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The alarm burst into its ear-piercing screech at 2:30am. Irritated, I groaned and turned to go back to sleep before remembering why I set my alarm for this ungodly hour in the first place – it was time to see sunrise over Mt Bromo in Java, Indonesia.
Mount Bromo is one of 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, but what makes Bromo unique is that it’s surrounded by a proverbial ring of fire.
From the King Kong Hill viewpoint overlooking Mount Bromo, you can see it’s brothers and sisters, Mount Batok, Mount Kursi, Mount Watangan and Mount Widodaren in the same caldera as Bromo, with Mount Semeru and Jambangan in the foreground.
The reason people wake up at this early hour is to see the early morning sun cast its glow over not only Bromo, but each of these volcanoes.
But if you want to know how you can see the incredible Mount Bromo sunrise, keep reading to find out…
- Why Visit Mount Bromo for Sunrise?
- How To Visit Mount Bromo For Sunrise
- Tips For Visiting Mount Bromo Volcano at Sunrise
- The Sunrise Experience at Mount Bromo
- Other Things To Do At Mount Bromo
- Best Time To Visit Mount Bromo
- Final Thoughts
- More Indonesia Travel Tips
Why Visit Mount Bromo for Sunrise?
Mount Bromo, also known as Gunung Bromo in Bahasa (the language of East Java), should be high on every traveler’s bucket list. It’s nestled in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in the Tengger Massif region, and is one of the most visited landmarks in Java.
It’s undeniably one of the most breathtaking sunrise viewpoints in Indonesia, and offers visitors a chance to see a smokey, active volcano from a safe distance.
Mount Bromo is unique compared to other volcanoes, since its surrounded by a vast Sea of Sand, otherwise known as Laut Pasir, which extends for 10km. This caldera, has a flat, black volcanic sandy terrain which makes for some really run 4×4 jeep experiences.
Towering above it all is Mount Semeru, an active volcano that adds an extra layer of grandeur to the scene.
Visiting Mount Bromo is not just about witnessing one volcano, but several, with perfect viewing conditions at sunrise. It’s an experience that will leave you in awe of the wonders of Mother Nature.
How To Visit Mount Bromo For Sunrise
The best way to experience Mount Bromo at sunrise is on a 1-Day Mount Bromo Sunrise tour. You can find several tour companies that take you to Mount Bromo from Surabaya or Malang.
If you have more time at your disposal, we highly recommend taking a 3-day tour that includes Mount Bromo, Tumpak Sewu, and Volcano Ijen, which are three of the most iconic landmarks in East Java.
If you prefer to do it alone without a guide, here’s who you do it:
How To Get To Mount Bromo
To get to Mount Bromo, you must first reach the town of Malang. You can reach Malang using public transport from Surabaya.
Alternatively, take a bus from There is also the option to take a train from Surabaya Bus Station to Probolinggo Station and then do the minibus transfer to Cemoro Lawang where you can pick up a scooter rental.
From here, it’s possible to hire a scooter to drive yourself to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, which takes approximately 2 hours.
The iconic Mount Bromo Sunrise viewpoint is called King Kong Hill, located on Mt Pananjakan. You can find the directions to this viewpoint via Google Maps here.
You will know when you are in the right place, since the entrance to the trail up to the viewpoint is cladded with vendors selling street food, souvenirs and other items you don’t need.
Despite being 2.00am, it’s a bustling scene. If you want to find some quieter Bromo sunrise viewpoints, you can walk down the path a little from the King Kong Hill Viewpoint and find a quieter spot.
Opening Hours & Entrance Fee
There is technically no entrance fee to hike up King Kong Hill, and it’s free to visit the caldera on foot. However, it’s a long walk across the Sea of Sand to Bromo, so you will want to take your vehicle. If you drive, you do need to pay an entrance fee.
At the entrance to the Caldera, there will be an official ticket office where you pay 220,000 IDR on weekdays and 320,000 IDR on weekends for your Mount Bromo entrance fee.
The entrance to the Caldera area by vehicle is located at this point on Google Maps, just after Lava Cafe.
If you want to walk, download the app MapsMe, and look for the trail called “Way to Bromo behind the fields” then you can follow the local village paths to the caldera area after the sunrise.
The park is open 24/7.
Tips For Visiting Mount Bromo Volcano at Sunrise
Before you go, here are some tips and words of advice to make your experience more memorable.
- Wear warm clothing. It can be freezing at night, especially when you’re standing around waiting for the sun to rise.
- Bring snacks. You’ll likely have to wait at least thirty minutes, maybe longer, for the sun to rise. You might also start to feel a bit peckish at this point.
- Wear comfortable shoes. It’s not a strenuous hike and trainers will suffice, but the terrain is soft sand and volcanic ash can be slippery.
- Bring a flashlight. It’s very dark on the walk up to the viewpoint. Be sure to use a torch so you don’t accidentally walk off the side of the mountain.
- Be careful where you step. For the same reason you should carry a torch, you could easily take a wrong step in the dark and fall down a slope.
- Test your alarm. You don’t want to miss your early wake-up call.
- Pack plenty of water.
The Sunrise Experience at Mount Bromo
We were very tired when we woke up and it was freezing cold at 5°C. It never crossed our minds to pack warm clothes to bring with us to Indonesia – we had only just crossed the center of the Earth yesterday.
The last two months we had spent suffering under the extreme heat and humidity of the islands situated on the Equator, and now here we were in close to zero temperatures.
I wiped the crust from my eyes, sat up, and was instantly snapped awake by the freeze that iced my whole body.
Teeth chattering and body shaking, I now had to fumble around in the dark mountain cabin to find clothes in an effort to bring me some semblance of warmth.
Three lightweight pants, 2 singlets, 2 shirts, 2 long sleeved cheese cloth shirts, a sarong and a beanie later, the shivering subsided but not without making me looked like I had just chewed blueberry bubblegum from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
We chipped the ice off the door and scrambled outside into the dark freeze of the night, expecting to join the throngs of other people climbing up to the viewpoint.
However, when we walked outside the village was quiet and there was not a soul in sight. We shrugged the strangeness of it off thinking that we were just the early birds catching the worms.
With flashlights on, fits of giggles, and heads down Bec, Shannon, and I marched forward to the start of our mountain trail, determined to be the first to catch the sun’s rays over Mt Bromo.
A local man appeared from the base of the mountain gesturing to guide us up the treacherous path. Thinking it might be a smart move, we nodded back “Sure thing,” granting him permission to lead the way and pick us up when we continued to lose our fight with the loose stones and mud.
The fresh air, so invigorating on my skin helped to keep moving me up the steep and slippery track.
We knew how popular the sunrise over Mt Bromo was so were really surprised that we did not hear or see another person nearby.
If we didn’t have our local guide confirming to us with a nod of his head that we were walking the right path, we would have turned back fearing we had come the wrong way.
I was convinced that everyone else must have ridden donkeys or driven and that we were the only harebrained chicks to attempt this mission.
It was then that I looked up above and realized that we were the smart ones for taking the road less travelled and the rest had missed out.
Thousands upon thousands of stars lay scattered, twinkling across the night sky, each a Star of David in their own right, leading us to the Promised Land and daring us to go where no other had been before.
As I continued to walk up and up, it seemed as if I was stepping into the heavens and at any moment I could reach out and choose whatever star I wanted to guide me through the rest of my life.
We stopped to catch our breath. As our eyes sat drinking in the astral wonder, stars began raining down on us. They had waited until we had paused momentarily so they could thank us for taking an early morning walk with them. I was overcome with such an intense feeling of aliveness.
A feeling that paralyzed me from moving forward until the shower of stars finally passed.
We arrived at the top of Mt Pananjakan, the viewing point and were surprised to see hundreds of tourists and locals standing around ready to see the rising sun and the volcanic peaks it was about to light up. We asked around to find out why there was not another soul present on our 2-hour climb and discovered that they had all driven up to the top.
I couldn’t help but feel sad for the journey they missed getting to know the moon and the stars and the quiet stillness of the mountain.
As we began to cool down from our walk, the freeze of the high altitude air snapped us back to reality and we layered ourselves back. We pushed our way into the crowds of people waiting in anticipation for the sun’s arrival and huddled close together to keep warm.
Quiet conversations were had, jokes were passed around, and photos were taken as we waited in anticipation.
Eyes constantly darted from watches to the horizon to Mt Bromo and the surrounding craters, which could just be made out by the silvery light of the moon.
The designated time of arrival was 5:30 and our closest-guiding-light did not let us down. The brilliant red and orange hues of the rising sun mixed in with the pale blue of the dawning day. As night began to fade, the sun’s casting light slowly unveiled to us the most beautiful sight my eyes have ever seen.
The family of mountains and volcanoes appeared from out of the sky in front of us sitting on a shrouded bed of clouds. Mt Semera, the highest Indonesian volcano and smaller Mt Bromo both puffed out smoke from their cones as they greeted us and the craters surrounded them on either side.
The moon just as bright on the West of the Mountains was facing the sun on the East as if some great battle was to take place as to who was the strongest and more powerful.
Oohs and aahs rang out from the mountaintop as cameras began clicking in desperate attempt to capture the magical moment. The pop of a champagne bottle could be heard with cheers of congratulations as a young man chose the most romantic place and time on Earth to propose to his future bride.
I sat and I drank mesmerized and astonished with the truth that had just been revealed to me. Mother Nature is powerful and so divinely beautiful.
How could I never have known this before? How could so many people sitting in their living rooms right now watching death and destruction on the news never be aware of what really exists in this world of ours?
Other Things To Do At Mount Bromo
Catching the sunrise from Mount Penanjakan is not the only way to experience Bromo. In fact, you can walk right up to the crater and stare into the smokey depths.
Here are some other great things to do at Mount Bromo:
1. Hike Up Mount Bromo Crater
After catching the sunrise at Mount Bromo, you might be itching to get a closer look at the crater. The good news is that reaching the crater is really easy, and is only a 30 minute moderate walk.
You can take a horse to the crater, which many people do, but we urge you not to do this. Not only do the horses look kind of sad, but the walk is not strenuous and mostly flat.
The horses take you up a tiny hill that takes 5 minutes on foot, and then drops you off at the bottom of a staircase, which is arguably the hardest point of the hike.
Once you hike up the steps, you will find a short trail leading to the left and right of the crater. We don’t encourage people to go past the point of the barriers. It’s supposed to be possible to walk all the way around the crater rim, but the path looks a bit perilous in some places – so use your best judgement.
2. Four-Wheel Drive the Sea of Sand
Another fun thing to do at Mount Bromo is to drive around the Sea of Sand in a 4×4.
If you book a jeep tour, you will get this experience anyway, but if you’ve decided to hire a scooter and drive yourself, don’t worry, you can hire a jeep ride from outside the tengger caldera area just before the ticket booth.
Alternatively, you can take your scooter out onto the sand with you! But be warned, there’s a possibility you may get stuck!
3. Visit Luhur Poten
The Luhur Poten is a Hindu Temple which was built in 2000. It can be found in the middle of the caldera and is dedicated to the god Brohmo (Brahma).
The temple isn’t a huge complex, but it’s quite striking. It has three main buildings, and offers incredible views overlooking the caldera landscape.
The temple is a holy site for the local Tenggernese people, so be respectful and cover your knees and shoulders when visiting.
Best Time To Visit Mount Bromo
The best time to visit Mount Bromo is during the dry season from May until October. The wet season runs from November until April, but it shouldn’t stop you from going.
Just be sure to visit Bromo on a dry day, as it can be slippery hiking up to the crater in wet conditions.
Sunrise over Mt Bromo was the most breathtakingly beautiful act of Mother Nature that I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
The picture of that morning still remains so vividly clear in my mind now even 13 years later. It was a surreal experience which allowed me to realize for the first time the Earth’s magnificence and how small and insignificant we really are.
This was a true wonder of the world and I could not believe how fortunate I was to be a part of it. Sunrise over Mt Bromo was far too magical for even my big dreams. I had finally become the explorer whose eyes were the first to gaze upon untold beauty and splendour.
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