So, my friends and I went to East Java. With limited time, a lot to see, and big distance between places, we put together a jam-packed schedule (not recommended).

Day 1: Arrive Surabaya head to Bromo

Day 2: Bromo tour --> Ijien

Day 3: Hike Kawah Ijien --> Lumajang

Day 4: Tumpak Sewu --> Rainbow Village in Malang --> Surabaya

Day 5: Afternoon flight to Bangkok

Mt. Bromo

This beautiful volcano has been a big attraction for travelers, international and domestics, for such a long time now. People wake up before dawn and flood into this location to catch the breath-taking view of the sun rising over the volcano. I have to say that that experience is nothing short of spectacular.

                                                                                                           the jeep

We got up at 2 am to be able to leave the hotel at 2.30 am. We got into a red jeep arranged by our local tour guide, Willy, and headed to King Kong view point. It was rather cold (11 °C ) and windy. We walked very short distance from where the jeep was parked passing small street vendor and restaurant area where most people took as shelter from the cold wind and dust. They were waiting for the time they would actually go to the viewpoint. We then climbed up this random hill above the official viewing point and joined a few people who were sitting there waiting for the sun to rise. At 5 am the first light of the day appeared as we watched the show. We stayed there for quite sometime just taking in the beauty. Then, the jeep took us down so we can head to the actual crater of the volcano. Amongst other visitors, we walked through the gigantic area of just volcanic sand (you can opt for a horse ride to shorten your journey), made our ways up the stairs and spent some time walking around the crater smelling the rotten egg scent of sulfur. 

We came back to the hotel at around 9 am with dust in every inch of our bodies; eyes, nose, ears, hair, shoes, socks, hat….everywhere!!!

*Notes — A mask is a must and I would really recommend goggles to protect your eyes.

Madakapura waterfall

One of the two waterfalls we visited on the trip. We went to this waterfall after checking out from the hotel in Bromo. The driver dropped us off somewhere then he arranged motor cycle taxis for us. We were driven to the entrance and we continued on foot for another 2 km until we reached the actual waterfall. There were a lot of monkeys on the way. The waterfall itself is not so big so we didn’t spend so much time there. It is really beautiful though with the green leaves all over the wall as background. So it is definitely worth a visit :)

* Note - bring rain coat/jacket


Another well-known volcano in Java. We started the hike at 1.30 am. The first part is pretty steep but once you are passed the official cabin the trail gets so much easier.  We spent around 1.5 hours to go up to the crater rim and another hour climbing down into the crater(If it is too tiring for you, there's a cart service where you sit in a wheel cart and being pushed up the mountains by local guys and he takes you up to the crater lol). Due to the toxic sulfur flumes blowing everywhere, you will need a gas mask which is arranged for you by your tour guide. Can’t say anything about the conditions of the mask though. People come here to witness the ‘blue-flame’ which is a result of combustion of the sulfuric gas and it comes up from the cracks of the rocks and it can only be seen in the dark. You also see locals mining for the sulfur as well. They go up super early and come down from the volcano with carts full of sulfurs. Moreover, in the same crater sits world’s largest acidic lake. When the sun rises, you will be greeted by one of the most breath taking views ever.

*Notes — you need solid hiking shoes because the trail is just sand so it gets really slippery especially during the descent. Also try to get shoes that are sealed shut so the sand doesn’t get in.

                                                                                                             sun rise view

Tumpak sewu waterfall

This is the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen. enough said! We got there quite early and were met with a local guide who took us down to the waterfall(s) after showing us the majestic panorama view of the waterfall with a volcano right behind it. Then we started the climb down. We went down using stairs, steps, ropes and all the fun stuff. It took us maybe 20 minutes to reach the waterfall. If you think the pictures of Tumpak Sewu you’ve seen on the internet is impressive, your mind will be blown when you see it in real. It felt like I was in one of the Jurassic park movies! The waterfall is surrounding you from every corner, and when you look up, flocks of birds are flying over head. It was so surreal. After that we made our way to other smaller, but still very impressive, waterfalls in the area. There were steep ones where you have to climb up, there was a small blue lagoon, and some caves. Overall a very fun couple of hours exploring :) it took us 45 minutes climbing back up though (this part was not so fun lol).

                                                                                                  from above
                                                                                                     from below

Rainbow village in Malang

On the way back to Surabaya from Tumpak Sewu, we stopped by Malang (which I learned, is a weekend/holiday town for Subarayan people) to see a rainbow village. The village is a project to help an underprivileged community. Basically they repainted the buildings and established it as a tourist attraction. You pay a little to get in and walk around, taking pictures. Residents of the village open up shops selling small things to earn some income.

                                                                                                  Rainbow village


To be honest there’s nothing much to see in Surabaya, we even asked our guide and he could not give us any recommendations as to where we should go. We, however, found a small tobacco museum which we thought was quite interesting. According to TripAdvisor, there’s a Chinese temple and a long bridge somewhere in the city that some people do go check out.

                                                                           our private van, decent size for 5 people

We hired one tour guide/driver for the whole trip to make things easier as we didn’t have much time to even attempt to travel with public transportation. I would recommend doing it this way for convenience. It is also a good way to help support locals as everywhere you go you are accompanied by local guides from respective communities. We used Arif Travel ([email protected]). We paid half when we got picked up at the airport and the other half when the driver dropped us at the airport on our last day. Highly recommended. 

List of hotels;

  • At Bromo — Bromopermai
  • At Ijien — Ijien view hotel (decent hotel where we spent 2 hours at)
  • In Lumajang — Aby Hotel (half way from Ijien to Tumpak Sewu waterfall)
  • In Surabaya — HOME guest house.


 Wednesday, January 11, 2023 10:40 AM