Sunrise Over Borobudur Temple: Beautiful and Annoying

When my friend Pamela came over to Yogyakarta to visit me, I told her about an idea of watching sunrise at Borobudur Temple and she was completely over the moon with the idea. After several searching I found out that you couldn’t actually enter the temple until 6 AM, except if you stayed at some of the resorts who did a sunrise tour. I asked around and my friends told me of a hill called the Setumbu Hill where you can see a gorgeous sunrise over Borobudur temple. I was ecstatic, although not so much about the waking up at 3AM part.

I live around an hour from where the temple is situated, I decided to hire a driver since both of us couldn’t take the car (yes yes it’s a New Year resolution for me to learn how to drive a car PROPERLY). The driver didn’t exactly know where this hill is, and I wasn’t sure either but being that kind of person who loves getting lost, I thought we could just go and ask some random local on our way there.

As we entered the Borobudur area, my driver slowed down to see some signs or anyone to be asked. And there they were, a group of men in their motorbikes, at 4AM in the morning, practically shouting at my car, saying they would take us to the hill. I quickly spotted a sign of Setumbu Hill directing straight ahead. I sensed they weren’t really locals waiting there to help us but were men who were trying to charge us some ridiculous amount of money to take us there. I told my driver to go straight ahead and we ignored the over enthusiastic men and hoped that once we were near the area we could pull over and ask a local.

We were followed. Yes, followed. Three men on motorbikes followed us. We couldn’t pull over to ask a local because they were there forcing us to use their help. Once in a while one would come up to our window shouting we were going the wrong way (which was true). We did get lost, I couldn’t find anymore of the sign that I saw earlier on. We were at a dead end. I was scared. My driver, a tough woman, went out and spoke in Javanese to the men. They asked who were inside, I had to speak up in Javanese, to show that we were locals. I have to salute my driver, she was calm and told them that she didn’t like the way they followed us. They asked for a wooping 100K IDR to take us to the hill and after some haggling, it went down to 50K IDR – which was still too much.

We finally made it. It was actually not that hard. If I followed the sign earlier, go straight then take a right turn, I would’ve got there just like that. It wasn’t hard to find. It turns out that some people actually took down the sign pointing to turn right so that these men can take advantage of lost people looking for this sunrise spot! I was annoyed, I felt robbed. It was the way they shouted at me through my window and the way they pushed me and forced me to pay for them. I hated the way they shut down every possibility for me to ask a local by following my car. I have never been so annoyed in my whole life.

The hill itself was gorgeous. I got there around 5 AM at last. It was peaceful and the view, although quite foggy, was spectacular. I could see an outline of the Borobudur temple for afar and was blown away by the simplicity of this view. I could see some people were there way earlier than me to catch the sunrise. The day was a little bit cloudy so the sunrise wasn’t as good as expected but still to be up there was simply amazing. It was also a good hike up, although it was only around 400 metres.

Outline of Borobudur

This spectacular place might be one of the many gorgeous spots there are in this area to enjoy a good hike and a breathtaking view. I wonder how many places like this there are which are accessible for us to enjoy, and I couldn’t help but wonder, how many are being used by these “locals” to gain money in an inappropriate manner, like in Setumbu Hill. It seems that the local government did try their best to expose these places by putting up signs but there seemed to be no support from these people.

However, this hill is definitely recommended. I would go back here again on a brighter day with no clouds to see a better glimpse of the sun. The cost to go inside this place is only 15000IDR for locals, and a little bit more for foreigners.

Have you ever been to Setumbu Hill? Did you have the same experience as me?

50 Comment

  1. Yes I have, with Mumun and Abud, and we met an interesting and funny old man, singing us an old Japanese song that he learned looong time ago
    Luckily, we didn’t get tricked into anything, just the sun was hiding behind the clouds so we didn’t get a really good sunrise view πŸ™

    1. Good thing that you didn’t get tricked, I think it’s because of the increasing popularity of this place. What an interesting man you met while you were there Vira!

  2. The comeback reason to Jogja πŸ˜€

    1. Very true πŸ™‚

  3. Would you take me here when I visit you in Jogja, Gy? πŸ˜€
    Such a beautiful view. Too bad you had to experience something like that.

    1. If course I will! It is such an amazing view from up there πŸ™‚ hopefully the next time I come there, there won’t be any hassles from these men!

  4. Count me in dooong πŸ˜€

    1. Everyone’s invited πŸ™‚

  5. We made it there despite the difficulties and parting with the 50k IDR! At least we did enjoy the cloudy kind of sunrise. Still love your beautiful painting like picture lah. πŸ™‚

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I was so annoyed we had to pay 50k! Yep it was definitely a killer view, would definitely go back πŸ™‚

      1. I am a easily contented woman! πŸ˜‰

  6. Wow girl! This view was worth the sweat!

    1. Yep absolutely! Gorgeous up there!

  7. masalahnya adalah popularitas Stumbu ini kemudian didomplengi orang-orang yang tak bertanggung jawab. Mereka yang memaksa untuk menunjukkan arah baru muncul sekitar tahun 2013 awal, ketika saya mengeksplorasi Stumbu di tahun 2011 – 2012 tidak ada praktik demikian.
    sebenarnya pengelolaan Stumbu itu baik, saya mengalami sendiri bagaimana orang-orang di Stumbu, secara mandiri mengelola Stumbu dari dana yang mereka dapatkan. saya mengalami sendiri, karena dulu di 2011 untuk naik Stumbu susahnya bukan main, tidak ada lahan parkir, tidak ada jalan bagus, pengunjung harus rela terpeleset karena jalan yang sangat licin, tidak ada tarif masuk, pengunjung menarif seikhlasnya bahkan tidak perlu membayar tidak apa.
    Lambat laun,masyarakat memperbaikinya sendiri dengan dana sendiri dan bantuan PNPM. Mereka menarif untuk kemudian dikembalikan lagi untuk perkembangan Stumbu sendiri, dibangunlah lahan parkir, paving block, toilet, perbaikan jalur ke atas, dan teh/kopi gratis untuk pengunjung.
    yang jadi masalah adalah memang pihak yang tidak bertanggung jawab dan turut mendompleng popularitas Stumbu itu sendiri.

    Silakan mampir ke rumah kalau suatu saat kembali lagi ke Stumbu.

    1. Yap, saya tidak ada masalah membayar 15rb utk masuk karena utk melestarikan tempat ini. Yang saya permasalahkan memang preman2 yang menghadang saya lalu minta uang utk menunjukkan bukit ini. Saya juga sebut di artikel klo sebenernya ada petunjuk ke bukit ini tp pas belokan tdk ada, yg sbnrnya diturunkan oleh org2 tdk bertanggung jawab itu.

  8. punya alasan untuk ke Jogja dan magelang….duh duh duh pengin ke Borobudur, Imogiri dan Tamansari…ajakin aku…salam blogger

    1. Salam kenal πŸ™‚ Yuk ke Jogja! Banyak tempat2 yang menarik disini!

  9. Klo kondisi kesehatan saya sdh fit spt 2thn lalu, pengen deh travelling lg menjelajah keindahan alam trmsk ke stumbu. Sambil menunggu hb saya kembali normal, setidaknya saya sdh melihat keindahan stumbu lwt poto2 di atas ^_^

    1. Hai Ratri! Semoga kamu lekas sembuh yaaa biar bisa travelling lagi πŸ˜‰ Bukit ini memang indah banget deh!

  10. Belum sempat sampai sini…semoga segera bisa kesini…tulisannya bagus…jadi bikin tambah pengen…salam dari jogja…

    1. Salam kenal Andana πŸ™‚ thanks for the compliment ya. Semoga bisa kesini yaa, bagus banget!

  11. Ahh, I would have ‘mencak-mencak’ if I were you! Being robbed or scammed by local people is just the worst thing ever. Now that Setumbu Hill is getting more popular, serious actions need to be taken before this problem gets any worse. However, it’s such a beautiful view indeed, and I still want to catch the sunrise from the hill. Thanks to this post I will be extra cautious!

    1. Oh trust me, I was “mencak-mencak” – it was so not cool what they did to me. If you ever want to visit this place, let me know so I can show you the way. It’s actually very simple.

  12. Such a shame you had a bad experience on your journey, but it looks like the rewards were worth the bother (and the middle of the night get up). Such a lovely view and I felt like I was right there with you as I was reading!

    1. Thank you Clare! I am not a morning person so it was tough to get up, but yes the view was absolutely stunning πŸ™‚

  13. I simply cannot wait until I make my way over to Southeast Asia. I cannot believe that some people are so evil – taking down the sign… there’s always someone out there just waiting to take advantage of tourists. It’s evil! I would be as upset as you were.

    1. I know right! I am upset as a local myself I felt cheated and the way they took down the sign was just a pathetic way of trying to rip off people. I hope that if you are coming to SEA especially to see this beauty, you can ask me and I’ll let you know the way πŸ™‚

  14. Ahh this post totally took me back! I didn’t make it to the temple for sunrise, but ohmygoodness gorgeous place! Nice that I at least missed a chance to get ripped off though.

    1. When you have a chance to come back, I would be more than happy to give direction since it is a gorgeous place πŸ™‚

  15. I guess that the spectacular view was your reward, but what an ordeal to get there. I have to say that I would have been much more than annoyed, however. It sounds perfectly terrifying to be followed by these guys at that time of early morning. Good for you and the driver that you kept your wits about you and made it to your destination safe and sound. It really does look like a beautiful place.

    1. It’s a gorgeous place but yes the way I was “bullied” to get there almost made me give up as I hate paying more than I should. However it was an experience and I will be more than happy to inform those who wants to come to this hill so they don’t have to pay these bullies like I did.

  16. Borobuddur is a beatiful temple ever i see

    1. Agreed! It is definitely a magical place πŸ™‚

  17. The views are GREAT, but I wonder if they’re really worth the trouble. What a shame that something like that can still happen. And being followed? That’s just TOO MUCH!!

    You need pierogi therapy. πŸ˜‰

    1. Definitely needed a pierogy therapy! Most people brought a guide who knew their way around. But as a local myself, who knew the language and could easily asked someone on the street, I felt totally cheated! The view did made my mood a whole lot better!

  18. Oh I love how the mist just settles into the valley and throughout the trees. Definitely worth the it for the views, but experiences like the drive up there are why more people probably don’t go. Who wants that kind of headache?!

    1. Absolutely Keryn! I saw some of the people there brought their own guide who probably already knew the place.
      I would return next time though now that I know my way. Hopefully more people could come here and share it with others so that they know about these bullies!

  19. Ah cakep kak, ini tho setumbu itu. Aku perna nikmatin sunset ditemanin gerimis dari amanjiwo. Udah mahal2 makan di resto nya tapi ujan #Sial

    1. Haha, Amanjiwo salah satu resort yang punya tour sunrise ya? Iyap ini Setumbu kak, lain kali mampir sini kak, bagus banget deh!

  20. This is spectacular, I’ve always wanted to visit and now, even more so. How are you settling back home?

    1. Settling back home is definitely a lot harder than I expected but I am managing. I have to admit I’m a little glad this winter I had plenty of sun instead of snow like in Romania last year πŸ˜€

  21. What a shame that you had such trouble getting up there, but those views do look like they were worth the hassle. I’m so not a morning person either so empathise with the struggles to get up for sunrise!

    1. Hey Lucy! So glad you understand the pain of a morning wake πŸ˜€ yes it was a terrible experience but the view was so worth it!

  22. I have the same problem in Colombia. People deliberately making things difficult just so you have to ask them for help and then they try to charge you a ridiculous price for helping you.

    1. Oh wow really? I guess there are tourist traps everywhere. And locals can even be victims of it. I’m glad the view was amazing though, makes the annoyance worth it.

  23. Thank you for sharing!

    1. You are welcome!

  24. […] So why buy more expensive ticket? As well to see sunrise people goes not far from Borobudur on Setumbu hill from which you can see small silhouette of Borobudur, enjoy nature view and if interested visit […]

  25. I was going there but was unlucky to see spectacular view. Even didn’t understand when the sun already was coming up πŸ˜€ But was trying as well see the sunrise in the Borobudur temple – as well not the best view I got πŸ™ Seems I’m not the lucky one πŸ˜€
    I hope you never mind that I add your experience to my post about Yogyakarta attractions, how to enjoy the time here ?

    1. Hi Ria yeah I guess you have to go there several times to finally get that “perfect” sunrise. Will need to go back there some time soon. Thanks for including me in your post!

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