Sunrise at Borobudur

Sunrise at Borobudur - Indonesia's most famous Buddhist temple - is a spiritual high and a photographer’s dream rolled into one. Rising from the bottom of a tree-filled valley in Central Java, this monolithic mandala is the largest Buddhist temple complex in the world. It’s glorious at any time of day, but at daybreak there’s an especially ethereal, other-worldly quality to the place. There are more mundane benefits, too, like fewer people (than at popular sunset), and the gentle morning climate.

What to expect from a sunrise at Borobudur...

As the sun begins to rise behind Borobudur’s 504 Buddha statues, misty streaks of pastel-coloured cloud appear, wrapping everything in the soft purples and pinks of dawn. Not only this, but there are smaller crowds and the temperature will be far cooler than later in the day, so you can amble amongst the Buddhas, almost alone, without getting overheated.

Staying near Borobudur will give you the luxury of a little more sleep, making your early start easier to manage. The surrounding countryside is beautiful in its own right, with rich green jungle and rice fields stretching as far as the eye can see. There are some great accommodation options just minutes away, with cosy rooms, tropical gardens and tasty local fare. These are calming places to come home to after a morning spent exploring, with traditional touches and shady reading nooks.

For something really special, stay in one of the boutique hotels perched on the Menorah Hills at the top of the valley, looking down onto Borobudur from above. These hilltop sanctuaries are pockets of pure indulgence, with magnificent vistas and dramatic sunsets. 

The Amanjiwo, or ‘peaceful soul’, is especially mind-blowing. A deluxe resort set in a natural amphitheatre, it provides uninterrupted views of both Borobudur and four of Java’s volcanoes.  

Alternatively, the Plataran is the perfect spot to splash out on some panoramic pampering. A cluster of classic Javan villas and cabanas hugging the hillside to the west of the temple, it’s known for its sublime spa treatments. After a pre-dawn wake up call and a busy morning at Borobudur, you can head back here for a massage and maybe even a siesta. Perfect!

Location: Central Java

Duration: a couple of hours

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel near Borobudur

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We say...

'Sunrise at Borobudur is a must if you are a keen photographer and if you want the complex (almost) to yourself' - Kate, Selective Asia

Good to know...

Whilst Borobudur is far quieter at dawn, there will be a small crowd at the best spot for viewing sunrise. When the sun does rise, the temperature climbs pretty quickly, so bring plenty of water and a hat to keep the sun off your head. Most importantly, don’t forget to charge your camera! This is a sunrise that you’ll want to record.

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