Asia,  Destinations,  Indonesia,  Travel Diary

A sunrise tour of Mt. Bromo, Java, Indonesia

Originally I wasn’t even going to visit Mt. Bromo.

Sunrise tours don’t much interest me as I hate getting up before the sun, and I double hate climbing mountains. But doing a sunrise tour at Mt. Bromo was highly recommended by several people I met in Yogyakarta, and so I decided to give it a try.

And really, if you don’t do the occasional typical tourist thing, you won’t have much to talk about on your travel blog, right? ha!

So this is my experience taking a sunrise tour at Mt. Bromo in June 2023 as a solo budget backpacker.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I get a small percentage of that at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.)

Mt. Bromo: is the sunrise tour worth it?

Mt. Bromo is an active somma volcano, which means it’s got burbling stuff inside it and could potentially erupt. In fact, it most recently erupted in 2015! It’s probably the most popular tourist destination in Java, and is usually part of a larger tour package which include Mt. Ijen (another active volcano). I only wanted to visit one deadly place on my Java trip, so I picked Mt. Bromo.

Having never been up an active volcano before, this tour was a good introduction to more adventurous travel outings. It’s relatively easy to navigate by yourself, and there’s different levels of cost depending on how comfortable you want to be. If you’re exploring Java, then visiting Mt. Bromo is one way to see the natural beauty of the island.

The sunrise tour is the most popular because it’s the most beautiful, but I bet sunset is just as pretty and probably not as crowded. If you’re staying nearby, I bet you’d have a good time coming on your own ANY OTHER time of the day– much less crowded then, to be honest.

Overall, I do think Mt. Bromo worth visiting, but ONLY if you like nature and being outside, running around on sand, etc. If you’re more of a city person, or you only like going to beaches, then perhaps skip this tour for now. And the sunrise tour in particular is worth doing if you don’t want to try and find your own transport, or navigate through the sightseeing stops yourself.

Mt. Bromo sunrise tour costs & where to book

Cheapest Mt. Bromo

The cheapest way to visit Mt. Bromo is to stay in Cemoro Lawang and either walk or take a Gojek bike taxi into the park.

A guesthouse in Cemoro Lawang should cost around $5-15 USD/night. A Gojek bike taxi to the park costs about $5 USD or so– if you walk, it’s about an hour’s distance. To get into the park costs 220,000 IDR for foreign visitors on weekdays, and 320,000 IDR on weekends. Supposedly, there’s a “free way” into the park if you go across from Cemara Indah Restaurant and take that road.

Budget Mt. Bromo sunrise tour

A budget Mt. Bromo sunrise tour is a jeep tour, which is small groups being ferried from place to place; you don’t get a tour guide who explains things but you get transportation to and from the different areas, and breakfast.

There’s different starting points for the jeep tours. Most people seem to start from Surabaya, where tours leave from midnight. However, if you go to Probolinggo then you start at 2:00 am! That was a bit more palatable to me, so I went to Probolinggo for my tour.

I booked my tour through my hostel, which seems to be the cheapest way to do it. I paid 600k IDR / $40 USD which included transit to/from the mountain, a jeep driver to actually get around the park, and breakfast. That seems to be the standard pricing, more or less $10 USD, if you book somewhere online.

An upside to booking in-person meant I didn’t need a minimum of 2 pax for my tour, as most of the online tours seem to require. Instead, I was grouped with other people in my hostel and we all went together.

Mt. Bromo tour combined with Ijen

The more expensive tours usually combine Mt. Bromo with more stops, and have transport either to or from Bali. If you really just want to come over to Java for a few days and then get back to Bali, this might be the way to do it.

For instance, here’s a 3 day tour to Kawah Ijen and Mt. Bromo from Bali, which includes pickup and transport from southern Bali into Java via ferry.

Or you could go the other way, and start in Surabaya for a 3 day tour to Mt. Bromo and Ijen and END in Bali! Although actually, this one just drops you off at the port and you make your own way from there.

Anyway: onto the rest of my tour experience!

Mt. Bromo sunrise viewpoint

Getting over to Mt. Bromo park meant about two hours of fast driving through winding roads. Our driver kept going faster and faster because we were apparently “late,” though it was still well before 4:00 am when we got to the point where we transferred from the van to a 4×4 Jeep.

Our Jeep driver then took us into the actual park and up more winding roads until we arrive at the bottom of the viewpoint. There’s several around the park, but the standard one every tour takes their guests is King Kong Hill. If you’re in a private tour, you can request getting dropped off at a different location– and I might recommend doing that, if only so you have less people crowded around you.

Once at the viewpoint, we had to wait for over an hour for the actual sunrise.

Indonesia is a fairly hot country, but Mt. Bromo and the viewpoint area is freezing at night and in the dark. It’s normally 26-28°C / 80°F during the day, but at night it was 5°C / 40°F something. I had several more layers on than normal, including a merino wool sweater, but was still very cold for most of the morning. The stores at the bottom of the trail sell hats, gloves, blankets, etc. if you need to stock up on warmer clothing.

Sunrise was beautiful!

It was interesting to see the fog and clouds hovering in the valleys, and the light slowly filling the spaces between the viewing area and Mt. Bromo itself.

Less beautiful was the 60+ people crowded on the same cliff edge, taking selfies and flying drones. I mean, I took selfies too, but it definitely wasn’t the peaceful and serene experience everyone on Youtube shows it to be.

My tour group! Two Germans, two Dutch, one American.

Ascending Mt. Bromo

After the sunrise, we headed back to the Jeep to go to the next part of the tour.

I actually lost my tour group and couldn’t remember where my Jeep was parked, and to make things worse I went the wrong way trying to find it. Eventually I spotted the tallest member of our group, who had luckily been standing out there looking for me.

Tip: take a photo of your Jeep’s license plate and/or your driver AND put a parking pin down in Google Maps (and get contact info from your tour mates!) BEFORE you leave to go up to the Mt Bromo viewpoint…

Anyway, the second part of the tour is to stop down in the dusty, sandy part of the park (the “Sea of Sand”) some distance away from the Mt. Bromo ascension point and take photos. This is a really short stop and basically everyone did the same poses, including on top of the Jeep. It was fun, but if you’re doing a solo tour you could totally skip this part.

1km walk through sand and up a bunch of stairs. The Jeep is parked way at the back.

Next we went up to Mt. Bromo itself. The Jeep stays behind on a big parking lot and you have to either walk 1 km (.62 miles) to the lip of the volcano or hire a horse for something like 100k IDR / $7 USD (don’t know if this is one way or for both there and back).

I thought I’d save money and just walk, but WOW was it difficult. Partly the problem is the sand, which is very thick and moves around a lot. The other problem is I was STARVING and running on fumes. By this point it was after 7:00 am and I’d only eaten a few granola bars.

And of course, after the sand is a bunch of stairs! Good gravy.

Once I got to the top (after a few rest stops, including my first ever picture request from a local), I could see down into the center of the volcano. Very cool! It was also LOUD– the stuff inside makes a gurgling, hot steamy kinda noise which was honestly surprising. And every so often the steam would shift and I could see a green colored burbling mass down in the center of the crater.

Going back to the Jeep was much faster and easier, thankfully, and we finally got driven to breakfast at a local place. Our options were mie goreng (fried noodles) or nasi goreng (fried rice) and tea or coffee, a standard Indonesian breakfast that nevertheless tasted great after a morning climbing up and down mountains.

Overall, it was a good experience and I enjoyed seeing Mt. Bromo itself. I’m not 100% sure I’ll bother doing another sunrise tour though.

Tips for doing a Mt. Bromo sunrise tour

  • Book your tour in person (or at least through Whatsapp) for the best price.
  • Sleep a bit before your tour, if you can.
  • Pack snacks and water, plus a sweater and jacket. Wear closed-toe shoes suitable for outdoor activity. Bring cash if you want to pay for a horse and/or food at Bromo.
  • Take a photo of your Jeep’s license plate, get your driver’s name, and swap contact info with other people in your tour group.
  • Pick a good viewing spot before sunrise and STAY THERE.
  • Take a nap after the tour.
Looking inside Mt. Bromo

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Journal date: June 27, 2023

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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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