How to experience the Ramayana Ballet Prambanan – An Insider’s Guide

Ramayana Ballet performance

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Performing the Ramayana, a famous Hindu epic more than 2,000 years old, the Ramayana Ballet (Sendratari Ramayana) is a mesmerizing show of traditional Javanese music and dance – set against the backdrop of the stunning Prambanan temple complex north-east of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Whether you’re a lover of the arts, dance or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, the Ramayana Ballet Prambanan is an experience not to be missed. In our insider’s guide, we will cover everything you need to know to help you organise a very special evening.

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episodes in the panchavati forest los angeles county museum of art

The Ramayana is a famous Hindu epic more than 2,000 years old. Here it is depicted in a painting at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Where and when are the performances of the Ramayana Ballet?

The Ramayana Ballet is performed in a dedicated theatre complex adjacent to the temples of Prambanan near Yogyakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia [Google Maps location].

Performances take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1930h to around 2130h:

  • in the Open-Air Amphitheatre during the dry season (May-October); and
  • (indoors) in the Tri Murti Theatre during the wet season (November-April).

In the case of inclement weather conditions, the Open-Air Performance may be moved indoors or abandoned altogether. Only open-air performances have the Prambanan backdrop.

There are also performances on Friday nights – though instead of the Ramayana epic, these shows tell the Legend of Roro Jonggrang. If you’re interested in that performance, book your tickets here – the below still applies.

prambanan temple backdrop at open air theatre

The lit-up Prambanan temple complex near Yogyakarta provides the backdrop to the mesmerising open-air performance of the Ramayana Ballet

Is it worth attending the show?

Absolutely. We first heard about the Ramayana epic when visiting the Sonobudoyo Museum [Google Maps location] in Yogyakarta (but half the story got lost in translation). When we found out there was a stage performance with traditional Javanese music and dance, we made sure we would include it in our visit to the Prambanan temple complex.

While the whole performance (including a 10-minute break) is almost two hours long, it never felt that long as the show is a feast for the senses with its colourful costumes, beautiful music and the gorgeous backdrop of a lit-up Prambanan temple complex. Due to the length of the performance, it may not be suitable and may start too late for younger children.

Ticket prices for the Ramayana epic are also more than fair, ranging from IDR150,000 per adult (Class 2) to

  • IDR450,000 per adult (VIP) at the Open-Air Theatre; and
  • IDR300,000 per adult (Special Class) at the Tri Murti Theatre.
ramayana ballet close up5

The Ramayana Ballet Prambanan is a true feast for all senses

How to book tickets to the Ramayana Ballet?

Tickets to the Ramayana Ballet are sold via online travel agencies Viator, Klook, Tiket.com and Traveloka, making it easy to book even if you don’t speak the language.

You DO NOT need entrance tickets for the Prambanan temple complex to be able to attend the Ramayana Ballet.

Which seats are the best?

The best seats in the house are the Special Class seats (Open-Air Theatre seating plan on page 4 | Tri Murti Theatre seating plan on page 6). These seats have the best view of the stage AND the Prambanan temple complex behind it (if you’re experiencing the performance in the Open-Air Theatre). VIP seats in the Open-Air Theatre are closer to the stage (and are thus great to make out costume or facial details of the performers), but you can only see the top half of Prambanan.

If your show is in the Open-Air Theatre, it’s also best to choose seats on the right hand side (as you are facing the stage) as the Prambanan temple complex is positioned slightly off centre to the left.

Avoid Class 2 tickets if possible, as your view of the stage will be from a sideways angle (and partially obstructed by lighting equipment in the Open-Air Theatre).

special class seats at open air theatre prambanan

In the Open-Air Theatre, Special Class seats have the best view of the stage and the Prambanan temple complex behind it

In the Open-Air Theatre:

  • VIP Class and Special Class seats are allocated, and the ticket price includes a drink. VIP Class seats are cushioned chairs, while in Special Class, cushions are placed on the stone seats forming the amphitheatre.
  • Seats in Class 1 and 2 are not allocated – it’s first come first served. Class 1 and 2 seats are bare stone seats (with a back). They are surprisingly comfortable, but if you struggle sitting on a hard surface for 2 hours bring your own cushion.

In the Tri Murti Theatre, all seats are allocated and all are cushioned chairs/seats.

Unfortunately, the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan is not wheelchair-accessible.

vip seats at open air theatre prambanan

VIP Class seats are cushioned chairs closest to the open-air stage

How to get to the Ramayana Ballet?

The theatre complex is located outside the western border of the Prambanan temple complex. You can’t actually exit the temple complex on that side, so just be aware of that if you visit the temple complex before attending the show.

The most convenient (but also the most expensive) way to get to the Ramayana Ballet Prambanan is via Bluebird Taxi, Grab Transport or Gojek. Expect to pay around IDR100,000 for a Bluebird Taxi or Grab Transport (one-way from the city centre). Rides take approximately 30-minutes and can be ordered via the respective apps.

Alternatively, you may want to consider using the buses and/or trains servicing Prambanan:

  • Bus: Taking bus #1A from Malioboro 1/2/3 stops to Terminal Prambanan [Google Maps location] takes just under an hour and costs IDR2,700 per adult one-way. If you want to use this bus, purchase a transport card from the Government Tourist Information Center on Malioboro Street [Google Maps location]. The card can be topped up there or at Indomaret/Alphamart convenience stores. From the bus terminal, it’s a flat 10 minute walk north to the theatre complex (you will have to cross and walk along a very busy road, so be careful). The bus stops operating at 1930h (in both directions).
  • Train: The Yogyakarta Line train from Stasiun Tugu Yogyakarta (the main train station in the centre of Yogyakarta) [Google Maps location] to Stasiun Brambanan [Google Maps location] takes just 20 minutes. The fare is IDR8,000 per adult one-way. Tickets can be purchased through the Access by KAI app [Google Play, Apple Store]  (or in person at the train station). From the train station, it’s a flat 30-minute walk to the theatre complex (along the same busy road mentioned above). We recommend to take a Grab or Gojek instead. The ride takes 5-10 minutes, pending traffic, and Grab Transport costs IDR20,000 to IDR30,000.
trans jogja bus

Apart from ride shares, the Ramayana Ballet Prambanan can also be reached by bus (operated by Trans Jogja) and train (operated by KAI)

I recommend arriving at the theatre complex in Prambanan just before sunset. The rice paddies opposite the entrance make for an idyllic photo opportunity.

If you don’t stay at Prambanan overnight and need to return to Yogyakarta after the show, you have the following two options:

  • Ride and Train: The last train leaves at 2155h. Make sure you book a Grab Transport/Gojek in advance to take you back to the train station in time.
  • Ride: If you’ve missed that train, you need to travel by Grab Transport/Gojek all the way.

The exit from the theatre complex (and best pick-up point for ride shares) is about 200m south of the entrance.

sunset over rice paddy

Arrive at the theatre complex in Prambanan just before sunset - the surrounding water spinach and rice fields provide lovely photo opportunities

Where to have dinner before the show?

There is a restaurant within the theatre complex (Rama Shinta Garden Resto) that offers a buffet-style dinner. We didn’t check it out so can’t comment on the food quality, service or price. One big plus though: you’ll be able to enjoy your dinner with unobstructed views of Prambanan.

Alternatively, head to K-Space [Google Maps location], a restaurant with a small rooftop terrace just outside the theatre complex. The food is delicious, and the price fair. The rooftop has views of Prambanan too, albeit partially obstructed by trees. There is also a convenience store (part of the petrol station) next door for cold drinks, ice cream etc. You’re not allowed to bring food or drinks (except a water bottle) from outside into the theatre, so make sure you finish eating before you go through the ticket checkpoint.

If you didn’t have time to grab a bite to eat outside, you can buy drinks and packaged snacks (potato chips etc) before the performance commences/during the interval – there is a stall past the ticket checkpoint.

dinner at k space

K-Space offers a cheap, delicious dinner with views of Prambanan from its roof terrace

What to expect when watching the show (at the Open-Air Theatre)?

Upon arrival, first head to the ticket booth to exchange your online voucher for an actual entry ticket. All you need to do is to show the clerk the voucher with the QR code on your phone.

The doors of the Open-Air Theatre open around 1800h. If you have Class 1 or 2 tickets, head into the theatre as soon as it opens to claim your seat/s – the best seats in Class 1 are those adjacent to the Special and VIP sections. Find the seating plan here (page 4).

ramayana ballet open air theatre entrance

Pick up your tickets at the building to the right of the entrance. Toilets are in the light-coloured building (behind the sign) on the left.

There are toilets immediately to the left after you enter the complex, and another toilet building about 50 metres further ahead (also on the left). There is a 20-minute interval during the show, albeit more than half-way through, so best is to use the bathroom before the performance gets underway.

The show comprises traditional Javanese music and dance theatre (without dialogue). Make sure you read the story of Ramayana – ideally while you’re waiting for the show to start. It’s important to read the FULL story before the show commences, as you won’t have time during the show (you will want to have your eyes firmly on the performance). And don’t worry, even if you’ve heard about the Ramayana epic for the first time, you’ll remember enough to be able to understand the various scenes.

Also worth noting: The evening temperatures are very pleasant, even a tad on the cool side when the wind blows – so bring a shawl or light jacket just in case. You may also want to apply insect repellent (though we didn’t actually find it necessary as the area is home to small bats which keep the mosquito population at bay).

Want to know what we pack as full-time location-independent explorers?

We research and document every item that we carry as travellers, whether during van life in our backpacks or as digital nomads, earning a living on the road. These packing lists are all based on our own experience. If you travel (and who doesn't) and you have something to add as recommendations for the items to carry, please feel free to contact us.

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ramayana ballet close up2

From the music of the traditional Gamelan orchestra, to the intricate costumes and perfect movements, the Ramayana Ballet is a show you won't forget

Where to stay near the Ramayana Ballet/Prambanan temple complex

If you’re planning to attend the ballet AND visit the Prambanan temple complex (as well as other temples nearby), we recommend staying a night or two in the Prambanan area.

For accommodation, as with any other travel expenses, it’s worth shopping around. When we book our accommodation, we look across several booking platforms to find the best value-for-money option. Wherever you book, do make sure you read the fine print to make sure you compare apples with apples. For example, your stay may incur extra charges (like local tourist taxes or cleaning fees). Some booking platforms include them, while with others, you have to pay them to your host upon arrival.

Below are my recommendations for accommodation options that fit the criteria of affordable, often meeting a sustainability certification, and that are close to public transport and points of interest.

NameProperty FeaturesTypePrice IndicatorBook Now
Algira HomestayHosts don't live on-site
Basic kitchen
Not clean
Basic bicycles available to use free of charge
Holiday house$Book Now
Georium DuniaClose to attractions
Air Conditioning
Private Bathroom
Guesthouse$Book Now
Joglo Ayem TentremGuesthouse$$Book Now
Rumah Desa Homestay24-hour front desk
Laundry facilities
Homestay$Book Now
SPOT ON 93007 Guest House LestariVery close to Prambanan TempleGuesthouse$Book Now
Sustainability Certification included as appropriate, but not validated. $ is USD50 and below. $$$$ is USD150 and above. A marks where we stayed and would highly recommend to our friends and family.
prambanan temple

If you’re planning to attend the ballet and visit the Prambanan temple complex, we recommend to stay a night or two in the Prambanan area

What other attractions or experiences are there near the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan?

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Download your Sustainable Travel Checklist and show the world you care

As travellers, we should all be aware of our travel behaviour and its environmental, economic and social impact; and make conscious decisions about it. Too often, we hear negative stories in the media about tourists behaving badly.

Here is your chance to tick some boxes and check out what it really takes to travel with a sustainable mindset.

What else should I know about attractions in Yogyakarta?

As well as visiting the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit:

Have you seen the Ramayana Ballet in Prambanan?

What was your experience like, and what would you add to my guide? Let me know.

Keen to experience the Ramayana Ballet but have further questions I haven’t answered (yet)? No worries. Please get in touch, and I’ll try my best to answer them.

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How to experience the Ramayana Ballet Prambanan - An Insider\'s Guide
Author: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandrarosenau/" target="_blank">Sandra Rosenau</a>

Author: Sandra Rosenau

Sandra Rosenau is a Gen X gal from Germany, born and raised behind the Iron Curtain, with an unquenchable thirst to learn. Self-starter. Multi-lingual. Minimalist. Environmentally conscious. Financially and location independent. Energised by connecting with others and helping people succeed.