Sunset at Prambanan Temple in 2023: All You Need to Know

Sun setting behind Prambanan Temple
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No visit to Yogyakarta is complete without watching the sunrise at Borobudur and the sunset at Prambanan. These two activities are totally worth it as they offer incredible scenery in the backdrop of two ancient and majestic temples.

What’s so special about the Prambanan temple sunset? It’s the combination of being surrounded by over a hundred Hindu shrines, a clear view towards Mount Merapi on one side, and the unobstructed sun on the other.

Here’s all you need to know about watching the sunset at Prambanan temple: how to get there using public transport, where exactly to watch it, and all the other minor details.

Prambanan Temple Opening Times and Ticket Price

Prambanan Temple is open every day from 07:00 to 17:30. Ticket counters open and close 30 minutes earlier, meaning between 06:30 and 17:00.

On Mondays, Prambanan Temple is partially closed and you can only visit the 2nd yard and the temple grounds.

The ticket to Prambanan costs 375.000 IDR (~25$).

Prambanan Temple Complex from the side

There’s a combo ticket for Prambanan and Borobudur combined that costs 675.000 IDR (~44$). HOWEVER, this ticket DOES NOT allow you to climb Borobudur.

There’s also a combo ticket for Prambanan and Ratu Boko combined, which also costs 675.000 IDR (~44$). I’m not convinced Ratu Boko is worth it, given that there are over 20 other cheaper temples to visit around Yogyakarta.

Check all available tickets and book online on the official website.

What time is the sunset at Prambanan Temple?

Depending on the time of year, the sunset at Prambanan is between 17:27 and 18:05. You can check the exact time here.

I know what you’re thinking: How come you can watch the sunset at the temple if it closes at 17:30?

Don’t worry – the temple authorities know your intentions and kindly wait for the sun to properly set before shooing you out of the grounds.

What to expect

Ideally, you should arrive at Prambanan before 16:00.

This will give you enough time to explore the massive temple grounds which include more than 120 smaller temples collectively called Prambanan, as well as the Buddhist Candi Bubrah, Candi Lumbung, and Candi Sewu. I’ve covered all these and more in this article about temples in Yogyakarta.

Candi Sewu from the front
Candi Sewu

After the Pandemic, Prambanan is as busy as ever. There will be crowds and sometimes even queues for pictures in front of the bigger structures.

As a foreigner, it’s likely that some locals ask to take a picture with you. It’s actually quite common in Indonesia.

Inside the Prambanan Temple Complex

Allow yourself enough time to find a good spot to watch the sunset. I found Candi Sewu to be a better spot than Prambanan itself because fewer people go there and the angle towards the sun is better.

Other nearby places to watch the sunset

Sunset at Prambanan is spectacular, that’s for sure. However, it’s not the only place you can watch the sunset at. Consider these, if you want something a tad different:

  • Ratu Boko: The sun sets right behind the main gate of Ratu Boko – the mysterious Hindu-Buddhist palace;
  • Candi Barong: This smaller temple is on a hill behind Ratu Boko and thus you can see more of the horizon during the sunset;
  • Candi Ijo: Talking about hills, Candi Ijo is the highest temple around Yogyakarta at 425 m above sea level. Shall I say more?;
  • Spot Riyadi: Any place that’s called a “spot” is sure to have nice views. Spot Riyadi doesn’t disappoint with views towards Prambanan, Mt. Merapi and of course, the setting sun.
Candi Ijo main temple
Candi Ijo

After sunset: Watch the Ramayana Ballet

There are two options for after the sun goes down. You can either go back to Yogyakarta or witness something extraordinary with more than 50 years of history – the Ramayana Ballet.

It takes place so close to Prambanan that it’ll be incredibly amiss if you skip it after your visit to the temple. Moreover, the Ramayana Ballet is a grand performance of Hindu beliefs and culture adding immensely to your visit and understanding of Java from the ages past.

A scene from the Ramayana Ballet near Prambanan

Find out all you need to know about the Prambanan Ramayana Ballet, including schedule, price, and is it’s worth it (yeah, it is)

How to get to Prambanan from Yogyakarta?

Prambanan Temple is surprisingly near to Yogyakarta where most travelers base themselves. Sidenote: I love Yogyakarta and here is my list of best things to do in the City of Education.

Let’s take a look at your options for how to get to Prambanan for the sunset.

By public transport bus

The cheapest way to get to Prambanan is to take the public transport bus #K3J or #1A. It’s the same bus that runs under two different codes. You can take it from any stop on Malioboro Street, either Malioboro 1, 2 or 3.

You 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. This is because the buses stop for 15 minutes before continuing, so if you don’t change you will end up needlessly waiting.

K3J / 1A bus
The K3J / 1A bus

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.

By train

The Commuter train line between Yogyakarta and Surakarta is another convenient way to reach Prambanan.

Trains depart from Yogyakarta Station (also known as Tugu) and make a stop at Prambanan Train Station after 15 minutes.

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.

By Grab / GoJek taxi

Grab and GoJek are the all-competing Southeast Asian equivalent of Uber (which exited the market due to extreme competition).

Both of them have a corresponding app and booking is super simple.

Price-wise, a motorcycle taxi for 1 from Malioboro to Prambanan costs around 50.000 IDR (3.3$) whereas a car taxi seating 4 costs around 100.000 IDR (6.6$).

Rent a Motorcycle

If you feel comfortable enough to drive a motorcycle in hectic conditions, then this option gives you the most freedom and flexibility.

The best place to rent a motorcycle in Yogyakarta is in front of Lempuyangan Station where you will have the biggest choice. One-day rental goes for between 80.000 and 150.000 IDR (5.2$ to 9.8$).

Message (+62 823 3022 8307) on WhatsApp for the motorcycle rental I always use in Yogyakarta. Say you found the number from Simon to get a special offer.

Get an organized tour

With a plethora of cheaper options, an organized tour really isn’t necessary to visit Prambanan or to watch the sunset.

Nonetheless, if you want maximum convenience, have everything sorted out for you, and not have to worry about transportation, then book this very affordable Prambanan sunset tour.

Or check out these other options for tours of Yogyakarta’s top attractions:

Wait, what even is Prambanan?

Oh, what, you haven’t heard of Prambanan before? It’s not a big deal, only the biggest Hindu temple in Indonesia and the second-biggest in Southeast Asia after Angkor Wat.

It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site (out of just 9 in Indonesia) and one of the most visited places on Java. I have it included in my 2-week Java itinerary.

Sunset at Prambanan and the purple, orange, red colors of the sky

The Prambanan Temple Complex is dedicated to the “Trimurti“, the expression of God as the Hindu trinity of the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu), and the Destroyer (Shiva)

It was built in the 9th century by the Sanjaya Dynasty, most probably as a sort of “we can also do it” answer to the Buddhist Borobudur of the Shailendra Dynasty. Borobudur and Prambanan are only around 35 km from each other.

Centerfold is the 47-meter-tall Prasada Tower dedicated to Shiva. Smaller similar towers are uniformly spread around it.

The temple has lived through a lot. Abandonment, rediscovery, destruction due to an earthquake, and restoration. It took a lot of damage in the 2006 earthquake and today only 6 of the Pervara temples are completely reconstructed out of 224 originally.