Yogyakarta is one of the crowdest cities of Indonesia, with more than 4 million habitants, and has become a popular destination for those visiting the Hindu temple of Prambanan and the Buddhist site of Borobudur.
How to get there
Located in Central Java, Yogyakarta is easily reachable within the island by train or bus, or by plane from any of the main airports in Southeast Asia. A one-way ticket direct flight from Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore is about 30-40 euros with low cost airlines such as AirAsia, LionAir and Garuda. You can purchase your tickets via this link
Where to stay
I can´t recommend enough Laura´s Backpackers. Bed dorms are 6€ per night including breakfast and food all day. The dorms are clean, with air con, private curtains and very quiet. The staff is super friendly and helpful, organizing day trips and proving great travel advise (they told me about Karimunjawa!). Wifi works well and there are lots of books to exchange.
How to move around
Yogyakarta is one of Indonesian´s crowdest cities with chaotic traffic so I would avoid renting a motorbike unless you are an expert driver. Most hostels and guest houses arrange tourist vans to visit the main sites at cheap prices. I went to Prambanan temple by public bus from Malioboro street and arranged a day trip to Borobudur at sunrise with Laura´s Backpacker hostel.
How to buy the site tickets
You can purchase the tickets for Borobudur and Prambanan at the site ticket office or online via the link below.
It is cheaper to buy the combine ticket for both temples, which costs about 30€, than a single adult entrance, that costs 20€. They have student cards discount up to 40% off the tourist price.
Magic sunset at Prambanan
Prambanan is a 9th-century complex of 16 Hindu temples, being the Trimurti temples dedicated to Shiva, Visnu, and Brahma the most significant ones. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located approximately 17km northeast of the city of Yogyakarta. It is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu architecture, and by the towering 47-metre-high central building inside a large complex of individual temples.
The temples were abandoned about a century after its construction because of the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano; and were heavily damaged during an earthquake in the 16th century. The ruins were only rediscovered in the 19thcentury, during the British and Dutch occupation, when Dutch residents carried off sculptures as garden ornaments and native villagers used the foundation stones for construction materials. The restoration of the site started in 1930 and continues nowadays, as the site was damaged again during the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake and the eruption of Kelud volcano in 2014.
Sunrise at Borobudur
Borobudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple and the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It is located in an elevated area between two rivers and the twin volcanoes Sundoro and Merapi. The sanctuary consists of nine stacked platforms topped by a central dome, which is a popular place to enjoy a sunrise view for its 72 Buddha statues and stupas. The temple contains more than 500 buddha statues and remains popular for pilgrimage nowadays to celebrate Vesak. It is is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction.
As it happened to Prambanan, Borobudur was also abandoned for many centuries. Not for a natural disaster but due to the conversion to the Javanese to Islam in the 14th century. The site was rediscovered by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the british ruler of Java, in 1814. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations projects between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO.
The temple opens at 6am and it is very crowded in the early morning hours. Foreigns are often asked to take pictures with locals and are the target of Indonesian students who want to practice English. They are super friendly and knowledgeable of the temple history, what makes them excellent (and free) tour guides.