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Destinations to visit outside of Bali in Indonesia

If you are planning to travel to Indonesia for a vacation, try not to limit yourself to just the tourist-favourite island of Bali! Home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, waterfalls aplenty, volcanoes that are active, dormant and extinct, and breathtaking views, there is much to see in the islands of Indonesia. One such place you should definitely consider adding to your list of places to visit in Indonesia is East Java.

A province in Indonesia, East Java is widely sought after thanks to its volcanic activity and the subsequent areas that offer unique experiences. So if you’re on a tight schedule and don’t have much time to explore all of East Java, here are 2 places we think are a must-visit!

Location 1: Mount Bromo

Entrance fee- IDR 220,000/-

Jeep rental cost (for up to 5 people)- IDR 550,000/-

Mount Bromo is an active volcano crater in East Java, and last erupted in 2016. While it may not be among the biggest volcanoes in Indonesia, the spectacular views and overall experience is one that won’t disappoint! The volcano also happens to be part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park that covers an enormous area of 800 square km.

Like in most places of significance in Indonesia, Mount Bromo also has quite the interesting legend behind it. The Tengger people believe that this volcano was the site where a prince sacrificed his life for his family. Additionally, during the annual Kasada Festival the people appease the Gods once a year by making offerings of vegetables, chickens and money which are thrown into the crater of the volcano.

However, the volcano isn’t the only site to see here; the sunrises atop the caldera are acclaimed to be some of the most stunning the island has to offer. It was indeed the most magical sunrise we’d ever been lucky enough to witness!

So to be in time to witness this, you’ll have to be at the location by around 4 am! It’ll still be dark out, but it’s very likely that you’ll see quite a few vehicles going up, too, since this is the usual time tours to Bromo begin.The tours also usually include activities like jeep rides in the sea of sand, the Mount Bromo crater hike at the volcano and even optional pony rides!

The highlight of this all is, of course, the hike up to the top of the volcano where you’ll come face to face with the smoking mouth of the crater.

Without a doubt, visiting Mount Bromo should be on your bucket list because it’s an experience like no other. From being mesmerized by the colourful sunrises, to journeying through the black sand and coming to the top of the volcano, this experience is uniquely beautiful and probably once in a lifetime!

A few things to keep in mind before visiting Mount Bromo:

● Experiencing Mount Bromo is amazing, but it would be safe to say that it’s not exactly for the faint of heart. The distances to walk, the steep stairway to climb up to the crater and the cold weather may make it difficult for those with knee and joint issues. Moreover, the smoke and dust would also not make it easy for those with breathing difficulties. As such, do take note and get clearance from your doctors and bring the right protective gear with you!

● When doing research on getting to Bromo from Bali, the most common tip we came across was booking a direct flight to either Surabaya or Malang late at night, and then going straight to the volcano from there. The journey from Surabaya Airport to Bromo takes about 4 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to even take a nap in the vehicle.

Going much before sunrise to an altitude of more than 7,500 ft. above sea level means it’s going to get pretty cold. So make sure to take some warm clothing including gloves, a beanie, a good jacket, a scarf and/or a neck gaiter (something to cover your neck and nose) because yes, it can get that cold, especially if you’re not used to cold weather and strong winds!

● In case you didn't know, volcanoes are abundant in sulfur in various forms, so be prepared for the not-so-pleasant stench!

● Bromo was experiencing a sandstorm the day we went, so we couldn't capture or see as much. Climbing to the crater of the active volcano in the most unfavorable conditions was quite intense. However, there was still a lot to do and take in, especially the splendid view from the peak.

● If you’re wondering if it’s safe to visit this active volcano, fret not, it generally is. To be on the safe side, do a quick search and check on the status of the volcano and park before making plans. They also closely monitor the area and even have earthquake detectors installed.

Location 2: Tumpak Sewu

Entrance fee- IDR 30,000/-

Tour guide fee- IDR 200,000/-

Tumpak sewu, Bromo, Indonesia
Tumpak Sewu Waterfalls

Also known as Air Terjun Tumpak Sewu or Coban Sewu, Tumpak Sew Waterfalls is potentially the mother of all Indonesian waterfalls! If you haven't seen any waterfalls at all during your vacation before visiting Tumpak Sewu, we’d highly recommend visiting here because there’s a route where you can see multiple other waterfalls before arriving at the main one. You'll mostly likely see your fill of waterfalls at just this one location! This spot was just one of those places that can effortlessly leave you in awe of nature’s beauty and force, and was easily one the highlights of our entire trip.

You’ll find Tumpak Sewu at the base of Mount Semeru in Lumajang, and is about 2 hours away from Malang. Once you arrive, that there are 2 options when it comes to trekking down to the falls; the first option is where you can go straight down to Tumpak Sewu, and with the second option you can stop by 5 different waterfalls on the way down (this takes about 3 hours).

Now, when it comes to the hike down through the thick rainforest, be prepared for quite the treacherous path. It can get very narrow and is made of wooden planks that are even broken in some places. At some places, you get railings to cling on to while you walk on slippery rocks, and at other places where you’ll have to walk over waterways, you’ll be doing so on ladder-like bridges that aren’t the sturdiest.

Nonetheless, braving all this is worth it all, because the sites you see are absolutely marvellous! This is especially true when it comes to the huge curtain of waterfalls pouring through the lush greenery into the shallow basin.

Tumpak Sewu, Bromo, Indonesia, Bali
Tumpak Sewu Waterfall

The sheer size and power of Tumpak Sewu is humbling. Before you even see the falls you will definitely feel its spray, because that’s how strong it is!

A few things to keep in mind before visiting Tumpak Sewu:

● Like with Mount Bromo, the trek through either route to the waterfalls is not an easy one. So be sure that you can handle the steep and risky hike down!

● Don’t forget to take the following items with you, because you will need them:

1. Raincoats (without one, you will get soaked and you cannot swim at Tumpak Sewu itself).

2. Water shoes (this is the recommended choice) or a shoe with good grip. Do not wear slippers or flip flops because they will not make your journey any easier.

3. An adequate camera cover as well as a lens wipe because the spray from the waterfall can get quite intense.

● While you can’t swim at the basin of the main waterfall, the surrounding area has multiple waterfalls and bathing spots. We'd suggest leaving out a full day for Tumpak Sewu so you can take your time, spend 3 or 4 hours hiking, swimming and taking pictures, and really enjoying your time here. You wouldn’t even feel the time going by!

● Although you do pay a fee at the entrance, you'll be asked to pay an additional fee before visiting the other waterfalls, so do remember to take some cash with you to pay for this.

Final Thoughts

Flying to Surabaya Airport from Bali is the ideal and less time consuming option as it only takes about 40 minutes to complete the flight. We managed to get our tickets for IDR 420,000 ($30) each.

When it comes to what type of vehicle to rent in East Java, we’d probably lean more towards renting a vehicle instead of a scooter, or even hiring a driver because the distances between the attractions on this part of the island are further apart in comparison to those in Bali.

In our opinion, ending our Bali adventures with our excursions in East Java was the best way to end our month long vacation!

Don’t forget to take a look at our vlog for a more detailed account of our experience in East Java! If you found this guide helpful, head over to our YouTube channel for more extensive visual content on our travels and more! Check it out here:

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