Asia

How to visit Mount Bromo (for free)

Wherever you are from, chances are that you’ve never been near a volcano before. Indonesia has around 150 volcanos, so why not visit some of them? Mount Bromo is the most accessible one in Java, and it’s active! Actually, there are stairs that take to the crater but due to its activity they are currently closed since 2018. Don’t worry about that, we tell you how to get to even better views. Read on!

Mount Bromo
Mount Bromo

How to get to Mount Bromo (Cemara Lawang)

The closest village to Mount Bromo is Cemara Lawang. You want to base yourself in this small village to hike up Mount Batok and see the sunrise from the viewpoint (more information about this later).

From Jakarta, Yogyakarta or Surabaya to Probolinggo

Most travellers will be coming to Mount Bromo from Jakarta, Yogyakarta or Surabaya. From any of these cities you can take a train to Probolinggo. There are many trains per day and prices vary between trains, but it won’t take much of your budget (under 10€ for sure). Probolinggo is the closest train station to Cemara Lawang. Actually, any traveller in Probolinggo is there just to go to Mount Bromo, and the locals know it. As soon as you get off the train you will be offered transport, but you should avoid it as usually they will overcharge.

From Probolinggo to Cemara Lawang

Once you are in Probolinggo, you need to go to Cemara Lawang, a ride of approximately 1 hour on a very terrible road uphill. You can go by private taxi (aprox. 350k rupiah or 20€), public bus (aprox. 35-60k rupiah or 2-4€), or rent a motorbike (aprox. 75k rupiah or 5€). We’ve rode a bike in all kind of situations, and I would certainly not recommend going by motorbike because of the road conditions.

To get the public bus, you need to go to the bus terminal. Walk out of the train station and head towards the right for around 250m. On the left side of the road you will see a bus stop. Here the local public minibus stops every now and then, so just ask around when the next one is coming and mention “Mount Bromo”. They’ll know where you need to go! Once you are on a minibus, be ready to squish, as they never consider them to be full, haha! After around 15 minutes ride, you will be dropped off next to the bus terminal and they will point you where to go. Just outside of the terminal there will be a slightly bigger bus waiting for travellers to come. The bus goes whenever it’s full (15 people), for 35k rupiah (2€) each. You may need to wait there for a while until some more people arrive. When there’s around 8 people, the driver may ask if you want to get going and pay some extra. Now, prepare yourself for a bumpy ride, you are almost there!

Cemara Lawang

Cemara Lawang is a small village of farmers, with a few homestays, a couple of shops and two restaurants. There’s not much to do other than visiting Mount Bromo, but if you have the time, it’s worth going for a walk around the fields. The views of the mountains are beautiful!

Accomodation

Accomodation in Cemara Lawang is overpriced and doesn’t offer much quality. Our guesthouse wan’t great, but we would recommend you Otix guesthouse. We wanted to book there, but it was sold out at the time. We met other travellers staying there that had a very positive experience.

Food

There’s two or three restaurants in Cemara Lawang. One of them is Café Lava, a more westernised restaurant at higher prices. If you want local food, tasty and cheap, we recommend you try Warung Pondok Tengger. All local dishes for 15k rupiah (1€), also delicious pancakes for the same price, cheap drinks, nice and honest owners. Perfect place! We had breakfast, lunch and dinner there.

 

How to visit mount Bromo for free

Hiking up Mount Batok

If you arrive in the morning or early afternoon, head to the “sea of sand”. This is how the flat sandy area on the base of Mount Bromo is called. The best time to start would be around 2pm, when it will start to cool down a bit and you still have enough time to explore before it gets dark.

Mount Bromo
Mount Bromo

There is an official entrance fee which is quite highly priced for tourists. However, there is a path that everybody takes, avoiding the official entrance. To find this path, head to Cemara Indah hotel. There are stunning views from the fence. Next to it, there is a small path that goes all the way down to the sea of sand. It’s a bit of a hike, but short and not too bad. In less than 10 minutes you will be already down.

Once you are on the sea of sand, it will take you around 20 minutes to walk to the base of Mount Batok, which is the mount next to Bromo (the access to Mount Bromo is currently closed due to it’s activity). Going up will take you around 45 – 50 minutes and you will need good shoes. It’s not a real path, it’s not dangerous but only for adventurous people willing to use both hands and feet. From the top, you can see the crater of Bromo and beautiful views. Going down will take another 40-45 minutes. Make sure you check at what time it gets dark when you are there, since there is not a single light.

Sunrise viewpoint

If you are up for another adventurous walk, set up your alarm at 3am and get to the viewpoint before sunrise. It will take around 1 hour to the first viewpoint, and another 30-40 minutes to the highest one. To be honest, we only went to the first one, but seeing pictures from both points, I don’t think it’s worth the extra 40 minutes walking up. You will just have to follow the road that goes towards the right on the village (ask any local about the viewpoint) and you will be there. Make sure you take clothes in layers, since it will be cold at night but as soon as the sun is out, it gets hot quickly. There are local stands selling coffee and tea everywhere along the road, and expect to see MANY other travellers there.

Tip: we walked to the first viewpoint quite early, and it was already crowded. So we went down to the previews little stop with a bench and had almost the same view, just for ourselves!

 

Many locals will try to sell you a “jeep tour” that includes the “entrance fee” to the volcano, drives you to the base of Mount Bromo, and takes you later to the sunrise point. Their selling point is that the whole tour is cheaper than the entrance fee alone. But don’t forget, you don’t have to pay the entrance fee! Besides that, the jeep only takes you to the sea of sand, and halfway up the sunrise point. In our opinion, it would not be worth the 15-20€. (They do include as well a visit to a nearby waterfall).

 

Cambodia itinerary for two weeks

The country of Angkor Wat and paradise islands, Cambodia should be on the route of everyone visiting Southeast Asia. It’s not yet too touristy, but you can tell that it’s just about to boom in the coming years, so you should visit it as soon as possible! It’s a great destination for all kind of travellers, from backpackers to families. The main points of interest are located around the country making a circle, so it’s easy and time effective to visit all in around two weeks.

 

Cambodia itinerary for two weeks

Phnom Penh – 3 days

The capital of Cambodia has a lot of history. Visiting some of the museums will help you understand the tough past that the older generation of the country has suffered. We recommend watching the movie “The killing fields” before arriving. Some of the sites you must see in Phnom Penh are the S21 prison and the killing fields. Both are quite tough, so going to both on one day may be a bit too much.

There’re other sites to visit such as the temple Wat Ounalom and the Royal Palace. It’s also nice to walk along the riverside and go to the night market for some shopping and street food.

From Phnom Penh you can take a bus to almost everywhere in the country. We recommend following the itinerary going South.

We recommend:

  • Accommodation: Sokha Phnom Penh, If you feel like treating yourself and swimming in the biggest pool of Phnom Penh.
  • Restaurant: Sokha Phnom Penh Tonle Sap restaurant on the rooftop has the best views. Every Friday there’s a buffet dinner!
Path by the killing fields
Path by the killing fields

Kampot & Bokor mountain -3 days

Kampot is a little town that attracts lots of tourists and locals. For those trying to escape from the busy cities, it is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. To be honest, we were not impressed about the town itself, and the roads to get there were in terrible condition. However, if you come to Kampot and have enough time, we would really recommend going to the Bokor mountain. There’s so much to do around it and it’s just 30 minutes ride from Kampot. You can go hiking, camping by the lake, visit abandoned French colonial buildings…. It’s really cool! We did a series of blogs where we tell you about all the activities, we did there, go read it here!

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Many people also use Kampot as a stopover between Phnom Penh and the islands Ko Rong and Ko Rong Sanloem. From Kampot you can book a bus + ferry ticket that will take you to Sihanoukville, and from there by boat to the islands.

We recommend

  • Accomodation: The playground, hosted by a german-australian couple and their sweet little daughter. They have rooms as well as tents and a great garden and roof top terrace to chill and have some homemade dish.

Koh Rong & Ko Rong Sanloem – 5 days

Arriving in the islands may not be too simple. The ferry terminal had no signs at all and there many companies offering different boats and ferry rides. But don’t worry, there’s always someone to point out your way. Just make sure you keep your ticket always visible!

When you arrive in the islands, either Ko Rong or Ko Rong Sanloem, the boat will dock at the pier and you will walk a few meters and find yourself directly at the beach. There’re no such things as ferry terminal, or even streets here! All accommodations are standing on the beach, and there will be people from the hostels waiting for the new travellers to take them by boat.

In these islands you will find paradisiac beaches of white sand and clear water all around. Our favourite was the lazy beach in Koh Rong Sanloem. It takes 30 minutes walking across the island to get to this empty quiet beach. But hey, keep the secret! We don’t want to many people to know about it 😉

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From any of the islands you can go by ferry back to Sihanoukville and from there take a day or night bus to Siem Reap. We don’t recommend staying in Sihanoukville unless you really need to. It’s just a booming town with dozens of casinos under construction and populated mainly by Chinese people. Nothing to see here really.

We recommend

  • Accommodation: The big easy hostel. We didn’t stay there as it was fully booked, but we had lunch a few times and it was lovely

Siem Reap – 3 days

It’s the favourite town for most travellers and home to Angkor Wat. A small but very lively town, perfect to walk around during the day and go out at night. The “Pub street” is always busy and also hosts the night market daily. But what you really want to do when you are in Siem Reap is visit Angkor Wat. Entrance tickets start at 37€, so many budget travellers consider skipping it. We did as well, but we are glad we invested the money in going to this massive complex of temples. To make the best out of your money, we wrote a guide with many tips to visit Angkor Wat, read it here.

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We recommend

  • Accomodation: Sunvy Angkor, nice little hotel with spacious rooms and most importantly, with a pool

We hope you enjoy this beautiful country! And if you are travelling to or from Laos, read this article about the corruption on the border point and how to get around it!


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