Borobudor Sunrise Tour in Beautiful Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Before we traveled to Indonesia I knew embarrassingly little about the country. I knew about Jakarta because we know some people from there. I had of course heard of Bali but actually hadn’t realized for the longest time that Bali was part of Indonesia. And I knew about the fantastic Komodo Dragons. I had never heard of Borobudur. We came across it while planning our vacation and instantly knew visiting it was going to be the highlight of our trip. Amazing as the 9th century Buddhist temple is, it’s even more amazing at sunrise. 

borobudur statues temple

 

Options for Seeing the Sunrise

There are a large number of tours that go to the temple from Yogyakarta which is around an hour from Borobudur. They tend to start off from your hotel around 3:30 am and arrive at 4:30 am at Manohara Hotel within the grounds of the temple. Another option is to stay at Manohara Hotel itself so you just wake up and go. Since we were traveling with our son we decided to stay at Manohara Hotel. He’s an early riser (he was getting up at 4am most days then) but we thought that waking him up at 3:30 am and then driving for an hour would be pushing it.

There are also some smaller guesthouses that have been popping up just outside of the temple. If you stay in one of them you can wake up closer to the start of the tour, bike over to Manohara and join the sunrise group. In hindsight, I wish we had done that. Some visitors try to be there right at 6:00am when the gates open and then make their way up to the temple without the sunrise tour. Depending on the time of year, the sun may not be completely up yet and it is possible to climb the temple in time to see the sun rise in all its glory. When we visited, “blue hour” occurred around 5am. Then around 5:50am there was a pastel light of dawn, followed nearly right at 6am by a brilliant orange sky. The dramatic colors only lasted less than 15 minutes though, so on the day we went you would have really had to run from the front gate and then up the stairs to catch it with a 6am start.


Hotel Options

We flew from Bali to Yogyakarta and stayed at the Hyatt Regency for a night. The hotel was a bit beyond our price range for the trip but considering it is a Hyatt hotel, the price (around $70 USD a night including buffet breakfast) was very reasonable. We did have an issue with a double booking that was eventually cleared up when we got back home but we were there for the pool and the pool is spectacular! This was our peace offering to our son for dragging him around to a bunch of temples. There was a huge winding pool in a garden setting accented with buildings in the style of Borobudur.  The waterslide even came out of a temple! There were stone bridges, a basketball net, and even a waterfall. The pool alone is worth the visit!

hyatt regency yogyakarta pool

The following morning we were picked up by the driver we had arranged to take us to Manohara Hotel. It was pouring rain. Absolutely pouring down and we were starting to feel a bit worried about our sunrise tour. The streets were flooded and it didn’t look like the rain was going to give up any time soon. Our driver assured us though that we had nothing to worry about and that after a big storm, the sunrises were always spectacular.

We arrived at Manohara Hotel and were checked in quickly. The grounds were beautiful and there right outside the dining area was Borobudur in all its glory. It was still raining so we didn’t explore the temple much that day.

Borobudur Manohara Hotel Rain

The hotel itself though was less than spectacular. They have a monopoly in the area and it seems like the owners are taking advantage of the fact. Our bathroom was filthy with hair and dirt everywhere. Our shower had hot water for less than 2 minutes. I’ve since read other reviewers have mentioned this as well so it wasn’t the first time it had happened. The staff acted very surprised and said they would come and fix it but never did. There were ants everywhere in the room. I left my toothpaste out on the counter and when I woke up in the morning there were hundreds of ants covering it. We continued to find ants in our luggage for days after we left the hotel. The food in the restaurant was also overpriced and poor quality. Our stay at the Hyatt outside of Yogyakarta had been cheaper so we were really quite annoyed.

 

Borobudor Sunrise Tour

The convenience of just being able to roll out of bed and go straight to the sunrise tour was fantastic though. We got out of bed around 4am, gathered our things and met the people coming from other hotels at the front desk by 4:30. We were given flashlights, put our son on my husband’s back in our Manduca baby carrier and followed our escort to the temple. There was nearly no light at all as we walked up to the temple but luckily there are railings going along the steps that you can hold on to. 

Borobudur Sunrise tour


It stayed fairly dark for about 15 minutes more until blue hour came and we started to take photos. While there is plenty of room to get a great photo without anyone in it, the light from all the people using their phone’s cameras can get really annoying when you are trying to set up a shot.

Borobudur temple blue hour   Borobudur temple blue hour

Blue hour faded into a pinkish dawn as we listened to the morning prayers being broadcast on loudspeakers and watched the mist roll through the trees.

borobudur dawn temple statue
mist fog borobudor sunrise tour
We had been up at the top of the temple for about an hour and the sun was quite high in the sky. People were starting to make their way back down the stairs and though it was pretty we were feeling a bit let down. Our driver had promised a spectacular sunrise. Suddenly at almost precisely 6:05am the sky changed to brilliant oranges, reds and yellows! We were told that it was the most spectacular sunrise they had had in a month.borobudor sunrise tour temple   borobudur temple sunrise tour

The brilliant colors lasted less than 10 minutes but we stayed for another hour just watching and listening.

borobudur temple sunrise tour   borobudur temple sunrise tour


Hours

Open hours:  6 am – 5 pm

Cost

Foreign Visitor: 280,000 IDR per person
Domestic Visitor: 30,000 IDR per person

Borobudur Sunrise or Sunset tour (via Manohara Hotel)

Foreign Visitor: 400,000 IDR per person
Hotel Guests: 250,000 IDR per person
Domestic Visitor: 270,000 IDR per person 
Kids 1-5: Free
Kids 6-10: 50% the adult price


 

32 Replies to “Borobudor Sunrise Tour in Beautiful Yogyakarta, Indonesia”

  1. Megan Indoe

    Gorgeous photos! I have only witnessed a sunrise at Angkor Wat but it was breathtaking, even with the billion other tourists next to me! If we make it to this part of Indonesia I would love to have this experience as well!

    Reply
    • Far Away Places Post author

      We did the sunset at Angkor Wat. I’d say Borobudor was cooler cause we were so high up but neither were as good as Bagan. Bagan is the one I’d recommend before it gets too touristy. So much to explore!

      Reply
  2. Aisha

    What an absolutely BEAUTIFUL sunrise! I love the photos! I also appreciate the tips on accommodations, the small guest houses definitely sound more appealing than the hotel. Great post!

    Reply
  3. Jen Ackermann

    Having visited Borobudur on our visit to Indonesia, we felt it was quite underwhelming for the price and the hype. However, seeing your sunrise picturess made me reconsider another trip in the future for just sunrise. That must have been absolutely breathtaking as it reminds me of watching the sunrises over pagodas in Bagan! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Far Away Places Post author

      It was pretty awesome 🙂 I actually like Bagan better than Borobudor but our sunrise in Borobudor was more impressive than the one we saw in Bagan. You never know though right?!

      Reply
    • Far Away Places Post author

      Great! It is totally do-able. We ran into quite a few families of different ages exploring Indonesia.

      Reply
  4. Wendy

    Beautiful sunrise! I so admire you for going out like that to catch the sunrise with your son. The sunrise was worth it all. I'm sorry about your hotel stay, that was a little bit disappointing but hey, other part of the vacay was great!

    Reply
    • Far Away Places Post author

      The food for us was hit or miss and I think that had a lot to do with the places we stayed but in Ubud it was consistantly fantastic! We liked every single thing we ate in Ubud…maybe the city ruined everything else for us haha

      Reply
  5. Rocio Cadena

    So sad to hear about the horrible experience at the hotel but something tells me those STUNNING views of the sunrise might have made the overall experience worth it. I caught a sunrise in Taiwan and the waking up at dawn is so rough but seeing those brilliant colors makes it all okay! 

    Reply
    • Far Away Places Post author

      Thank you! He remember bits and pieces but even if he forgets it all, I’ll still remember 😉

      Reply
  6. Matthew Collamer

    NIce post! I was in Indonesia in August…beautiful place. It sounded like you had mixed results in regards to accommodation, but it sounds like the sunrise made up for it. The photos looke amazing! 

    Reply
    • Far Away Places Post author

      Thank you. Every other place we stayed was quite good. It was just that place that was absolute crap! 

      Reply

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