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Written by Junanto Xu
Co-written and edited by Beverley Lennon

If you follow us on Instagram, you must have seen our epic adventures around Indonesia and very recently in mid-2019, we embarked on a road trip around East Java where we ventured to the crater of two of Indonesia’s most iconic volcanoes – Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater!

While we were only required to walk up a set of stairs at Mount Bromo, we did challenge ourselves with the extreme cold and hike at Ijen Crater; but every bit of it was worth it as we ticked off one of the world’s only blue fire volcanoes with the largest acidic lake!  And no, it’s definitely not something you’ll do or see everyday – it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience like no other!

But behind all the thrilling adventures are also long hours of planning (where to stay, eat and visit). Having experienced it for ourselves, we’ve curated a fun and affordable 5D4N road trip itinerary for those of you who wish to tick off volcano hiking from their bucket list. Of course, we’ve also included our little tips and tricks so that your adventure gets a lot easier and enjoyable!

Read more:

4D3N Scenic adventure itinerary from Surabaya to Mount Bromo: Things to do, where to stay and how to reach this active volcano!

5D4N Affordable family itinerary in the scenic highlands of Prigen, Batu and Bromo (safari, mountains and more)!

The Complete Guide to Hike Ijen Crater (kawah Ijen)

 

Overview

If you’re one thrill-seeking traveller, you sure must have heard of the high seismic and volcanic activity across Indonesia with two of the most active being Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater – and surprisingly, they’re also accessible! With our itinerary, you get to conquer both natural wonders in just 5D4N and on an affordable budget of USD $250! We also bring you to the best food spots and cultural gems of the region as you roadtrip around East Java!

Getting to Surabaya

This post is made possible by Indonesia Tourism Board

From SingaporeFrom Malaysia (tap here to view)From Jakarta (tap here to view)

Direct Flight (From S$149 per pax for return flights)
Take a flight from Changi Airport Singapore via Garuda Indonesia, Jetstar, Scoot, SilkAir or Singapore Airlines  to Juanda International Airport Surabaya. Flight duration: 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Direct Flight (From MYR452 per pax for return flights)
Take a flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport via Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia or Citilink, to Juanda International Airport Surabaya. Flight duration: 2 hours and 40 minutes.

1. Flights
Direct Flight (From Rp.1,004,000 per pax for return flights)
Book a flight to Juanda International Airport (Surabaya) via Sriwijaya Air, Citilink Indonesia, Lion Air, AirAsia, Batik Air or Garuda Indonesia
(Flight time: ~1h 30 min)

2. Train
a. Executive: starts at Rp. 405,000
– Depart from Gambir Station (Central Jakarta), and arrive at Surabaya Gubeng Station Surabaya. Train ride duration: ~ 12 hours 30 minutes

b. Economy: starts at Rp. 104,000 – Seats are cramped and not recommended.
– Depart from Pasar Senen Station, and arrive at Surabaya Gubeng Station. Train ride duration: ~ 15 hours)

This story would not have been possible without the support of Indonesia Tourism Board. For more information, check out the official websites of Surabaya, Bromo and Banyuwangi.

Itinerary

Day 1

Embark on a magical journey from Surabaya to Bromo!

Your adventure officially begins as you touchdown in Surabaya. From there, you’ll be heading off for your road trip to Bromo area but we’ve also slotted in one of the best spots along the way where you get to indulge in enormous crabs before stepping into what you think is a temple. Indeed, East Java is full of surprises!

Indulge in crabs bigger than your hands! – Kepiting Cak Gundul 1992 (1 – 1.5 hours)

We asked locals where to get fresh seafood and the one place that won over the poll was Kepiting Cak Gundul 1992. Sadly, they were close when we dropped by as it was Ramadan season but if you’re luckier than us, don’t miss on dropping by for their delicious crab that is drenched in their special homemade sauce!

We’ve heard a lot about their ‘Telur Besar’ (crab roe) or ‘Super Jumbo Crab’ that are always fresh with huge chunks of meat on the inside! Match these with a plate of rice and a glass of grass jelly milk, and you’re set for the rest of the road trip!

Photo Via Rosariodimassetio, Ashyllicious, Linaahmad.27, Dedy-Erwanto

For more info, tap to expand!

Enter a mosque in disguise – Muhammad Cheng Hoo Mosque (30 minutes)

We drove past this religious place several times while in East Java and always thought it was just a usual Buddhist temple until one of our colleagues pointed out that it is in fact a mosque! Yes, this mosque in East Java is designed as a temple and features Chinese-style architecture. I personally find it so unique as it shows how diverse Indonesia is and how everyone lives together in harmony.

In here, you get to feel Indonesia’s iconic slogan “Unity in Diversity”. Indeed, this is a great example on how locals live and respect one another’s religion and culture.

Photo Via Riesaramandanii, Yuyungabdi, Miels_kyuumei

For more info, tap to expand!

Dine while being surrounded by nature – Teras Bromo at Plataran Bromo (1-2 hours)

Drive all the way to a kingdom above the clouds and indulge in Indo-Asian comfort food at Teras Bromo. The restaurant is playful and offers both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the nearby local plantation.

We dropped by here for lunch but they’re also open for dinner and serve delicious dishes that are really, really, ridiculously packed with flavours!

My all-time favourite is their “Sego Goreng Bukit Cinta” which is fried rice with seafood, pickles, skewer and sunny side up egg.  All ingredients come directly from the nearby local farms and fresh juices served are only based on what’s in season.

Photo Via TripCanvas

For more info, tap to expand!
Website

Stay like a local: EcoBromo Homestay

Located on the slope of Bromo, this homey accommodation is where you can feel the hospitality of locals amidst cold weathers. You will absolutely love the views here as the homestay is surrounded by mountains ranges and quiet villages.

For more info, tap to expand!
Check rate on Booking.com


Day 2

Rise early and relish Indonesia’s most iconic sunrise view!

Are you ready to tick off the iconic Mount Bromo from your bucket list? If yes, you may need to wake up before 3 am to grab the best spot at the viewpoint! Next, take a trip to Africa before uncovering the fuming crater! Once you’ve taken in the volcano views, continue your mission to Banyuwangi to get ready for the next challenge!

Note: No private cars are allowed in the national park area. You will need to park and take a jeep to the various spots. Alternatively, we recommend you to opt for a few organised tours (like the one from Plataran Bromo, which even includes a picnic breakfast). Besides tour operators, your hotel might arrange tours to Mount Bromo too!

As at 2019, the entrance fees for Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park are as follows (this entrance fee also includes access to the viewpoints and savannah):

Domestic visitors
Weekday: Rp. 27,500 (Approximately USD$1.93)
Weekend: Rp. 32,500 (Approximately USD$2.28)

International visitors
Weekday: Rp. 217,500 (Approximately USD$15.30)
Weekend: Rp. 317,500 (Approximately USD$22.30)

Secure the best spot at this iconic viewpoint – Penanjakan Peak (2 hours)

If you don’t mind the crowd or waking up super early to secure the best VIP seat, don’t miss out on this sunrise viewpoint! We reached there early enough so we sat down for an hour to grab a hot coffee at a small stall (it felt so comforting because it was really cold up there!).

In fact, it was so cold that some of us had to rent thick overcoats (you can get one at Rp.20,000). Unfortunately, we were not there when it was snowing! Sunrise at Penanjakan Peak was at 6.30am but we secured the best spots as early as 5am! Yes, that’s what you do for front row seats and for the best views!

Hear me, it will be a painful wait with the cold breeze. I was finding all possible ways to hide away from the cold and time felt like it was going so slow until the sky started to change colour, bursting out gold on lavender melting into saffron.

We were quite lucky as we visited during Ramadan (low season) and it was a weekday so there wasn’t much of a crowd as compared to our first visit in 2018 which was overwhelming due to the weekend horde.

Photo Via TripCanvas

💡Hate the crowd? Here are other viewpoint options:

Option 2: Come and spot the giant movie monster! – King Kong Hill

Photo Via Veronicaasta, Hafizahjuman, Kdeb 

For more info, tap to expand!

Option 3: Get romantically closer (to Mount Bromo) – Love Hill

Photo Via Gabygenoveva, Insinyur.muda

For more info, tap to expand!

Organized tours options:

Plataran Bromo: For more info, tap to expand!
Sacred Bromo: For more info, tap to expand!
Duta Bromo Tour: For more info, tap to expand!
Bromo Executive: For more info, tap to expand!

Discover Indonesia’s very own little Africa! – Bromo Savannah (1 hour)

Throw in an elephant or two, a zebra and a giraffe and you would be transported to Africa without having to leave Indonesia!

Surely, we did not spot the Big 5, it does not get that wild here, but the scenery at Savannah Bromo is one we are not ready to forget! An expansive grassland scattered with shrubs and isolated trees, guarded by endless mountain ranges – this is where we had the pleasure to enjoy a picnic breakfast, lie down and breathe in fresh air!

The savannah is also home to Teletubbies Hills which (depending on time and season) can get crowded with photography enthusiasts.

For more info, tap to expand!

Hear majestic volcano roars –  Bromo Caldera (1- 2 hours)

Now, the time has come to tick off one of your bucket list items! From the jeep parking area, you will be required to walk through the sand dunes for a good 15 minutes before reaching the set of stairs that lead to the top of the crater.

If luck is on your side and you’re visiting at the right season (we recommend to come during Ramadan), the walk up will be pretty easy, as long as you don’t rush it and take breaks in between.

During peak season, it is a whole different scene as the area is packed to the brim with adventurous travellers and horses, which makes it less enjoyable.

Once on top of the crater, you’ll be able to relish on the beautiful surrounding views and be thrilled with the thick fumes puffing out (be sure to wear your mask and drink water!). You can also take a walk around certain areas of the crater and sometimes you can even hear the volcano roar!

TripCanvas Tip: Remember to bring along a mask as the sulphur fumes at the caldera and dust can be pretty choking!

Photo Via TripCanvas

For more info, tap to expand!

A journey into the heart of Hinduism – Pura Luhur Poten

Surrounded by Bromo mountain and a vast sea of sand is Pura Luhur Poten, a Hindu temple built by the Tengger community to worship Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (the Supreme God of Indonesian Hinduism).

Inside the temple, which has often been called the “deity castle”, you’ll travel deep into the heart of Hinduism, and learn about the local wisdom of the Tengger community. Don’t worry, for you definitely won’t be bored – the locals have some pretty amazing stories to tell!

Photo Via Whiempy, Ahi_zadli

For more info, tap to expand!

Rest at your hotel

Trust us, you’ll be in need of a quick rest after the whole experience. Besides being tiring (because you would have been awake since 2am), it’s also rather overwhelming as you are in constant awe for the views and scenery!

Sit for a tent-alising lunch experience – Lunch at Rest-O-Tent Seafood and Bar (2 hours)

From Bromo to Banyuwangi, make sure to stop by this awe-inspiring restaurant that’s located under massive tents and surrounded by a chilly mangrove forest.

Lunchtime here is not just delectable, but also entertaining – thanks to the nature all around. But while you’re busy snapping photos, don’t forget to feast on the seafood here, freshly caught from the surrounding sea. The ‘Cumi Lada Hitam’ (black pepper squid) and ‘Udang Telur Asin’ (salted egg prawn) will not disappoint!

Photo Via Anuakbar_

For more info, tap to expand!
Website

Settle down for a hearty traditional feast – Osing Deles (1-2 hours)

Let the flavourful and unique cuisine welcome your arrival in this city that is peaceful yet full of surprises. Osing Deles is where locals and travellers alike love to hangout; thanks to its scrumptious local delicacies and affordable prices.

Don’t go back home empty-handed! Make a stop at their gift shop to find unique local handicrafts, snacks, and batik sourced directly from local artisans. You get to support local talents, as well as bring back unique creations for friends and family!

For more info, tap to expand!
Website

Go back to the Dutch ruling times! – Hotel Blambangan

Located smack bang in the middle of the city, Hotel Blambangan serves as a strategic haven for travellers to rest after a long adventure in and around Banyuwangi. Though small in size, this minimalistic hotel provides all necessary amenities and comforts enjoyed by travellers while on vacation (yes, that includes the AC too!).

TripCanvas Tip: Recommended for Days 2-4 (2 nights)!

For more info, tap to expand!
Check Rate on Agoda


Day 3

Continue the journey to Banyuwangi and recharge before the next ultimate challenge!

You don’t want to rush through today as you’re heading to Ijen Crater on the next day so why not take it slow? Sleep in and start the day with a local brunch at a legendary stall before immersing in traditional Osing culture. At night, we’d recommend you to get to bed early, as you’ll have to be up and ready by 11pm if you want to catch the blue flames and magical sunrise at Ijen Crater!

Tuck into a “smackingly” good local breakfast – Nasi Tempong Mbok Nah (1 hour)

They don’t call it the “smacking rice” for nothing! Nasi Tempong literally means ‘smacking’ and a plate of this exquisite dish will give your tastebuds a good smack indeed! A portion of Nasi Tempong usually consists of boiled vegetables, tempeh, bakwan (corn fritter), chicken, egg, and other ingredients of your choice, slathered with freshly made sambal sauce.

Photo Via Ocky-W, Ellen-K, Rahmad.jk, Esubijono

For more info, tap to expand!

Jump in and dance to the local Osing culture – Osing Kemiren Village (2-3 hours)

Stop by this traditional village and learn how indigenous Osing tribes preserve their ancestors’ traditions that date back to the Majapahit Kingdom era! Get to know how locals cultivate their coffee, master the culinary secrets of Banyuwangi, practise their traditional dances and instruments, or why not join the farmers in the rice fields?

The village offers an array of packages for travellers who want to experience authentic Osing culture.

Photo Via Faslah_rinaldo-Agus-Susanto2-Adventure-Wisata

For more info, tap to expand!
Website

Dig in local flavours! –  Kemarang Waroeng (1-2 hours)

Immerse into the local way of life as you dine in a traditional house that comes with unobstructed views of lush paddy fields. The wooden pavilions, the live traditional music performances, and the authentic menu here help to fully immerse in the local way of life of Banyuwangi.

In here, you’ll find legendary dishes such as Sego Tempong (spicy mixed rice), Pecel Pitik (chicken with local spices), and Rujak Soto (local noodle salad) are authentically served here! If you wish you wish to explore the wondrous of local culinary, Kemarang Waroeng is the ideal venue to settle at!

Photo Via Silas.saputra, Ivyayu_

For more info, tap to expand!
Website


Day 4

Put on your mask and venture deep into an active volcano to witness blue flames!

Bet you’ve been waiting for this day to happen; well it is finally here! Get ready as early as 11pm and head over to Ijen to begin your adventure to the magical blue flames. Hear me; it’ll be cold and you’ll get tired so come prepared! Later during the day, explore the scenic Kawah Wurung before heading back to Surabaya!

Conquer a fiery active volcano and relish on magical blue flames – Ijen Crater (5-6 hours)

It took about 20 minutes after starting our hike up Ijen Crater to realise that this was a terrible idea. Similarly, it took us about 10 minutes to realise that it was all worth it! Of course, I am not necessarily fit so I might be exaggerating here!

Though some claim they can do it in 1 hour or even 45 minutes; we took a good 2 hours (nearly) to reach the crater, before going down to the blue flames and battling through thick clouds of sulphur smoke!

You’ll begin very early in the morning (around 1am) so I recommend you to pack some snacks and drinks or you could settle down at the local eatery at the entrance for a comforting bowl of instant noodles and fried banana.

We began our walk and it was pretty easy at the start until the several steep roads which had my emotions completely mirroring an actual volcano – peaceful and quiet at times and rumbling (or rather exploding) with boiling frustration at other times!

What made it even more challenging was the cold wind and the sight of several hikers giving up. But we indeed made it to the top. What brings people to Ijen isn’t necessarily its greenish lake but also its unique blue flames down the crater (however, according to government officials it is illegal and rather dangerous to go down).

But having come all the way here, we decided to explore further and get an up-close-and-personal look of the iconic blue flames. Hear me – you will need a proper mask if you do not want to suffocate. A proper functioning torch would be of great help too as you’ll be going down the crater while it is still pitch dark!

Personally, I still consider the sunrise view as the highlight of the hike – conquering Ijen Crater rewarded us with some of the most fascinating views that we have ever seen. At around 5.30am, the sky slowly enlightens with beautiful shades of purple, blue, orange and pink. At this moment, all pain and exhaustion were forgotten.

As the sun slowly rose, the scenery turned out to be beyond incredible to behold, and we found ourselves snapping numerous pictures in an effort to capture the beauty.

Without a doubt, hiking Ijen Crater was one of the most physically and mentally challenging things that I have ever done. The incline, the loose pebbles and the altitude contributed to all challenges and the way down wasn’t easier either.

For more info, tap to expand!

Step into a little Africa – Kawah Wurung (1-2 hours)

A scene out of ‘The Lion King’! Bask in this idyllic savannah that stretches as far as your eyes to rejuvenate your body and mind after a marvellous hike. The best way to appreciate such picturesque lush panorama is by sitting back and doing absolutely nothing. Throw in an elephant or two, a zebra and a giraffe and you would be transported to Africa without having to leave Indonesia!

Photo Via Ghofurvj, Sisqo88, Galihwimba

For more info, tap to expand!

Dine in a glass dome under the stars – Kuppel Biergarten & Bar (1-2 hours)

Dine under the stars in Kuppel… without having to worry about the rain! A floor-to-ceiling glass dome encloses the whole restaurant, making the dinner vibes here futuristic and fun.

Try out the patrons’ favourites – tenderloin steak or Aglio Olio pasta. Afterwards, wash down the satisfying dinner with a few sips of Tosca Soju, or their whacky liquor named Ultraviolet. We’d tell you not to drink too much, but this view is enough to get drunk on.

Photo Via Bendottetapsemangat

For more info, tap to expand!
Website

Budget travellers’ best choice – G Suites hotel

Lounge at the rooftop pool and feast your eyes on the magnificent city views of modern Surabaya. G Suites is a comfortable stay with relaxing vibes that are perfect for exhausted travellers after a long and exciting adventure.

Photo Via Jay_pab, Kopertraveler.id_ 

For more info, tap to expand!
Check Rate on Agoda


Day 5

Stand on top of the mushroom hill and plan your next amazing trip to Indonesia!

Today will mark the end of your adventure through East Java and we sure do know that you’re not ready to go home, so why not stop by one last natural attraction? Just keep in mind that this is only a slice of what Indonesia has to offer – we’ve got tons of other itineraries for you to keep coming back!

Recommended starting time: 9 am

Start your day right with caffeine fuel – The Localist Coffee and Bistro Surabaya (1-2 hours)

If you aren’t an early bird, we know the pain of waking up early so before heading back, refuel yourself with some strong coffee and tasty breakfast so you won’t run out of energy during the trip!

Besides the remarkable food, you’ll also be able to absorb some Vitamin D, as Localist’s floor-to-ceiling glass window allows the morning sun to bid you good day. Way to wake up with a glow on your face… literally!

Photo Via Veronicaadelyne

For more info, tap to expand!
Website

Enter the rocky smurf village – Bukit Jamur Bungah (2 hours)

For the perfect end to your trip, let’s take a short visit to this unique smurf village where mushroom-like stones stand tall and proud.

Pretend to be one of the villagers by exploring the mushroom clusters and producing some creatively deceptive photos! Who knows, you may be able to convince your friends that you’ve become a blue-faced dwarf living in the woods.

Photo Via Anuakbar, Priska-Rosaliaflicker

For more info, tap to expand!

Head home and plan for more adventures around Indonesia!

Though we ended our trip with sore muscles, the beauty of Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater did make up for it – it was all worth it and we’d secretly do it again if we had to!

Now, time to plan another adventure to explore more of Indonesia’s wonders. If you’re wondering where to go to next; why not get closer to the ocean in Raja Ampat or Sumba? We’ve checked out the Thousand Islands (2-hour boat ride from Jakarta) and fell in love too!


Best time to travel

We commend you to come during the dry season which falls between June to October. Throughout the wet season (December – April), it will be gloomy on most days and terrains at natural attractions can get very slippery. To witness the sea of sand covered with snow in Bromo, you may want to try your luck at end of June.

For Ijen, always aim for the dry season (June – October), however, since weather nowadays is pretty unpredictable (massive rainfall may occur during dry season and vice versa), always do your research regarding the local weather before travelling!

Hikers can also opt to travel during December, as fog intensity will be significantly lower. However, December is the local rain season so the terrain may be slippery, beware! Our guide also informed us that the best month to witness the blue flame is during August!

TripCanvas’ Tip:
We were there during the Ramadan season and thoroughly enjoyed visiting around with no crowd!

Getting around

Renting a car without a driver/ with driver

During our trip to East Java, we rented a private car  and decided to self-drive as we’re quite familiar with the roads in Indonesia. We were happy with the services received from ‘Yes rent car ‘and the vehicle was in a very good condition too.

If you’re not confident about driving in Indonesia, opt for their car rental services with driver provided and enjoy a worry-free trip in the highlands!

Without driver

For more info, tap to expand!
Website

Please book at least 1 day in advance to ensure car availability.

With driver

For more info, tap to expand!
Website

Note: It is important to apply for an international driving license (in the country where your driving license was issued) prior to your road trip in Indonesia. Procedures are usually simple and just require some paperwork and a few processing days (depending on your country).

Packing List

TripCanvas tried-and-tested: Your pocket-friendly essential packing list!

Although your day at Mount Bromo would likely not be a die-hard one, your hike to Ijen Crater might be pretty tough due to the thick sulphur fumes and very steep inclines that you have to conquer in the dark. Based on our personal experiences, you should not miss these must-pack items before heading there:


Travel Budget- Estimated Cost Breakdown

Do note that the breakdown below is based on estimated costs. Actual costs may vary slightly.

Flight cost:
Travelling from Singapore: SGD $149/ USD $110 per pax (USD $440 for 4 pax)
Travelling from Malaysia: MYR 452 / USD $109 per pax (USD $436 for 4 pax)

Activities (4 pax): Approximately USD $123 (calculated based on activities listed, not inclusive of shopping)

Car rental (4 pax): Approximately USD $107 (for private car without driver for 5 days)

Total costs for food (4 pax): Approximately USD $140

Total costs for hotel (4 pax): Approximately USD $113

Estimated Total for 4 pax from Singapore (Flight+Activities+Transport+Food+Hotel): ~ USD $923 (~USD $231/ SGD $316 per pax)
Estimated Total for 4 pax from Malaysia (Flight+Activities+Transport+Food+Hotel): USD $919 (~USD $230/ RM 953 per pax)

Ready to conquer two of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes? Tag your hiking buddies below and let them know where you’re heading to next!


PLEASE NOTE: All the above information is correct at the date of publication. If you come across any changes or updates, please let us know and we will update the information accordingly. Thank you!
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