How to Visit Indonesia’s Prambanan Temple on a Budget

By now I think I’ve expressed my disillusionment with organized tours, so when it came to visiting the Hindu temples of Prambanan 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.

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Prambanan now consists of eight main temples. But there were once 240 temples in this complex!
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The temples are full of detailed reliefs like this. It’s really spectacular.

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.

Don’t worry about wearing shorts to the complex. Upon entering Prambanan all tourists are given a cute sarong like the one I’m wearing.

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.

Plus, with a few easy tips, visiting these temples can be downright cheap!

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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 price of admission is 216,000 rupiah 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) 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?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

12 thoughts on “How to Visit Indonesia’s Prambanan Temple on a Budget

    1. Ah, you’ve got to go to both Borobudur and Prambanan. Both are amazing. And since they’re so easy to get to from Jogja there’s no excuse not to visit both of them 🙂 And don’t even get me started on Bali. Lembongan and the Gilis (though the Gilis are technically off of Lombok)…Can I just plan your trip for you?!

      1. lolol…I’ll be sure to consult my very own tour consultant here when I manage to snag a promo airfare…I’ll do the same for you if ever you decide to go Seoul or Japan…;) Are you in Jakarta this weekend?

          1. I’m excited for you!! It’s always nice to get away. Well, send me an email when you know what you’re doing this weekend. Maybe we can try and meet up 🙂

  1. were looking for tips to travel around Yogyarkata, Prambanan & Borobudur with low budget or public transport. Thanks for very useful info sharing. gotta bring my long expired student id along too 🙂

      1. Hi Justin, Im Jaan from mumbai.Thank u for sharing some useful information. planning to go to Angkor,prambanan and Borobudur.
        Pl help me paln the itinerary for 4 days accommodation,food and travel and expenses.It would be very helpful .thank u

  2. ya ,, Prambanan very similar with Angkor wat. but Prambanan older than angkor. Do you know? according to the history. Cambodia was once colonized by the kingdom of Java. the khamer king who build angkor wat was a descendant of the Mataram kingdom at java, he has visited to Java. prambanan established by the Mataram kingdom. perhaps the king of khamer inspired by Prambanan. do You know?, the stones that build temples in Java harder quality than the quality of the stones in angkor wat

    1. I always enjoy learning about the history of different countries. Thanks for teaching me something new 🙂 And I love temples. Angkor Wat and Prambanan are both incredible!

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