Why the Temples of Java Should be on Your Bucket List

The Temples of Java

Photos that’ll make you want to visit Borobudur, Candi Ratu Boko and Prambanan

Heard of Angkor Wat, right? Of course you have.

What about Borobudur? Candi Ratu Boko? Prambanan? No? Well they’re up there with some of the finest temples in the world. Don’t believe me? Then read on!


Indonesia is big. In fact, it’s really really big. With a population of 256 million people and over 17,500 different islands, it’s one of the largest countries in the world, and not just in population but in land mass too. That means it’s got more than its fair share of temples.

However, in Borobudur, Cadi Ratu Boko and Prambanan they’ve got three of the most impressive temples you’ll ever see too. If these places aren’t on your bucket then they really should be!

Borobudur

You could just see the outline of a volcano in the background, smoke rising into the air. A final few stars still shone brightly as a thin layer of yellow split the horizon.

Everyone was watching patiently, camera’s poised at the ready, the gentle click click click and the shuffle of tired feet the only real sounds to be heard.

Then, eventually, as the minutes ticked by, the shards of the sun shone brightly upon the stupas of Borobudur bathing everything in gold.

As far as sunrises go, this one is up there with the best.

Dating back to the 9th century, Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

Made up of over 2 million bricks and 504 Buddha statues, Borobudur is split into three complexes. Once you climb to the top complex there are 72 beautiful stupas (each enshrined with the figure of a Buddha inside), and it’s amazing to think how big this monument really is. Also, the views of the rice fields and the palm trees from the top of Borobudur is something to behold too.

Sunrise is without a doubt the best time to go, not only for the most magical views but because once the sun’s high in the sky everything heats up like a furnace.

A sunrise tour of Borobudur costs 400,000 IDR (£25/$30) and includes entrance fees and breakfast. Borobudur is an hour’s drive from Yogyakarta.

Candi Ratu Boko

Just as Borobudur is the temple to go for sunrise, Candi Ratu Boko is the temple to go for sunset.

Perched up high on a hill, Candi Ratu Boko was once an old sultan’s palace, now a complete ruin. Of all the foundations, only one structure still stands – the main gate.

It is here that everyone watches the sun set, and with the sprawling city of Yogyakarta and the mountains framed in the background, it is without a doubt one of the best views in Java.

Named after legendary King Boko (a popular character in folklore), Candi Ratu Boko is another huge archaeological site, and it’s well worth exploring this entire complex a good hour before sunset to see all it has to offer.

When it comes to sunset itself, the best place to watch it is in front of the main gate. Everyone lays out on the grass setting up their cameras for that perfect shot, and there’s a huge sense of anticipation in the air for that magic moment.

Tickets to Candi Ratu Boko cost 110,000 IDR (£7/$9) and gives you access of the complex which closes at 9pm.

Prambanan

For me, Prambanan was my favourite of the three temples we visited in Java.

Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. Built in the 9th century, Prambanan is comprised of eight main shrines with 250 smaller ones surrounding it.

Nearly all the walls of the temple are covered in exquisite bas relief carvings, which narrate stories of Vishnu’s incarnations, adventures of Hanuman the Monkey King, the Ramayana epic and other legends.

One of the things I loved at Prambanan was it never felt too crowded, it never felt rushed. If you wanted to, you could walk around the temples all day and no one would hassle you, no one would bat an eyelid.

Each temple is so intricately carved that you can just spend hour after hour exploring each one, and as a photographer there are so many different types of shot you can get there.

Even though Borodudur is bigger and more popular with tourists, I much preferred how you could walk around all the different shrines and sanctuaries at Prambanan, all at your own leisurely pace.

Tickets to Prambanan cost 252,000 IDR (£16/$20) and gives you access to the complex. There is also a traditional Ramayana ballet performance every evening with all the temples lit up at night.


With temples such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Wat Pho in Thailand, Borobudur, Candi Ratu Boko and Prambanan can easily be held in the same light, and if they’re not on your bucket list they really should be.

Have you ever been to any of these temples in Java? If so, what did you think of them!? Let me know in the comment box below!

My visit to Indonesia was part of a press trip organised by Indonesia Travel as part of their #TripOfWonders campaign. As always, all views and opinions are entirely my own and without bias.

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Why the Temples of Java Should be on Your Bucket List