Bromo is without doubts one of the 2 most visited volcanos in Java – together with Ijen. While it is amazing to see it with breathtaking views around, the tourism has changed the places significantly and following guide to Bromo is must read before you visit it in order to have the best experience and also not to be ripped off.
Bromo is an active volcano situated in east Java and part of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Semeru as the highest peak of Java can be usually seen smoking in background of the Bromo postcard view. Tengger refers to huge ancient volcano caldera (10 km wide) from which 4 new volcanoes (Bromo, Batok, Kursi and Watagan) have raised. The lip of Tengger caldera has many good viewing points on Bromo and also the place where sits the closest village with accomodation and usual starting point of treks – Cemoro Lawang. It is actually positioned higher than the peak of Bromo itself. 1 infographic is better than 100 names:)
How to get there
The access point to Bromo is a small city about 40km away – Probolinggo. You can reach the city from both sides of Java by train. From Yogya you will probably have to change a train in Solo and the price is about 100-150k Rp. From Bali side the train starts at Banyuwangi and the price is more or less same. For up to date information and schedule times check official website of indonesian trains.
Probolinggo is the city full of scam where everyone cooperates to rip the tourists off as much as possible, so the advice is to get through as quickly as possible and prefferably during the day. After you arrive to train station there will be many locals offering you ride to Cemoro Lawang or whole tour to Bromo itself, but in 99% of the cases this price will be way above reality.
So just take an angkot for 5000Rp to the bus station (15 min ride). Be aware that angkots have usually provision from tour agencies, so they might bring you about 200m away from bus station in front of the tour agency which again will try to rip you off by offering you their “amazing” service. Just walk to bus station and ask for local transport to Cemoro Lawang. It costs 35k Rp per person and leaves when full. This is important because you can be waiting for several hours before it has enough passengers to go. If you want to leave without waiting you will have to pay for other passengers. Last van leaves around 5pm.
After that you will be at mercy of tour agencies as we have been and we had to pay 100k per person for the ride. No bargaining possible after dark because they know you have to get there and you will accept the price anyway. The ride to Cemoro Lawang takes about 90 minutes. Bring some warm clothes, because it can get chili there, especially after dark. You will have to pay 10k Rp to enter the village. Following picture shows the village from above in morning sun.
Where to go for the best views – guide to Bromo
For the postcard views of smoking Bromo together with moon-like Batur and impressive Semeru in background you need to go to one of the viewpoints on the lip of Tengger caldera (see following infographics). It is easily accessible by walk from Cemoro Lawang and it will take about 1 – 2 hours depending how far you want to go. But further you go, better views you are going to have.
You dont have to pay any entrance fee to walk there. Starting point is Yog Bromo Homestay. We started to walk at 3.30 to see the view in soft light of sunrise. Just follow the road which corresponds with edge of crater. It is really easy to follow. After around 30 minutes the road crosses a bridge and starts to goes up the mountain. Soon you start to pass first view points (Seruni points). While the view from here is nice, its worth to go further. Another few heavy breaths and you reach next view point where the asphalt road ends.
From there you have to follow steps and small path through the forest. In around 15 minutes you reach the viewpoint where will be lot of people waiting for sunrise. It is very good spot, but for us it was so crowded that we didnt want to stay there despite the sunrise was really close. We recommend to continue follow the path up which every few meters open the view between the trees to Bromo. Here we found perfect spot to see the sunrise and we had it just for 2 of us. It usually starts at 5:15 and it is an amazing show. We made the timelapse video from there to show you what you can expect from it. Visibility wasn’t the best that day, but still these were extraordinary moments.
It is possible to continue another maybe 30 minutes to reach the top of Penanjakan viewpoint. But be prepared that the peak is accessible by jeeps from other side and it is the place where all tours are taking the visitors, so it might and will be crowded every day.
After you enjoy the sunrise, walk back to Cemoro Lawang, remove few layers of clothes as the sun starts to be baking you up and get ready for another great view and obvious experience – reaching the peak of Bromo itself. You will walk in sand sea which feels like from post-apocalyptic movie and smell the fumes of volcano from very close distance.
Officialy the entrance to the park is next to the Lava hostel in Cemoro Lawang, where you will pay your bule price of 230k/330k Rp – weekdays/weekends. The price is extreme and you dont see where those money goes as the park is not kept clean at all, no trash bins and almost no maintanence at all. If you decide the price is above your limit it is possible to get inside the park without paying. Behind Idaho hotel is a small entrance for locals where you dont have to pay anything. Another alternative is just to walk through the main gate with self confidence of person who already has a ticket. We heard from many backpackers it works.
After that the road is quite obvious. First you trek down to the sand sea and after 3km of walking in ash and dust again upwards to the Bromo peak. It will take you no more than 2 hours to get there.
The public bemo leaves from Cemoro Lawang back to Probolinggo only once full and most of them are going until 11am. After that you might be waiting for passengers even several hours.
Where to stay
No doubts it is best to stay in village of Cemoro Lawang, it is strategic point just meters from the park entrance. The dark side is the higher price range here (or lower quality). Still its possible to find room here under 20 euros. We stayed at Yog Bromo homestay for 18 euros per room. The room is very simple (following pic), but it has perfect location and hot shower. Anyway you will most probably just spent here few hours sleeping before sunrise trek.
One of the most favorable place for backpackers to stay is Lava hostel. Nice and cheap place to stay, but often fully booked.
Bromo is one of the kind experience and it brings lot of emotions and moments you won’t ever forget. But to be sure that those emotions are positive do your homework and prepare for the trip otherwise you might be dissapointed regretting you have ever visited this place. There is lot of scam and rip-off around, especially in Probolinggo. But if you know where to go and what to avoid, you will be just fine. And if you go outside of the peak season (July-August) you will probably enjoy it without crowds of tourists. Better check your forecast and stay one night longer then to be sure you see what you came here for.