Like most things in life – movies, restaurants and ice cream flavours – some people may love one thing while others hate it. For example, many people loved the Twilight series while I could just never get on board. Or green tea ice-cream? How can people honestly like that? Sorry…getting off track. My point is that in this post, you need to remember that this is my opinion and, like most things, my taste will differ from other people.
What I am going to discuss are the two main attractions in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. These attractions are both temples; Borobudur and Prambanan.
Not to sound too pretentious, but as someone who has been to over forty countries – I have seen a few temples in my days. Now a temple is a sensitive thing to critique. After all, they are religious, stunning pieces of art that carry a lot of cultural significance. It is hard to put a price tag on something like this – except when it comes to charging tourists it.
The Yogyakarta temple price is what I want to review today. Not how beautiful the temples are but more so if they are worth the price tag for you to visit.
To see one of these temples it costs about $25 USD. If you want to visit both of the temples you can get a deal and pay about $40 for a combo ticket. Now that I am back home writing this, that doesn’t seem like a lot of money – I spend that on a night out of dinner and drinks. So comparatively, the money is way better spent visiting and helping preserve a heritage site. However, when you are traveling for months on end – $40 is a lot of money to add-on top of your transportation, food, accommodation, and activity expenses. Often the reason that people choose countries in East Asia is because they are less expensive to travel. Considering that there are free – or less costly – sites and activities in Yogyakarta, it is worth considering if these temples are where you want to spend your money.
With the ticket you have two days to see both attractions. This is good because the temples are on opposite ends of the city from each other. I actually ended up seeing both of them in one day but this caused me a lot of stress because it happened to be a holiday and the traffic was basically at a standstill – it took me two hours to get to Borobudur from my hostel!
P.s – One of my favourite hostels that I have ever stayed at was here called Hati Hati. Every morning you got made a delicious breakfast and in the evenings we would have jam sessions.
I got to Borobudur by taking the local bus there. It is a fair ways out of the city so I advise leaving first thing in the morning. You can also take tours that provide the transportation there for you but if you meet a good travel buddy to go with you might as well do it the way the locals do it.
I will be honest though – I hated my time on the bus because it was a holiday and so it took me to hours to get there and then another two hours back! I think that this might have affected my experience because in total I spent about four hours getting there and back but you only spend about 30 minutes at the temple.
The temple is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. You can read about it’s history here.
To be honest, for being the ‘greatest’ of something I wasn’t too impressed. Once again this could have been due to the fact that it was a holiday and so the temple was packed with people, which really takes away from the magic of it all.
When I got there I snuck around the the back side of the temple to make my way up the three tiers because the front was too crowded.
You can walk all the way around each tier before your way making it up to the next level. When I got to the top that was my favourite part because the view was beautiful. It had been raining that morning and the clouds were low and touching the lush green hills surrounding us. The most beautiful part of the temple visit for me was the view – not the temple itself.
After the short temple visit I went to head back to the bus to go back into town and later visit temple #2. It was so frustrating getting out because to leave you have to walk through what seems like a never-ending maze of souvenir shops. The only good thing about this was that I was able to grab some food from here for the two-hour journey back to Yogyakarta.
For this temple I actually got a ride here by a local! I had been walking around Yogyakarta when I met a nice man and girl who worked at the museum. I struck up a conversation with them and we ended up talking for a good half hour. During our conversation I mentioned how I was thinking of visiting Prambanan temple when the girl offered to take me there tomorrow – sweet!
(The man also recommended me to visit this unique place for the world’s most expensive coffee)
The next day, after rushing back from Borobudur temple, I met the girl outside of my hostel. I jumped on the back of her motorbike and we headed out into the polluted and congestion motorway to the temple.
When we got there we had to enter through different lines because they have different entrances for locals and foreigners. This type of thing cracks me up because if anyone ever attempted this type of segregation in Canada it would be immediately shut down.
Once I got in through the ‘foreigner’ line, I found her talking to someone who worked at the site. It turns out that she used to volunteer here as a guide because she was studying Tourism in University. This was great news for me!
She ended up being so knowledgeable about the temple. Pardon me – I should say temples since it is actually a temple compound. In fact, it is the largest temple compound dedicated to Lord Shiva – who you will become very familiar with if you ever travel India.
The girl that I was with taught me about each god that each of the temples were for as well as other interesting facts. You can go inside the different temples here – there are three main ones. The girl professionally explained each of the temples God’s to me and the history of each temple. One fascinating thing she told me was that in the below picture, the middle carving is how detailed all the carvings were meant to be but due to an earthquake many of the carvings were left unfinished.
Having a local to guide me definitely made this temple more interesting. There are guides here if you do want one.
Since she was a friend that I made it didn’t feel right tipping her so instead I treated her to dinner – which actually worked in my favour again because she picked a great local restaurant!
Insider tip: go at sunset because it is the most beautiful time. Unfortunately it was a rainy day when we went so I don’t have any stunning sunset photographs to share with you.
My overall impression was that with the amount of traffic on the day that I went and the amount of people who were there, it wasn’t worth it for me to go and visit both of these temples. The price tag is quite high considering they aren’t huge temple complexes like Angkor Wat where you can spend days exploring – you only need about thirty minutes. As well, since I saw the Taj Mahal for less than the price of one of these temples – the price tag just didn’t match the experience in my opinion.
If you are a student (or have an old student card) then it may be worth it because you can get the combo ticket for half price. As well, if you spread out visiting these temples – instead of the same day – you can prevent getting ‘templed out’.
Perhaps the traffic, heat and expensive ticket price of this experience put a small dark cloud over it for me. I would love to hear if anyone else had a different experience?