Dieng Plateau In Java, Indonesia – Epic Sunrise, Volcanoes, & Lakes

Dieng Plateau is a natural wonder tucked in the highlands of central Java.

This former caldera complex has everything from active volcanoes to ancient Hindu temples, smoking sulfuric springs, multicolored lakes, fresh mountain air, and endless terraces covering the hills in every direction.

Me and a buddy spent a full day exploring Dieng Plateau last summer, and we were blown away by this hidden gem and how few international tourists seem to know about it.

Dieng means “Abode of the Gods,” and that name seems about right for the incredible scale and mystery of this place!



Where Is It?

Dieng Plateau is located 70 miles (115 km) west of Yogyakarta city in central Java, Indonesia. The nearest airport is also in Yogyakarta (JOG), and it’s served by a bunch of budget friendly airlines with good ratings.

Despite the short distance, the drive from Yogya to Dieng takes much longer than you would expect — about 4 hours — because of the winding mountain roads. I don’t think I’ve ever come closer to throwing up in a car.

Still, don’t let the long drive put you off from coming here, because Dieng Plateau was honestly one of the coolest highlights of our time in Java!

How To Get There

The easiest and best way to visit Dieng Plateau is to hire a driver + van from Yogyakarta for the full day. It’s almost 8 hours of roundtrip driving, and we spent another 5 hours exploring the sights.

Me and a buddy booked a driver from Jogja Compass Tours for 800k IDR (~$55 USD) and we split the price between us. Our driver Irul was safe, patient, and super helpful in taking us to all of the best sights at Dieng Plateau over the course of a very long day trip.

You can contact the company on their website, or via WhatsApp at ☎️ +62 813-1880-6273. Shoot them a text on WhatsApp to negotiate for the best price!

What To Expect

Sunrise on the volcano is one of the highlights of a trip to Dieng Plateau, but unfortunately the 4 hour drive from Yogyakarta means you’ll need a very early start.

Our driver picked us up at 11:00 PM (yes you read that right), but this was overkill. We arrived at Sikunir hill with time to spare and ended up sleeping in the van for something like 2 hours.

Do take a big nap on the day before, and ask your driver for the latest start possible!
 
 

What To Bring
  • Jacket: It’s chilly, so definitely bring a jacket or hoodie. You can shed it after sunrise. This is a higher elevation than most of Indonesia, so temps before sunrise can be as low as 8 C (47 F).
  • Long Pants: See above.
  • Hiking Shoes: The sunrise hike is not sandal friendly, and may be muddy.
  • Flashlight: You’ll want a flashlight (or your phone will work) for hiking in the dark before sunrise.
  • Camera: Duh!


Things To Do & See
• Sikunir Sunrise

One of the main attractions of Dieng Plateau is watching the sunrise over Mount Sundoro, one of Java’s active volcanoes.

The popular spot to do this is on Sikunir Hill, at the eastern edge of the plateau. Your driver can help you find the trailhead, and the path itself is pretty easy to follow. From the car park, it’s a steep but short hike to the top of the hill, and only takes about 30 minutes.

Keep going until you reach the highest point for photos. Sunrise in Dieng is at 5:20 AM, so you want to be at the top of the hill no later than 5:00, or maybe even 4:45 so you can find a good spot for taking photos.

At the top, we hunkered down with a bunch of friendly Indonesian locals who wanted to take selfies with us since they rarely see bule-bule (westerners) here. The sunrise was foggy, but beautiful.

• Telaga Warna Lake

This is a pair of sulfuric lakes that turn weird shades of green and yellow.

You can view the lakes from above for 30k, or pay 100k to walk down to the bottom. When we went, there was no one at the ticket booth so we got to see the upper lakes for free.

My advice: skip the lower viewpoint, it’s overpriced and the best views are above the lakes anyway.

• Hill Terraces

Dieng Plateau is loaded with terraces of potatoes, strawberries, and other crops.

You can hike around to some of these hills if you have extra time, but the roads and hills at Dieng are not very pedestrian friendly.

The very best way to see the terraces is by drone. This place is drone heaven.

• Sikidang Crater

This is a big smoking sulfur crater accompanied by lots of smaller bubbling geothermal pots.

You can expect the usual stinking sulfur smell, and there are also a bunch of tacky ornaments and gaudy selfie spots (including a big stuffed gorilla) that kind of cheapen the experience and make it even weirder.

• Arjuna Temple

Dieng has a bunch of 7th century temples that are actually some of the oldest surviving buildings on the island of Java.

Arjuna Temple is in the best condition, and entry is included for free as part of the ticket you already bought for Sikidang Crater.

Entrance Fees
  • Sikunir Hill: Free
  • Telaga Warna Lake (Upper): 30k IDR (~$2 USD)
  • Telaga Warna Lake (Lower): 100k IDR
  • Sikidang Crater + Arjuna Temple: 30k IDR


Hotels Near Dieng Plateau

If you feel like staying longer in the area, there are a bunch of homestay options in Dieng Plateau and the nearby city of Wonosobo.

We decided to base ourselves in Yogyakarta instead, and visit Dieng on a day trip. There are lots of great hotels, restaurants, and malls in Yogya with very affordable prices!

Where We Stayed

We stayed at stepHouse Homestay in Yogyakarta. It was $17 USD per night for a clean twin room with A/C, private bathroom, and fast WiFi.

One of the biggest positives of this homestay is the location. It was walking distance to the Malioboro mall and train station, which is perfect if you're planning to take the train to Malang to visit Tumpak Sewu and Mount Bromo like we were!

Prices may fluctuate from time to time, so just keep an eye out for a good deal.

Our Yogyakarta hotel (Image courtesy of Booking.com)
Our Yogyakarta hotel (Image courtesy of Booking.com)
Is Java Safe?

I’d say definitely yes, and I’ve visited Java many times over the years.

Indonesia has one of the lowest murder rates in the world. We walked around Yogyakarta at all hours of the day and night, and always felt safe.

Nowhere in the world is perfectly safe, but Indonesia gets millions of tourists every year, and many of them visit Java.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Java (and most parts of Indonesia) is from April to November.

The rainy season runs from November to April. You can still go to Dieng Plateau during this time, but it won’t be ideal for the mountains or sunrise because fog is more common.

Happy travels!


Hotels In Indonesia
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