On our way to the fourth stop in our SEA by Train vacation in Indonesia, Mt. Bromo.

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 4×4 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

Coming straight from the amazing Borobudur sunrise, we went back to Tugu Station in Yogyakarta to catch a 2 pm train to Surabaya. We were able to get tickets for the Argo Wilis train for IDR 245,000.

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
  • 4×4 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
Cemoro Lawang

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.

Final Thoughts

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?

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  1. Rainbow Journal

    Philip Widian Thanks for your suggestions! We really appreciate hearing from readers and all the helpful tips they offer to other readers. :)

  2. Philip Widian

    Very late but I just to help you Jerome. I recommend you to take train at early morning from Gambir station (Jakarta) to enjoy the deep wonderful landscape view along 2 hours journey on track. Take a day and night in Bandung. you can visit the Mt. Tangkuban Perahu crater or Kawah Putih crater, shopping the cheap clothes and jacket in Cihampelas after the romantically dinner at Kampung Daun. Rest at one of hotels near the Train station, and then take the next train schedule at 7.30 to Yogyakarta. Trust me, that was a best 2 days journey of my life…

  3. Meryll Catalan

    Amazing! Great photos you got there. How I wish I can travel to Indonesia.

  4. Rainbow Journal

    I was actually considering that, however, I opted to use their currency. In case the article gets some international lovin'. Hahaha! :P

  5. Kaycee Enerva

    I hope you can also post the expenses in philippine pesos

  6. Rainbow Journal

    Hi Gab! I'm the one who's envious of your travels. You've been all over the Philippines. And the way you go about it. Seem so carefree. Hahaha!

  7. Rainbow Journal

    Thanks Christian. It was around 2 hours by train from Surabaya to Probolingo then another 2 hours by van to Cemoro Lawang where we stayed the night for the Bromo Sunrise tour the following day.

  8. Rainbow Journal

    Couldn't agree more Janice. Having interactions such what we had with the "man across" makes the trip easier and more memorable. :)
    And yes, Bromo is indeed a very peaceful place. According to my travel buddy it was like Sagada. Only much colder. :)

  9. Rainbow Journal

    We also wanted to do a DIY of Bromo. There's a certain feeling of accomplishment in that. Unfortunately, we were persuaded by the tour agent. Hahaha!

  10. Christian Melanie Lee

    Cool stuff! How far is it from Surabaya?

  11. Janice Lim

    I love your photos of the scenery! Looks so nice and peaceful there. As for the "man across", it's really nice when locals help out foreigners, right? Makes traveling easier. :)

  12. Slick Master

    Well, I prefer the DIY though it would be totally inconvenient and even pricey. (either choices, there's really a compromising of such.)

  13. Rainbow Journal

    I wish I could travel more than I do. Hehe! Traveling is such an enriching experience. Seeing beautiful places like Bromo is worth all the months saving for the trip. :)

  14. Justine Chantelle

    Wow! I wish I can travel a lot too <3

  15. Lauren

    Making your own route sounds exciting and you can even travel more through the place :)

  16. Rainbow Journal

    I hope it was still a fun experience despite you spending more. :)

  17. Rainbow Journal

    Yeah, sometimes availing of a packaged tour is the more practical way. Like what we did in Bromo. :) Where did you and your kids go on this DIY tour?

  18. Millie Manahan

    I love what the "man across" did to you ha.. Very rare na yan here! Anyhoo, I want a worry-free tour talaga. I tried the DIY tour with my kids before and I think last na yun hahaha… . We ended up spending more!

  19. Rainbow Journal

    That would be something I'll be looking forward to reading when you blog about your own trip to Indonesia. Make sure to include Bromo in it. :)

  20. Rainbow Journal

    At every leg of our trip someone offered to help us. :)
    I really can't give tips on getting to Bromo from Bandung. You know the place better than anyone I know. Hehehe! Hopefully you'd be able to find a better deal.

  21. Jennifer Lopez Gana

    inggit much! naku Rainbowjournal, iisa isahin ko din eto pong mga places that you visited na. wish!!! I agree with you about getting packages as an option, para no worries.

  22. Jerome Lupisan

    Don't you just love how friendly and helpful Indonesians are? I've never been to Bromo and have been thinking about going there. Your info will be very helpful. The 1.25 M deal is a good one, I'd say. I'll bear that in mind when I finally get to go there. Got to find a way to go there from Bandung.

  23. Rainbow Journal

    Thanks, Cla! That, in great part, is the reason why I started this blog. Hopefully others wouldn't have to spend that much when they travel to Bromo. :)

  24. Cla Martinez Badong

    Your documentation of this travel will definitely help other travelers like me to make a better choice in getting to Bromo. Thanks for posting.

  25. Rainbow Journal

    Bromo is really worth visiting! :)

  26. Rainbow Journal

    There are a lot of similarity between Filipinos and Indonesians. Especially the hospitality and the warmth we extend to guests.

  27. Rainbow Journal

    Hopefully you'd be able to see Bromo when you get the chance to visit Indonesia. :)

  28. Brian Macasa

    I'd love to visit that place too! So inggit, never been there pa. :)

  29. Alexa Santos

    This is so nice. Thank you for sharing your experience. I never thought that Indonesia is so much alike with the Philippines (as i have observed in your blog.) :) Interesting indeed.

  30. Alaine Yambot-Alejandrino

    Definitely one of the places that I'd love to visit! Thank you for sharing your experience. :)

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