Best Ever Destinations: Explore Enchanted Borobudur in New Normal Travel

Best Ever Destinations: Explore Enchanted Borobudur in New Normal Travel

Be charmed by the mythical, cultural wonders of Java in Borobudur

Known as the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur is no stranger to history and culture enthusiasts from across the globe. Located in Magelang, a town an hour away from Yogyakarta, it’s a favorite holiday go-to for local and international travelers alike, making it one of Indonesia’s undisputed Best Ever Destinations.

As the country slowly reopens tourist attractions with safety as a top priority, this is the one place you have to visit - or revisit - to ignite your inner Indiana Jones.

While exploring the majestic temple complex is a popular day trip for visitors, why not rent a car the next time you come to Borobudur for a full immersive experience of Javanese culture? Here’s a 1-day itinerary to get you started on your adventure in Borobudur and beyond.

Morning

Borobudur Temple rising from the mists at sunrise in Punthuk Setumbu. Photo by Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Explore this: Chase the sunrise at Punthuk Setumbu

  • Travel time from Borobudur temple: 15 minutes by car

Rise and shine early for this one to catch the colors of dawn and the cool fresh air of Punthuk Setumbu. With mystical, panoramic views of Borobudur Temple, this is a spot where sitting and marveling at the scenery is highly encouraged. 

It’s a short walk to an unforgettable view, but remember to wear comfy shoes! Photo by Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Try to arrive at Punthuk Setumbu before 5 AM and it will be a 15 minute walk to the top of the hill. The place opens at 4 AM, so the earlier bird catches the better worm here as you won’t want to miss out on the good spots. It’s the perfect place to catch that magical moment of morning mists clearing and the first light of day paints Borobudur platforms, one by one. Weather plays a big role here, so be sure to check ahead so you won’t arrive to a foggy disappointment. 

Keep your hands clean and always follow the safety protocols on site. Photo by Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Remember to prepare some cash for the entrance fees: IDR 15,000 for locals and IDR 30,000 for international travelers. Have your hand sanitizer ready but for extra hygiene, hand washing stations are also available on site. Masks are also required to be worn at all times here. 

Eat this: Soto Bathok at Enam Langit by Plataran

  • Travel time from Punthuk Setumbu: 25 minutes by car

Taste the freshness of Soto Bathok at Enam Langit by Plataran. Photo by Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Fresh and wholesome at every slurp, Soto Bathok is a turmeric-based chicken soup dish that’s a favorite for locals. With glass noodles, tomatoes, vegetables, and sides like tofu and potato cake, it is also served with a plate of warm rice and crackers. Sprinkle the lime for extra zest so you can get the day going on a good note.

Come for the food and stay for the view at Enam Langit by Plataran as it offers a similar panoramic view of the temples and neighboring mountains of Central Java with a multitude of local and international dishes for you to savor. They also have a couple of alfresco set breakfast options available if you’d like to skip the hike and spoil yourself. Just remember to contact them and reserve ahead of your visit, and follow their on-site safety protocols.

Afternoon

Do this: Play traditional games at Kampoeng Dolanan Nusantara

  • Travel time from Enam Langit by Plataran: 21 minutes by car

 

A timeless fun game for the village children, spinning top. Photo by Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

After a hearty breakfast and stunning daybreak views, it’s time to try your hand at traditional games in Kampoeng Dolanan Nusantara. Loosely translated to ‘traditional games village’ in English, this is the place to go for a hands-on experience of the simple Javanese life.

It’s a perfect stopover for the family as some of the games are best enjoyed with a group. It’s also a popular school excursion destination so expect to make friends along the way. Here, we highly recommend you to try bakiak, where you race with a long wooden clog with rubber foot straps, fit for 3-4 people. Coordination and teamwork is of the essence here and fun that’s fit for all! 

Watch how the village children play congklak, or try it yourself. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Other games you can try include spinning top or gasing, jackstones or bekel, traditional congklak, and even the strategic game of gobak sodor, a tag-like game where two teams try to run through the opponent’s court, without getting caught. 

Angklung, it’s fun and harmonious for adults and children alike. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Wind down from the adrenaline and cool off with the sounds of angklung, a musical instrument made from bamboo tubes that you can try for yourself. The guides at Kampoeng Dolanan Nusantara will teach you how to play traditional songs and be amazed at how a simple shake can create a melody that will get you humming through the day. Just remember to call the place a day ahead so they can arrange the games ahead of your visit.

At Kampoeng Dolanan Nusantara, no mask means no entry, so keep your masks on at all times. There are hand washing stations for you to keep your hands clean after every activity. Most games take place outdoors, but remember to always practice physical distancing for everyone’s safety.

Eat this: Sop Senerek at Sop Senerek Iga Sapi & Rames Banar

  • Travel time from Kampoeng Dolanan Nusantara: 10 minutes by car

Refresh with a comforting, flavorful bowl of Sop Senerek. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Only found in Magelang, Sop Senerek is a comfort food for many locals. Adopted from Dutch colonial cuisine, the refreshing bowl of rice poured over a soup made with savory red beans and tender beef ribs is the best treat on a hot afternoon.

Pick between different types of meat like tripe, beef tongue, and intestines if you’re the curious type at Sop Senerek Iga Sapi & Rames Banar. This is also a great place to refresh and recharge as the restaurant offers a refreshing view of green paddy fields, making it a popular stopover for hungry and drained travelers. Health and safety protocols are also applied here, so wear your masks upon entry. 

Evening

Enjoy this: Live rural at Candirejo Tourism Village

  • Travel time from Sop Senerek Iga Sapi & Rames Banar: 10 minutes by car

Exploring the compounds of Candirejo Tourism Village is done best on wheels. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

End your day with the cool Magelang breeze and cycle around Candirejo Tourism Village for a view of rivers, hills and greenery. Here is where you can dive deeper into Javanese rural culture and do what the villagers do best. Guides are also available on site and they’ll be more than welcome to feed your curiosity.

Learn how to make your own woven bag from the locals at Candirejo. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

With so many things to do, it’s best to spend your whole evening here to end your day on a delightful note, especially as you get to learn the process of making tempeh from scratch. If handicrafts interest you, get your hands busy by creating your own bag made of woven pandan leaves or batik painting. Want to get your hands dirty? The villagers here would gladly teach you a thing or two about their Tumpangsari integrated farming system. Close your visit by hearing the soothing sounds of the traditional ensemble of gamelan, where you can try playing the various instruments yourself.

Escape from the hustle and bustle and try the simple life at Candirejo’s homestays. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

It’s hard not to get enchanted by Candirejo Tourism Village and they understand just that. If an evening seems insufficient to try everything, they also have homestay packages so you can take a proper breather from modern life. Before you visit, make sure you call ahead to reserve your activities so they can prepare the right facility for you.

Just like every other spot, keeping your mask on throughout your visit at Candirejo Tourism Village is mandatory. Temperature checks will also be done when you enter, and there are ample hand washing stations around the area, so be sure to keep clean. 

Eat this: Mangut Beong at Warung De’Menake

  • Travel time from Candirejo Tourism Village: 2 minutes on foot

The combination of Mangut Beong, Jangan Tempe Ndeso and Oseng Daun Pepaya is not one to miss at Warung De’Menake. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Similar to catfish, beong is a type of freshwater fish that can only be found in Magelang’s Progo river, which locals have turned into a delicacy called Mangut Beong. Loosely translated to cooked beong in Javanese, this tender fish dish is cooked with spices like galangal, lemongrass coriander and bay leaves, making it irresistible to the hungry.

It’s one of Warung De’Menake’s must-try dishes, along with other home cooked favorites like tempeh and vegetable soup, Jangan Tempe Ndeso, and stir-fried papaya leaves. After a whole day of exploring, you can bet to feast your eyes on all the delicious options with their buffet-style prasmanan spread. With their Javanese style joglo open-air house, there’s no place better to close the day than here. 

Health and safety protocols to note

Throughout Indonesia, health and safety protocols are strictly enforced. Temperature checks upon entry is the norm across all establishments, including tourist destinations. Don’t forget to bring your vaccine certificates with you or have it ready from the PeduliLindungi app. Masks in public spaces are required all over the country, so double up and always bring extras in your bag.

While some destinations still allow cash, major establishments prefer cashless and card payments so have your e-wallets topped up before you start your itinerary. However, hand washing stations are required to be installed at every establishment, making it easy for you to keep clean after every cash transaction.

As of current, only international travelers on business visas are allowed to enter Indonesia. However, domestic travel is open for vaccinated tourists across the archipelago, with a requirement of vaccine certificates and a negative antigen test result for travels by land, water, or air.

Kickstart your trip to wonderful Indonesia right now

This guide is produced in association with Indonesia Travel. 

  • All photography by Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari.
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