From Surabaya over Malang to Bromo and Ijen – a DIY itinerary

When searching online how to visit the volcanoes of East Java, I stumbled on so many tour agencies quoting ridiculous prices for 3days/2nights tours I was like “no way” (around 3-4mil IDR per person). It must be a way to do it cheaper, but still without the never-ending local transport. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel like the locals, but in countries where it actually works.

So here is our DIY itinerary with car transportation, an extra stop and both volcanoes.

Day 1: Arrive in Surabaya airport, drive to Malang
After we arrived, I booked a shared taxi from the Airport directly to our hotel in Malang. I found the company online and they were very reliable, on time and easy to communicate with. We payed 100k IDR per person and we were only 3 guests and the driver.
After our check in we went to Ocean Garden for dinner – it’s a local restaurant with good food and cheap prices. It’s also a good idea to arrange a driver for the day after (day 3). We managed to get a private car for 900k (which we shared with another couple) to Licin (best village to explore Ijen from).

Choose a hotel that offers Mount Bromo tours. After diner we went to our room to rest a bit, before around midnight we were picked up by the tour jeep.

Day 2: Visit Bromo for sunrise and explore a little bit of Malang
We drove up the mountain along a curvy and quite bumpy road. Then we had time for coffee/tea before we admired the beautiful sunrise. Slowly Mount Bromo emerged from the dark and showed itself in full glory.

East Java - Bromo

After the sunset around 6:00 the jeep brought us down to the Sea of Sand where we could take some photos and admire Bromo from its foot. Then the usual route is to visit the temple under Bromo and climb up to the volcano rim (which is currently closed), then we drove around to Teletubbies Hill through gorgeous landscape.

East Java - Bromo

East Java - Bromo

After some driving we arrived at Coban Pelangi waterfall. Walking into the forest, just following the well-kept path led us to a jaw dropping waterfall. Then the driver dropped us at our hotel.

If you have enough time to stay another night in Malang, then do so. The rainbow and blue villages are well worth your time and after the Bromo tour you are too exhausted to drive all the way to Ijen for another night tour. You’ll return from the tour around noon. Get a quick bite if you’re hungry and if you’re tired, take a nap, but later go and explore.

East Java Malang

East Java Malang

East Java Malang

Day 3: Drive to Licin and enjoy the beautiful rice fields and lovely locals
After a good night’s sleep be ready to hit the road. We made 2 mistakes, so learn from them!
1.We got an inexperienced driver, who took a very long route and who has never driven to Licin.
2.We set off to late (9AM).
We researched public transport from Malang to Licin and this is what we found out:
train from Malang to Banyuwangi at 4PM (arrives at 23:45), then a taxi for 45 min to Licin
bus from Malang to Probolingo, change buses, bus to Banyuwangi, then taxi to Licin
private car from Malang to Licin (please drive around via Banyuwangi, not over the mountain past Ijen, if you have a bad or inexperienced driver).

Google maps says it should take around 7 hours from Malang to Licin (300km, we needed 10h). So start as early as you can and you can enjoy the local village Licin and all the lush green rice fields around it.

In the evening have an early rest, because the Ijen tour starts shortly after midnight as well.

Day 4: Visit Ijen for sunrise and drive all the way to Bali

Today starts super early again – again shortly after midnight you’ll be picked up and driven to the Ijen entrance. We got coffee/tea and fried bananas. Bring a backpack to store your gas mask and torch. Shortly after we started walking up the volcano. First 2 km are up the hill to a rest spot, then it’s 1km more to the crater rim.

East Java Ijen

If you want, you can descent 700m into the crater to see the blue fire and maybe meet some men working there (collecting sulfur).

East Java Ijen

Then again up and around the crater to reach the sunrise spot, from where you’ll be able to see to Bali. But don’t be confused – the sunrise will be in front of you and the crater filled with acid turquoise water behind you. Still, it was magical.

East Java Ijen


It was time to descent and go back to the village, have breakfast and drive to the pier for Bali. After the fast 25 minute crossing we walked to the bus station in front of the port, hopped on a public bus and drove to Denpasar for 5 long hours.

All in all these are the expenses we have had in these 4 days:

Transport Surabaya-Malang 200k
Room w breakfast Malang 600k
Bromo sunrise tour w all entrance fees 1.3M
Transport Malang-Licin 500k (shared, with gratitude)
Room w breakfast Licin 150k
Ijen tour w drop at ferry port 1.2M
Bus to Denpasar 100k

ALL together 4.050.000IDR / so aprox. 2M per person (or. 125€)

We are really happy we did it like this. The tours take you usually over Probolingo to Cemono Lawang, but Malang is so much nicer, plus we got one extra one night between the volcano tours, otherwise we would probably be dead on Ijen. Maybe another night in Malang would be interesting if you like to explore the waterfalls around the city, or another night in Licin because it is just sooo adorable (probably Ubud in Bali looked like this 20 years ago).

This were our days in East Java and I must say, we are really impressed by the beauty of the volcanoes and warmhearted people.

If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer, otherwise I hope this will help you plan your East Java  adventure. ❤

 


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