9 Tips to Enjoy Vesak at Borobudur, Central Java – Indonesia

Submitted by viravira on 14 May 2013   •  Uncategorized

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Vesak or Waisak day is coming near. If you’re going to be a part of the ceremony, you might want to look at the following tips to enjoy vesak at Borobudur to be a bit more prepared.
Vesak at Borobudur

1. How to get there.

It’s probably too late to say, “book your flight tickets early”. But it’s not too late to say, “Magelang, which is where Borobudur is located, can be reached not only by plane, but also by bus and trains directly to the city or with stopover at the nearest cities.” Now quick reserve your tickets!

Your choices of public transportations, based on our Magelang native friend Fahmi’s information:
–       Plane: fly to Yogyakarta (then continue 1-1,5 hr by bus), or Semarang (then continue 2 hrs by bus on normal condition; or 3-4 hrs on present condition due to road work).
–       Train: as functioning train station is non-existing in Magelang, you can take the train to Yogyakarta or Semarang before continuing by bus.
–       Bus: take the route from Yogyakarta, Semarang, Purwokerto, Surabaya and many other nearby towns to Magelang’s Soekarno Hatta Bus Terminal.

A choice of transportation


2. Stay in Magelang instead of Yogyakarta.

There’s nothing wrong with staying in Yogyakarta, but Magelang is simply closer to Borobudur and Mendut temples, where the ceremonies are held. Magelang is also an overlooked place by tourists, while it has a lot of interesting places, food and stories to offer. Have a read on what we’ve written about the city here and here.

Visiting an art museum in Magelang
3. You don’t have to do it all.

Vesak ceremony consists of a series of events starting a few days before the Vesak day. Look up the schedule on the net (sorry, we could only find the official one in Indonesian, here), decide which parts of event you want to attend. It could help you choose where to book accommodation, what transportation to take and what to do in between ceremonies. For a quick look on what a Vesak at Borobudur trip could be like, check out our chirps here.

Ready for the march from Mendut to Borobudur

4. Be early.

Vesak at Borobudur is one of the most anticipated events throughout the year by people from all over the world. There will be traffic jams around the sites. Though the ceremony at Borobudur goes on until midnight, entrance to the area is closed at 5 pm.

no vehicles allowed - entrance to Mendut

5. You are what you wear.

Wear comfortable outfit and shoes, especially if you are walking the march between Mendut and Borobudur temples. Wear something not so revealing, especially the women. They didn’t kick me out for my shorts, but I wished I were wearing something longer. Vesak is a religious event, it’s better to wear something considered polite. Perhaps, something as polite as your Sunday best, but more casual and comfy.

Festive Vesak at Mendut temple

6. Cloudy with a chance of…

Have a raincoat and a hat or umbrella ready in your bag. You’ll never know when it’s going to rain or get really sunny, and most of the events are held outdoor.

Raining at Borobudur park on Vesak night

7. Be considerate.

An event like this is magnet to photographers or simply tourists like us. But again, it’s a religious event, not a playground. Give way to the Buddhists who are there to pray. Don’t stand in their way at any moment of the ceremony, don’t be noisy, don’t fool around. Avoid shooting cameras, moreover with flash, in the face of a chanting Buddhist. You wouldn’t like it if someone did that to you while you’re praying at church, would you? And remember, others want to take pictures, too. And some visitors want to really pay attention to the ceremony. So, mind your behavior.

Keep your distance from those who pray

8. Prepare your lifesaver.

Prepare some snack and water if you’re staying until the end of the ceremony. There won’t be any food seller in Borobudur park except the restaurant at Manohara hotel at the foot of the temple. But remember! Do not litter.

snack seller outside of Mendut temple

9. Prepare your transportation home.

We booked a taxi to pick us up from Borobudur at midnight, and thank God we decided to do that. Or else, it would be a long walk before we could get any taxi, if there was any. Mobile reception was sometimes very ugly, so it’s wiser to agree on a pickup point and time beforehand, just in case.

hired taxi

There you go. Are you ready for your Vesak at Borobudur?
Or if you’ve done this before, do tell us a bit about your experience, we’d really like to know 😀

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4 Comments on "9 Tips to Enjoy Vesak at Borobudur, Central Java – Indonesia"

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7 years 1 month ago

If you don’t mind, may I ask how long the lantern release will take? Perhaps 1 or 2 hours?