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!
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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).