Borobudur wasn’t like many usual destinations where I reached randomly during my travels. In fact, it was a long-cherished dream and there was a strong desire to feel the aura of this magnificent temple one day . I normally don’t follow a bucket list to make the travel plans, but very few places in the world fascinate me like Borobudur. So, when I stepped on the rainy trail of the Phuntuk Setumbu to get the first sight of Borobudur, peeping out majestically in a mist-filled valley, it was a dream comes true.
I was there at Phuntuk Setumbu to watch the famous sunrise of Borobudur. The rising sun emerges between the mountains of Mt.Merapi & Mt.Merabu and Borobudur Temple slowly reveals its bell shape in the mist-filled valley. Interestingly, I couldn’t got the much-awaited first glimpse of Borobudur from the main temple complex, but from a hill top behind the temple, slightly away from them main complex. That’s why this post is not about the temple complex, but about the sunrise trip of Borobudur, that is getting popular in the travel communities with each passing day.
Sunrise at Borobudur: Primarily, there are two types of sunrise tours available in Borobudur:
To Watch Sunrise From The Top of The Temple: It’s possible to enter in the temple complex early in the morning to watch the sunrise from the top of the Borobudur Temple. However, it attracts few extra bucks from the pocket. The ticket is available only at the desk of Manohara Hotel, that is actually located inside the temple complex. No other place sells this ticket, so beware of the touts. If you stay at Manohara Hotel in the night, then you can walk around in the temple complex anytime after it gets open for the general public in the morning, but for the sunrise tour of Borobudur Temple, you have to buy a separate ticket.
The details of Manohara Sunrise Tour is:
Prices for the Adults :
Foreigner Visitor : IDR 450.000 per person
Domestic Visitor : IDR 325.000 per person
In house guest (who staying at Manohara) : IDR 275.000 per person
Prices for the Children:
Foreigner Visitor : IDR 225.000 per person
Domestic Visitor : IDR 162.500 per person
In house guest (who staying at Manohara) : IDR 137.500 per person
Tea/coffee, light snack & Souvenir. Entrance to Borobudur Temple from 4.30am (before public open time).
Note : There is no limitation for the number of Borobudur Sunrise guest . So, you could purchase the ticket directly here at our ticketing counter in the morning (at 4.20am) on the day you want to see the Borobudur Sunrise.
To Watch Sunrise From The Phuntuk Setumbu: Alternate cheaper option to enjoy the sunrise is a hilltop, known as Phuntuk Setumbu, apporx 5 kms away from the main temple in a village called Karangrejo. It’s easy to make an arrangement for the morning pickup with a scooter guy at the hotel desk or in the market on the previous night. Following morning, wake up early and leave for Phuntuk Setumbu at 04.30 AM. Normally, the scooter guy also acts as a guide and leads the way to the hilltop, that is approx. 20 minutes (400 mtrs approx) uphill walk from the parking. Right after the scooter parking, at the entrance of the hiking trail, you have to buy an entry ticket. Ticket cost is 30,000 IDR. It’s an easy, well-marked trail to the viewpoint, but during the rain it can become very slippery.
Which Place is a Better Option? I opted for Phuntuk Setumbu. It’s cheaper than the sunrise ticket of Manohara Hotel. From Phuntuk Setumbu, you have a chance to view the Borobudur peeping out from the mist-filled valley, the sun emerges between the Merapi & Merabu and the Chicken Church looking out from the lush-green forest.
However, the rain, cloud and mist play a great role during the sunrise. Doesn’t matter, wherever you are; if it rains or there is low clouds in the valley, all the fun can be spoiled. Be ready to accept this fact.
Also, there is no guarantee to watch the perfect sunrise everyday. In fact, most of the time, it is a sheer disappointment due to the clouds and the rain. Don’t go there with too much expectation and try to enjoy the beautiful valley as much as you can.
Where to Stay? Most of the people prefer to stay in Yogyakarta. It’s possible to go for a day tour from Yogyakarta. Borobudur is also having a lot of options for the accommodation, but they are costlier than Yogyakarta. However, there is a resort in Borobudur, that offers dormitory bed at IDR 150 k per night. Manohara hotel is another option to stay in the night, where you can also get the Borobudur Sunrise Ticket from the hotel desk.
Sunrise from the Phuntuk Setumbu During My Trip : While I was in Borobudur, I went for the sunrise tour to Phuntuk Setumbu. I stayed at Borobudur on the previous night and made an arrangement with a scooter guy, who picked me from the hotel at 4.30 AM in the next morning (He charged approx 100k IDR for pick up and drop including guide services). We reached to the place from where the trekking to the hill top begins. After buying the ticket, we proceeded on a well-marked trail and reached to the hilltop well before the sunrise. At least 50-60 people were already there. The sunrise trip is so popular that the entire area was soon filled up by the people, most of them holding the selfie-sticks in their hands. We found a suitable place, from where we could click some pictures of the sunrise.
The entire valley was covered under the clouds and the mist, and we knew that there was no chance of a spectacular sunrise, or even for a glimpse of the Borobudur. But, we wanted to wait till the sun rises up on the horizon. After the wait of approx. one hour, the clouds disappeared for the moments and we could clearly see the bell shape of Borobudur peeping out from the valley. There was still no chance to see the sun. The famous mountains of Merapi and Merabu was also covered under the thick clouds. However, the visibility was good enough to take few photographs of Borobudur, the misty valley, the chicken church and surrounding area. When the valley got filled with the morning light, and it became evident that there would be no chance to click the sunrise, most of the people started dispersing. Few moments later, it started raining also. Luckily, 3-4 huts were there to prevent us from the rain.
Walk to The Chicken Church: Once the rain was stopped, we moved towards the Chicken Church, that is approx. 15 minutes away from the hill top. It is again a slippery trail through the dense forest, where we had to walk very carefully.
The so called Chicken Church is actually known as Gereja Ayam, a prayer house, and it was constructed in the shape of a Dove, but locals perceived the shape as a chicken and started calling it a Chicken Church. Unfortunately, due to the financial implications, the construction of the prayer house was never finished and it is still in the construction stage.
Lying abandoned for the few years, this building became popular among the tourists in the later part of the tourism boom at Borobudur and now it’s a significant attraction in the area. After paying a small fee, you can reach to the top of the church, from where you can get the impressive views of the valley, the surrounding forests and the high mountains.
After visiting the Chicken Church, we walked on a different trail to return towards the village, where our scooter was parked. It was a nice walk through the massive plantations of Papaya and Banana. On the way, we also crossed a beautiful bamboo bridge in order to reach on the main road in the village.
Our scooter guy picked the scooter and we moved towards the main temple complex of Borobudur. Time was approaching to meet face to face with a long-cherished dream ” The Great Temple of Borobudur”, that left me awestruck and speechless with its sheer size, spiritual essence and remarkable history. I will write a different post on the main temple of Borobudur as soon as possible.