DIY: Travelling from Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo Independently

Yogyakarta to Surabaya train

Chasing Volcanoes: The view out the train window from Yogyakarta to Surabaya.

How to get to Mount Bromo from Yogyakarta without joining a tour. Java, Indonesia.

In my late teens I toured a lot in a punk band, doing gigs all over Ireland and the UK. It was very much a DIY ethos with Griswold, our drummer, booking any shows he could get his grubby little mits on – no matter how far the distance or how long we’d have to drive to get there. These wretched all-night jaunts soon became known as ‘Hellrides’, with us having to play Slayer on repeat and keep the windows open even in winter so that the driver wouldn’t fall asleep.

In Asia, the equivalent of a Hellride is a minibus tour which promises to cover vast distances in a short amount of time, taking in a couple of sights along the way. On paper they look good – but the reality is that you are crammed into a small bus for ten hours at a time, ‘let out’ to see an attraction for a few hours then shoved back in the van for the remainder of the journey.

One such Hellride is from Yogyakarta in Java to the island of Bali, stopping at Mount Bromo along the way. The journey takes two days, and is notorious for hotel scams and ensures virtually zero sleep. I really don’t understand why people choose to do these tours when solo, independent travel is safer, more enjoyable, and costs about the same.

If you are in Yogyakarta and want to go to Bromo, don’t take a tour. Do it yourself. After all, it’s the journey that counts, not the destination.

DIY Travel from Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo                                             
  1. Take train from Yogyakarta to Surabaya (5 hours).
  2. Take train from Surabaya to Probolinggo (2 hours).
  3. Take becak from Probolinggo train station to bus station (30 min).
  4. Take motorbike up to Cemoro Lawang (1 hour).

Train from Yogyakarta to Surabaya

Yogyakarta Station is where you’ll start. It’s never usually that busy, but trains do fill up. So buy in advance if possible, especially if you want Executive class.

Yogyakarta to Surabaya train

Surabaya is 308km away. These express trains pretty much go straight through, only stopping at a couple of places along the way.

Yogyakarta to Surabaya train

People watching while waiting for the train.

Yogyakarta to Surabaya train

While others will be crammed into a minibus and speeding along a busy road, you can daydream and stare out the window at volcanoes.

Yogyakarta to Surabaya train

I got talking to one of the waitress girls on the train. I liked her reaction when I told her I was going to the Yadnya Kasada festival. She, like many people outside of the Bromo region, had never heard of it. She gave me free coffee throughout the journey. Hurrah.

bacak Probolinggo

I stayed the night in Surabaya then took a train to Probolinggo the next day. Once you arrive at Probolinggo station, walk along the train tracks and out the entrance. It’s pretty deserted, but there will be a few becak drivers floating about. Ask one to take take you to Probolinggo Bus Station and DO NOT GET OFF before the station. Many drivers will want to take you to a travel agent instead, but insist they take you to the station. (A becak by the way is a motorised rickshaw.)

motorbike to mont bromo

At Probolinggo Bus Station I negotiated a ride on a motorbike up to Cemoro Lawang. If you’re travelling on your own, DO THIS! It’s an amazing journey. Otherwise, take a minibus which leaves when full.


On this segment of my trip I:

  • Spent the night in Surabaya and was lucky enough to check out some illegal street racing, as well as go to a rave in a derelict building. (Read here.)
  • Stayed with a local family in Cemoro Lawang up in the hills. (Read here.)
  • Did some hikes and saw some incredible scenery. (Read here.)
  • Took part in Yadnya Kasada – a festival on top of a volcano where locals make offerings (and even animal sacrifices) to the mountain gods by throwing them into the caldera of the volcano. (Read here.)

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  2. Farez.halim

    Hai there, good blog and pack with info. Can i know what train and class do you take from yogja to surabaya?

  3. At Probolinggo Bus Station I took a motorbike taxi up to Cemoro Lawang. I cant remember how much, maybe 100,000? Then you can just walk to Bromo, its easy


  5. Sonia

    I am planning to do a tour guide trip to Mout Bromo do you have any idea on how much the local guide would charge??
    Nice post 🙂

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