Hiking Mount Bromo – A Travel Guide

Clouds passing slowly across Mount Bromo, Indonesia
When thinking about a vacation in Indonesia, Bali is often what first comes to mind. Consistently voted amongst the best island destinations in the world, the isle is a top contender for idyllic honeymoons and relaxing holidays in a year-round tropical climate. And while it is indeed a beautiful island, when travelling all that way it would be a waste to head back home without having crossed the Bali Strait to visit its larger brother: Java. Home to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, Java is the most populated island in the world and is probably best known in the traveller’s community for being the location of Yogyakarta and the Borobudur temple.

Unfortunately, the eastern part of Java mostly remains out of the limelight, even though it offers some of the most beautiful scenery of not only Southeast Asia, but arguably the whole world. The reason for this underappreciation lies in the fact that the tourist infrastructure in this part of Java is not as developed and as such, can be a bit tricky to visit the National Parks, especially when travelling on a shoestring budget. However, having just been to Eastern Java this summer, I’m here to give you current, trustworthy, and step-by-step instructions of visiting the absolute highlight of the region: Mount Bromo. Following this advice, you’ll be able to do Bromo on a budget – even with the pound at its current rate. 😉



So how does one get to Mount Bromo? Or more specifically, how does one get to Cemoro Lawang, the mountain village that’s right on the edge of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park? Basically, you’ve got two options: either hire a car and driver to take you there or take public transport.

Using a private transfer
The most popular routes depart from either Surabaya or Malang to arrive in Bromo in the afternoon, then go onwards to the Ijen Crater on the second day, and arrive in Bali on the third day. Naturally, this trip can also be done in reverse.

As my travelling companions this summer were respectively 60 and 69 years of age, we chose for comfort over public transport, and hired a car with a driver to take us to the Banyuwangi ferry terminal in three days time for 3,250,000 Indonesian rupiah (IDR). It sounds like a lot of dough, but it’s actually a pretty sweet deal when you’re travelling as a small group of 3 or 4 people. Divided by three, it was just ₤65/€75 per person including taxes, insurance, gas and transportation for three days (or ₤22/€25 per person per day). Plus long-distance rental cars in Indonesia are mostly of pretty high quality,  ours were always very comfortable and spacious, and we could even play our own music on the car stereo by using the Bluetooth connection! What more can you wish for during a road trip, eh?

Madikarapuri waterfalls near Mount Bromo

While this option requires some advance planning, as the car has to be reserved at least a few weeks ahead of your trip, it also comes with an added bonus: the possibility of visiting the Madikarapura waterfalls! The falls are only a slight detour from Surabaya to Bromo, not reachable by public transport, but very much worth a visit. From the car park at the falls you can either walk 3 miles to the actual entrance to the falls or take an exciting ojek (motorcycle taxi) ride down into the valley, which is only 10,000IDR (₤0.60/€0.70) one way. The entry tickets for the falls are priced similarly, and your only other added expense will be tipping your guide at the end of your 2x 45 minute hike from the entrance to the actual falls and back. And yes, you do actually need a guide, and you do actually want to buy the ponchos that they’re selling along the way, because the walk underneath the falls is both treacherous and very, very wet. But oh so stunning!

Public transport to Mount Bromo

If, however, you’ve seen your fair share of waterfalls and feel that after Niagara or Iguazu these relatively modest Javanese jungle falls just aren’t worth the extra money, then taking public transport directly to Bromo sounds like the right choice for you. In this case, you’ll have to start from Surabaya, as there just isn’t a good connection from Malang to the National Park.

The closest train station to Cemoro Lawang is Probolinggo, which is reachable from Surabaya on several direct trains a day. It’s a 2-hour connection for which the cheapest second-class seat will cost you only 60,000IDR (₤3.65/€4.25). Speaking from experience, however, it is definitely worth shelling out 50% more for the AC in first class (eksekutif). Though please mind that Indonesians don’t play around with AC: when it’s on, it’s ON, and you will need a sweater and a scarf to keep from getting cold! The trains usually run on time, and even if they do not, don’t worry too much, as the subsequent transport to Bromo does not run to a fixed schedule, but only when they’re full to make it more feasible.

Muont Bromo at sunset

Unless you’re from Southeast Asia yourself, you will immediately be recognised as a tourist upon arriving in Probolinggo and people will offer to take you to the Bayuangga bus terminal which is 4 miles / nearly 7 kilometres away. The official price for a bemo (shared taxi) should be 5,000IDR per person, which amounts to well under half a pound or euro. Travellers tend to be overcharged or even scammed – so pay close attention: if there’s a letter D on the Bemo, that indicates that it is an official one and chances of getting ripped off are substantially less.

Upon arriving at the bus terminal, prepare yourself mentally for the last and most difficult part of the backpacker-budget friendly journey to Mount Bromo. No, not the 2-hour ride up into the mountains itself, but finding a driver who won’t rip you off. Locals will tell you that the long-distance bemo, sometimes called bison, to Cemoro Lawang, no longer exists, already left, or is full. Do not believe this until you’ve inspected every corner of the terminal at least twice over the course of half an hour! Fact is that if you’re arriving after 4pm, the last bemo might indeed have left already, and getting another one might not be possible. In that case, your best bet is to take a private car, which usually charges around 200,000IDR (₤12/€14) per person. So with with this in mind, try to arrive at the Probolinggo train station before 3pm, because sharing a bemo to Cemoro Lawang is only 35,000IDR (₤2.10/€2.45) per person, meaning that you can travel from Surabaya to Mount Bromo for well under a tenner! Entrance to the village, by the way, is 10,000IDR (₤0.60/€0.70) per person.

Climbing Mount Bromo



I usually herald Booking.com as the penultimate accommodation website in the world, having booked hotel rooms there from the city centre of Leeds to rural Romania and from the south of Spain to eastern Azerbaijan. However, it really isn’t your best bet when attempting to find accommodation near Bromo. The website doesn’t even recognise Cemoro Lawang as being an actual village and only offers hotel rooms for Probolinggo, which is the name of the municipality. Granted, some of these hotels are actually in Cemoro Lawang, but many of them are the same 2-hour drive away from the park entrance that you just took, and you don’t want to risk that. Agoda.com is a little better, but in truth, most of the accommodation in Cemoro Lawang is found in private-run homestays that are not reservable online. Just walk up to one of them on your day of arrival and chances are that they’ll have a vacancy at a fair price.

If you want a bit more peace of mind beforehand, however, there’s another valid budget option for you: Cafe Lava Hostel. Located right behind the Cemara Indah Hotel, it’s the second-closest accommodation to the park entrance and it offers very basic private rooms from 150,000IDR per double room in low season. That’s only about 5 quid per person! You will have to share a bathroom though and the room is literally nothing more than a bed, a power outlet, a lamp and a table, but you’ll have stunning views of the clouds over the mountain village. You can sit in the restaurant for warmth, where a hearty breakfast only costs 40,000IDR (₤2.40/€2.80), and dinner is possible from only double that. Although the website looks pretty professional, they’re really not as high-tech as they make out to be, as you have to actually call them to make a reservation. Yes, all the way to Indonesia, across 6 or 7 time zones. And to make matters even worse for nervous travellers, they don’t write anything down but your name, date of arrival, date of departure, and your room preference. No confirmation, no contact information, credit card or passport number, nothing! Still, this very basic system seems to hold. Even so, be very clear in stating that you’d like the Economy Double! If you arrive at the hotel without a reservation, they will be sure to tell you that all Economy rooms are sold out and your only option is to stay at a Standard Room, which is almost three times as expensive (but includes breakfast). And even when you have booked an Economy room beforehand, they might tell you that they’re all full, as they did with me, but if you just remain very insistent that you’ve reserved it on the phone months ago you’ll see that magically a vacancy opens up. Think of travelling in Indonesia as an exciting adventure, a perpetual haggle where you’re constantly trying to find the balance between what you’re willing to spend and what they think you’ve got in your wallet!

East Java, trip to Mount Bromo



So here’s the thing… Entrance fees to the National Park were considerably raised for foreigners a few years ago, now standing at 217,500IDR (₤13/€15) on weekdays and a whopping 320,000IDR (₤19/€22) on weekends and holidays. Next to that, you have to take a jeep into the park and down into the caldera, which costs around 400,000IDR (₤24/€28) regardless of the number of passengers. Doesn’t quite sound so budget-friendly anymore, now does it? But wait… There’s another way. Literally.

The most famous sunrise photographs of Mount Bromo are taken from one of the many vantage panorama points on Mount Penanjakan, the mountain overlooking the volcano. Hiking up the mountain is always free, as it is not an official part of the National Park, being just outside of the border. So here’s my big tip: when you’ve reached the viewpoint and witnessed the incredibly stunning sunrise from there, you can walk a bit further, to the road where all the jeeps are parked, and walk down into the caldera and the National Park from there. Without passing any checkpoints. Congratulations, you’ve just circumvented the entrance fee AND the charge for a jeep!

How to hike Mount Bromo in East Java, Indonesia



The night before, eat an early bird dinner and try to settle in for the night around 8 or 9pm, because you’ll have to set a 2.30am alarm if you want to hike up the mountain.

Dress warmly! Even though you’re in the tropics, you’re also on a mountain in the midst of the night, so the temperature will be just above freezing. While you’ll be warm as you’re hiking, the cold will seep through to your bones once you stop, so bring those mittens and that hat for the viewpoint at the top!

Ideally, you should leave your accommodation in time to be at the Cemara Indah Hotel around 3am to start your hike up. You won’t be the only one there, so if you’re hiking solo like me (my elderly family members both wisely opted for the jeep), you’ll definitely be able to find some company. Straight across from the hotel, there is a paved asphalt road that goes up the mountain. Start walking on the sides of that road and just keep following it until you reach a viewpoint with a little house and some lighting. Rest if you want to, but keep on going. After about an hour of hiking in total, all still done on the same winding asphalt road, you’ll reach the official #2 viewpoint. It will get pretty busy there later on, as it’s directly accessible by car, so to avoid the crowds, double back a few meters and take the concrete stairs going up.

How to climb Mount Bromo in Indonesia

After a while the stairs will turn into a trail which can be pretty treacherous at times, as the volcanic ash makes the ground a bit slippery. If you keep using the torch on your phone and are wearing hiking boots you’ll be fine though. Do take plenty of rest, once every few minutes ideally, just to catch your breath and to drink plenty of liquids while going up. At a certain point, you’ll encounter side tracks off the path, or even a parting where you’re no longer sure which path is the main one. We just kept choosing the paths on instinct the entire time and made it to the top seemingly without detours. We were walking in the opposite direction of what we could make out to be the Bromo for a while, but I presume that was just the natural curve of the path around the mountain. I actually presume that all paths lead to the panorama point as it’s the reason everyone hikes up Mount Penanjakan.

Wesley Pechler's guide to hiking Mount Bromo

We finally reached our viewpoint, called King Kong Hill, after 1 hour and 45 minutes of hiking, and we were all just moderately experienced hikers. We could have actually left half an hour later and still have been there to grab a good spot before the crowds arrived, so if you’re a real mountaineering fanatic, you could leave as late as 3.45 and still be on time. While you’re shivering in the cold, waiting for the sun to rise, you can get a coffee or a snack from one of the locals selling it there.

Sunrise at Mount Bromo, Indonesia

After you’ve blissfully stared at the sight of the most beautiful sunrise of your life (most likely), it’s time to follow a paved walkway to the main road, which is only about a 5-10 minute walk without incline. There, you can either choose to hike all the way down again and further into the caldera, which would take 2 to 3 hours depending on your fitness level. What you could also do, which is what we did, is approach one of the many ojeks to drive you down, cutting about 1.5 – 2 hours off the trek. We paid 100,000 per bike, but there were two passengers for each driver, so that averaged out to about ₤3 or €3.50 per person. Well worth the energy and time saved! It was about a 20-minute ride down, long enough for your legs to start cramping, but the views made everything worth it! Crossing through the incredible Sea of Sand we were driven all the way to the parking spot for the jeeps. From there, it’s about a 45 minute walk to get up to the rim of the crater. If you’ve got breathing difficulties, bring a surgical mask, and again, wear proper hiking boots as it can get quite slippery on the stairs up towards the crater and on the rim itself!

Hot to hike Mount Bromo - A travel guide

The sound emanating from the crater rapidly increases the closer you get, and the minute you look into it you can’t help but be amazed and scared at the same time. It is definitely a very, very active volcano: thick plumes of white smoke come out continuously and the intense, thunderous roar of Mother Nature is strong enough to make grown men weep.

Guide to hiking Mount Bromo in East Java, Indonesia

If you’re smart, you’ll start being friendly to people while you’re on Mount Bromo, so that you can convince them to give you a ride in their rented jeep back up to Cemoro Lawang…. Otherwise, you can just hike back for an hour and you will still be back at your accommodation in time for a 9am breakfast.

After breakfast, find a bemo to take you back to Probolinggo, and be on your merry way again! Congratulations, you did Bromo on a budget!

Travel guide to hiking Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo travel guide

About the author
Wesley PechlerWesley Pechler is a 23-year-old adventurer who has perfected the art of travelling on a budget. Originally from the Netherlands, when he’s not travelling, Wesley can be found catching concerts and studying for a MA in Writing, Editing and Mediating at the University of Groningen.

You can keep up with his latest travels via Instagram @WesleyPechler 

Are you thinking of hiking Mount Bromo? If you have any questions leave them in the comment section below!

A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.

'Hiking Mount Bromo – A Travel Guide' have 16 comments

  1. December 1, 2016 @ 8:00 am Andrew Giddens

    I’m travelling to S E Asia next year and had planned to visit Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia. Though now I think I’m going to have to change these plans simply to fit this in. Just looking at the map, and it seems to make sense to head to Indonesia after Malaysia so I won’t have to change my route too much as I’m flying home from Malaysia. Excellent.


    • December 1, 2016 @ 10:48 pm Wesley Pechler

      Hey Andrew! Wow, awesome plans for next year! You’re in luck as well, as Indonesia will be such a breath of relief price-wise after Malaysia. Not that Malaysia is expensive, actually, but Indonesia is really one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel in! And the food is simply divine. Enjoy, you’ll have a great time!


  2. December 2, 2016 @ 11:45 am Katie Featherstone

    I’ve never been to Indonesia, so I had no idea it had landscapes like this. The views from Mount Bromo look so beautiful, wow…


    • December 2, 2016 @ 1:53 pm Shing Yoong

      Same here Katie, I’ve not been to Indonesia, but when I do, you bet I’m going to go here! I love Wesley’s photos.


  3. February 13, 2017 @ 10:20 am Steven

    Thank you for sharing the above information. Me and my partner are planning to visit mount Bromo without a tour as well and I have some questions of which I hope you are able to help me. I heard a lot about watching the sunrise from King Kong Hill but I also notice from the blog posts that it is difficult to find. Would it be possible to point out through Google Maps or something where I exactly have to go to for getting up King Kong Hill? Secondly, I read in your post about asking people to get a ride back to Cemoro Lawang after visiting Mount Bromo. Do you need to pay the driver in that case? Are there no ojeks to get back to the village? Thanks in advance for your feedback :)!


    • February 13, 2017 @ 5:02 pm Wesley Pechler

      Hey Steven! Unfortunately there are no accurate maps for the area and Google Maps is not to be trusted. But believe me, the route there is intuitive and if you follow my directions I doubt you’ll get lost! I personally did not see any ojeks at Bromo who could take you back to Cemoro Lawang, but you could always walk. If you convince others to let you on their jeep I don’t think it’s necessary to pay the driver, as you pay per jeep and not per person. Enjoy your trip! X


  4. May 9, 2017 @ 7:36 am Adam Anthony

    Thank you so much for this article. My wife and I just came back from climbing mount bromo and we found your advice very useful. We went to see the sunrise from King Kong Hill, and then carried on through to the national park. We walked all the way from there to bromo and took a detour up Mount Batok, which sits just in front of it. Spectacular views! Your timings and directions were perfect, and really helped in trying to do our own thing and not get sucked into a whistle-stop tour.


    • May 15, 2017 @ 3:39 pm Wesley Pechler

      Hey Adam! That is really good to hear, so glad that my article could be of service! Hope you’re enjoying the rest of your time in Indonesia! 🙂


  5. June 2, 2017 @ 11:11 am Aasiya

    Hey Wesley.

    I enjoyed reading all the details on this blog. I was wondering if you think there would be enough time to catch the sunrise at Bromo and then proceed to Probolinggo to catch the 11 am train to Karangasem?

    Thanks for your help


    • June 2, 2017 @ 4:43 pm Wesley Pechler

      Hey Aasiya! You just might, but considering the road conditions on the way to Probolingo I wouldn’t count on it. You could always try and book the train tickets when you arrive at the train station, but I wouldn’t prebook and I’d leave some extra time in my schedule so that catching a later train doesn’t ruin your further travel plans!


      • June 3, 2017 @ 5:11 am Aasiya

        Hey. Thanks for your advice. I guess I could do the sea of sand and crater the day before and reserve the following morning only for Mt. Penanjakan and King Kong hill so I can return early to Probolinggo. Could you also tell me where exactly the check posts are located?I’m travelling in August which will be peak season. You think I could get tickets to Banyuwangi at the station without pre-booking?


        • June 7, 2017 @ 10:23 am Wesley Pechler

          Hey again! Sorry for the late reply, but I was travelling in the UK and broke my phone while there. I’m afraid I can’t be more precise about the check posts than the post I’ve written above, my memory has failed me! And I’m fairly sure you could get tickets to Banyuwangi on the day itself, though they might not be first class tickets so you might be stuck in a wagon without AC. Whether you wanna risk that is up to you! 😉


          • June 8, 2017 @ 4:36 am Aasiya

            Hey Wesley.
            Thanks for all the info. Sorry about your phone though!

  6. August 9, 2017 @ 4:17 am Ivan

    Hi Wesley.

    Hi! I’m from Hong Kong and great job on this blog and the photos are amazing! I was wondering if you can provide the details of the private transfer? I’m planning to go next year and catch this spectacular view 🙂

    Thanks for your help!!


    • August 9, 2017 @ 11:46 pm Wesley Pechler

      Hey Ivan! Thanks for the kind words! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing trip when you go. The company we booked with was Agus Helios! I would definitely recommend them. You can send them a message for a quote at agushelios@gmail.com


  7. September 8, 2017 @ 10:23 am Shannon

    Hi Wesley, this is an awesome post – thanks! We arrive in Probolinggo at about 4.30pm, do you think that is too late to catch the bus to cemoro lawang? Do you think one night or two is best? And do you have to pre-book the train back from probolinggo to yogya? Sorry for so many questions!


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © 2018 Shing Lin Yoong | All Rights Reserved | Designed by Paradigm Creations | Links