Travel: Planning a visit to Borobudur is simple. One needs to book a flight to the city of Yogyakarta. From Singapore this can be either via a connecting flight from Jakarta or direct one from Singapore itself.
Stay: As I wanted to explore the city of Yogyakarta (famous for its art scene), I checked into a pretty decent hotel located near the Malioboro street of Yogyakarta, the Cavinton Hotel – with pretty decent ratings in Trip Advisor (great bed, but overpriced food L). However, if the sole reason of your stay in Yogyakarta is the temple, then the Monohara hotel is a great option. Located right at the temple site, you can save yourself from getting up at 3:30 am in the morning – to catch the glimpse of sunrise at Borobudur
Waking up: 3:30 in the morning, if you’re taking a cab ride from the Yogyakarta centre. Waking up early, also enables you to avoid crowds (particularly school trips) that start about 7/8 am in the morning.
Caution: Local people wearing orange/green jackets – saying that the temple is closed at 4:30 am, slightly away from the entrance. They will offer to take you to a hill located from where you can sunrise at the temple. Obviously, please do not listen to them 🙂
Historical context: The temple was built in the 8 -9th century. Having served in the UN, I feel proud to say that the UNESCO helped restore the present site 🙂
Interesting fact: What I found most interesting from the story the guide told me was that King Sailendra chose the site because the surrounding hills reminded him of the foothills of the Himalayas. The purity associated with this site, convinced him about the need to build the temple in the present site.
Also, the Merapi volcano facing the temple, adds an interesting dimension to the temple. In fact, the temple, lay buried for the longest time in the lava ashes of the temple, causing it damage to it. The National Geographic, has an interesting documentary on the clean-up facilitated by UNESCO, and the local people who volunteered as well.
My thoughts: Catching the sunrise in Borobudur, is still not as popular as catching the one in Angkor Wat. This makes it more special – because there are fewer people. I see this changing in the next two years, when tourism picks up. Obviously, I recommend going to Borobudur before the crowds swell up.