Bromo is an active volcano at 2329m above see level. It is located in the southern part of Java island, Indonesia. It is one of these amazingly fascinating gifts from mother nature. Strangely, I have been thinking back and forth about going through a tour or doing it on my own. How is this even possible? I have always avoided tours at all costs! The marketing around Bromo & Ijen tours added to the multiple bad experiences you can read on the internet trick your mind. It is not about the price since I believe cheap tours have a fair pricing. However, it is a completely different experience to do it on your own. If you want to explore Bromo further than just crossing a place on a list, go there by yourself!
While trip advisor and lonely planet forums describes Probolinggo as the easiest scammable and the most intimidating city in Asia, heading to Bromo is as easy as any other place in Asia. You just need to know a few things beforehand. What I have read on the internet was scarry but my experience was smooth. Just let them know that you know what you are doing and ignore people harrassing you!
How to get to Cemoro Lawang, Bromo?
– When exiting Probolinggo train station, there is a yellow mini van waiting in front. This is the one you need to take to go to the bus station. Ask the driver if he is going to the bus station and how much is the fare. The real price is 5k IDR. When approaching the bus station, the driver is most likely to stop you at his friend’s travel agency. Just show the driver your GPS location and the one of the bus station. The real bus station where mini vans depart to Bromo is clearly pinned on maps.me. It is outside of the bus terminal named Bayu Angga. You can’t miss it.
– Now that you are at the mini van station, there will be a number of motorbike drivers waving at you from a distance while hidding from the mini van station. I thought that it was quite of a weird acting. I assume that the people of the official station would kick them out if they try any sort of scam. Most surprisingly, they were even trying their luck with locals! Just ignore them.
– These mini vans have a fixed price of 525k IDR to be divided by a maximum of 15 people. The fewer the people, the more expensive. If you are planning to arrive at Probolinggo after 3 pm make sure to get an accomodation back up plan. I arrived in Probo at 4pm and no one else showed up. I had to stay in Probolinggo for the night. I can’t help but recommend to stay in a guesthouse that you can find on Booking.com. Play it safe. I stayed at Miriams guesthouse. This was the cheapest option within walking distance to the bus station. Lovely people, super clean and great food!
– If you can not get a bus, I would not recommend going with a motorbike driver. There have been some really bad stories. Losing a day on your schedule is not a big deal. Play it safe. Just head early morning to the mini van station on the next day.
– Do your homeword before you head to Probolinggo. My mobile sim did not worked in Probolinggo. You do not want it to happen unless you know these steps and advises.
Commuting by Probolinggo is more of an annoying experience than a life threatning one. A tour is hassle-free but also as short as dropping you off a jeep to snap a sunrise picture. Enough said. That being said, make sure you are not heading there on the day of silence. I had the very bad surprise to realize up there that all accomodations were closed. Hopefully I only had to pay for the return ticket since an amazing Indonesian paid for my ticket despite I insisted several times to pay myself. See, there is not only bad people in Probolinggo! I finaly made my way to Bromo 3 days later. Be ready to lose days if you are not going through a tour. Even without being scammed, be aware that you might end up paying much more than a tour. Unexpected events happen.
Bromo was a majestic experience. It literally gives you goose bumps when the soft light of the sunrise hit the volcano. Further exploration will lead to a number of breathtaking viewpoints and hikes that are clearly mentionned on maps.me! Heading to the crater early afternoon to the crater is also a great way to avoid tours since all of them leave Bromo early morning.