Mount Bromo On a Budget: Free Entrance and No Crowds!

Mount Bromo is one of the most recognizable natural landmarks of Java. Wait, I’ll double down. it is the most recognizable natural landmark in all of Indonesia!

That’s right, practically any tourism leaflet, any tour operator, and any guidebook feature a picture of Gunung Bromo and its caldera prominently on the front.

Ditch the tours for this one. Going to Bromo independently is simple and cheap. Let me show you how to visit Mount Bromo on a budget without an organized tour!

Mount Bromo is part of my full 14-day Java Itinerary.

View from the ridge of Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo at a Glance

Mount Bromo is located in the province of East Java, about 50 km southwest of Probolinggo city. Mount Bromo is 2329 meters high and is named after Brahma the Creator of the Hindu mythology.

Mount Bromo erupts from time to time. It has erupted more than 50 times in the past 2 centuries, or an average of once every 4 years.

The most severe eruption in recent history happened in 2011 when the volcanic ash it spewed caused many flights to Surabaya and Bali to be canceled.

Kind of makes it all the more fascinating that when you visit, you can look directly inside its crater!

The entrance fee to Mount Bromo for foreigners is 220.000 IDR / 14.8$ on weekdays and 320.000 IDR / 21.5$ on weekends. However, there is a way to enter for free through the villagers trail entrance.

Why visit Bromo independently without a tour?

While an organized tour does everything for you and you don’t have to worry about anything, going to Bromo alone has its perks too. Here are the reasons why you should say no to the tours:

  • Save money. A one-day tour to Bromo starts from 500.000 IDR / 33$, excluding accommodation and entrance fees. A 2d/1n tour would go up to at least 1 million (65$). I’ll show you how to do it for less!
  • Be free. The tours are rushed! You get 30 minutes at a viewing point and even less than that at the volcano’s crater. It’s a lot of go, go, go, which sucks.
  • Avoid crowds. All tours go to the same places at the same time, creating huge crowds. I’ll tell you how to go to Bromo’s Crater when it’s just you!
  • Don’t pay the entrance fee. Bromo has discriminatory pricing. Locals pay little whereas foreigners pay a fortune to enter. I would be okay with it if the difference weren’t ten-fold. I’ll show you how to enter for free.

How to get to Mount Bromo by yourself

You can reach Bromo from either Malang or Probolinggo. The latter is closer and I will use it as a start of this guide.

There are three steps to getting to Mount Bromo – Get to Probolinggo, get to Cemoro Lawang, and finally get to Mount Bromo.

Getting to Probolinggo is the easiest step. Hop on one of the many trains or buses from Surabaya, Malang, or Yogyakarta. My advice is to take the train when possible.

Check and book all train tickets through KAI Access.

Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang

There are three ways to get to Cemoro Lawang from Probolinggo – the local public minibus, by renting a scooter, or by hitchhiking.

Hitchhiking to Cemoro Lawang

There are plenty of cars going in that direction. Hitchhiking in Indonesia is easy, locals are friendly and you should have no problems securing a ride up the mountain.

Renting a scooter

This is the option I recommend. This gives you total freedom and makes it easy to combine a visit to Mount Bromo with a detour to Madakaripura in the afternoon.

If you have a lot of luggage, you can leave your big backpack at the motorcycle rental place in Terminal Bayuangga in Probolinggo or ask nicely to leave it at your hostel in the city. I can recommend Colorbox Hostel and they can sort out a motorcycle rental for you as well.

A scooter rental costs around 150.000 IDR / 10$ for 24 hours. For many reasons, it’s more here than in other regions of Indonesia, like Yogyakarta (I’ve rented at 70k IDR) or Bali (as low as 50k IDR).

You’ll need 2-3 liters of fuel to go up the mountain and back. One liter of Pertalite (the cheap fuel for motorcycles) costs 10.000 IDR (0.7$) at petrol stations and 12.000 IDR in a bottle sold on the side of the road.

In total, you’d pay around 180.000 IDR / 12.1$ to go by motorcycle which can carry up to two people.

Just before you enter Cemoro Lawang there’s a toll booth. There you’ll pay a conservation fee for the village itself (15.000 IDR per person). This is NOT the entrance to the National Park!

There’s a way to avoid it if you’re coming by scooter. Just before the entrance to Cemoro Lawang, there’s a sign splitting traffic into two one-way streets. THAT’S NOT TRUE!

The sign is put there so people are diverted toward the gate. The street on the right is two-way and if you disregard the sign you’ll get into the village without paying the entrance fee.

Public minibus to Cemoro Lawang

This option is tricky and isn’t even cheaper than a motorcycle rental if you’re two people or more.

At Terminal Bayuangga, you have to go outside the station, next to the main street. This is the exact location where the bemo to Cemoro Lawang waits.

There is no timetable. The driver is there from early morning waiting for passengers. Once 14 people gather, he goes. It can sometimes take hours to get 14 people!

The price per person is 50.000 IDR / 3.4$ given that you are 14 people. If you’re fewer, you can negotiate with the driver to go anyway, if you pay more.

I’ve heard of people paying 75.000, 100.000, and even 150.000 IDR per person to go earlier.

The price per bus is 700.000 IDR, so you can do the math depending on the number of people.

And then you have to do the whole waiting game again on the way back. I hope now you see why renting a scooter is the better option.

I’ve been to Bromo twice – once I took the public minibus and once I rented a scooter. The scooter gives you unprecedented freedom, lets you stop to explore on the way, saves you time, allows you to easily go to Madakaripura Waterfall, and is all in all the better option.

Mount Batok right next to Mount Bromo

Cemoro Lawang to Bromo – Get in for free through the secret entrance

The village of Cemoro Lawang is right on the verge of the Caldera – the circle of ash and dust surrounding Mount Bromo. The Caldera is also called the Sea of Sand.

It’s walking distance from the crater – to be precise, it’s 2.9 km. or around 40 minutes on foot.

The toll booth entrance to the National Park is located just after Cafe Lava, right here.

To enter Mount Bromo Caldera Locals pay 29.000 IDR on weekdays and 34.000 IDR on weekends, whereas foreigners pay almost ten times more: 220.000 IDR / 14.8$ on weekdays and 320.000 IDR / 21.5$ on weekends.

This discriminatory pricing is the reason I don’t feel bad about NOT PAYING for a ticket and getting in through the SECRET ENTRANCE.

The Secret Entrance

The secret entrance is not so secret these days. It’s located to the right of the Cemara Indah Hotel, right of the big horse statue.

On the left of the entrance are the viewing platform and a security booth that’s seldom manned (and even if it is, just go, they won’t stop you. I know, I’ve done it twice).

As you start the trail there’s an “Entrance Forbidden” sign – once again, disregard it and just go.

It’s the trail that local villagers use to go down quickly with their horses.

The Secret Entrance is marked on Maps.me. Search for “Secret free entrance to Bromo” to find it.

Where to watch the sunrise at Mount Bromo

There are a few places where people watch the sunrise: the various viewing platforms and the Bromo crater itself. Most tours bring people to the viewing platforms for sunrise, which means they are packed (but you see the Sun rising behind Mount Bromo)!

On the other hand, there is almost nobody at Bromo Crater for sunrise, and the view there is just as incredible!

Sunrise at Bromo is between 4:58 and 5:42 depending on season. Check the exact time here. Arrive 30 minutes before that to catch the best colors.

Sunrise at Bromo Crater

Sunrise at Bromo Crater: the best spot to watch it if going to Mount Bromo on a budget
The sea of clouds is so cool!

That’s the one I recommend. Nobody goes to the crater for sunrise and the volcano is practically all yours! The sunrise is just as impressive too!

The colors are bright and vivid and the light illuminates the whole caldera which sits in your feet. If you go on a foggy day, the clouds nest below the top of Mount Bromo, creating a unique sight of a sea of clouds.

Sunrise at Mount Bromo and a sea of clouds underneath
The sunrise at Bromo above the sea of clouds

From the secret entrance to the top of Bromo, it’s about 45 mins on foot. I recommend you leave your lodging at least 90 minutes before sunrise to catch the beautiful colors just before the Sun peaks over the mountains in the distance.

From the Secret Entrance, walk down the ‘villagers’ trail‘ for the first 10 minutes, after which you’ll enter the Sea of Sand. Then it becomes completely flat and trails disappear.

You’ll hear jeeps in the distance carrying tourists to the viewing points. Use Maps.me, but don’t rely on the marked trails – just walk in the general direction of the volcano and you’ll be fine.

It’s pretty dark in the Sea of San before sunrise, so have a flashlight or the light of your smartphone ready.

It’s also cold. It’s not freezing, but you need at least a light jacket.

The Sea of Sand - the Caldera around Mount Bromo
The Sea of Sand

Sunrise at a Viewing Platform

King Kong Hill is the viewing platform where most tours go for sunrise. It’s 4km from Cemoro Lawang and there’s a parking for motorcycles just under it.

Other popular viewing platforms are the Seruni Viewpoint and the Bukit Perahu Viewing Point.

Can I do both the viewing platform and Mount Bromo’s Crater?

Yes, of course! It’s easy to visit both on the same day especially if you have a motorcycle.

If you want to visit both with the limited time you have, my advice is to go inside the Caldera and climb Mount Bromo up to the crater in the afternoon on the day you arrive, then wake up early to go to the sunrise viewpoints the morning after.

You won’t be avoiding the morning crowds though.

Visit the Pura Luhur Poten Hindu Temple on the way back

Just before the ascent to Bromo begins, you’ll see the grounds of a Hindu Temple. It’s usually closed early in the morning, but monks come after sunrise to open the doors for visitors.

It’s free to enter.

Yadnya Kasada

Every year the local Tenggerese people celebrate the Hindu festival of Yadnya Kasada. There are around 100.000 Tenggerese spread around 60 villages on the slopes of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, hence the name.

They all gather in huge numbers at Mount Bromo to do the Yadnya Kasada Ritual.

Yadnya Kasada is always on the 14th, 15th, and 16th day of the Kasada Month of the traditional Tenggerese Calendar, which falls in June, July, or August of the Gregorian Calendar. It’s always on a New Moon.

In 2024, Yadnya Kasada will be between 20-23 July.

The Legend of Mount Bromo and the Tengger People

There is a legend as old as the Majapahit Kingdom of Java during the Middle Ages. The legend tells of a royal couple settled on the slopes of Mount Bromo after the fall of the Majapahit Empire.

They couldn’t have any kids for many years, so they asked the gods. The gods delivered – they granted them 25 kids but demanded that the last one be sacrificed inside the volcano. He was, the gods were happy, and that’s how the Tengger people came to be.

On the day of the ritual people climb to Bromo’s Crater and throw all sorts of stuff down the volcano. Fruits, vegetables, coins, flowers, cooked food, also live chickens!

Men go inside the crater to try to catch the goods with bare hands or with nets on sticks, believing that it will bring them good luck and abundance. In reality, it sometimes brings death and sorrow as many overlook the obvious dangers of slipping and falling on sharp rocks.

I was at Mount Bromo for Yadnya Kasada 2019. It was as bizarre as rituals go. If you have the chance to go during the festival, I recommend it.

How to get back from Bromo

Getting back to Probolinggo from Bromo is pretty much the same but in reverse.

Go back to your lodging the same way you came, pack your bags, and have breakfast in one of the cafes in Cemoro Lawang.

Then go to the minibus waiting area to wait for the bemo to fill up to go back to Probolinggo or start your scooter and drive down.

Where to stay in Cemoro Lawang

Cemoro Lawang is a very tourist-oriented place. Practically every house is a guesthouse. There are a few hotels too, the most famous one being the Lava Hotel, but I wouldn’t recommend it – it’s too pricey for what it offers.

Do NOT book online – prices are inflated. Just turn up and negotiate with guesthouse owners directly.

I stayed in one of the guesthouses on the main street (Jalan Raya Bromo). I don’t think it even had a name, isn’t on Google Maps either. Most are like that.

It cost me 150.000 IDR / 10$ for a double room after some bargaining. It was a National Holiday weekend too, so a pretty good price. If it’s a weekday, you can negotiate down to 120.000 IDR / 8$. Learn more tricks about money in Indonesia.

Sunrise at Mount Bromo
The sunrise from Mount Bromo

Combine Bromo with Madakaripura Waterfall

Coincidentally, the highest waterfall in Java is located on the slopes of Mount Bromo. Madakaripura is an awesome place! Don’t miss the exhilarating experience that it offers!

My guide to Madakaripura Waterfall goes hand in hand with this one.

You can easily combine them by going to the waterfall in the early afternoon, spending the night in Cemoro Lawang, witnessing the sunrise at Bromo, and getting back to Probolinggo before noon.

Madakaripura Waterfall
Madakaripura Waterfall

What to bring on your visit to Mount Bromo

You don’t need much, as you’ll only spend 1 night in Cemoro Lawang. The village and Bromo are at a high altitude though, so bring warm clothes.

  • Jacket (you can also rent for 30.000 IDR / 2$ there).
  • Long pants
  • Hiking shoes
  • Hat (warm hat, not a baseball hat!)
  • Lighter set of clothes for after sunrise (it gets warm quickly!)
  • Flashlight (smartphone light will do)
  • Facemask (for the ash, not Covid. A surgical one is more than enough.)

Mount Bromo on a Budget: How Much Does it Cost?

Train from Bandung or Surabaya to Probolinggo27.000 to 88.000 IDR (up to 350.000 in an Executif train)
Option 1: Motorcycle rental + fuel (up to 2 people)180.000 IDR
Option 2: Two-way public minibus ticket (per person)(at least) 100.000 IDR
Conservation entrance fee for Cemoro Lawang15.000 IDR (avoidable if by motorcycle with the trick outlined in the article)
Accommodation for 1 night ~150.000 IDR
Entrance to the National Park220.000/320.000 IDR (weekday/weekend for foreigners) but FREE, if you enter via the Secret Entrance
Dinner (per person, incl. a drink)20.000 IDR
Breakfast (per person, incl. coffee)30.000 IDR

The total depends on what you do, how, and from where you start. To visit Mount Bromo on a budget will cost just 250.000 IDR to 490.000 IDR (16.8 to 33$) per person.

Much less than an organized tour! And the experience is better too!

Simon watching the sunrise at Bromo with a blanket of clouds underneath.

Is Bromo Safe?

You might think that visiting an active volcano is incredibly dangerous and requires special precautions. Well, yes and no.

Most of the time Mount Bromo just rumbles lightly. It receives thousands of visitors daily. The worst that happens is that your clothes smell a bit sulphuric by the end of your visit.

However, once in a while, Bromo gets angry and it’s kind of scary. In such cases, the authorities will issue a warning and an exclusion zone of 1-2 km around the volcano.

Check the official interactive map of the Indonesian Government regarding volcano eruptions and issued warnings.

Where to go next

If you’re coming from Surabaya or Malang and going east, you might want to also visit Kawah Ijen and the almost magical blue flame.

And here’s how to get from Bromo to Ijen.

If you’re coming from Bali and Banyuwangi and going west, then your next destination may be Malang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Surakarta, or Semarang.


  1. Thank you for such a detailed guide!
    Regarding entrance fees, foreigners (from developed countries) make x10 times more money than locals, so probably different fees are fare…

    1. Some may, others do not. It’s easy to forget that not all travelers are from developed countries nor are all of them rich.
      Extending the “you earn more, so you pay more” argument, what’s next – people being asked for their yearly income and paying a % as an entrance fee? Why don’t Vietnamese travelers for example get to pay less in that case?
      If it were a little bit more, I wouldn’t be so vocally opposed. But x10? Mount Bromo, Borobudur, Prambanan and more than a few others having the same price as world-class museums in Europe and costing 2-3 nights’ in Indonesia worth of money? All the while information in English is non-existant and tourist infrastructure in some places is severely lacking.
      No, I don’t think it’s fair.

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