Wondering How to visit Mount Bromo at Sunrise? My Mount Bromo Guide looks at the best ways to visit Mount Bromo and how to get there. It’s definitely worth the effort!
It was the closest I’ve ever been to feeling as if I was walking on the moon. Not least because of the otherworldly natural landscapes that surrounded me, but the giddiness upon being there also made me feel lighter on my feet.
Or, y’now, maybe it was the sleep deprivation from my crazy, intense, once-in-a-lifetime solo backpacking adventure across Java that had reached its unforgettable climax.
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I was picked up from my hostel in a shared rickety 4×4 jeep with three other travellers; a German solo traveller and a Japanese couple; the latter who, somewhat miraculously, managed to sneak a nap on our bumpy journey from Malang to Bromo; their heads rolling each time we took a corner and bodies flung all over the place as we took the winding road up a mountain. I was pretty sure that their ability to sleep whilst bumping their heads on the ceiling and the floor of a 4×4 was a greater natural phenomenon than the volcano I was about to see, to be honest.
SUNRISE OVER MOUNT BROMO
Bromo itself is 2300m high, but it is actually just one peak in an active volcanic complex known as Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park; the highest peak is in the park is Mount Semeru, at a huge 3676m. Together, they form one of the most otherworldly landscapes you may ever see.
Although I usually dislike large crowds, I’d feel pretty anxious waiting for sunrise as a solo female traveller, completely alone in the dark. As such, I cherish group sunrises and find the excited murmuring and shared anticipation adds to the experience. The first streaks of sunlight broke across the sky like water bursting through a concrete dam. We lapped it up as we stood in the dark, waiting for the light to flood the scene of erupted Mt Bromo below us so we could appreciate its full glory.
Mount Penanjakan is the usual place to watch the sunrise.
That said about crowds, there are some hella ugly railings at the viewing platform at Penanjakan. After checking where my driver would be, I strayed from the main area in search of a peaceful view, ducking between the hedges and walking down a slope. I was lucky enough to bump into a group of male friends who chatted to me and took some photos for me too. ‘Smile,’ they reminded me, ‘You’ll never be in a place like this again!’ Sunrise has to be the best way to see Mount Bromo.
LOOKOUT NUMBER 2
With the sun now perched neatly above the volcanic rock formations, we could appreciate how alien they appeared, each jutting out from a flat plateau. I was lucky with the cloud cover too, which added to the scene atmospherically.
Next, I met up with my group again and our driver took us to what he called his ‘favourite secret spot.’ We drove a few minutes, climbed up a little hill, and lapped up the view all over again – this time completely in peace. It was wonderful.
THE SEA OF SANDS
I’ve heard ‘the sea of sands’ dismissed as simply part of the routine on any set Bromo itinerary, which I now believe is unfair. This might actually be my favourite part of the day! Find a driver who will take you to a quieter area of the so-called ‘Sea of Sands’, take a drive in the jeep and then get out.
With the sun still low enough to be partially hidden by the clouds of dust and smokey volcanoes, there was something so ethereal about this experience. I felt like a kid playing in the sand for the first time having never been to the beach before. This was something totally new to me. Like finding a secret garden or arriving on another planet, it had an intangible magical quality, unlike the travel experiences that came before it.
UP CLOSE WITH AN ERUPTING VOLCANO
Some days, you can see into the crater of Mt Bromo. I didn’t feel anything was lost by not being able to the day I visited. I mean, seriously, check it out in the photo below. Usually, it takes a 15-45 minute walk (depending on crowds and personal fitness).
TIP: Also worth noting that it was the section of the sea of sands which lies directly in front of Mt Bromo that was particularly crowded, so I’m glad we explored a quieter part first. This area was particularly set up for tourism, with rows and jeeps, food stalls and men selling horse rides. Don’t ride the horses, I’m not sure what conditions they’re kept in. I’d avoid this area of the park as much as possible.
IN THE GREEN
Last but not least, Mt Bromo National Park turned itself inside out and became a lush green wonderland. Seriously I have no idea the moment the colours of the landscape changed completely from an alien, barren landscape into THIS!
It was the perfect way to relax and end the day. I would really recommend ending your day in Mt Bromo at ‘Bukit Teletubbies.’
HOW TO GET TO MT BROMO
DIY FROM CEMARA LEWANG
It’s a bit of a headache to get here, but this is the closest place to base yourself on Mt Bromo if you want to take a DIY approach. First of all, you’ll have to get to Probolingo, which you can reach by bus from most major cities such as Yogyakarta or Malang.
From Probolingo, there are two main ways to get to Cemaro Lawang.
- you will have to book a taxi – good for groups or non-budget travellers
- a shared car with other travellers to CL or use the local bus
Solo travellers: I have heard negative things about Probolingo including theft at the bus station and solo travellers being overcharged for the bus/shared car. You also have to wait for the shared car to be full till they leave, so it could be half an hour or three hours if you’re unlucky.
As a solo traveller, I ultimately decided to avoid this headache and go directly from Malang. That’s not to say solo travellers haven’t done this route without any problems many times though! All about weighing up your priorities, and on this occasion, I didn’t want to hike alone when I could go along with an awesome local from my hostel who I knew would make it fun. I ended up doing Mt Ijen without a tour a couple of days later… and I got lost. So. Hahaha.
TOURS FROM JAVA
Tours can cost anything from 500000 IDR – 2500000 IDR (the most expensive often have an extra activity such as a waterfall).
BUDGET BACKPACKERS: Mine was 500K IDR (50AUD) including breakfast, a guide and all the activities above. This is about the most I’ve spent on an activity while travelling… it’s definitely made me realise the hard work I put into saving for travel is best spent on amazing experiences. I booked directly through Malang Mador Hostel and booked me a shared car with three other travellers.
I highly recommend waiting till you get to your base in Java before booking a tour – it’s cheaper than online!
There are many options from Bali. A more expensive but easily organised option would be to book a Borobudur, Bromo and Mt Ijen tour directly from Yogyakarta (which has an airport to fly directly into as well).
However, it would be cheaper to travel by train to Surabaya and take an Mt Bromo Sunrise Tour from there. This is also a better option for anyone who is not interested in hiking Mt Ijen or wants a more easygoing adventure.
TOURS FROM BALI
If you’re travelling from Bali, you’ll probably be looking for a combined tour of both Mount Ijen and the famous Mount Bromo.
These tours tend me pricey but highly rated and suitable for holiday-makers with only a short time to spare in Java.
This is a 3-day overland trip from Bali, including accommodation and an English-speaking guide: click here for more info.
If you’ve booked a tour, these extra fees will not apply to you, but as always check what your tour includes when comparing prices.
Bromo National Park entrance fee: 215.000 IDR during the week and 315.000 IDR at the weekend.
Scooter across from the Sea of Sands to the Mt Bromo crater: 80K IDR or you can walk.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BROMO
April to October is the best season to visit Java – I visited in April which was great. However, the National Park is open all year round.
Check beforehand for visibility so you can alter your visit to another day if you’re expecting to rain. Rain could affect the view and make the trails slippery.
I would advise visiting on a weekday is the best time to visit Bromo. It will be a lot busier on weekends or Indonesian holidays due to the many local tourists who visit.
Trekking to a viewpoint is also a popular option with those staying in Cemoro Lawang. Your local accommodation can give you precise information on how to reach the beginning of whichever hike.
- Trekking up to Mount Penanjakan takes around two hours – the highest viewpoint and where I saw the sunrise. You’d ideally leave around 02:30am, but there are other natural viewpoints to watch the sunrise on the way up if you miss it.
- You can hike up Mt Bromo itself if the conditions are right for sunrise, though most prefer to see the sun rise over Bromo itself
- King Kong Hill is a famous viewpoint to watch the sunrise popular with backpackers and those doing Mt Bromo independently (without a tour).
Another option is to go for the late afternoon and enjoy the view with fewer crowds while still avoiding the stark, midday light.
If you are going by scooter or private driver, you can make the itinerary exactly what you want.