We planned on taking the train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta but changed our minds in the last minute after we found that it would take the best part of a day and we would only arrive in Yogya late in the afternoon - costing around IDR 350 000 per person. The one hour flight from Jakarta to Yogyakarta with Air Asia was a tad more expensive at IDR 500 000 (USD 35) but would save us a whole day and once we figured that Prambanan Temple was virtually around the corner of the airport we were sold!
After a last lazy morning in Jakarta, we arranged a taxi from our hotel to Gambir Station (IDR 10 000) and hopped on the Damri Airport bus (IDR 40 000 per person) to Soekarno–Hatta International Airport. Our Air Asia flight departed right on time at 10:00 and one hour later we landed in Adisutjipto International Airport just outside Yogyakarta.
Here's another lesson as to the incredible advantage you have when travelling light. With only our backpacks we didn't need to check any luggage and best of all we were happy to carry it with us onto a local bus we found right outside the station. This is by far the cheapest way to get to Prambanan Temple from the airport.
If you're like us and on a tight budget the best options for transport will always be local transport. In Yogyakarta, you should use Trans Jogja with which you can get almost everywhere in Yogyakarta for only IDR 3 500! We had found that there is a bus that departs from the airport to Prambanan temple and the journey took less than 30 minutes. You can find the Trans Jogja station near the car parking lot by going through the tunnel. To get to the tunnel, leave the arrival gate, then after the Information centre turn left.
Prambanan temple is a UNESCO world heritage site consisting of 240 temples built by the ruling dynasty during the 10th century. This is Indonesia's largest Hindu site and one of Southeast Asia's major attractions. The site is dedicated to the expression of God as Trimurti (the triple deity of supreme divinity in Hinduism): Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) and Shiva (Destroyer). Prambanan was completely in ruins for years until 1937 when reconstruction of the site started - it is still far from complete. It sits within a large park dotted with lesser temples – if you really want to do the site justice, almost a complete day is needed.
Sadly, Prambanan suffered extensive damage in the 2006 earthquake experienced in Indonesia. Although the main temples survived, hundreds of stone blocks collapsed or were cracked as a result. The main structures have been restored, but a lot of work remains to be done and parts of the complex remain off-limits after the earthquake.
The highest central courtyard consists of eight minor and eight main shrines (or candi) each with beautiful carvings, containing religious statues inside.
There is also a popular ballet held at the outdoor theatre next to the Prambanan main complex which is supposed to be spectacular. The ballet tells the story of Ramayana that is carved onto the walls of the Prambanan temples.
We only visited the main Prambanan temple complex, but there are also small groups of temples in the outer area of Prambanan, like Plaosan Temples (3 km northeast of Prambanan), Kraton Ratu Boko (palace of King Boko) south of Prambanan, and a group west of Prambanan containing three more temples.
Prambanan turned out to be one of the highlights of our visit to Yogyakarta, and it totally surprised us. We really enjoyed our day strolling around the temples and the lush, green garden surrounding them, taking in the atmosphere and the history. Unfortunately, you might have to brace yourself for an onslaught of Indonesian people lining up to take selfies with you! This is something you will find all over Java at major tourist sites - but don't let it concern you as it's a great opportunity to strike up a conversation and make some new friends!
If you are planning to go to Yogyakarta to visit Borobudur temple, you should definitely head over to Prambanan!
We paid IDR 234 000 (USD 16) per person which is the fixed 'tourist rate' of around 5 times what Indonesians pay. (Edit: Check current rate here. 2018 price is USD 25 per person)
Hawkers hassle tourists a bit near the entry gate but will generally take the hint after a terima kasih (thank you) or two.
PART 1 Video of our month-long trip to Indonesia during 2016
This video shows us arriving in Jakarta and travelling via Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo) on to Mount Bromo near Probolingo and from there to Kawa Ijen near Banyuwangi. It was made before we started our Youtube channel and was mainly recorded using compact cameras.