only for Outdoor Stage, right in front of the action, 450.000 IDR (30$), incl. soft drink;
- Special: Front-facing, behind VIP, inside and outside, 300.000 IDR (20$), incl. soft drink;
- 1st Class: 30′ angle from the stage, 200.000 IDR (13$);
- 2nd Class: 60-90′ from the stage, 150.000 IDR (10$);
If you’re a photographer or want to take awesome close-up pictures, then you really should go for the VIP ticket outside.
For a good experience, the 1st Class tickets are adequate enough.
All About the Ramayana Ballet
That’s all the practical information about the Prambanan performance.
There are English Subtitles!
I’ve been to a few ballets and theaters in Java and Bali and as much as they are awesome to watch, I never fully understood what’s happening.
The Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan has two big screens on both sides of the stage that have explanations and descriptions of each scene in English.
These are not subtitles exactly, as the scenes have little talking. They are more of an overview of what’s happening in the scene.
It’s a smart idea to pick up one of the free pamphlets explaining the whole story as you enter the theater/open stage. Read that before the performance to have a better idea of what’s happening. Read below in this article for a brief overview.
Transport to and from the Theater
It’s easy to reach Prambanan and the Ramayana Ballet using public transport. The K3J bus (or 1A bus, they are the same) goes from Malioboro in Yogyakarta all the way to Terminal Prambanan, walking distance from the temple.
Getting back is not possible using the same bus, as it stops at 21:00. Thus, the only way back is to use a Grab or GoJek taxi. A car should cost around 100.000 IDR (6.5$).
What happens if it starts raining during the show?
The chance of rain during the dry season when the performance is held on the outdoor stage is quite low. Of 62 nights in July and August 2023, it didn’t rain a single night in Yogyakarta.
But if it does, the performance will pause for up to 30 minutes. If it continues raining, the performance will move indoors and continue from where it stopped.
Are the seats comfortable?
Seating is hard stone benches and chairs all around, regardless of class. Even VIP tickets aren’t cushioned seats.
However, you are given a soft cushion to sit on, making the seating experience bearable.
What about the food?
Please, for the love of all Hindu gods, do not eat during the performance – it’s rude.
If you’re going to the open stage directly after visiting Prambanan for sunset, there are a few warungs and angrinkans on the other side of the main street (Jalan Raya Solo-Yogyakarta). You can always find some Indonesian street food snacks in the smaller streets too.
As for the theater grounds, there is a restaurant on-site with buffet-style eating, but is too expensive. It costs 150.000 IDR (10$) and with this money, you can buy 7 meals in Jogja. Try any of these places to eat in Yogyakarta instead.
The Ramayana Theater is NOT inside Prambanan
The Ramayana Theater takes place just outside the grounds of the Prambanan temple (which includes other temples in Yogyakarta like Candi Sewu, Candi Bubrah, and Candi Lumbung.
However, Prambanan is right behind the open stage. As such, the views are simply incredible! Prambanan is illuminated after dark and looks fabulous!
Is there a break?
During the dry season, when the ballet takes place outside, the performance is 2 hours long with 1 break of about 5 minutes at the 90-minute mark. That’s your opportunity to relieve your body from the iced tea, so run!
During the rainy season, the ballet is indoors and only takes 1.5 hours. There’s no break. The show is a bit shorter because the story starts when Rama takes part in the competition until Rama’s reunion with Sita.
Can you take a video of the Ramayana Ballet?
With your personal phone? Yes, nobody will bat an eye.
With professional equipment and for commercial purposes? Strictly forbidden.
Instead, you can watch this recording of the show on YouTube.
Difference between the Javanese and Balinese Ramayana Ballets
There are many differences between the Ramayana Ballet performed at the Prambanan temples and the one performed in various places in Bali, most famously at the Uluwatu Temple.
The story is practically the same.
However, there are differences in clothing, dancing styles, make-up, and music. To make matters even more complicated, there are also significant differences between the Yogyakarta and Surakarta styles.
I’m not a pro at all of these differences and instead of pretending to be, I’d like to refer you to this Wikipedia article about Dance in Indonesia.
Ramayana Ballet – What’s the story about?
Alright, let’s dive into the story!
We’ve got King Prabu Janaka, ruler of the Mantili Kingdom, with his stunning daughter named Dewi Shinta. He’s holding a competition to figure out who’s the lucky one to marry Princess Shinta. And guess who emerges victorious? It’s Prince Raden Rama Wijaya from the Ayodya Kingdom. He’s the one who sweeps Shinta off her feet.
Now, hold on, because there’s a twist. Prabu Rahwana, the ruler of the Alengkadiraja Kingdom, has his sights set on marrying Dewi Widowati. But when he lays eyes on Shinta, he’s convinced she’s the reincarnation of Dewi Widowati, someone he’s been pining for.
That’s the conflict.
Dandaka Forest and Shinta’s Abduction
Our hero, Prince Rama Wijaya, along with his wife Shinta and his younger brother Laksmana, is on an adventurous journey that leads them to this forest. The trouble starts when Rahwana sees Shinta and instantly wants her for himself. Sneaky move, right?
He sends his follower, Marica, to transform into a golden deer to catch Shinta’s attention. Shinta falls for the deer’s charm and asks Rama to catch it for her. Rama goes off hunting, leaving Shinta behind.
As time passes and Rama doesn’t return, Shinta gets worried. She asks Laksmana to find him. To keep her safe, Laksmana draws a magic circle on the ground. But guess what? Rahwana sees his chance, tries to snatch Shinta, and fails because of the magic circle.
Then he switches tactics, disguising himself as an old beggar. When Shinta steps out of the circle to give alms to the beggar, he kidnaps her and takes off to the Alengka Kingdom.
Rama Chasing the Deer
Meanwhile, Rama’s still chasing that deer. He shoots it with his magic arrow, but whoops, the deer turns into a giant (Marica). Battle mode activated! Rama and Marica clash, arrows flying everywhere. Laksmana finally arrives and tells Rama to head back to Shinta.
On Rahwana’s journey to Alengka, he meets a bird named Jatayu. Learning that Shinta is actually royalty, Jatayu tries to save her from Rahwana’s clutches but ends up getting defeated.
Back with Rama and Laksmana, they realize Shinta’s missing and stumble upon Jatayu, who’s seriously hurt. Thinking Jatayu kidnapped Shinta, Rama’s ready to take him down, but Laksmana holds him back.
Jatayu explains what happened and then sadly passes away. Suddenly, a white monkey named Hanuman appears. He’s on a mission from his uncle Sugriwa to find heroes who can take down Subali, a powerful figure who’s taken Dewi Tara. Rama joins the mission, and they head to Kiskendo Cave.
Subali’s chilling with Dewi Tara and his son when Sugriwa storms in with Rama’s help. Sugriwa takes down Subali and rescues Dewi Tara. Now Sugriwa’s all in to help Rama find Shinta. Cue Hanuman, who’s sent to Alengka as an envoy.
In Argasoka Garden, Rahwana’s niece, Trijata, tries to comfort Shinta. Rahwana barges in, asking Shinta to be his wife. Shinta’s having none of it, which ticks Rahwana off. Trijata steps in to prevent any harm and promises to take care of Shinta.
But things take an interesting turn when Shinta hears a beautiful song sung by none other than Hanuman.
He spills the beans about his mission from Rama and offers to help. After explaining, he starts checking out Alengka’s army power and, in the process, wrecks the garden.
Rahwana’s son, Indrajid, captures Hanuman, but Kumbakarna gets tossed out of the kingdom when he tries to stop it. Hanuman’s in deep trouble now, facing a sentence of being burnt alive. But he turns the tables by setting fire to the Alengka palace.
Rama’s Bridge takes the stage next. Rama and his crew build a bridge to Alengka with Hanuman’s help. Once it’s done, Hanuman brings back the scoop on Alengka’s situation and military strength. Rama’s all pumped up and sends Hanuman, Hanggada, Hanila, and Jambawan to lead the attack.
War and Showdown
Here comes the big showdown! Alengka’s giant army gears up at their borders, but they’re suddenly ambushed by Rama’s troops.
A massive battle kicks off, and Laksmana takes down Indrajid. Kumbakarna, Rahwana’s brother, fights valiantly but meets his end.
With Kumbakarna out of the picture, Rahwana steps up to lead Alengka’s forces against Rama. But, well, Rama’s arrow ends Rahwana’s reign, and Hanuman finishes it off by crushing Rahwana under Mount Sumawana.
Rama and Shinta Reunited
After Rahwana’s demise, Shinta reunites with Rama, accompanied by Hanuman. But hold on, Rama’s unsure about accepting Shinta back because he questions her purity.
To prove herself, Shinta boldly steps into the fire, and with divine intervention, she emerges unscathed. Rama’s overjoyed and finally accepts Shinta once more.
The Legend of Rorojonggrang
The Legend of Rorojonggrang is an entirely different show that takes place on the same indoor stage as the main Ramayana show.
It takes place only inside every Friday and starts at 19:30.
Is it worth it? If you can’t wait for the main show on Saturday, then it’s a good substitution. But if you only have time for one show, stick to the original Ramayana story.
Check out all these other experiences and tours in and around Yogyakarta!