Prambanan Temple Yogyakarta: The Hindu Masterpiece of Indonesia

Ancient ruins, ornate and intricate murals, peace and tranquillity this is where to find the cultural nourishment of the soul. Prambanan Candi (or Prambanan temple) embodies the beauty and magnificence of Hinduism in the era. Visiting Prambanan temples is a must-do on your Yogyakarta itinerary.

What makes Prambanan temple compounds so special? Well, it is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site

FYI: Candi = Temple in the Bahasa Indonesia language

Candi Prambanan is said to be the lesser of the two infamous temples in Yogyakarta, with the other being Borobudur Temple (the largest Buddhist temple in the world). Both temples in Yogyakarta offer something different to one another apart from the religious connotations associated with the structures.

PERSONAL: It is quite a satisfying and comforting feeling knowing that the two religious beliefs, Hinduism and Buddhism could coexist happily for so many years in such close proximity to one another.

candi prambanan temple view of ancient stone ruins with temple in the background

So why do you need to visit this temple? In my opinion, Borobudur and Prambanan temples actually go hand in hand. Borobudur temple is renowned for its stunning stupas and buddha figures, and Prambanan is characterized by its unique tall spires and the ruins of the massive volcanic earthquake – I couldn’t visit one without visiting the other.

Now if I haven’t convinced you to visit Candi Prambanan with the little snippet above let me go into detail below (skip to what you need in the Table of Contents)

Our Prambanan Temple Experience

Now visiting temples on vacations might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but when we heard about Borobudur and Prambanan we knew we had to see them whilst we were living in Java.

couple at candi prambanan temple in front of smaller temple
man standing candi prambana temple
couple at candi prambanan temple standing infront of smaller temple

We opted to fly into Yogyakarta and spend 4 days exploring this cultural city. We learned that it was the cultural hub of Java and a major tourist destination for locals of Indonesia too.

We visited Prambanan temple without doing too much research into the destination, and in hindsight, I wish I had this guide before visiting myself.

HERE’S WHAT I LEARNT
– Visit in the morning or late afternoon for the Prambanan sunset
Wear light airy clothing
– Have drinking water on hand
– Stay at accommodation within the city centre
– If you aren’t concerned with the Borobudur sunrise, buy a Borobudur Prambanan combined ticket

Arriving at the Prambanan temple is beautiful because you can see the mammoth structure from a distance. It’s wonderful because you honestly have no clue this incredible monument is hiding in the middle of this bustling city.

The Prambanan temple sign couple standing behind with candi prambanan temple in the background

There’s a beautiful Prambanan sign that you can take pictures in front of and you’ll obviously experience many photographers touting professional photographs here too.

Prambanan Indonesia definitely lived up to expectations, the walk-in was quite breathtaking and rather somber at the same time because you see a large amount of the stonework and ruins scattered along with the outer courtyard and realise it’s as a result of the massive volcanic eruption in the 16th century.

The Prambanan Earthquake

A major earthquake in the 16th century caused serious damage to the already crumbling forgotten temples. The British rediscovered the Prambanan temple in Indonesia, along with Borobudur, in the early 19th century.

Half-hearted excavations by archaeologists in the 1880s along with facilitated looting occurred during this time. Many locals in the area, took ancient stones from the temple to use for building their own homes, etc. In 1918, the Dutch began reconstruction of the compound and proper restoration only in 1930.

Efforts at restoration continue to this day for Prambanan Yogyakarta Indonesia. The reconstruction of the main Indonesia Shiva temple was completed around 1953 and inaugurated by Sukarno (the first President of Indonesia). Candi Prambanan Jogja was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

Picture of Candi prambanan temple with stone ruins left from earthquake

Looking to extend your trip to Java? Head East!
READ: The Ultimate 7 Day East Java Itinerary

Candi Prambanan Yogyakarta might not compare to Borobudur temple in size, but in terms of relief detail, history and restoration it comes pretty close.

It was wonderful to roam the grounds of the temple, and venturing into the many smaller temple chambers, and excited to find Hindu deities still in a perfect form almost untouched by the earthquake.

It was however extremely hot visiting during midday day and that’s why I STRONGLY recommend doing the Sunset Prambanan tour.

Candi Prambanan temple at sunset with sunset lighting

Yogyakarta Prambanan Temple Sunset tour

The Prambanan sunset tour not only offers relief from the harsh heat and humidity of Java, but it also allows for the perfect golden hour lighting to capture Prambanan temple Yogyakarta Indonesia in all its beauty. Sunset in Prambanan is an absolute stunner to see.

How to See the Sunset at Prambanan temple

Well, there is no particular Prambanan temple sunset ticket, however, the temple grounds close at 17:00. Sunset is usually around 17:20 so if you are already on the premises, you will be allowed to stay till sunset completion. 

Check Prambanan Sunset times here

Candi Prambanan Temple
Candi Prambanan Temple

About Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple Compounds is the largest and most beautiful Hindu temple complex in Indonesia. Prambanan was built somewhere between the 9th and 10th century, It truly is a masterpiece of Hindu culture.

Who Built Prambanan?

Prambanan temple Indonesia is a collection of monumental Hindu temples built by Wangsa Sanjaya, namely Raja Balitung Maha Sambu. Although there is no finite evidence of the building orders, this assumption is based on the contents of the Syiwagrha Inscription found around Prambanan and currently stored in the National Museum in Jakarta. Prambanan Jogja is the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia.

“The inscription dating from 778 Saka (856 AD) was written during the reign of Rakai Pikatan the Mataram Kingdom, rulers of central Java and defeaters of the Sailendra Dynasty”. – Borobudurpark

Find more Prambanan Temple Facts at UNESCO

Candi Prambanan Temple

The Prambanan Structure

The original plan of Prambanan Temple Java is rectangular, consisting of an outer courtyard and three courts, namely Jaba (outer court), Tengahan (middle court), and Njeron (inner court).

Prambanan Temple Compounds consist of Prambanan Temple (also called Loro Jonggrang or Rara Jonggrang), Sewu Temple, Bubrah Temple and Lumbung Temple. Prambanan Temple itself is a Hindu temple complex consisting of 240 temples.

Initially, there were 240 temples in the complex but many of them have deteriorated or been looted leaving just scattered stones.

PERSONAL: I remember reading about the looting and was really disheartened by the fact, especially because those houses built from these stones probably don’t appreciate the gravity of having such stone built into their houses that are centuries years old.

Rising above the centre of these concentric squares are three temples decorated with the intricate relief Candi Prambanan depicts illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma) and three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them.

The complex is laid out in the form of a mandala and features the tall jagged towering spires that are typical of Hindu Prambanan temple architecture, and represent Meru (like Mount Semeru), the holy mountain where the gods live.

Hindu statue deities inside Candi Prambanan Temple chambers
Hindu statue deities inside Candi Prambanan Temple chambers
Hindu statue deities inside Candi Prambanan Temple chambers

Looking for some adventure in Indonesia?
Check out Mount Bromo and Kawah Ijen Volcanoes in East Java

The Prambanan Temple zones

The Prambanan temple complex consists of three zones. The three main inner shrines are dedicated to Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Keeper, and Shiva the Destroyer.

The Shiva temple Indonesia dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer is the tallest and largest structure in the Prambanan complex, it measures 47 meters tall.

The Shiva temple contains five chambers, four small chambers in every cardinal direction, and one bigger main chamber in the central part of the temple. The largest chamber contains a 3 metre high statue of Shiva Mahadeva.

Vishnu Temple is dedicated to Vishnu the Preserver. It measures 33 metres tall. The relief Prambanan statues around its perimeter tell the story of Lord Krishna, a personification of Vishnu.

Brahma Temple is dedicated to Brahma the Creator. It measures 33 metres tall with its relief panels around the perimeter also telling the story of the Ramayana Prambanan.

INFORMATION SOURCES: Facts about Prambanan temple, the history of Prambanan temple, its structure and Hinduism above are not my own and have been sourced from Borobudurpark, UNESCO and Wikipedia

PRAMBANAN TEMPLE GUIDE: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Where is Prambanan temple located

Prambanan temple is located in the city of Yogyakarta in Central Java Indonesia.

How to get to Yogyakarta

Prambanan Hindu temple is located in Yogyakarta, Java Indonesia. This is a major city in Indonesia and fairly easy to get to. Here are some ways to get to Yogyakarta from other parts of Indonesia:

Prambanan Candi

Jakarta to Yogyakarta

OPTION 1: Fly from Jakarta International (Soekarno-Hatta) to Yogyakarta airport (Adisucipto Airport), the flight is approximately an hour. Then follow the directions below on options to get from Yogyakarta to Prambanan. 

OPTION 2: Significantly cheaper, is to take the train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta. The journey is approximately 7 hours, but there are overnight trips and various class options to choose from to make the trip a bit more comfortable.

Bali to Yogyakarta

OPTION 1: The quickest option is to fly from Bali airport (Ngurah Rai International Airport) to Yogyakarta Airport (Adisucipto). 

OPTION 2: The other option is more cost-effective but will take longer. In Bali, head to Gilimanuk harbour and catch the ferry to Ketapang port. Once you arrive at the port, head to the Banyuwangi Baru station, and there you can take the train to Yogyakarta Lempunyangan station. The train journey is in and around 13 to 15 hours. The ferry ride is only approx 45 minutes and the Ketapang port is only a 10-minute walk from the Banyuwangi station.

Prambanan Candi

Surabaya to Yogyakarta

OPTION 1: Fly from Surabaya to Yogyakarta. 

OPTION 2: The train option is approximately 4 to 5 hours, but again, is pretty cheap and depending on the train class you choose, is quite comfortable. We used the train to get to our next destination (Surabaya) when travelling from Central Java to Mount Bromo.

Want to explore some nearby waterfalls in East Java? Check out Madakaripura waterfall and Tumpak Sewu Waterfall 

Yogyakarta to Prambanan Temple

Prambanan temple is an easily accessible attraction once in Yogyakarta. There are 3 main options:

1. Tour Company

There are many tour services which you could use to combine to see some other sights in Yogyakarta or just hire a private driver for a one day trip. These tours are quite easy to find and hassle-free when you have someone organizing everything for you.

Prambanan Candi

2. Public Transport

Take a bus from Yogyakarta to Prambanan: From Yogyakarta, If you are at Adisutjipto airport (Yogyakarta city airport) you can take the Transjogja bus route 1A to Prambanan temple. Transjogja 1A route has stops at the following destinations: Terminal Prambanan shelter, Terminal Adisutjipto airport shelter, Tugu train station, Terminal Malioboro amongst others.

As a side note, be aware that most people might not actually be able to speak English, So if you have some basic Bahasa language skills, this might be the option for you. You will also need to purchase a bus card, which can be easily bought at Indomaret and Kmart-type stores. The Transjogja Prambanan Terminal route is perfect for those looking to try local transport systems.

Prambanan Candi

3. Hire a Car or Motorcycle (an option only for those familiar with driving in a busy Southeast Asian City)

The Prambanan travel time from the city centre is about 17 km and can be anything between 20 to 40 minutes depending on the time of day.

CAUTION: Again I must stress, riding a motorcycle in Indonesia is vastly different from the experience you may have of riding a motorcycle in other first-world countries. In Indonesia the roads aren’t great, the traffic is insane and most locals riding motorcycles do not follow the rules of the road or traffic lights. It can be a very scary experience if you are not familiar with riding a motorcycle and you will also need to HAVE VERY GOOD TRAVEL INSURANCE. There are plenty of tourists who unfortunately who have fallen victim to thinking they could do this not having the experience of riding a motorcycle in Indonesia before

Prambanan Temple Tours

These are a couple of great tours to visit Prambanan Candi (and some other great attractions) in Yogyakarta:

Yogyakarta Prambanan tour at sunset

Private full day Prambanan Borobudur sunrise tour

Prambanan and Borobudur in one day

Prambanan temple sunset tour

Sunrise trip of temple Borobudur and Prambanan tour

Merapi Volcano Jeep tour with sunrise Borobudur Prambanan day tour

Prambanan Candi

TRAVELIST TIP: As with any tour, always remember to check your inclusions and exclusions with your Prambanan tour package. What might seem obvious to you, may not be obvious to them. Ask them to confirm exactly what is included or excluded if it’s not stipulated.

Looking for more Prambanan temple tours?

Check Klook

Prambanan Entrance Fee and Ticket Prices

Prambanan Temple Ticket Price

Foreign Visitor: 25 USD or 350 000 IDR
Domestic Visitor/KITAS Holder: 50 000 IDR
Valid for single entry between 6:00 to 17:00 (times may differ during COVID-19)
Where to buy a Prambanan Java temple regular ticket: At Borobudur or Prambanan temple

couple taking selfie with wide angle lens in front of Candi Prambanan Temple

Borobudur and Prambanan Combined Ticket*

Foreign Visitor: 45 USD or 630 000 IDR
Valid for single entry between 6:00 to 17:00 (times may differ during COVID-19)
Where to buy a Borobudur Prambanan combined ticket: At Borobudur or Prambanan temple

*Notes about Borobudur Prambanan Combined Ticket
Must be used on consecutive days
Valid for entry between 6:00 and 17:00 (times may differ during COVID-19)
Cannot be used as a Borobudur sunrise ticket

view of Prambanan temple from a distance when leaving the temple

Schedule Changes during COVID-19

The Prambanan temple hours are now 8:00 to 16:00. This means it is no longer possible to see sunset whilst on the Prambanan temple grounds during the current COVID-19 period. For more on Candi Prambanan, opening hours visit the website (Borobudurpark.com)

Prambanan temple entrance fees prices displayed above are for 2021, IDR pricing will depend on the exchange rate of USD at the time of your visit.

Parking Fees

Depending on how you travelled to Prambanan Temple, there will be a parking fee involved. The fee is usually between 5 000 to 10 000 IDR.

PERSONAL OPINION: The Prambanan ticket price has been considered by many to be expensive. I think the word expensive here is relative. The amount of money it takes to restore and maintain such an incredible structure must not be taken lightly. There is often different pricing for foreigners compared to locals. I think one must be cognizant that Indonesia is a third-world country with a growing economy. The tourism industry is a major contributor to the country and fees are there to maintain such attractions in order to keep the economy and tourism of the country going.

couple taking selfie in front of candi prambanan temple

Regular Prambanan Opening Hours

6.00 to 17:00

Prambanan Temple Opening hours during COVID – 19

8:00 to 16:00 (times may differ during COVID-19)

Prambanan Sunset times

Sunset at Prambanan is around 17:20 to 17:45. Even though the gate will close at 17:00, visitors who are already in the temple complex can stay until sunset and leave thereafter (Opening hours and times may differ during COVID-19)

Candi Prambanan Temple

Best time to Visit Prambanan Temple

The best time to visit is during the Indonesian dry season which lies between April and November. As there is not much shelter around the temple, it’s best to visit during the dry season. In terms of actual time, probably first thing in the morning or late afternoon. The reason being the sun and heat, there is no real shade or covering whilst walking around.

Candi Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Candi

Prambanan Accommodation

As Prambanan is located fairly near to the city centre, I recommend looking at accommodation options in that area. You will be spoiled for choice in choosing a hotel, Prambanan temple is only 17 km from Malioboro Street. So explore Prambanan at sunset and enjoy the bustling night markets of Malioboro street in the evening.

Looking for hotels near Prambanan temple?
Check Agoda

Greenhost Boutique Hotel Prawirotaman – Exudes an air of peace and tranquillity and located on Jalan Prawirotaman means you’re on the street of cafes, restos, and bars if you want to try out the nightlife too.

Grand Aston Hotel Yogyakarta – Conveniently located, with great service and delightful breakfast spread makes this one a winner

Hotel Tentrem -Deemed one of the best hotels in Yogyakarta and I can see why, not only are dipped into luxury from the moment you step in, the amenities for being pampered almost make you feel like you never want to leave.

The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta – Set in a colonial building dating from 1918, this refined hotel is only 2 km from the shops and restaurants of Jalan Malioboro and makes it a great hotel near the Prambanan temple

eL Royale Yogyakarta – is a newly built hotel and its incredible location just off Malioboro means that its a complete bargain for its incredible new furnishings, contemporary style, delicious breakfast spread, and wonderful service

TRAVELIST TIP: Staying on Jalan Prawirotaman or Jalan Malioboro allows you to experience a wonderful bustling nightlife in Yogyakarta. On Jalan Malioboro there a number of shops, stalls, and vendors selling food items, clothes, souvenirs, and Batik items. It would be a shame to miss out on the nightlife by staying too close to Borobudur and not be able to walk the streets of Yogyakarta CBD at night.

Candi Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple FAQ

Travel Insurance

If anything, this should be a given for any trip you take! But be sure to keep a copy of your insurance details. If Indonesia is not your home country you need to be prepared for anything. All of these experiences have risks.

Check out World Nomads for amazing travel insurance options

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in the article have affiliate links, what this means is, if you click a link and make a purchase I may earn some money to buy a coffee (whoohoo!). Thanks for the support, I’d love to keep making this content freely available to all. As always opinions and thoughts remain my own.

Do you have a favourite Yogyakarta Temple? I hope that this Prambanan travel blog article has helped with your planning. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer them!

READ MORE ABOUT CULTURAL TRIPS IN INDONESIA

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