One of the most special experiences I have had in Yogyakarta was watching the sun rise over Borobudur. I have to admit I’m a morning person, but even if I wasn’t, the site of the mist rolling over the valleys something that will always stay with me. I’d like to share with you my experience visiting the temple for sunrise.
In the article I’ll also share with you how to visit the Punthuk Setumbu Hills for yourself and give you an overview of what happens if you join a tour. Let’s get started.
“Ok, let’s go tomorrow morning then,” I said blindly to my friends when they asked if I wanted to see Borobudur at sunrise. There are only two places that I have ever heard of where you can watch Borobudur at sunrise, they are either from Manohara Hotel or the Punthuk Setumbu Hills.
Watching sunrise from Manohara Hotel is the more expensive option. Though for foreign tourists the difference is not significant. The first time I visited Borobudur for sunrise I decided to go to the hills of Punthik Setumbu. At the time I was totally clueless where Punthuk Setumbu Hills was.
Arranging Your Own Tour
If you’re going to watch sunrise at Borobudur you have to leave Yogyakarta very early in the morning. Most people will arrange a car rental or join a shared tour, I’ll explain a bit more about that option later. On my first visit I decided to drive a motorbike. I’m not sure if it was a good idea.
It was the first time I have ever driven a motorbike by myself for a long distance (almost 45 km). Apparently I managed to drive 70km/hours (normally I drive max 40km/hours) safely without being involves in an accident (well almost :/ I just slightly crashed the back of my motorbike into another motorbike that was trying to cut me up, but it wasn’t my fault).
How to Get There
I digress. It takes between an hour to an hour and a half to drive to the Punthuk Setumbu hills from Yogyakarta. I started driving my motorbike from my house at 4.30 am, the journey to the Punthuk Setumbu hills probably took between 1-1,5 hours. If you decide to drive by yourself you should wear a coat as it does get quite cold.
Punthuk Setumbu hills are located 2,5 km west of Borobudur. It’s a bit difficult to find if you travel here by yourself. You have to turn right on the intersection after passing Manohara Hotel. Then just follow the road, maybe around 2 km, and you find the office of this tourism spot.
When we arrived close to the tourist office we found lots of Ojek (motorbike taxi) drivers. We paid around Rp. 20.000 for one of them to guide us to the tourist office. When we got to the tourist office we bought an entrance ticket so that we could watch the sunrise.
Remember, you have to pay the entrance fee; Rp. 15.000, for local tourist and Rp. 30.000, for foreigners. Don’t let the ojek guy tell you how much you need to pay at the counter. The bad thing about the counter is that they didn’t put the notification for the price differences between the local and non local tourists. They just stated the price Rp. 30.000, without any other details. I’ve been told that this is a scam so that the Ojek drivers can make extra money. If you are an Indonesian you should ask for the correct price. Yes it is not a big amount of money, but it is a crime to scam people like this.
Best Time For Sunrise
If you’re going to come to the Pethuk Setumbu Hills to see Borobudur at sunrise make sure you arrive at around 5.20 am. You still need to do a short bit of trekking; probably around 10-20 minutes to reach the spot. It’s not a hard trek if you are reasonably fit. After waking up so early you want to make sure you actually get to see the sunrise.
Joining An Organised Tour
While arranging your own tour to the Pethuk Setumbu Hills to watch sunrise over Borobudur is a great option for backpackers on a budget it can be quite intimidating. In fact there are two far more convenient options that you can choose; one option is hiring a private car, while the second option is joining an arranged tour.
Catching a Luxury Minivan
If you join an arranged tour then you will get picked up in a luxury minivan. The minivan will pick you up from your hotel or from a pre-determined pickup point. If your hotel is outside of Yogyakarta
you might need to rent a taxi it’s easier to rent a car as you’ll probably need to get a taxi to the nearest pickup point.
The pickup time for the minivan is between 3am to 4am as the driver will need to pick up other guests. Once the driver has picked up all the guests you are taken to Sethumbu Hill where you can watch the sunrise over Borobudur. After the sunrise you are taken to Borobudur temple. After exploring Borobudur you will be taken in the minivan back to Yogyakarta where you will be dropped off at your hotel.
Arranging a Car Rental
While a minivan is a great option, the more convenient option (and if you are a family or a large group the cheaper option) is arranging a car rental. The first thing you will need to do if you decide on a car rental is choose whether you want to rent the car for a full day or a half day. If you choose to rent the car for a half day then the driver will first take you to Sethumbu Hill and then to Borobudur before returning to Yogyakarta. If you rent a car for a full day and then visit Prambanan or do some other activities.
Whichever option you choose the driver will pick you up from your hotel between 4-4:30am and then drive you to Sethumbu Hill where you can watch sunrise over Borobudur. After watching the sunrise the driver will take you to Borobudur and then on to wherever you want to go.
Watch Sunrise over Borobudur
The view of the sunrise with Borobudur, Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi in the distance was a great reward for waking up so early and driving so far. The view is very pretty and simply breathtaking. If you’re interested in experiencing this for yourself I can make it easy for you. I’ve teamed up with a local travel agent in Yogyakarta to offer you a special sunrise tour. It’s super convenient.
Included in the Package:
- Hotel pickup
- Entrance tickets to Borobudur and Setumbu Hill (optional)
- Breakfast (optional)
- Drop off at your hotel
Want to watch sunrise over Borobudur from Sethumbu Hill? Press the button below to email me and make a booking.
I reply personally to every enquiry. Look forward to hearing from you and prepare yourself for a great holiday.
P.S. You can find more information about this and other tours on this brochure (just click here to download).
Have you watched sunrise over Borobudur? What did you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comment below.