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Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist monument in the world, making it one of the most famous Buddhist temples visited by tourists. Located on the island of Java, this extraordinary site is definitely worth a visit if you are planning a trip to Indonesia. Here is some useful information to help you plan your visit to Borobudur Buddha Temple.

Yogyakarta Borobudur: the Most Famous Buddhist Temple

To fully understand the many facets of Indonesian culture, a visit to the Borobudur temple is an essential experience that will immerse you in the fascinating Buddhist world. If you are planning a trip to Indonesia, we recommend that you include a stop in Yogyakarta to visit at least the Borobudur Temple and the Prambanan Temple complex.

We dedicated one morning during our stay in Yogyakarta to visiting this extraordinary place, and in this article we provide some tips and information for planning your visit to Borobudur.

History of Borobudur Temple

This monument was built between 780 and 840 by the Sailendra royal dynasty, which ruled the island of Java and was at the height of its wealth at that time. The purpose of this building was to create a temple to glorify the Buddha and a place of pilgrimage for the people to detach themselves from material possessions and ascend to Nirvana.

The temple was abandoned between the 10th and 15th centuries, due to both the advent of Islamic culture and a series of natural disasters that caused the population to leave the area.

The monument, now overgrown with earth and vegetation over the years, was discovered in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles and fully excavated in 1835.

The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has contributed to various restoration efforts over the years.

tempio di Borobudur Yogyakarta: statua di Buddha e vista sull'isola di Giava

View from the temple

Borobudur Temple in numbers

Number of visitors: > 3,000,000/year

Size: 123x123x35 m

Number of Buddha statues: 504

Number of stupas (inverted bells containing a Buddha statue): 72

Area: > 2,500 square meters

Where it is located and how to get there

The temple is located on the island of Java, just over 40 km northwest of the city of Yogyakarta.

To reach the temple, you can use public transportation or a private car.

If you choose public transportation, take the Trans Jogja buses that connect Yogyakarta to the Jombor terminus. From there, take another local bus to Borobudur. Unfortunately, public transportation in Yogyakarta is not very efficient. The routes and schedules are limited and not always reliable.

Therefore, we recommend using a private car or a cab (such as My Blue Bird). It is important to note that traffic in Indonesia can be extremely chaotic. If you plan to visit the temple as part of a tour with an agency (as we did), transportation will be provided.

Considering heavy traffic slowdowns, we recommend leaving at least an hour and a half before your visiting time.

If you are brave enough to test yourself among Indonesian motorists, take the road to the temple that connects Yogyakarta to the city of Semarang and turn left after the town of Muntilan on Jl. Mayor Kusen/Jl. Raya Borobudur. There is a large parking lot near the complex where you can park your car for a nominal fee of 8,000 rupees, which is equivalent to about 50 cents.

Entrance Tickets

Since access is limited, we recommend that you purchase tickets in advance through the official online site found at this link.

Two types of tickets are available:

Site and temple base access ticket (no ascent) – this ticket allows access to the park and the base of Borobudur, but not the temple itself. No time slot is required for this ticket, only the day of the visit. The ticket costs 375,000 rupees for adults (about 22 €) and 225,000 rupees for children. The ticket for this option costs 455,000 rupees for adults (about 27 €) and 305,000 rupees for children (about 18 €).
Site access ticket and including temple access and ascent: in this case you must select both the day and time of your visit and the ticket costs 455,000 rupees for adults (about 27 €) and 305,000 rupees for children (about 18 €).

Tickets can only be purchased from one week before the day of your visit, so we recommend that you make a note to remember to make your purchase as availability is limited.

Of course, we recommend that you purchase the ticket including access to the temple and the climb (be prepared that it’s a lot of steps!), as this will give you a full view of the history and significance of this place. Access to the temple is allowed only in the company of a guide, who will accompany you and reveal many secrets of Borobudur.

We advise you to favor the earliest available times in the morning or late afternoon as from late morning there is the greatest influx of tourists, as well as very high temperatures.

tempio di Borobudur: ingresso al tempio con grosso albero

Entrance to the temple ​

tempio di Borobudur: cerimonia buddhista

Buddhist ceremony at the temple

tempio di Borobudur: vista del tempio e della scalinata di accesso

Stairway to the temple

The visit inside and what the temple looks like

We recommend arriving a little early for your visit to Borobudur to allow time for waiting in line at the ticket office to validate your ticket and pick up the required sandals for entering the temple. Also, if you have some time on your hands, you can take advantage of it to take a nice walk around the park surrounding the temple and make a few photo stops.

At the ticket office, you will receive a number corresponding to your guide, which you should follow throughout the tour. Keep in mind that the guided tour inside the temple lasts at least an hour and a half. Therefore, plan to spend at least two to three hours to visit the entire complex at a leisurely pace.

Borobudur is divided into 3 sections representing the three spheres of passage for attaining Nirvana:

  • Kamadhatu: This is the first sphere, consisting of the base of two terraces, and is that of desire and, therefore, related to the world inhabited by ordinary people. This level depicts scenes in bas-reliefs showing human behavior dictated by desire: the sculptures represent acts of violence and robbery;
  • Rupadhatu: this sphere consists of 5 terraces and is that of transition, in which human beings abandon worldly matters and their desires but are still bound by form. In these levels there are more than 300 Buddha statues (some headless, to remind us that nothing is eternal and everything is transitional) and there are more than 1,300 reliefs stretching for 2.5 km;
  • Arupadhatu: this is the top level consisting of three circular terraces and the huge stupa on top symbolizing elevation above the world. This is the sphere of non-form and the attainment of Nirvana and symbolizes purity, so much so that these last levels have less decoration. The terraces contain 72 pierced stupas, within which is an inward-facing statue of Buddha.
Tempio di Borobudur: le stupa dell'ultimo livello

Stupas of the last terrace

Tempio di Borobudur: dettagli dei bassorilievi del tempio

Details of the bas-reliefs

Tempio di Borobudur: dettagli del sistema di scolo dell'acqua

Buddha statues in the Kamadhatu level

Rules to follow

To enter the temple, it is mandatory to wear the special woven straw sandals available at a booth located after the park entrance. These sandals are included in the cost of the ticket and can be kept as souvenirs.

Inside the park and temple, photography is allowed, while bringing food and bringing animals is prohibited. Although it is not an official rule, it is advisable to wear appropriate clothing for the place, avoiding shorts and tops that are too short: it is advisable to opt for knee-length shorts and a short-sleeved T-shirt.

Access to the temple is allowed only in the company of local guides.

Our recommendations

As we have already mentioned, we recommend that you take advantage of the earliest available time slots for your visit, so as to avoid the large crowds that there are during the middle hours of the day. Also, keep in mind that Java can be very hot, especially in summer, and the days can be very muggy.

For this reason, we recommend that you wear a hat to shield your head from the sun, as there is very little shade in the complex and temple, and that you bring water with you to hydrate.

Consider devoting at least two hours to the visit, and don’t miss the entrance to the temple accompanied by a guide; it is an essential experience in order to fully understand the spirit and history of Borobudur.

Be careful on the way out: the route is conditional and you will have to pass through endless bazaars and street vendors who might get a bit pushy and take advantage of you if you are not familiar with the local currency. Be very careful with backpacks and bags as you pass through this area. 

We hope we have provided you with useful information for planning your visit to Borobudur. We had the privilege of visiting it with a wonderful bicycle tour that took us from Borobudur to the Prambanan temple complex with the Viavia Jogja agency and it was an amazing experience.

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