The Bromo volcano is a must-see in Java, Indonesia! For me it was one of the highlights of my trip through Indonesia and I think the coolest activity during my Java itinerary in 2 weeks. You can read all useful information about a visit with or without a tour and without entrance fees in this article!
Before visiting Bromo, I was in Surabaya. Not a very special city, but great for a night to relax. The next day it was time to exchange the big city for a village between the mountains.
That is why I traveled to the village of Cemoro Lawang which is located next to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park at an altitude of 2217 meters. I found the road to it incredibly beautiful. You drive through the mountains and can enjoy beautiful views.
The village itself is not much, but I was fine with it. It was a bit different from those big Javanese cities. We arrived in the afternoon and were due to visit the viewpoint and volcano that same evening.
To see the sunrise from the viewpoint we had to get up at 3:00. I didn’t like the cold shower with an outside temperature of about 10 degrees, so I just skipped it.
Not much later we left dressed with a mask, a headlamp and Maps.me to help us towards the King Kong Viewpoint. Soon we came across other hikers who had the same idea and we walked a bit with them.
At the first viewpoint it was already quite busy and the view did not seem very nice to us (which is of course quite difficult to estimate in the dark), so we walked up a bit. Then I was very happy that I had my headlamp with me, because it was pitch dark and the route wasn’t always easy to see in the dark.
At our guesthouse they told us that it would be a good 2 hours walk, but we eventually took 1.5 hours with a brisk pace and an occasional breathing pause. People were also at the King Kong Viewpoint, but luckily we had a very nice spot. There must also be an even higher viewpoint, but since I had read on the internet that all the tours go here, I didn’t think that was a smart idea.
The King Kong Viewpoint is located at an altitude of about 2600 meters and it was very cold up there. Thick clothes are definitely recommended!
At around 5:20 the sun finally rose and the view got nicer and more beautiful by the minute. There was a cloud blanket over the ‘Sea of Sand’ and the sky was very clear. The volcanoes also became increasingly visible thanks to the warm glow of the sunlight. From the viewpoint we had a great view of the smoking Bromo crater, Mount Semeru, and Mount Batok.
I read several stories on the internet about whether or not to pay for the viewpoints. We walked from the center to King Kong Viewpoint and didn’t had to pay anything. You just follow the road that eventually goes up. It’s easy to follow on Maps.
On to Bromo volcano!
When the sun was up a bit more, we walked from the viewpoint back to our guesthouse, again about 1.5 hours walk. There we put down some stuff and continued our way to the Bromo crater.
Entrance to the Bromo volcano is quite expensive, namely 220,000 IDR (about € 14) during the week and 310,000 IDR (€ 20) at the weekend. If you’ve been traveling through Southeast Asia and Indonesia for a while, this is quite expensive. But luckily you can also visit the crater for free!
To avoid the entrance fees, follow a path that does not pass the entrance house. The path starts at the Cemara Indah Hotel. When you enter the hotel grounds, you will see a small parking attendant house in the back right.
When you walk past this on the right, you arrive at a zigzagging ash-path. After about 10 minutes walking down you reach the Sea of Sand. View the route on Maps.me, because it is clearly stated.
I really enjoyed walking on the Sea of Sand. I felt like I was walking on a moonscape. Occasionally we saw jeeps driving by, but no one else took the same route as we did on foot.
The closer we got to the crater, the more tourists we saw. There were also a lot of horses that were carrying people. Walking up on your own is quite tough, so you can imagine that it’s even more tough for these horses. It’s most definitely animal cruelty, but unfortunately many tourists don’t understand this. So please, never ever take a horse to bring you up. If people stop doing this, these horses don’t have to be there anymore.
Once arrived at the foot of the crater, the hardest part starts. The steep stone staircase is covered with ash and the steps are almost sloping. When I got upstairs sweaty, a ‘wow’ escaped from my mouth between the panting. What a gigantic crater! From the viewpoint it’s already clear how big the Bromo crater is, but when you stand on it you can really see it. Very impressive!
From Cemoro Lawang it is about an hour’s walk to the crater at a good pace, without a break.
On the way back, after walking for about 4 hours, we really didn’t feel like walking back. Fortunately, there were enough motorbikes ready to give us a ride. They asked IDR 50,000 per person and after some negotiation we ended up paying IDR 30,000 per person. A great price. The ride took about 10 minutes and was an hour’s walk away!
Because we were back in the village so quickly, we were also able to catch the van to Probolinggo. For this we paid IDR 65,000 per person for 8 people.
How to get to Bromo volcano
If you would like to visit Bromo with a tour, you can do this from various places including Probolinggo, Surabaya, Malang and even Yogyakarta and Bali. With most tours you visit the viewpoint during the sunrise and then drive by jeep to the Bromo volcano.
The price for a tour depends entirely on where you book it. Yogyakarta is far away, so you can expect to pay more for it.
Visiting the Bromo volcano without a tour is highly recommended in my opinion. If you would like to do this, it is easiest to travel to the village of Cemoro Lawang, which is located next to the national park. To reach the village, travel to Probolinggo (by train), take a local bus to the bus station for a few thousand Rupiah and then take a colorful bus to Cemoro Lawang.
The van costs IDR 525,000 in total. I think theoretically it fits up to 14 people, but I would say max 11 people. It’s a very tight fit. The bus only goes when it is full. In consultation you can also pay a little more to leave earlier.
The bus drops you in the center. From there you usually walk a few minutes to your guesthouse.
Accommodations in Cemoro Lawang
The quality of most accommodations isn’t great, because the village isn’t yet geared to tourists a lot. As far as I know there are no hostels with dormitories and you are dependent on a double room. A double room costs between € 13 and € 30 for 1 night.
I stayed at Bromo Otix Guesthouse which was quite an excellent option for a night. No hot water, but clean simple rooms.
Bromo Deddy Homestay should also be fine, but I haven’t been there myself. You can have a bite to eat at the Cafe Lava Hostel.
Combining Ijen and Bromo volcano
The Bromo and the Ijen volcanoes are easy to combine with a tour. The disadvantage of this is that it’s very pricey, the ride is very long and uncomfortable and you simply have hardly any sleep. And sleep is quite nice if you’re going to climb volcanoes, because it takes a lot of energy.
I therefore traveled from Probolinggo to Banyuwangi where I stayed two nights. On the second night I did the tour. You will then leave your guesthouse at around 0:00. It is certainly too tough to do one after the other if you ask me.
- Wear warm clothes when you visit the viewpoint and the volcano. It gets about 10 degrees at night. It is warm during the day.
- Also take a mask against the fabric and the ash.
- A headlamp is also highly recommended. This way you keep your hands free and you can still see enough.
- Bring enough water and snacks. You can buy these in one of the small shops in Cemoro Lawang the day before.
- My route was Yogyakarta > Surabaya > Probolinggo > Cemoro Lawang > Probolinggo > Banyuwangi. I personally advise against staying in Probolinggo. I thought it was a very unpleasant city where there is nothing to do. Instead, spend the night in Surabaya and Banyuwangi. Check my full Java itinerary here.
- If you walk to the Cemara Indah Hotel during the day, you also have an awesome view of the volcano.
- I visited the viewpoint in the morning and then the Bromo volcano right after. What you can also do is visit the volcano on the day of arrival and visit the viewpoint the next morning. This way you save some time and you can easily save the first bemo van to Probolinggo.
- Very useful websites to buy your train tickets in Java is Traveloka and Tiket.