This post was last updated on June 26th, 2020 at 06:17 pm
Indonesia has no less than 130 active volcanoes and the Bromo on the island of Java is by far the most popular. The location of the volcano in the miles-wide Sea of Sand is very impressive. There are two more volcanoes in this gigantic sandplain and together they form the backdrop for one of the most beautiful sunrises ever. A visit to the Bromo volcano is without doubt one of the highlights during a tour through Indonesia. We tell you how to visit the volcano on your own or with a tour.
Why the Bromo volcano is a must-see
You really should not miss the Bromo volcano when you are on Java. The sunrise with a view over the island and the other volcanoes in the gigantic sandy plain is breathtaking. As soon as the sunlight shines on the volcanoes, they turn a beautiful brown. The mist that you often see hanging on the bottom gives the whole thing some extra magic. A really special moment!
You can also hike in the vast Sea of Sand and take the stairs to the crater rim of Mount Bromo. This way you can look inside the crater!
Over the last few weeks, the Bromo volcano has been quite active and that is why the area is closed within a radius of 1 kilometer around the crater. At the moment you cannot climb the stairs to the crater rim. When the volcano calms down, it will reopen to visitors. – May 2019
With or without a tour?
A great highlight does come with a price tag. At least, that’s what we thought at first. Google “Bromo tour” and you will be inundated with tour agencies trying to convince you to visit the Bromo volcano using their guides. The price of such a 2-day tour? At least 1 million IDR per person, or about US$70.
Fortunately, it can be done differently. Cheaper! By organizing your visit to Mount Bromo yourself, you not only save money, but you also have the freedom to decide how long you stay in each place. And you can also avoid the big crowds on the crater rim!
Admire the Bromo volcano without a tour
Step 1: Travel to Cemoro Lawang
The Bromo volcano is located in the east of Java and the village of Cemoro Lawang is located directly on the Sea of Sand. So this is the best base for visiting the Bromo. In Cemoro Lawang you will find some basic guesthouses. They don’t have many facilities or any form of luxury, but it is only for one night. 😉
You will probably start your trip to Bromo from the city of Surabaya. This is the largest city in eastern Java. From many places in Indonesia, you can easily travel to Surabaya by plane, train, or bus. From Surabaya, you then take the train or bus to the town of Probolinggo (travel time is about 2 hours). A ticket for the train costs you US$2 – US$10 per person (depending on the type of train and the class you choose) and for the bus, you’ll pay around US$2.50 per person. Keep in mind that the train only runs this route a few times a day.
You can buy train tickets online via 12GoAsia. You can also buy tickets in the Indomaret supermarkets or, of course, at the train stations.
From Probolinggo you now have to travel the last stretch to Cemoro Lawang. You do this with a local van that always leaves when it is full. If you arrive at the train or bus station in Probolinggo, you should be on your guard. There are many scammers active who try to make you pay way too much for your bus ticket or set you up with a very expensive tour. You should know that you always pay for the ride on the bus and that it should not cost more than 2 to 3 USD. The bus ride takes about 1.5 hours.
Step 2: Stay overnight in Cemoro Lawang
Once you arrive in Cemoro Lawang, you check-in at one of the guesthouses, and if the weather is clear, you can still watch the sunset with a view over Mount Bromo. After that, it is smart to get into your bed on time. Tomorrow starts early!
Step 3: Sunrise at the Bromo volcano
Now it is time for the highlight: the sunrise with a view over the Bromo volcano. From the village, it is a fairly steep hike to one of the viewpoints (e.g. King Kong Hill or Mount Penanjakan) which takes some time. So check in advance what time the sun rises and leave on time. It is a minimum of 2 hours walking to King Kong Hill. Sunrise Point 1 at Mount Penanjakan is even further…
Use the maps.me app to navigate to the viewpoint you want to go to. When you get to Seruni Sunrise Point 2, you have to take a small path to King Kong Hill. This is on your right as you view Mount Bromo from the viewpoint. At first, it doesn’t seem like a path, you have to climb a bit over the rocks. Then you follow the forest path to King Kong Hill.
On the way to the viewpoint, you will probably have to pay the entrance fee for the Bromo National Park and it is quite high: 240,000 IDR (~ US$16.80) per person. On Sundays and public holidays, the fee is 340,000 IDR, or about US$24. Nowadays there are quite a few backpackers who feel like the entrance price is too high, especially because locals only have to pay 10% of this amount. On many blogs, you will find descriptions of an alternative walking route with which you could avoid the ticket counter. Read more on how we climbed Mount Bromo, without an entry ticket, below
If you don’t feel like hiking for a few hours at night, you can also take a scooter taxi to the viewpoint. Or you rent a scooter the night before and drive to the viewpoint. For both options, you can take into account a price of approximately 50,000 IDR (US$3.50).
Step 4: Climb the Bromo and look inside the crater
Finally, you can descend again and walk through the Sea of Sands to the Bromo volcano. Via a staircase, you can walk up the crater and look inside the volcano. From the Sea of Sand, you have a completely different view of the landscape and it is certainly worthwhile to spend some time here.
Almost all tourists go to the Bromo crater immediately after sunrise, but you don’t have to. You can also first walk back to your guesthouse, have breakfast at your leisure or take another nap and then take a closer look at the Bromo volcano. Then most tourists are long gone and the enormous plain with the volcanoes comes into its own even better!
Mount Bromo without paying the entry fee
Without a firm plan, we walked into Cemoro Lawang, to the viewing platform just after the ticket house. Yesterday afternoon we walked past it, in the last bit of daylight, without any problems. This time they stop us. They ask whether we want to pay US$40 in order to continue. Well, no we don’t.
If you walk/drive in Cemoro Lawang towards Bromo you will come to a junction of which the left leads to the ticket house and on the right there’s a road with a large gate leading to Seruni point. If you take the road to Seruni point you pay nothing and you can choose to take the path down to the Bromo volcano at hotel Cemara Indah or follow the road to the viewpoints.
We turn around and walk into the road to Seruni Point. In the beautiful, low morning light we pass fields where people are working. On the left, after about 50 meters, there is clearly an abyss, but because the fields have slightly risen, we cannot see the view. We decide to walk into one of the dirt roads, between the crops, to look over the edge. We are not disappointed. The Bromo volcano stands there magnificently in the morning sun, with Gunung Batok on the right and behind it Gunung Semeru, the highest and most sacred mountain in Java.
We continue on the road to Seruni Point and the road gets a bit steeper, but it is easy to do. Every now and then we meet hikers who are watching the sunrise. Nobody walks in our direction. When we arrive at Seruni Point, the other hikers are gone and we have the view to ourselves. Incidentally, you could also come here with a chartered motorbike taxi. Then you are there in 10 minutes from Cemoro Lawang and even if you get up at 5 a.m., you can still see the sunrise here.
Continue to King Kong Hill
When we climb further and walk up the stairs we have some trouble climbing the steep, muddy slope. About 20 meters higher the path becomes flatter and we walk between bushes, trees, and flowers and through the tall grass. Eventually, we arrive at a small viewing platform just below King Kong Hill that immediately makes us forget all the sweat and dizziness. What lies ahead is the famous scene with the Bromo, just behind Gunung Batok and in front of Gunung Semeru. Because we have been on the road for almost 2.5 hours, it is now far after sunrise, but at 10 o’clock in the morning, the light is still good for beautiful photos. Best of all, we don’t have to share our view with anyone else here either.
Judging by a large number of plastic tarpaulin houses, between the viewing platform and the elevated parking lot and Warung Banana, the number of people who wait here for the sun to rise is enormous. At 10 o’clock everything is abandoned.
Descent to the Bromo itself
We walk further up the stone path until we reach the exit where we can go up for Warung Banana and the jeep parking lot or down via a steep winding road. Fortunately, we can buy some water at a lonely stall. They also try to sell noodles and bananas to us, but it’s only water we need.
A few men are working to build more stalls. They offer to bring us down on the motorbike. We have an ear for that and we arrange that they will wait for us at the Bromo, before taking us back to our guesthouse in Cemoro Lawang. After some haggling, we got down to 125,000 IDR (~ US$8.75) per motorbike. If we had negotiated more intensively and wielded less expensive equipment, the price would probably have been even lower. However, we didn’t want to make a fuss for a few dollars and also we also visit the Bromo without a tour and without an entrance ticket, so there’s room in our budget. 😉
There are always motorbikes around King Kong Hill and a lift down is easy to arrange. We have heard that you can make the trip to the Bromo for 25,000 IDR with serious negotiation, but 50,000 IDR seems like a fair price. For everyone!
A spectacular descent begins. The road is winding and steep, but our motorcycle heroes are experienced and fearless. After a few stops to take photos we hustle down, where we also brave the dry, dusty Sea of Sand. We slide back and forth through the soft sand while enjoying the bizarre landscape. It looks like we’re driving around on the moon. After about 10 minutes the temple Pura Luhur Poten Bromo Ngadisari comes into view and also the Bromo itself. We turn down the horses that are offered to us and make the big climb up. Here too there are some local stalls with food and drinks, but we have sufficiently stocked our bags.
And the reward!
First, we walk on a steeply ascending path through the moon landscape, then the long staircase to the crater rim. And then we come face to face with the inside of the Bromo volcano. Clouds have been rising from the bubbling depth all day, and the activity of the volcano is still visible today. We walk a bit over the crater rim, with a view of the beautiful surroundings on the left, where clouds come rolling over the surrounding mountains and on the right that bubbling hole. After spending some time here, we descend to the foot of the volcano for our ride home.
Mount Bromo with a tour
We’ve visited Mount Bromo multiple times. We’ve also done the Bromo Sunrise tour (excursion) with Bromo Eco Tourism from Surabaya. We were picked up at the airport around 11.30 p.m. (they also pick you up if you sleep elsewhere in Surabaya). Within four hours you drive to the Penanjakan viewpoint. After the sunrise, you will take the jeep to the volcano. You climb the volcano a bit and can enjoy a beautiful view.
Once you’re done, head back to the jeep and have breakfast (this doesn’t amount to much). After breakfast, you will be transferred back to the airport. We were back at the airport around 2 p.m. The tour includes private transport from Surabaya, a jeep ride, and the entrance fee.
Via Viator.com you can book the tour from US$145 p.p.incl. all costs (this is not Bromo Eco-Tourism).
You can also go on this tour from Malang. The drive from Malang to Bromo takes about 2 hours. You will be picked up in Malang and taken back to Malang after the tour concludes. Of course, you can ask if it is possible to pick you up in Malang and drive to Surabaya after the tour so that you can continue your journey.
Sunrise at the Bromo volcano
At sunrise, you just have to be in the national park to see this breathtaking spectacle of nature. The sun usually rises around 5:30 a.m., so you’ll have to get up early! If you’re going to Bromo with a tour you will often be picked up and dropped off at Gunung Penanjakan around 4:30 a.m. (or earlier!). From this mountain, you have a fantastic view over the landscape. During sunrise, the fog disappears more and more and you see the volcanoes looming in increasingly bright colors. Magical!
After sunrise, you can climb the Bromo volcano. You will be dropped off in the valley, also known as Sea of Sands, which lies between the volcanoes and the viewpoint. You climb the steep stairs that are built against the volcano and from the top you have a great view over the volcano and the area.
Accommodations around Bromo
We stayed at Bromo Otix, a guesthouse with nice, reasonably comfortable rooms and even 2 apartments, where we had our own living space. The kitchenette is very simple, but everything is clean and the beds are decent. Most accommodations around Bromo don’t have great reviews, but Otix is definitely recommended for anyone who wants to sleep well for an affordable price.
Many people opt for the hugely popular Lava View Lodge, but we hear that the price here is significantly higher and the quality is not as expected, as with many of the other accommodations. Homestay Mum Bromo seems like a nice place and new homestays are being added all the time, most of which seem to be doing very well.
How to get to Bromo
Visit Bromo from Surabaya
One of our visits to Bromo started in Surabaya. We stayed at the Ibis hotel, which is located directly at the airport in Surabaya. You can stay there from US$26 per night and that is why we booked two nights here so that we could stay there before and after the tour. If you are short on time, it is best to go to the Bromo volcano from Surabaya. You can then arrive at the airport on day 1, visit the volcano at night and take the plane to another destination around 5 p.m. on day 2.
From Surabaya to Bromo without a tour or excursion
You can also go independently to the Bromo volcano from Surabaya. Especially if you are more than two people, this is an economical option. For a taxi to Bromo, you pay about 900,000 IDR (~ US$63), a maximum of 4 people fit in there. Once at Bromo, you have to rent a jeep so that you can go to the viewpoint first and then after the volcano itself. A jeep costs 700,000 IDR (~ US$49) and can accommodate six people. Keep in mind that you still have to pay entrance fees.
Visit Bromo by public transport
From Surabaya airport, you can take the Damri bus to the Surabaya bus station (Purabaya Bus terminal in Bungurasih). The Damri bus only leaves when it is full. If you don’t feel like waiting, you can also take a taxi to the bus station. From the bus station Purabuyaya, take the bus to Probolinggo. This departs 14 times a day. More information on the bus schedule can be found here. The bus ride takes about 2.5 hours. From Probolinggo you have to take the minibus to Cemoro Lawang. This costs approximately 30,000 IDR (~ US$2.10) and the journey takes 1.5 hours. This minibus also only leaves when it is full.
From Cemoro Lawang to Bromo by scooter
We spoke to other tourists who have visited Bromo by scooter. This is of course very cheap, adventurous, and gives a lot of freedom. You can rent a scooter for about 120,000 IDR (~ US$8.40) for two days. How do you find your way to Penanjakan and then after the crater? Simple… you just follow the jeeps! Please note that the roads are very steep and dusty.
From Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo
In Yogyakarta, there are many tour providers that can take you from Yogyakarta to the Bromo volcano. On Jl. Prawirotaman (a nice neighborhood to stay at) street, you’ll find a lot of tour providers. They take you from Yogyakarta, through a beautiful tour along the Prambanan, to Bromo and then to Surabaya airport.
- If you are going to visit the Bromo with a tour, everything will be taken care of. If you visit the Bromo without a tour, you should bring enough water yourself (at King Kong Hill and the Bromo itself you can buy water for a good price), good shoes that can withstand a layer of dust/ash, thin layers of clothing, which you can take off while walking, sunscreen, sunglasses, a mask against the dust and if you leave before sunrise, a flashlight. A headlamp is most practical, so you have your hands free to climb.
- Are you looking for a sort of middle ground where you have to arrange less yourself, but still lose less money than with a normal tour? Then stay at Clover Homestay in Probolinggo. They can – even the night before – arrange transport for you to the volcano and back. Super simple and affordable! Depending on the number of passengers you pay around 110,000 to 175,000 IDR (~ US$7.70 to US$12.25) per person. You also have to pay the entrance fee, of course.
Continue your journey
In short, visiting the Bromo volcano independently is actually much more fun and also cheaper than with a tour. You have a longer time at the volcano, avoid the tourist crowds, and keep some money in your pocket for the next highlight. If you like the Bromo volcano, then the Kawah Ijen Volcano is a great follow-up destination!