The Definitive Guide to Mount Bromo

The Definitive Guide to Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo is one of Indonesia’s top destinations. In this guide I’ll tell you how to get there, avoid scammers and what it costs. Read on…

Mount Bromo Volcano Sunrise Java Indonesia
Mount Bromo as the sun rises and the clouds roll in

If you’re going to Mount Bromo, the journey will likely start at Probolingo train station, which is the closest one to Mount Bromo. From here you’ll be travelling to Cemoro Lwang, which is the ‘town’ next to Mount Bromo.

The problem with Probolingo...

First of all disclaimer. During our time travelling across Bali, Java and Sumatra, the people were so friendly. Locals relished the opportunity to practice English. Find out who you were, what you were doing, or invite you back to their home.  Probolingo was the complete opposite!

Mount Batok Java Indonesia
Mount Batok - Mount Bromo is usually mistaken for this larger volcano!

I read that when stepping outside the train station we’d be hassled for taxis and tours. No kidding! The advice was to ignore them, go for a yellow tuk tuk and ask to be taken to Bayu Angga bus terminal (which gets you to Cemoro Lwang).  This is where the problems started! 

Don't get ripped off...

We agreed a price of 10,000 IDR and all seemed fine. When we arrived at the bus station (or had we?!) the price doubled. I stood my ground and said I’d give the 10,000 IDR we agreed. The driver seemed surprised, but gave a smile of respect for not getting scammed!

Mount Bromo Volcano Java Indonesia
It's not all clouds - a lot of that is ash from Mount Bromo itself

The drop off looked like a bus terminal. Yet as soon as we entered, we were sat down and given a sales pitch about all the tours on offer. This wasn’t the Bayu Angga bus terminal!

We were being given a hard sell, but I made clear our intentions to travel to Mount Bromo without a tour.  I politely asked where the real bus terminal was, but they were relentless. Throwing Mount Bromo tours at us and slashing their prices in line with every rejection. We had no idea if they’d be legitimate and were reluctant to hand over cash for someone to “pick us up in the morning.”

Don't get stranded...

With no offer of directions, Rose went to find some people to help.  In complete contrast to other Indonesians, she got laughed at!  The people in Probolingo were pretty hostile. Eventually we decided to walk off and find the bus station ourselves. The ‘tour guide’ heckled us down the street.

So you can avoid the same fate, here is the real Bayu Angga bus terminal. If you see this, you’ve been dropped off in the right place. Mini-buses depart outside the shops, which are to the right of the bus you can see in the picture.

How to get to Cemoro Lawang

The cheapest option to get to Cemoro Lawang is in a mini bus. They leave in front of the market next to the bus terminal. But, a note of caution. There’s no set schedule and only set off when full. That means 15 people have to congregate before the driver will consider leaving. There’s only actually nine seats, but drivers like to get their money’s worth.

As the day gets later, the mini buses become fewer. Due to the hostile ‘tour guide’, time was getting on and it was almost 16:00. It became clear this sole mini bus was going to be the last departure of the day. 

Mount Bromo Volcano Java Indonesia
Making our way across the mud sands towards Mount Bromo

There were a couple of other travellers waiting, but we were still 11 people short of a ride. A seat to Cemoro Lwang is around 35,000 IDR per person. Or if you don’t want to wait for it to be full, you can hire the whole mini bus for 550,000 IDR. 

Hiring the whole bus would put a significant dent in the wallet, so we set off on a mini recruitment campaign. In no time we’d found another six world travellers. Most were victims of scams on their way to the bus terminal, so were a bit hesitant to get on the mini bus!

Mount Bromo Volcano Map Java Indonesia
This dirty stone carving shows you all the volcanoes and mountains from the lookout point

The light was now drawing in and we were still four people short. If we wanted to leave today, it meant making up the missing cost by paying an extra 17,500 IDR each. The group was now divided. Some refused to pay a penny more and the others wanted to get the hell out of Probolingo.

Do some maths, save some cash...

Here’s where you have to put your brain in gear. You could pay the extra fee (which is about $1.20) or you could get stranded in Probolingo. On top of this you need to find accommodation, food, push your travel plans back a day and try your luck tomorrow.

It’s pretty simple maths, but all that will cost you more than $1.20! Some people were still refusing to get on board, but I broke down the maths. Despite grumbles from two people, we all paid the fee  and set off for Cemoro Lwang.

Arranging a Mount Bromo tour in Cemoro Lwang

Mount Bromo being one of the must see sights in Indonesia. Although it’s not set up for a slick tourist experience. I actually quite liked this.

If you haven’t pre-arranged accommodation, there’s quite a few guest houses to choose from. If you don’t want to stay where the mini bus driver drops you off, walk up the street and you’ll find a place to rest your head.

Mount Bromo Accommodation Java Indonesia
Our accommodation sucked so much, I'll be writing a story about what happened...

Your accommodation will likely be able to offer you a Mount Bromo sunrise tour. Although if you’re looking to do it yourself, there’s plenty of 4 x 4 vehicles littered throughout the town. Have a chat with a driver and they’ll be happy to take you. 

The Cost to Visit Mount Bromo:

We found this to be a great option.  The price amongst drivers seemed to be set at 400,000 IDR per person. That gets a driver who will:

  • Pick you up at your accommodation
  • Drive you to the Mount Bromo viewing point before sunrise
  • Take you to Mount Bromo itself so you can climb the crater
  • Drive you back to Cemoro Lwang.
You will then pay 100,000 IDR per person when you enter Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.
Mount Bromo Volcano View point Java Indonesia
The entrance to the Mount Bromo sun rise view point

I’d recommend this option. Our driver wanted to help  and  recommended the best time to leave, so we could arrive before the crowds. We were grateful to get such a good spot and were looking through clouds, rather than selfie sticks.

Weather conditions can have a huge affect on the visibility of Mount Bromo. Even when the sun rises, the view can be obstructed. But this is a once in a lifetime experience, so it’s  worth waiting for the clouds to clear.

Mount Bromo Volcano Sunrise Clouds Java Indonesia
Be patient and wait a while if the clouds aren't in your favour

The brilliant thing about our driver was that he was happy to wait until we were ready to leave. Many of the pre-booked tours were escorting people away ten minutes after the sun had risen. We had the time to soak it up and enjoy the experience.

Mount Bromo Volcano Java Indonesia
This crazy view awaits!

It’s something to behold. You’re in pitch black wondering what’s about to appear. Then as sunlight cracks the sky, vast plains become visible and you start to see smoke rising from the crater. You’re high above looking down at the kind of view many will rarely get to enjoy.

We eventually departed, with the excitement that we were about to climb the Mount Bromo crater ourselves.

Mount Bromo Volcano 4 x 4 tour Java Indonesia
This trusty 4 x 4 took us a long way across the bumpy mud plains to the Mount Bromo sunrise point

Back to our excellent driver, we set off. Taking things at a leisurely pace and stopping along the way to take photos. Once the 4 x 4 parked up, Rose and I made the twenty minute walk across the volcanic ash plain to Mount Bromo itself. 

Mount Bromo Volcano Mud Plains Java Indonesia
It's a good walk across the mud plains and up to the brim of Mount Bromo

You can hire a horse to take you there, but they looked in poor shape. They gasped for air and water as they struggled to carry tourists. The owners seem to have little regard for animal welfare! Rose gave some of the horses our water and the owners thought we were stupid for it. Support local business, but don’t support animal cruelty. Use your legs instead of the horses!

Mount Bromo Volcano Crater Java Indonesia
Staring in to the centre of Mount Bromo, the crater spits ash and rocks

The climb up the crater is slippy, so take it easy and walk slow.  Ascending to the rim, we peered over the edge and in to the active crater. A rickety wooden waist height barrier is all that separates you and the fate of rolling in to an active volcano. This was an incredible experience. Indonesia doesn’t have the regard for health and safety that we take for granted in the west. I loved it!

It was my first time staring in to an active volcano and I was understandably blown away! You’re meters away from the clouds you saw at the viewpoint and can witness rocks being spat out the crater.

Mount Bromo Volcano Crater Selfie Java Indonesia
We might look haggard, but we did set off at 4AM...and it was so worth it!

When ready to leave, we ventured back to the 4 x 4 and returned to Cemoro Lwang. There’s nothing to keep you in Cemoro Lwang, so after experiencing Mount Bromo, you’ll probably head back to Probolingo. Getting back is like getting there, a 15 seat mini bus that leaves when full. It departs from the centre of Cemoro Lwang and is difficult to miss. Just ask anyone where the mini bus is if you can’t find it and be ready to recruit fellow passengers!

  • Have you been to Mount Bromo?
  • Do you have any tips for accommodation or tours?

Share your own experiences in the comments below and help other travellers!


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