Borobudur encapsulates everything that’s most exotic about Java. Come before dawn and you can watch the first rays of daylight illuminate the faces of 1200-year-old stone Buddhas gazing west over a plateau of lush rice fields and palm groves to the plume of smoke rising from the summit of Gunung Merapi. Ash from the volcanoes on the western horizon buried the mighty stupa until the early 19th century, when British and Dutch officials rediscovered the site. It’s now Java’s most visited attraction, and an active place of worship; a pilgrimage hub of UNESCO World Heritage status.

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