As much as possible, we wanted to get to Bromo without availing of any packaged tour. During my research before our trip, about 80-90% of reviews of these tours are negative.
Getting there seemed simple enough (at least that’s how the forums made it look). Take a train to Surabaya, then another train to Probolinggo and finally a mini bus to Cemoro Lawang where you stay the night and make arrangements for a 4x4 to take you to Bromo before sunrise.
I decided to create a separate entry to document our attempt at getting to Bromo by public transport. You’re probably wondering why I used the word “attempt”. I’ll tell you as early as now, we did not succeed and it costed us Millions! :P
Train to Surabaya
The train arrived at the station just a few minutes before 2 pm and left on the scheduled time.
During the four and a half hour journey, we were discussing if we will stay for a night in Surabaya or get on the 9:30 pm train to Probolinggo. We were considering just spending the night at Probolinggo’s train station and then getting on a mini-bus to Cemoro Lawang first thing in the morning, instead of paying for accommodations in Surabaya, given that we will only be staying for a few hours.
Train to Probolinggo
The man across us interrupted our discussion. I was not able to get his name, so I will be referring to him as “the man across us”. Hehe! He said he thought we were Indonesians but was curious to hear us speak a different, if similar sounding, language.
With the trick played by language barrier, when we arrived at Surabaya, the man across us was very helpful in directing us to ticketing and pretty much decided for us in taking the 9:30 pm train to Probolinggo (IDR 80,000 for bisnis class). Haha!
The very thoughtful man across us even asked the nice lady sitting beside him, another stranger with a good heart, to look after us so that we don’t miss our train. It’s another two hours from Surabaya to Probolinggo by train.
Probolinggo’s train station is not as big as the other stations we’ve been to. There was not a single soul there. So much for spending the night at the station. We ended up looking online for an affordable hotel near the station.
Hotel Tampiarto is a short becak ride from the station. An air-conditioned room with buffet breakfast is IDR 170,000.
Rooms are spacious. You can see the age of the hotel through the furniture and contraptions inside. We stayed at a hotel in Legazpi that has a similar feel. Even the floor plan is similar, with a big courtyard in the middle.
We Opted for Convenience
After breakfast, a man approached us offering a tour to Mt. Bromo with an option to also go to Mt. Ijen for IDR 1,250,000. Yes, that’s one and a quarter million! The photos he showed of Ijen looked promising. Although we were set on going to Bromo without availing a packaged tour, we told the man to wait and we’ll think about it.
After much consideration, we decided to take the offer. We were thinking that it will be hard to make our own arrangements and might end up paying more if we are to transact with multiple people. Also, based on our research, the only way to get to Ijen is to rent a private car and are usually overpriced. A 50% down payment is required.
The following are included in the 3D/2N Bromo-Ijen Tour:
- Mini bus to Cemoro Lawang
- Accommodations with breakfast at Yoschi’s Hotel in Bromo
- 4x4 to viewpoint and drop off to Mt. Bromo crater
- Van to Banyuwangi
- Accommodations with breakfast at Hotel Arabica
- Drop off at trail to Ijen crater
- Van to port, ferry and bus to Denpasar in Bali
- All entrance fees are also covered
From the hotel, we picked up four other tourists and were dropped off to a terminal of sorts. We then boarded a mini bus (a broken-down van, more like) that will take us to Cemoro Lawang then to our accommodations at Yoschi’s Hotel. There were about 10 of us in that non-air-conditioned van, packed like sardines with our huge backpacks.
I was expecting something like this, so it really wasn’t a big deal. Most forums say that tour operators will show you a nice van or car as your service, but deliver another.
It’s mostly an uphill drive and with the state of the old van as it is, I can’t help but worry about it breaking down. Good thing the scenery is breathtaking to take my mind off it. As for the air-conditioning, you don’t really need it. Once you’re out of the town center, the air gets cool. It took around two hours to get to Yoschi’s Hotel.
Despite experiencing acts of kindness during this phase of our travel, we still ended up giving in to convenience over being adventurous like true blue backpackers. Well, we never really considered ourselves as backpackers anyway. Hehe!
The amount we paid for the tour is a considerable amount. Looking back, I think choosing to do a DIY tour of Bromo is doable. The Ijen portion is the one that will be more challenging.
Traveling without having to worry about how to get to your next destination, where to stay and making other arrangements makes for a truly relaxed vacation. So in a way, the IDR 1.25M we paid for is reasonable.
How about you? Do you prefer a DIY tour or do you also give in to convenience?