YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA (FEB 2016)
As someone based in Singapore, I had the opportunity to visit some of the most impressive temple sites in the world such as the Angkor Wat and Bagan as they are just a short plane ride away from SG. During the CNY 2016 holidays, I was able to visit the jewels of Central Java, Indonesia: the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan during my visit to Yogyakarta (also called Jogjakarta or simply Yogya or Jogja).
Borobudur is known as the largest Buddhist temple in the world built during 8th – 9th centuries and is older than the Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The remarkable feature of this temple is its 72 stupas with each containing a Buddha figure inside.
Note that Borobudur is actually not in Jogja but in Magelang but one can easily book a day trip to Borobudur from any hostel or tour agency in Jogja.
The best way to see Borobudur is to book the sunrise tour via Manohara Hotel (budget option) or stay for a night at the Manohara Hotel, the only hotel which has direct access to the Borobudur temple compound. I did the budget option, of course. The driver picked me up at around 3:30AM – 4AM at my hostel in Jogja and reached Manohara Hotel before sunrise. The hotel provided a torch (to be returned after seeing Borobudur), a map, and a disposable rain poncho if in case it rains. So what’s the advantage of seeing via Manohara Hotel? You will be let in the Borobudur temple compound before the gates open to the general public and will be able to watch the sunrise on top of Borobudur in between the stupas. This is a really popular site and can get really crowded so I’m sure you will want that advantage.
After visiting a Buddhist temple, the driver drove us next to a Hindu temple, the Prambanan.
Below is the description of Prambanan according to UNESCO:
Prambanan Temple Compounds
Built in the 10th century, this is the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Rising above the centre of the last of these concentric squares are three temples decorated with reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them.
This site is just as popular and touristy as the Borobudur but the compound is huge so most people won’t be concentrated on one area. There are also bike rentals so that you can easily visit the smaller temples that are scattered around the compound.
If I can turn back time, I would have also joined a sunset tour to Prambanan combined with a Ramayana Ballet show afterwards. Do a quick Google search of “sunset prambanan” and you will see why it is a good idea. 😉 So for those of you who haven’t been to Jogja yet, who loves taking pictures of sunsets and/or enjoy watching cultural dance shows, I recommend to include that in your itinerary.