In Yogyakarta there are tons of travel agencies that will sell you a package tour to Mount Bromo and onward to Bali. If you want everything taken care of you can just buy a package from any travel agency. I did a little research and it seemed pretty easy to go from Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo independently so I tried it myself. This is the basic itinerary to get from Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo:
- Take train from Yogyakarta to Surabaya.
- Take taxi from Surabaya train station to Purabaya bus terminal.
- Take bus to Probolinggo.
- At Probolinggo (beware, this town is notorious for scams), take minivan up to Cemoro Lawang.
Yogyarkata to Surabaya
To get from Yogyarkata to Mount Bromo in one day, you’ll need to take the 7:15 AM Sancaka Pagi (#82) train to Surabaya. It’s recommended to buy the train ticket at least the day before your departure date. The advance ticket office is not located in the main train station are. It is located near the train exit on the west side of the station. The ticket should normally cost about 160,000 Rp in eksekutif class but I was traveling 2 days before the end of Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr) so my ticket was a bit more expensive, 20,000 Rp. You can check the prices at the official Indonesian Railway web site, PT Kereta Api. The site is in Indonesian but it’s pretty easy to figure out.
The train departs Yogyarkata at 7:15 AM and is scheduled to arrive in Surabaya Gubeng station around 12:00 PM. The train is very similar to the the train I took from Jakarta to Yogyarkata. There was only 1 other group of foreigners on the train but they got off before Surabaya. Food was offered on the train but I brought my own snacks with me. I was offered a fleece blanket. I accepted the blanket but in the middle of the ride someone came by to collect 5,000 Rp for the blanket. I didn’t realize the blanket was for rent.
I was following the train route on my phone’s GPS and noticed that I could have gotten off at the station before Gubeng, Wonokromo station. This station is about halfway between the distance from the Gubeng train station and Purabaya bus terminal. I did not see any of this mention in my research so I did not get off here. I noticed that there were taxis at this station but less than the number of taxis available at Gubeng station. I’m telling you, if you want to save some time and a few Rupiahs, get off at Wonokromo station and take a taxi to Purabaya station.
Taxi from Surabaya train station to Purabaya bus terminal
This step is pretty straight forward. Find a reputable taxi (ideally a Blue Bird) that will use the meter and a ride to Purabaya bus terminal from Gubeng station should be about 65,000 Rp. What you should be doing is take my advice from above and get off at Wonokromo station for a taxi to Purabaya bus terminal.
Take bus to Probolinggo
As I got out of the taxi, I was besieged by touts. This wasn’t because they thought I was a tourist because I can pass for Indonesian and the touts were speaking Indonesian to me. I ignored them and went into the bus terminal. The bus terminal is pretty big and confusing so I made my way to a security guard and asked him where the buses to Probolinggo were. He motioned to the back. The buses to Probolinggo are in the rear of the bus terminal.
I looked for signage that said Probolinggo but all I saw was a bunch of people standing around. There were buses in the spot for Probolinggo but the signage on the bus indicated they were headed for other destinations. I asked the bus staff just to be sure. The waiting area was pretty crowded because it was a couple days before the end of Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr). I was a little worried that a Probolinggo bus was not showing up but it was a still early in the day so I wasn’t that worried. After waiting about 20 minutes, a bus bound for Probolinggo showed up and I was able to get on.
The fare to Probolinggo was 20,000 Rp and takes about 2-3 hours depending on traffic. It was oddly pretty fast for me and I got to Probolinggo in about 2 hours. There were no other tourists on the bus. Tourists need to be careful on the way to Probolinggo because there are many scams where someone on the bus gets you to get off the bus before Probolinggo bus terminal and on to a travel agency where they will try to overcharge you for transport to Cemoro Lawang. No one really bothered me on the bus. DO NOT GET OFF BEFORE THE PROBOLINGGO BUS TERMINAL! Like I said before, people probably thought I was Indonesian and the only words I spoke on the bus was “Probolinggo” when the staff asked what my destination was.
Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang
I knew the green minivans to Cemoro Lawang was right outside of the Probolinggo bus terminal but I didn’t know exactly where. Based on earlier research, I figured out that a public minibus should cost around 25,000 Rp to Cemoro Lawang but it would only leave when full (which could be a few hours). I also remembered that you could probably charter a minibus for about 200,000 Rp.
As I got off the bus and was walking towards the bus terminal exit, a guy rode by beside me in a motorcycle and said something to me in Indonesian. I didn’t really understand him so I kept on walking then I heard “Cemoro Lawang?”. I asked him how much and he offered to take me up there for 70,000 Rp. I thought about it for a couple seconds and figured this was probably better than waiting for a minivan to fill up, especially since there were no other tourists around. As we drove out of the bus terminal, I could see the green minivans to Cemoro Lawang. The green minivans to Cemoro Lawang are located about 30 yards away from the Probolinggo bus terminal. As you walk out of the bus terminal, take a left (towards the road to Cemoro Lawang) and you should see a bunch of green minivans.
The ride up to Cemoro Lawang on the back of the motorcycle was fantastic. The air was so much cleaner and as we were going up, I could definitely feel the temperature dropping. We got to Cemoro Lawang pretty quick, in about an hour. My driver even had time to stop by a mosque to pray.
Arriving in Cemoro Lawang
I arrived at the town of Cemoro Lawang before 5:00 PM. The driver dropped me off at his friend’s shop. His friend tried to get me to take a tour with him the next morning and drove me around to a couple places to look for accommodations. I ended up booking a sunrise tour with him and he even lent me a jacket since I only had a fleece jacket. The first place he took me to was empty and dark but did have hot water. I didn’t like how dark it was so he took ne to another place. The second place was about the same quality but a lot brighter. There were also 2 Dutch girls already staying there also and they said the water was plenty was hot so I decided to stay there. A room for the night cost me around 150,000 Rp.
The town is small enough that you can easily walk around and see everything pretty quick. I walked to the nearby viewpoint and watched the sunset. I had dinner with the Dutch girls at the hotel restaurant next to our guest house. The 2 girls had won a Dutch game show, Lingo, and they were spending their prize money on this trip to Indonesia. After dinner our guesthouse filled up with people who took the tour package from Yogyakarta. This was about 9:00 PM or so. They said they had a long day and it took them about 12 hours to get from Yogyakarta to Cemoro Lawang by bus.
The total of doing this trip myself was 505,000 Rp.
- Yogyakarta to Surabaya train – 200,000
- Taxi from Surabaya Gubeng station to Purabaya bus terminal – 65,000
- Bus from Surabaya to Probolinggo – 20,000
- Motorcycle from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang – 70,000
- 1 night in Cemoro Lawang – 150,000
Honestly, the tour package would probably be cheaper but I don’t regret doing this independently. My trip was a lot more comfortable than being on a cramped bus for close to 12 hours and the ride up from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang on the back of the motorcycle was also a highlight for me.