Mount Bromo is one of Java’s most famous attractions and one of over 40 active volcanos on the island. Its setting among the stunning landscapes of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park makes it a popular tourist destination. Visiting Mount Bromo should be high on any East Java itinerary and I’ve put together this guide to help make your trip as smooth as possible.
The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Mount Bromo, Indonesia
Getting to Mount Bromo
Mount Bromo is located in East Java, approximately 45 kilometres from the city of Probolinggo. Most visitors arrive to Probolinggo via daily trains from either Surabaya (around 2 hours) and Yogyakarta (8.5-9 hours) in the west or Banyuwangi (4 hours) in the east. I found train travel in Java to be pretty efficient and cheap so would recommend it for getting around. Trains have three classes – economy, business and executive. Executive and Business are preferable on longer journeys – the seats are more comfortable and there is more leg room. Economy is fine – it’s a little more cramped as locals tend to go for this option but also cheaper. Use www.tiket.com to book all your train travel – it’s super easy and safe to use.
If you are worried about finding your way once in Probolinggo, don’t. You’ll barely have time to step off the train before shouts of “Bromo” will fill the air. All buses to Mount Bromo will depart from the Bayuangga Bus Terminal and it should cost no more than 5,000 IDR to reach it by bemo (the ancient looking mini van taxis) from the train station. It’s a good idea to band together with other travellers arriving by train to get the cheapest price.
Insist on going directly to the bus station as some bemos will take you to travel agencies that will try and sell you a tour to Mount Bromo. Even if they do, don’t worry – the station is close by and eventually another bemo will arrive to take you there. Just roll with it – there is no such thing as getting to Bromo in a hurry.
Once at the bus station, you need to get a mini bus to Cemoro Lawang – the access point for Mount Bromo. This is the “fun” part. Buses leave only when full OR when the full 525,000 IDR fee to hire out the whole vehicle is paid. While the quoted single price is a very reasonable 35,000 IDR, this is based on a full bus of 15 passengers. If there are only five, the price is 525,000 / 5 and so on. It is unlikely that there will be 15 people hanging around all waiting for transport yet bargaining is usually futile. Once the fee is paid, it’s onto Mount Bromo (around 1.5-2 hours). Bear in mind there is an entrance fee to the village of about 10,000 IDR.
Where to stay near Mount Bromo
There are a number of accommodation options in Cemoro Lawang. Guesthouses and homestays are numerous and there are even a couple of hostels and a hotel. If you are here for fancy accommodation – you definitely won’t find it in Cemoro Lawang. I would recommend booking in advance, especially during the high season. Café Lava Hostel and Cemara Indah Hotel are both popular and close to the trailheads for the hikes to Mount Bromo so sell out quickly.
We stayed in Yog Bromo Homestay which has basic rooms with ensuite bathrooms right by the trailheads.
Eating near Mount Bromo
Cemoro Lawang is not big but there are a few warungs that serve cheap filling meals for a couple of bucks. Don’t expect culinary sophistication – it’s mostly simple rice or noodle dishes. Your accommodation may offer breakfast but make sure you check before you arrive. If hiking to see Mount Bromo at sunrise, bring food and water with you. There are some grocery stores in the town. You can also buy snacks at stalls along the path (places were already open around 3 am as we started our walk).
We ate in Warung Pondok Tengger – click here to see the map.
Hiking to Mount Bromo crater
Visiting the crater of Mount Bromo is pretty simple. From Cemoro Lewang, head towards Cemara Indah hotel on the edge of the town. There is a small ticket hut just by the hotel where you need to allegedly pay the entrance fee (220,000 IDR weekdays and 330,000 IDR weekends). I say allegedly as, despite the hut being staffed, no one gave us a second glance. Head down the trail to the right of the hut. It can be muddy and steep in places. Locals will head past with horses offering a ride down and to the volcano (or vice versa).
After making it down the path, it’s time to cross the sprawling Sea of Sand. The black sand plain stretches in all directions as you make your way towards Mount Bromo. At least you think you are walking towards Mount Bromo. The conical mountain you see in photos is actually Mount Batok with Mount Bromo just to the side of it. Or maybe I’m the only one that didn’t know that!
Pura Luhur Poten
At the foot of Mount Batok is the Pura Luhur Poten Hindu temple. The temple was built using black volcanic rock from eruptions of Mount Bromo. The temple plays a part in the annual Yadnya Kasada (also known as Kesodo) festival held on the slopes of Mount Bromo. Legend has it that a childless couple meditated on top of Mount Bromo and were granted 24 children. The catch was the 25th had to be sacrificed to the Gods by being thrown into the volcano. The tradition remains, thankfully without any human casualties! The offerings now range from fruit and vegetables to chickens and goats!
Soon after you will arrive at the slopes of Mount Bromo itself. Make your way up the volcanic rock until you reach a stairway to the crater rim. After climbing up the steps, you can peer over the edge into the volcano itself. It’s a pretty amazing sight, the steam rising from below accompanied by the smell of sulphur. We walked along the rim and took in the views of the volcano and the surrounding landscape.
Hiking to Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint
Watching the sunrise at one of the viewpoints on Mount Penanjakan is a definite highlight. Most visitors choose to book a jeep tour but a much more fun alternative is to hike up the mountain for free! We started walking up the winding road across from Cemara Indah Hotel at just after 3 am. The road isn’t paved and is uneven in places so I would definitely recommend a head torch or a flashlight. We passed small stalls selling food and water (we brought our own) before reaching a car park. This is where jeeps stop and visitors walk the remaining kilometre or so to the first viewpoint (known as Seruni Point or Viewpoint #2). If you have chosen to walk, it’s exactly 3 kilometres to this point from Cemoro Lawang.
Many people choose to stay and watch the sunrise from here but we decided to head higher. After climbing up an initially steep hill above Seruni Point, we followed a narrow path that disappeared into the forested slopes of Mount Penanjakan. It’s easy to follow (don’t forget that flashlight!) as it zigzags up the mountain side through dense vegetation. We had to watch our step as there were a couple of precarious drops on the trail. Eventually we came out right underneath the King Kong Hill viewpoint where visitors were already jostling for a perfect sunrise viewing spot of Mount Bromo.
(If you are wondering, Viewpoint #1 is the highest viewpoint on Penanjakan but is very crowded and most locals recommend King Kong Hill viewpoint as the best one to see in the sunrise).
All that remained was to wait for that perfect sunrise! It can get very cold at night so make sure you have warm clothes with you. You can grab hot drinks from enterprising locals that set up stalls just to the side. The sun was beginning to light up the horizon but then the fog rolled in. We could barely see in front of us, let alone have any sight of Bromo! Those that did a tour were on a tight schedule and many had to leave without seeing the sunrise! Luckily we had time to wait and eventually the fog rolled out as quickly as it came in. The views of Mount Bromo and the surrounding landscape were simply stunning and we were glad that we hung around.
After enjoying the sunrise we decided to take an ojek back to the town. We wanted to try and get some sleep before our onward journey and didn’t fancy walking all the way back down! The bikes cost us 150,000 IDR (about £7) but there was an added bonus of a ride down the mountain and across the Sea of Sand which was fun.
Getting back to Probolinggo
As we didn’t do a jeep tour which work in tandem with buses leaving for Probolinggo, we had to figure out our way back. As with getting to Bromo, the deal is the same. The mini vans leave when full or when you fork out enough money to hire the whole car. After hanging out for a couple of hours, we managed to negotiate the price down to 100,000 IDR each. The bonus was an comfortable air-conditioned car instead of a mini bus! We were dropped off at the bus station from where it’s easy to get a bemo (5,000 IDR) to the train station for your onward travel.
Top Tips for Visiting Mount Bromo
#1 If you are on a tight schedule but want to experience Mount Bromo without a tour, try and arrive in the morning (there are overnight trains from Yogyakarta, for example) so you can hike to the crater, sleep and get up in the middle of the night to hike to the sunrise viewpoints. 24 hours is enough to experience everything here.
#2 It can get pretty cold in Cemoro Lawang so make sure you have warm layers. Not all accommodation will have hot water (and the definition of “hot” is also quite loose). Be prepared for bracing showers!
#3 Stock up on food and snacks before you arrive. It’s possible to buy stuff in Cemoro Lawang but variety isn’t as good and things can be pricier.
#4 Book your accommodation in advance as the top places (Café Lava Hostel, Cemara Indah Hotel) sell out quickly. Prices are good even if booking a day or two in advance but availability might be limited.
#5 If you are confused about the naming of viewpoints, you are not alone! Seruni Viewpoint is sometimes referred to as Viewpoint #2. Viewpoint #1 is the highest, most popular and therefore most crowded. I would definitely recommend King Kong Viewpoint as it’s less busy and the views are just as stunning.
For more hikes in Indonesia, Asia and around the world, check out these posts:
What: Mount Bromo (2,329 metres above sea level) is an active volcano on the island of Java, Indonesia. It’s part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park
Where: Bromo is located in East Java, about 45 kilometres from the city of Probolinggo.
Getting There: See Getting to Mount Bromo section above.
Accommodation: We stayed in Yog Bromo Homestay but there are numerous accommodation options in Probolinggo and Cemoro Lawang. Bear in mind that, while accommodation tends to be quite basic, you will not be spending too much time in your room. Especially if you are planning to be up early to hike to Mt. Penanjakan.
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