Many people pay a lot of money to get a tour for famous and attractive Mount Bromo in East Java, Indonesia. I have heard of people paying up to USD80 for a tour without including the entrance fee that costs Rp.250.000 (approx USD19). News flash, you don’t need to spend all of that money, all you need is energy and a few bucks.
Here is how I did Mount Bromo without a tour guide and without paying for the entrance fee:
After hiking the impressive volcano with blue flames called Kawah Ijen in Banyuwangi, I decided to head west to visit Mount Bromo. I took a public bus from Banyuwangi to Sutabondo for Rp.23.000 (approx. USD1.70) that dropped me in the bus station after a 3 hour drive. From there, I took an AC Bus to Probolinggo for Rp.18.000 (approx. USD1.33) that dropped me near the mini bus point.
BEWARE: some friends got dropped at a tourist office in Probolingo where they tried to scam them by saying there were no buses to Mount Bromo or that they had to pay the entrance fee in Probolinggo and not in Bromo. This is a scam!!!
In Probolinggo you can take a shared minibus for Rp.35.000 (approx. USD2.60). You will probably take it with more travelers doing the same as you are. All you have to do is wait until the mini bus is full.
When you get to the village, you have to pay a Rp.10.000 (approx. USD 0.75) entrance fee, just to go inside the village. Accomodation in the village goes between Rp.100.000 and Rp.350.000 per room. I shared a Rp.150.000 (approx. USD 11) room with a German guy that I met in the minibus so each one ended up paying Rp.75.000 (approx.USD5.55).
If you get to the town during the day, go visit the crater. There are two ways of going in for free: 1) go after 4pm or 2) go through the broken fence next to Cemoro Indah Hotel (see map in picture below). You will have to walk through the sand dunes for about 30-45 minutes (its a really nice walk) and pass the Hindu Temple until you see the stairway to heaven (or at least to the crater). Catch sunset there, its amazing.
For the free view of sunrise, we woke up at 3:45am and walked for 45 minutes through the same road of Cemoro Indah Hotel until we got to the stairs (you will find 2 or 3 view points before the stairs, just keep walking). We went up and were the first ones to get there, so we had some tea to warm up (its cold so wear layers).
There was another view point above the one we where but its the same view to be honest. The sunrise was magical, there was full moon only one day before so we had the moon, stars and colorful sky in one same image. Seeing how the sky and the volcano changed colors at the same time was breathtaking.
At the end of the day, I paid USD 11 for everything (except meals).
Remember that if take a tour you will be forced into the tour schedules, fees and plans. Besides, you will have to pay the entrance fee which will increase your expenses more. But, if you want things easier, do it. If you want freedom, adventure and a cheaper price, don’t take a tour.