Mount Bromo is one of the best known active volcanoes in all of Indonesia. Sitting inside a massive caldera, this magnificent and very dangerous mountain attracts visitors from all over the world. Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park has over 500,000 visitors per year coming to see its world-renown sunrise views and to get a chance to peer inside an active volcano.
If you’re looking for epic views and exciting adventures in Indonesia, this post is for you. However, visiting Mount Bromo is not for the faint of heart. The combination of unknown territory, tourist scams, and large crowds (all in a foreign language, Javanese, to add to it) make this journey an extremely challenging feat to pull off. If you’re ready to dive into this adventure head first, read on my friends! We’re here to show you how to get the most out of your trip!
- How to get there from Surabaya/Probolinggo
- How much it costs (tickets, jeep renting, inside prices)
- What to see at Mount Bromo (Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park)
- Tourist scams to avoid
Things To Know About Mount Bromo:
- Located in East Java, Indonesia
- Most of the locals speak Javanese
- Nearest city: Probolinggo // Nearest Airport: Surabaya
- Mt. Bromo is just one of a collection of mountains in the caldera: Semeru, Batok and Widodaren are others
- Average temperature: Mid 50 degrees F / 13 degrees C
To get to the National Park, there are several ways to go, and it all depends on your starting point. We began in Surabaya, about a 3 hour drive away. For other routes, read this super helpful article for plane, train, and even bus directions.
If you want any chance of seeing the sunrise, go early. I mean really early. We left at 11pm THE DAY BEFORE. We drove through the night and arrived at Cemoro Lawang at 2:00am. You can also get a hotel room at Probolinggo or even Cemoro Lawang, but these places are known for Bromo tourists, so you’ll definitely be paying big bucks for the convenience.
Read More: 30 Essentials You Will Need On Any Road Trip
Cemoro Lawang + Trip Costs
This is the little town that hosts the most common entrance to the park. On the map below, you can see that Cemoro Lawang is at the northeast entrance, closest to all the “big” sights and definitely stocked with all the tourist amenities.
As of this post, entrance fee prices are Rp. 27,500 ($2) for Indonesians, and Rp. 217,500 (~$17) for foreigners to enter the park.
Cemoro Lawang is where you can buy tickets, but also where you can rent Jeeps. If you are looking to do Mount Bromo on a budget, there are so many resources out there on how to do it for free. Just google search “Bromo on a budget”. Ultimately, we chose to rent a Jeep vs. walking in because of the convenience. These drivers know where to go and when, as well as the quickest way around the caldera. As photographers, we wanted to maximize our short time in the park by getting around quickly. You choose the best route for you!
Jeep Prices. Typically they range anywhere from Rp. 500,000 (about $40) to Rp. 750,000 (about $60). Several drivers will confront you about riding in their Jeep. Never take the first offer. We refused a guy and sat in a coffee shop for a good 20 minutes until he gave us a deal we liked ( Rp. 600,000 for the entire day). With 3 out of 4 of us in our group speaking Javanese, I (Emily) felt pretty certain we were getting a good deal. If you don’t have common language on your side like we did, arm yourself with as much knowledge possible about prices beforehand so you don’t get ripped off.
Funny thing is, they aren’t actually Jeeps. They are 1981 Toyota Land Cruisers, but they aren’t made anymore I guess? Either way, they were pretty awesome to ride in!
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What To See At Mount Bromo
1. Mount Penanjakan (Sunrise Lookout)
After getting your Jeep and paying your ticket, your driver will take you up the extremely steep climb to Mount Penanjakan (also called Viewpoint #1), which is hands down the best place to see Mount Bromo at sunrise. Like we said before, you can also hike it on foot in about 2 hours. But believe us, it will be a grueling hike, and you’ll most likely breathe in diesel exhaust from the Jeeps (Toyotas) the entire time. We highly recommend renting a Jeep for the day.
About halfway up the mountain road, you will get stopped by a giant clog of Jeeps. There’s just a tiny parking lot, so as the flood of Jeeps arrive at the top they just overflow park on the street. We were probably in one of the first groups to arrive. When we could go no further, our driver told us to take a picture of our license plate and remember the color of the Jeep. Then he sent us up the mountain road on our way to the Mount Penanjakan lookout.
Things To Remember: You will not be the only ones at the lookout. Expect hundreds of tourists, especially if you are going during a Muslim holiday. Mount Bromo is a very popular destination for families. Luckily, we were with some Indonesian pros, so they took us to a place just in front of the lookout for some more secluded views.
However, crowds and all, this place is incredible for sunrise!
Other viewpoint locations to see the sunrise:
- King Kong Hill
- Seruni Viewpoint (200 meter walk above Mount Penanjakan Lookout) AKA Viewpoint #2
- Bukit Cinta Viewpoint (about halfway up to Mount Penanjakan)
2. Peering Inside The Smoking Mt. Bromo Volcano
We chose not to do this portion of the trip. Visitors are free to hike up the stairs on the side of the volcano and look inside. I’ve attached some images here, but our decision not to go was because of the heavy crowds and the desire to see other things instead! However, it’s worth a peek – it would be cool to see the inside of a smoking volcano. If you go, bring a bandana or something to cover your face. The mix of dust, sulfur, and sand can be overwhelming!
3. Driving Around “The Sea of Sand”
When you are in the park, most of the time you will be driving from place to place inside the massive caldera, commonly referred to as The Sea of Sand. Ever so often you’ll see a “tourist attraction” like horseback riding or food vendors between the viewpoints.
You can also choose to walk this, but it’s very dusty and desert-like, so be prepared! Looking around in any direction in the park is stunning – just ask your driver to stop when you want to take a picture. In the pictures below, we stopped at the base of Mount Widodaren to watch the sun rise over the peak.
4. Teletubbies Hill
After a full morning of epic views, our driver asked “Do you want to go see the Teletubbies Hill?” Did he seriously just say that?? Sure enough, after driving 20 minutes away from Cemoro Lawang on a dusty path, we were suddenly transported to a savannah in the middle of a volcanic caldera!
The rolling hills are a pretty darn close replica of the children’s TV show location. However, the most surprising part for us is the fact that this lush green landscape can share the same place as a smoking volcano with a desert-like climate.
Quick Tip: This place is very dusty despite the all greenery you see! Bring a bandana and sunglasses to protect your face. This location also has very little shade (the only shade provided is one small structure that sells food) so bring a hat as well, or put on lots of sunscreen. Make sure to refer to our Indonesia packing list for more tips on what to bring!
While we didn’t see everything, here are some other things to see and do at Mount Bromo:
- Luhur Poten Temple
- Air Terjun Madakaripura (waterfall just north of the park)
- Take a Bromo Milky Way Tour
BEWARE OF THESE SCAMS:
- “Fake” National Park tickets. If your trip is being arranged for you, avoid “pre-paying” for your ticket. Some accommodations may request this, but then they’ll give you a fake pay stub instead. In return you’ll face some trouble when you’re forced to pay a second time at the entrance. Demand to be taken to the ticket counter and pay yourself.
- You don’t actually need to rent a Jeep. You just can’t take your own car inside the park, though it is totally okay to walk into the park on foot. Inside, you are also free to hire a motorbike to take you around or drive your own. But beware, it’s not easy. Especially if you’re hoping to catch sunrise. The ranger will stand by the entrance to “catch budget-friendly folks” or you’ll most likely come across locals who will try and convince you to ride in their Jeep. (They make a living taking people into the park).
- Don’t take your first Jeep offer. Unless you are a Javanese-speaking local, drivers will hike up the price. They will try to scare you into thinking that Jeep rentals will run out, but don’t believe them. You will always find a driver who is willing to drive you for cheaper. “Shop around” a little bit until you find a price you’re comfortable with. Just don’t low ball them. A really good deal is still around Rp. 400,000 (~$30).
- Overpriced accommodations. The village of Cemoro Lawang lives off of tourists that visit Bromo. Here, you will be paying big bucks for proximity and convenience in accommodations. In our opinion, it’s not really worth it. Save money and just get up a few hours earlier to make the drive from somewhere more budget friendly – like Probolinggo or even Surabaya (like us).
Would you take the trek to Mount Bromo? What is the most exciting thing you have seen if you’ve been there? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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