The world’s largest Buddhist temple dominates the surrounding landscape. This ancient architectural spectacle is a must-see attraction on any Java itinerary.
Borobudur is not only Indonesia’s most famous temple, it’s the world’s largest Buddhist monument. Walk its many layers of balconies and admire its thousands of stone carvings and hundreds of Buddha statues. To appreciate the scale and detail of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s essential to see it in person. Photos are no substitute.
Like many of Java’s most significant temples, Borobudur dates back to the 8th and 9th century, with different parts built at different times. It was neglected for several hundred years due to the majority of Javanese converting to Islam. It would not come to popular attention again until the early 19th century.
Rise early and watch the sun come up over Borobudur from the nearby Setumbu Hill. This is an unforgettable sight sure to be a highlight of your Java trip. Afterwards, wander to the Chicken Church (Gereja Ayam). As its name suggests, it is modeled on the form of a chicken.
After seeing this strange little chapel, the grand spectacle of Borobudur will seem all the more impressive by contrast. Descend the hill and get an up-close look at this marvel. Climb all the way to the top in the manner that was originally intended. This involves walking the balconies clockwise in an upward spiral until you reach the top. Then stop to look out across the astonishing jungle vistas spread out all around you.
If you have some time to spare later in the day, visit Candirejo Village. Drive or taxi to the village from Borobudur in under 20 minutes or find one of the tour companies that offers combined tours of Borobudur Temple and this traditional Javanese village.
Alternately, walk to Selogriyo Temple. The temple itself is small, but the popular hiking route that leads to it winds through some of the area’s most beautiful scenery. Wear good shoes and be prepared for an uphill hike of an hour from Borobudur.
Borobudur is around an hour’s drive by taxi or rented car from Yogyakarta. There is a fee to enter the temple complex. Remember to dress modestly. Guided tours are widely available, offering extra insight into the history of this enchanting site.