Together with Borobudur Temple, Prambanan is one of the landmarks of Yogyakarta. A UNESCO Heritage Site and a place with a fascintating history, this temple is a must-see when visiting Java Island.
I spent a few days in Yogyakarta and my favorite experiences were seeing the sunrise at Borobudur and admiring the sunset at Prambanan. Both temples are spectacular!
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know when visiting Prambanan Temple at sunset. It’s a unique experience, and the views are breathtaking! But first, let me tell you a few things about this temple.
1. A brief history of Prambanan
Prambanan is the biggest Hindu Temple in Indonesia and the second largest in Southeast Asia, after Angkor Wat. Actually, the first thing I noticed when I arrived at Prambanan was how similar it is to Angkor Wat.
A wonder of architecture, the temple was built in the 9th century and apart from the main structure with tall, pointy towers there are several other smaller temples worth visiting, such as Sewu Temple and Bubrah Temple.
Most of these smaller temples have been heavily affected by the passing of time but some have been successfully restored. My favorite one was Sewu Temple. It’s a bit further away from the main Prambanan Temple and not many people come here.
After being abandoned, in the 1990s, Prambanan was restored and brought back to life. Nowadays, it’s an important religious site for the Balinese and Javanese Hindu communities.
Almost one million people visit this temple every year, making it one of the most visited attractions on Java Island.
-> While in Yogyakarta, take a day trip to the unique Timang Beach!
2. Sunset at Prambanan Temple – is it worth it?
Borobudur and Prambanan are the two main attractions in Yogyakarta. People from all around the world come here to visit these temples.
While Borobudur is famous for the incredible views it offers at sunrise, Prambanan is famous as a sunset location. Watching the sunset in such a unique location, while being surrounded by ancient temples is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
-> Read my Yogyakarta one-day itinerary
The pink and orange sky, together with Prambanan’s towers create a wonderful spectacle of shade and light. After a day of sightseeing, relaxing while watching such a spectacular sunset is the perfect way to end your day.
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3. What to expect
We arrived at Prambanan two hours before the sunset. We wanted to have enough time to explore the grounds and take pictures. We started with the main temple, the one you see in all photos on the internet.
The temple was pretty busy. There were many tourists but with a bit of patience, we managed to take a few beautiful photos.
Many of the locals wanted to take photos with me. I felt like a movie star for a few minutes. Once I accepted to take a photo with a group of locals, the rest came straight to me asking for more pictures. It was an interesting experience but it’s something that happens often in Asian countries. After we took a few photos, we continued to explore the temple.
The tallest tower in the complex reaches 47-meters and is surrounded by several other smaller pointy towers. We took our time to admire the carvings and the beauty of Prambanan and then we started exploring the other smaller temples in the park.
The first one we saw was Lumbung Temple, a series of small domes just a short walk away from Prambanan. After that, we passed by Bubrah Temple and then we stopped at Sewu Temple.
Honestly, I loved Sewu more than Prambanan. It was much more peaceful and there weren’t many people around which allowed us to admire and explore it at our own pace.
If you have the time, I recommend exploring as much as possible of Prambanan’s grounds. Try and plan at least 2 hours for your visit. For other attractions in the city, here’s an epic itinerary for one day in Yogyakarta.
3. Entrance fee and opening hours
The temple is open every day from 6 AM to 5 PM. If you want to see the sunset, make sure to arrive before 5 PM. Even though the temple closes at 5 PM, you’re allowed to stay inside until the sunset finishes.
After the sunset, I recommend going to Ramayana Ballet. It’s a wonderful show that takes place right near Prambanan. More about this in the section below.
A ticket for Prambanan Temple costs IDR 350 K. If you want to visit Borobudur on the same day for sunrise, I recommend buying the combo ticket for IDR 580 K. Sometimes, tickets are cheaper if you book them online.
Good to know – The entrance ticket includes a free bottle of water.
Another alternative would be to visit Prambanan with a guided tour that includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, as well as entry tickets and an English speaking guide. I recommend this tour that has excellent reviews.
4. After sunset, watch the Ramayana Ballet
Right near the temple there is an outdoor stage and a theatre where Ramayana Ballet performances take place daily. If the weather is good, the performances are held at the outdoor stage. If not, they’re held inside.
With the help of 200 performers, the story of Ramayana is portrayed on stage. Even though there will be English subtitles projected on a big screen, I recommend reading the play beforehand. You can find it here.
The ballet performance is held almost every day and a ticket starts at around IDR 125 k. However, depending on the seats you choose, you can expect to pay up to IDR 300 K.
5. How to get to Prambanan Temple
You have four options to get to Prambanan Temple from Yogyakarta. You can either grab a taxi, rent a car with a driver, rent a motorbike or join a group tour. I’ll talk about each of these options below.
Option 1 – Grab a taxi
I used the Grab app a lot while traveling in Asia. It’s easy to use and the taxi prices are super-affordable. If you have internet connection, install it on your phone. It’s similar to Uber – you set your location, destination and the app will tell you the price of your journey. You hit accept and a taxi will come to pick you up. You can choose to either pay by card or cash. A journey from Yogyakarta to Prambanan Temple will cost around IDR 100 K (for 1-4 people).
Option 2 – Rent a car with a driver
You can hire a driver for 12 hours for about IDR 300-400 K. You can start your day at Borobudur, then explore Yogyakarta and then head to Prambanan. For the best one-day itinerary of Yogyakarta, click here.
Option 3 – Rent a motorbike
If you’re confident in your driving skills, rent a motorbike for about 80,000 IDR per day. The advantage of renting a motorbike is that you can plan your schedule as you like. However, the traffic in Yogyakarta is pretty hectic and it will be hard to drive around the city if you don’t know it.
Option 4 – Join a group tour
For a hassle-free experience, I recommend joining a group tour. A guide will pick you up from your hotel, drive you to Prambanan and then bring you back. I recommend this tour. It has excellent reviews.
6. Know before you go
There are a few things you should know before visiting Prambanan at sunset.
- Dress code – When visiting any Hindu or Buddhist temple, it’s best to avoid short pants or skirts. Make sure to cover your knees. I always bring a scarf with me and I tie it around my waist if necessary.
- Bring mosquito repellant – The mosquitoes are most active at sunset and sunrise.
- Put on comfortable shoes – If you plan to visit the smaller temples, you’ll have to walk about 15-20 minutes to reach them.
7. Where to stay in Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta is a big city. There are many guest houses, hostels and hotels available but my recommendation would be to find accommodation close to the city center. I chose only the best guest houses and hotels, with excellent reviews. Here they are, ordered by prices.
- Budget – Wonderloft Hostel – good location, beautiful design, clean rooms, friendly staff
- Mid-Range – Java Villas – beautiful pool, great location, spacious and clean rooms, great amenities, quiet area
- Luxury – Hyatt Regency – excellent pool with a view, amazing restaurant, luxurious rooms, excellent amenities, beautiful gardens
8. Final thoughts
Prambanan is one of the most beautiful temples in the world. Its architecture is amazing and I’m honoured to have had the chance to visit it. Watching the sunset at the biggest Hindu Temple in Indonesia was a bucket list experience for me.
I hope that this guide about watching the sunset at Prambanan answered all your questions. You can read more about Indonesia in my travel guide. I’ve included important information about transport, prices, food and more!
May the travel bug bite you!