By now I think I’ve expressed my disillusionment with organized tours, so when it came to visiting the Hindu temples of Prambanan on Java, Indonesia, I decided to heed my own advice and travel there independently.
For those who don’t know, Prambanan is a cluster of ancient Hindu temples that were constructed in Central Java around 850 CE. They’re situated a mere 53 km (33 miles) from the world-famous Buddhist temple of Borobudur and 17 km (11 miles) from the city of Yogyakarta, making them a cinch to get to.
Despite the fact that this UNESCO World Heritage Site tends to get overshadowed by its glitzy and glamorous neighbor, Prambanan is most definitely nothing to scoff at.
Although Prambanan and Borobudur are situated closely to one another, the two temples are vastly different. Being Hindu and Buddhist, respectively, both sites offer a unique glimpse into Javanese history and architecture. Meaning each of these great temples deserves a visit in their own right.
With its neck-craning towers – the main temple measures over 150 feet tall – and intricate reliefs, Prambanan is reminiscent of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat (which just happens to be my favorite temple complex in the whole wide world). Prambanan remains one of the largest Hindu temples in Southeast Asia and is a definite must-see if you find yourself on Java.
How to get to Prambanan using public transport:
In order to visit the temples, most travelers base themselves in Yogyakarta. In town, there are countless tour agencies offering sunrise and sunset tours to Prambanan, but in my experience it isn’t necessary to visit these temples at the crack of dawn or at any specific time of day. If you travel there independently it’s not only easier but it’s cheaper too. It is incredibly simple to reach Prambanan using the local bus, better known as Transjogja. Here are a few things you need to know:
- Hop on bus 1A: If you’re staying in Yogyakarta, most hotels are clustered around the main drag, Jalan Malioboro. There are two bus stops on this street. And, just so you know, all bus stops are actually elevated platforms. Weird, I know, but at least it makes them easy to spot.
- Frequency of buses: In my experience buses run fairly frequently. I never waited more than 15 minutes.
- Cost: The cost (one-way) to reach Prambanan is only 3,000 rupiah ($0.25 USD). It’s ridiculously cheap. The ride takes roughly one hour. It’s comfortable and here’s the kicker, the buses are air conditioned, offering a nice escape from the scorching heat.
- When to get off: The stop for Prambanan is at the end of the line, so you don’t have to worry about missing your stop. But it never hurts to tell the driver to let you know when to get off.
- How to get from the bus stop to the temple: The temple grounds are located directly across the street from the bus stop. Simply cross the road, head to your right and walk about three minutes up the road in order to reach the entrance. You’ll see a large parking lot. Walk across the parking lot and you’ll see the ticket booth.
- Buying tickets: There are separate ticket booths for foreign and domestic visitors. So don’t make the mistake of waiting in the long lines outside. Foreigners need to go inside the building. The Prambanan entrance fee is 216,000 rupiah (roughly $16) for one adult.
- Bring your student ID: If you have a student ID – even an old one – bring it! The price of admission is cut in half (108,000 rupiah or $8) for students. I used my old student ID and had zero problems.
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Have you ever visited Prambanan? Did you think it was worth a visit?