Dieng. It’s been a long time since I visited the plateau. The lake with the multi-colored waters set in the beautiful highland valley outside of Yogyakarta. I wanted to go back one more time. To experience some of the things I didn’t get a chance to do the last time I visited. It was going to be an interesting day trip from Yogyakarta.
If you want to join the Dieng sunrise tour you have to wake up early. In fact, we never even went to sleep. The driver picked us up from the house at 12:30 at night. We piled into the car with pillows, warm clothes and a bag full of camera equipment. We closed the door and set off into the darkness.
Dieng is a three-hour drive outside of Yogyakarta. The town, if you can call it that, is nestled in the highlands in a valley. It’s famous with tourists for the Telaga Warna turquoise lake. Yet the reason why we were setting off so early in the morning was for the sunrise from Sikunir Hill. I had been told it is beautiful.
Sunrise at Dieng
It was almost 4am when the car eventually rolled to a stop at the car park at the bottom of Sikunir hill. Despite the time there were small groups of people huddled together in coats talking excitedly. There must have been about 25 people in the car park all looking excited.
From the car park it’s a 30-minute walk along a track to the top of Sikunir Hill. Sunrise happens at about 5am, so instead of setting off straight away we bought a cup of tea at one of the small shops. The tea was hot and sweet and helped warm me up.
After drinking the tea we set off up the track. The path was dark and uneven steps are dug into the side of the hill. We used the light from our phones to help us see. Above us we could see the light from the stars. It looked so beautiful this high up away from any big city.
Sunrise on Sikunir Hill
When you are almost at the top of the hill you reach a small rest area with chairs. Here the path divides. To the left there is a path that takes you to a lower viewing point on Sikunir hill. To the right you can follow another path that takes you all the way to the top of the hill. This is the best place to view sunrise and it’s the path that we took.
From the rest area it’s another ten-minute climb to the top of the hill. You can tell when you are almost at the top, because you can see the silhouette of a hut at the top of the hill (set against the stars. It looks so beautiful, but I couldn’t take a good photo).
At the top of the hill there were a crowd of people sitting down and waiting for the sunset. We tried to find a spot by the front of the crowd.
It was cold at the top of the hill, but there wasn’t a wind. We settled down and waited to watch the sunrise from Sikunir hill. It was a really beautiful view. Watch the video to see what it’s like for yourself☺
- Try to visit during a week day. It’s less crowded than on weekends and you’ll get a lot better view and have a nicer experience.
- For the best viewpoint; go all the way to the top of the hill in front of the structure. At the edge of the hill there is a dip. There is a meter slope and then an area where the ground levels out. This is the best place to watch the sunrise.
Telaga Warna Lake
We left the top of Sikunir Hill just as the sun was rising above the horizon. It was cold and though we could have stayed longer, we wanted to see Telaga Warna Lake from the Batu Pandang viewpoint. In the daylight we quickly got to the bottom of the hill.
We met our driver in the car park and after a quick breakfast of small potatoes and fried bananas we set off along the bumpy road to the car park from where you can climb to the Batu Pandang viewpoint.
When we arrived at the next car park the day was starting to get warm. We left our coats in the car and took the camera with us as we set off to Batu Pandang.
It’s a short climb to Batu Pandang. The path to the viewpoint crosses some fields. It’s a ten-minute walk to the viewpoint and the track is very easy to follow. We had to pay a farmer Rp10,000 each so that we could go to the viewpoint.
There weren’t very many people at Batu Pandang when we arrived and the view of Telaga Warna Lake was really amazing. Check out the video. I promise you will be impressed.
- Most people don’t know this, but you should leave early from the top of Sikunir Hill to go to Batu Pandang. This is because mist gathers on Telaga Warna Lake in the early morning. As soon as the sun starts to rise the mist evaporates.
- The entrance fee for Telaga Warna Lake is expensive for foreign tourists and I’m not sure it’s worth it. If you want to save money (and time) go to Batu Pandang. The view is really amazing.
Sikidang Crater and Arjuna Temple
It was almost 8am by the time we climbed down from Batu Pandang. After the breakfast I still had a lot of energy. We decided to visit two last sites for our Dieng sunrise tour: Sikidang Crater and Arjuna Temple. Our first stop was Sikidang Crater, which was a short five-minute drive from Batu Pandang.
Sikidang crater is an open sulphur crater. It’s located on a large open stretch of dusty ground. The first thing that you’ll notice when you arrive at Sikidang is the smell; it catches in your throat and makes it difficult to breath. Huge clouds of smoke flow out of the pit and get taken with the wind. If you’re lucky the wind will be blowing away from the car park and you will only smell Sikidang when you reach the edge of the crater.
Sikidang crater is strangely impressive. The crater is almost three meters in diameter and is filled with boiling mud that bubbles under the heat. The whole land surrounding the crater vibrates. You can feel the concrete pillars shaking if you lean on them. After a few minutes of walking around the crater we left and made the short walk back to the car. From there we went directly to Arjuna Temple.
The Arjuna Temple complex is located in a large park in the center of the valley. The complex is composed of eight small Hindu temples that date back to the seventh century. Although they are not as impressive as Prambanan or Borobudur, they are some of the oldest surviving temples on Java.
It took five-minutes to walk from the car to the Arjuna Temple complex across open fields. Like Sikidang crater, there is not much to see at Arjuna Temple. Most of the structures are damaged or destroyed and a lot of the decorations have been eroded. Still it’s nice to look at and it’s an interesting place to walk around and take a few quick photos.
- Bring a piece of cloth to cover your mouth for when you visit Sikidang Crater. The smell can be really overpowering.
- It gets really hot during the day in Dieng. Bring a hat and some sunscreen to make sure you don’t get burnt.
What I liked
You can see a lot of things in one day in Dieng. Sunrise from Sikunir Hill was really beautiful. Because you are at the top of a hill overlooking the valley you can see so much (and you see so many stars). The view of Telaga Warna Lake from Batu Pandang, with the mist rolling over the water, was also really special.
What I didn’t Like
Dieng has a problem with rubbish. I think most tourists won’t notice, because you don’t see it at the tourism sites, but it’s there. It’s a real shame, because Dieng is a place that is famous for its natural attractions. For sure it won’t spoil your day, but it would be a lot nicer if the local government did something to clean it up.
The Dieng Sunrise Tour
A sunrise tour of Dieng is tiring, but it’s worth it. Sunrise from Sikunir hill and the view of Telaga Warna Lake from Batu Pandang were the obvious highlights of the trip. The Dieng plateau is also a really beautiful place to visit and I’m glad I visited the valley. I’ve partnered up with a local travel agency to help you discover the valley for yourself.
Included in the Dieng Sunrise Tour:
- Hotel pickup and drop off in Yogyakarta
- Experienced local driver
- Well maintained and comfortable car
- Drop off at Sikunir hill for sunrise
- Drop off at Telaga Warna Lake for the misty morning
- Visit to Arjun temple and Sikidang crater
Want to make a day trip to Dieng? Press the button below to find out more about the tour.
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