Prambanan Temple – Ancient Hindu Temples In Java, Indonesia
Candi Prambanan temple is Indonesia’s very own 9th century twin to the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. If you’ve been to Angkor before, this is like a continuation of that adventure.
Like the Angkor, Prambanan is impressive in scale and completely enchanting in its features. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time!
This travel guide will explain what to expect at Prambanan, how you can do it on your own (with or without a tour), and which temples are the best to see. Read on!
History Of Candi Prambanan
Prambanan was a group of temples (‘candi’) built by the Hindu dynasties of Java in the 8th and 9th centuries.
It was one of the biggest Hindu temple complexes in the world, with more than 500 individual temples and shrines, and sported a group of pointy towers that rose as high as 165 feet (50 m).
The temple was severely damaged over the centuries by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and it was eventually abandoned to the jungle and became surrounded by legends and myths.
The ruins were rediscovered in the 1800s by a British explorer, but proper restoration work didn’t start until the 1930s under the Dutch.
Prambanan in recent years has had quite a bit more restoration work than Angkor, which admittedly makes it feel a bit less authentic, but you can still expect to see some of the same amazing architecture styles, with towering stone buildings and bizarre Hindu carvings.
Today, Candi Prambanan is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and many tourists visit every year. Together with Borobudur, it’s one of the highlights of a trip to central Java.
Prambanan + Borobudur Tours
One of the most popular ways to visit Prambanan is with a side trip to Borobudur, another 9th century temple that is a bit further outside Yogya and is famous as the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
There are also lots of other small temples in the Prambanan area, so if you’re wanting to visit most (or all) of them, then the most convenient way to do this would be to hire a driver or book a tour for the full day and combine everything you’re wanting to see.
Klook has a full day join-in tour that combines Prambanan and Borobudur temples for 900k IDR ($65 USD) with free hotel pickup, and they also have a sunrise tour at the same temples that costs a bit more.
If you’d rather arrange your Prambanan trip yourself and save some money, I’ll explain that next!
How To Get There
Candi Prambanan is located just outside of Yogyakarta city, in central Java, Indonesia.
The closest airport is Yogyakarta International Airport (YIA), which is served by a bunch of budget friendly airlines with good ratings.
AirAsia often has flights from Singapore (SIN) or Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Yogya for 1 million IDR ($70 USD), or flights from Bali (DPS) for only 600k IDR ($40).
You can also reach Yogya easily by train, bus, or car from Semarang, Surabaya, Malang, and other cities in Java.
How To Get Around
The Prambanan Archaeological Park is small enough to be easily walkable on foot.
The other cheapest and arguably best way to visit the Prambanan temples (and how we did it) is with the GoJek ride-hailing app. Drivers are easy to find in the Yogya area, and fares are super cheap.
With GoJek (aka GoCar), a one way transfer from the Yogya airport to the Prambanan park will only cost about 60k IDR ($4 USD), and getting from Prambanan to Plaosan is only 20k IDR or less (or you can easily walk it).
Map Of Prambanan
Here’s a basic map of all the temples, small and large, in the Prambanan plain.
Prambanan is located about 10 miles (16 km) — or a quick 30 minute drive — from the center of Yogyakarta city.
Not all of these temples are must-see (a list of my favorites is lower down this page), but it is theoretically possible to see all of them in a day if you’d like.
Hours & Fees
- Hours: 6 AM – 5 PM
- Guide Hire (optional): 150k IDR ($10)
- Adults: 350k IDR ($25 USD)
- Children: 210k IDR ($15)
- Student:* 210k IDR ($15)
- Locals: 50k IDR (~$3)
*Students get a discount, but you have to bring a physical student ID to take advantage of this.
Yes, all of these fees are very high by Indonesian standards (and it’s more annoying when you consider the price for foreigners is 9 times the local price), but I think it’s still worth it to see these amazing temples.
You can pay by cash (Indonesian Rupiah) or credit card. The ticket includes a free soft drink — cold mineral water, which you’ll need!
Sunrise At The Temples
Sunrise at Prambanan is not a major attraction like at Angkor Wat.
There is the potential for some great sunrise/sunset photography at Prambanan, but unfortunately the park opens after sunrise and closes before sunset. I’m not sure whose decision this was, but I hope it changes.
Currently the best spot for sunrise pics is at Plaosan temple, which is just outside of the Prambanan park and therefore you can photograph it at any time of the day.
Best Temples To See
The Prambanan plain actually has dozens of Hindu temples and ruins.
The below is not a complete list of every temple, but I think these are the most impressive ones and they seem to be in the best condition.
These are the highlights that stood out to me on multiple visits to this area!
• Candi Prambanan
This is the main temple and the center of the Prambanan Archaeological Park. The scale is awesome, and you can go inside the massive towers. There are lots of great carvings in the stone walls outside too.
• Candi Bubrah
This is a smaller temple you can see while walking from Prambanan to Candi Sewu. It’s not the most remarkable on the list, but it’s in great condition and you can go inside.
• Candi Sewu
This is my 2nd favorite temple at Prambanan. It’s actually a Buddhist temple, and it’s older than the other buildings at Prambanan. The rooftops are bell shaped (ala Borobudur), and two big guardian statues stand watch at the entrance with clubs.
• Candi Plaosan
This is the only temple on the list that is outside of the Prambanan Archaeological Park. From the Prambanan entrance, you can reach Plaosan with a 30 minute walk (or a 5 minute drive with GoJek). This temple is the best sunrise spot!
Hotels Near Prambanan
Prambanan is located right by the city of Yogyakarta, and that’s where you’ll want to book a hotel during your stay.
There are lots of great restaurants, hotels, 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.
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
There’s no ‘bad’ time to visit Prambanan or the city of Yogya.
The climate of Indonesia is tropical, so the weather is hot and humid year round. The rainy season runs from November to April, and the sunny/dry season runs from April to November.
It’s still possible to visit Indonesia in the rainy season, but you may want to give yourself some extra days as a buffer in case of bad weather.
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