Borobudur Temple Could Become a Lot More Expensive to Visit

Officials are planning to raise the price of an entry ticket for foreigners to US$100, while capping tourist numbers at 1,200 per day.

A Buddha image and stupas at the upper levels of Borobudur temple. (Photo: platongkoh/iStock)

One of Indonesia’s most popular attractions may soon be subject to new regulations that will have a major impact on the visitor experience. The controversial plan was announced via Instagram on Saturday by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, who said the UNESCO-listed temple of Borobudur was being recast as a “world-class cultural heritage conservation laboratory.”

The ticket price for an overseas visitor is currently Rp 350,000 (about US$25), but that is set to be increased threefold, with non-Indonesians asked to pay US$100 for a one-day pass. Domestic travelers will see the cost of admission to the temple proper raised from Rp 50,000 (US$3.50) to Rp 750,000 (US$52), a hefty sum considering that the average wage nationwide is only Rp 2,890,000 per month (US$200). It will be possible to roam the grounds for Rp 50,000, but Indonesian tourists who pay that amount will not be allowed to set foot on the structure itself. Local students will be eligible for a heavily discounted rate of just Rp 5,000 (roughly 35 U.S. cents).

“We are taking this step solely for the sake of preserving the rich history and culture of the archipelago,” Luhut said. UNESCO has previously threatened to remove Borobudur from its World Heritage List due to improper restoration work, the limited benefits mass tourism has brought to local communities, and a failure to regulate visitor numbers at the sensitive archaeological site. More than 10,000 people descended on the ninth-century Buddhist monument each day before the pandemic, accounting for a total of 3.8 million in 2019.

Luhut also said tourist numbers will be limited to 1,200 per day, with all visitors required to hire a local guide in an effort to create new jobs and “foster a sense of belonging” among residents of the surrounding area. But travel operators are concerned that international travelers will be deterred from coming or even booking stays in nearby Yogyakarta if the new rules are implemented; most will favor more affordable and accessible destinations elsewhere in the country, if not the wider Southeast Asian region.

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