Many backpackers rate Yogyakarta (Jogja) as one of the best cities in the whole of Indonesia. The culture, the people, the food, the history, and of course because of its close proximity to the UNESCO listed Candi Borobudur Buddhist temple complex. But while Jogja is indeed the closest major city to Borobudur, it is not exactly within walking distance. So how can you get from Yogyakarta to Borobudur?
While exploring Jogja is always a great thing to do in itself, every visitor to the city must make the foray out to Magelang Regency where Borobudur lies. You can do what I did the first time, which is get a private taxi from your hotel, let the driver wait for you in the car park, and then let him take you all the way back to your hotel. This typically costs around 300,000 Rupiah and is an easy way of doing it. However, it is not cheap – and with public buses being so regular in this part of Java, you’d be stupid to not at least think of doing it the “hard way”!
Although the Trans Jogja network can take you to the Hindi Prambanan temple, these small buses do not go all the way out to Borobudur. To get to Borobudur by bus, you must take the Trans Jogja 2B bus to the Jombor Bus Terminal. I paid 4,000 Rupiah for the journey and it took only 10 minutes to get there. Luckily, there were plenty of empty seats on board.
Once you’ve arrived at Jombor Terminal, you must now catch another bus to Candi Borobudur. The terminal is still over an hour away from Borobudur itself, but for a price of 25,000 Rupiah each way (some bus companies may charge slightly more) it is a very cheap way to visit when you compare the round trip of 300,000 Rupiah in a private taxi! It is advisable to have the correct money when you pay the driver, as he might not have change (or might not want to give you change).
I was always warned of the buses from Jombor to Borobudur. Not many tourists will use these buses (although they are perfectly safe and clean) and they are intended for Indonesians primarily. As a solo “white boy/Ang Moh” stepping on to the bus, I was immediately swarmed by some curious kids asking for my name before I could even pay the driver. Indonesians are generally very friendly, but don’t seem to tolerate other races as much as people in other countries do. Still, posing for a few photos in the bus with some kids doesn’t seem like much off an ordeal, surely? Well, during the 60 minutes that it took to reach Borobudur, I think I got sick of hearing the words “hey mister, can we have photo?”. Like how many photos do they need? I swear my ugly mug must be plastered over the Facebook pages of every 12 year old in Java!
The bus terminal at Borobudur is a few minutes walk from the actual entrance of the temple site itself, so just pick up your belongings from the coach and head to the ticket booth. Candi Borobudur is one of those majestic sites that are simply worth the admission fee, no questions asked. Some people choose to visit for sunrise, although I think it may be difficult to catch a coach from Jombor at such an ungodly hour, so you may need to spend the night in Magelang or at the Manohara Hotel. But whatever time you visit Borobudur, make sure you get all the photos you need – and be prepared to pose in a few yourself for the Indonesian tourists!