However, the “just before sunrise” option is usually the most expensive and the hardest to pull out that is particularly true if you are travelling alone. Either you rent a private car that can cost between 500,000 – 700,000 Rupiah depending on your negotiation skills, then the car will travel all the way from Yogjakarta to the town of Magelang with arrival time at the temple gate as early as 4am. From there, you need to purchase the 320,000 Rupiah ticket for an exclusive entrance via Manohara Hotel, the only access allowable at that hour though it will allow you to enter the topmost temple as early as 430am armed with a torchlight, just when everything still dark and right on time for the sunrise.
I must admit I considered this option but at the end decided that the total expense does not justify my desire to avoid the crowd and went home with breathtaking photos. Though I still woke up as early as 4am, however I settled for the Beautiful Borobudur Morning tour package offered in the hostel for a price of 200,000 Rupiah, together with the rest of the hostel visitors who bought the same we arrived at the temple gates at around 6am after an hour drive from Yogjakarta.
I was told once by a local friend that if you arrive later than the “sunrise” hour, it is a matter of luck of having the temple somehow all by yourself. Our group was lucky indeed or maybe because it was Sunday, the crowd only a handful and there are still plenty of opportunities to photograph the stupas without a head bobbing out on one side.
Candi Borobudur or Borobudur Temple , a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a Buddhist stupa and temple complex dating from the 8th century. Consider as one of the world’s greatest ancient monuments, it consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms decorated with relief panels and Buddha statues of various types.
To reach the topmost dome requires climbing the structure from the encased foot to the lower levels platforms and then the circular middle platforms. Imagine doing that at middle of the day on a sweltering heat and it can be one daunting activity, however reaching the main dome is always the reward itself.
The backdrop of active volcanoes, the Kedu Plain and how the rest of surrounding seems to be so small against the numerous stupa is the most rewarding view of Borobudur Temple. I found myself smiling and thinking that this is exactly the reason why I bother waking up as early as four in the morning and why I travel all the way to Yogjakarta- all worth it, it is magnificent.
The largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva and built by the Mataram Kingdom in 10th century, Prambanan Temple is best distinguished by its pointy and sharp sculpture tower, a typical Hindu Temple architecture style and another ancient monument worth visiting at the island of Java.
Apart from the main Lara Jonggrang, the main complex of Prambanan, there are some other temple structures worth visiting inside the compound. They are usually hundred meters walk apart from each other or a green trolley that circles around the complex can be use for free for foreign visitors.
Sewu and Candi Plosan are example of smaller temples inside the compound.
To exit both Borobudur and Prambanan towards the main parking lot where most day trips vans and buses are waiting requires passing by a maze of souvenir shops. Navigating these stalls are proven to be more tiring than circling the temples itself.
Borobudur and Prambanan entrance fee is quite expensive, a published combined fee of 360,000 Rupiah for foreign visitors and way much lower price for locals and those holding valid work permit in Indonesia. I bought my combined pass from the hostel for 250,000 Rupiah, obviously much cheaper than buying at the temple entrance.