There are many travellers who visit the Bromo vulcano after visting Yogyakarta, but fewer make a stop at Ijen or and even less at the Sewu waterfalls before heading to Bali.
And that’s a big shame. The Ijen volcano is one of the most spectacular activities to undertake in Indonesia and the Sewu waterfall is famed as the most beautiful waterfall from all of Bali.
A reason not so many travellers include the Ijen and Sewu waterfall in their trip itinerary is that it can be overwhelming to plan a trip with all these stops. Luckily we already did this research for you, meaning you don’t need to struggle anymore to find the best route.
Enjoy this beautiful trip, which is potentially going to be the best mini-itinerary from your entire trip to Indonesia!
Destination #1: Yogyakarta
As the heart of Javanese culture, we think there’s no better place to begin your journey than Yogyakarta.
Also fondly known as Yogya or Jogja, this vibrant city is the only one in Indonesia still ruled by a monarch – a Sultan to be specific. That alone is a testament to how much Yogya values its history and culture.
How to get to Yogyakarta?
Yogyakarta has its own international airport, but not a lot of countries have direct flights to Jogja. If you’re coming from outside Indonesia, your most probable entry point is Jakarta.
From the capital, you can take a train (8 hours), a flight (3.5 hours), or a bus (8.5 hours) to Yogyakarta. Fares range between 180,000 IDR ($11) and 422,600 IDR ($26).
See here a more detailed description on the route from Jakarta to Yogyakarta.
Destination #2: Mt. Bromo
Mt. Bromo boasts of a view that is out of this world, literally. Sitting on the Tengger caldera with its top blown off and its crater continuously smoking with white sulfur – it’s a lunar landscape that will take your breath away, especially during sunrise.
No wonder it is one of the most hiked volcanoes in Indonesia. It also doesn’t hurt that Bromo is a very easy climb – just around an hour hike from the main entry point in Cemoro Lawang.
PRO-TIP: It can get really chilly on your way up and as you wait for the sun to rise. Temperatures can get as low as 5 degrees Celsius. So we recommend dressing in layers. Wear a jacket that can protect you from the cold and the wind, but nothing too thick for innerwear. It gets really hot as soon as the sun is up!
How to get to Mt. Bromo?
Again, it all depends on where your basecamp is! There are 3 common basecamps when visiting Mt. Bromo. These are Malang, Surabaya, and Probolinggo. We’ve written a more detailed guide about this on our page for Yogyakarta to Bromo.
For the purpose of this itinerary though, we will focus on Malang as it is also the most accessible jump-off point when visiting the next destination, which is Sewu Waterfalls. To get from Yogyakarta to Malang, you can take an 8-hour train for 114,000 IDR ($7) or a 6-hour bus for 300,000 IDR ($20).
From Malang, you can arrange a private jeep through your hotel to get you to the foot of Mt. Bromo. Alternatively, you can book a Bromo sunrise tour with Klook. Rates start from 620,000 IDR ($43).
Destination #3: Sewu Waterfalls
Sewu Waterfalls are most commonly known as Tumpak Sewu, which means “a thousand waterfalls.” Not that there’s really a thousand waterfalls here, but it surely looks like that when you look at its majesty!
From the entrance of the park, your first stop will be the Tumpak Sewu viewpoint. That’s just a 10-minute walk. From here, you can get a view of Sewu Waterfalls in all its glory. Backdropped by the highest mountain in Java, Mt. Semeru, it’s truly a sight to behold.
POR-TIP: For a more magical experience, get here very early in the morning, even before sunrise. The fog adds a dreamy element that makes for some of the best photos of this multi-tiered waterfall.
From the viewpoint, you can reach the bottom via a 30 to 40-minute walk. The trail is pretty safe, but definitely requires some courage and upper body strength. You’ll be passing by bamboo ladders, slippery rocks, and makeshift bridges. Definitely wear sandals or trekking shoes as flip flops are a no-go.
You can’t really swim at the basin, and you won’t have to. The power and strength of the waterfalls around you will be enough to make you feel rejuvenated.
For its grandness, Sewu Waterfalls is still a relatively unknown destination. If you already making your way from Java to Bali, we really think you shouldn’t miss the chance to see the most beautiful waterfall of Indonesia.
How to get to Sewu Waterfalls?
If you stay in Surabaya or Probolingo, it gets complicated. Luckily it much more convenient and closer if you stay in Malang.
From Malang, you can travel 65km by bus east to the town of Lumajang.
Unfortunately there is no set schedule, but if you follow the following two steps you will surely get there!
- Head to Gadang Bus Terminal and ask around which bus you can take to Tumpak Sewu
- Ask the driver to drop you off at Sidomulyo Village
Travel time is around 3 hours and bus fares shouldn’t cost more than 72,000 IDR ($5). Take an aircon bus if it’s available as the journey can get really hot!
Indonesians are very helpful so don’t be surprised if the passengers (plus the driver) inform you that you are already at your destination. Trust us, you will be noticed as a foreigner.
The entrance to Sewu Waterfalls can be easily spotted from the main road at Sidomulyo.
You can also do this as a day trip from Malang if you set off really early, but we rather recommend to spend a night in Sidomulyo Village and catch the sunrise at Sewu waterfall before you head back.
Alternative option: Private ride from Malang to Sewu
We admit the public transport to Sewu can be quite a challenge. Not a lot of tourists take this route.
If you’re not up for that adventure, you can also just rent a car or a motorbike through your hotel. Rates start from 350,000 IDR ($25) for a motorbike and 500,000 IDR ($35) for a shared car.
It’s more expensive, but the advantage is after your trek, you can easily go back to Malang, from where Mt. Ijen (Banyuwangi) is just one train ride away.
Destination #4: Mt. Ijen
Ijen Volcano, or Kawah Ijen, is Java’s most unique destination as it houses the world’s largest acidic volcanic lake. Its crater glows a beautiful turquoise emitting electric blue flames. These flames are especially beautiful at night.
It’s best to arrive at the crater a few hours before dawn. And just when you think the magic show is over, the sun slowly rises and displays the most enthralling backdrop to Ijen Lake.
Note that you will need a gas mask as you near the crater because the high level of sulfur can be toxic (and very smelly). Don’t worry if you don’t have one. Gas masks are available for rent at the foot of the volcano for around 50,000 IDR ($3.50).
Apart from being a tourist destination, Kawah Ijen is also a fully commercial volcano. You’ll see locals hard at work at the crater, collecting sulphur deposits and bringing them down the mountain. Some try to sell small sculpted rocks to visitors, and we really recommend that you buy one if you get the chance. They cost very little but for these miners, any amount can go a long way.
How to get to Mt. Ijen?
The most common base camp to Mt. Ijen is Banyuwangi, Java’s easternmost town.
– Northern route (via Malang)
If you took just a day trip to Sewu Waterfalls and went back to Malang after, you can simply take a 7.5-hour train ride to Bayuwangi’s Karangasem Station. A train ticket costs 61,000 IDR ($4.30). More details are available on our page for Bromo to Ijen.
If you’re looking for convenience, keeping Malang as your basecamp for both Mt. Bromo and Sewu Waterfalls is the best way to go. You can easily travel to Sewu from Malang, stay there one night to see the sun rising behind the Sewu waterfalls and then head back to Malang.
The train from Malang to Banyuwangi leaves around 16:00, so you should be able to continue your travel on the same day if you have the energy for it, Just double check the schedule as there is only one train a day leaving from Malang to Banyuwangi.
This route north of Mt. Bromo from Malang to Banyuwangi is very common for tourists so you won’t have a hard time. But then, where’s the fun in that?
– Southern route (via Klakah)
If you are going straight to Ijen from Sewu Waterfalls, you can take a combined train and taxi to Banyuwangi. First, take a taxi to Klakah Station, located 70km northeast. The taxi ride takes around 1.5 hours and rates start from 360,000 IDR ($25).
Next, take a train from Klakah Station to Banyuwangi. These depart at 03:06, 07:26, and 19:38 daily. Ticket prices start from 43,000 IDR ($3) and the train journey takes around 4 hours.
The southern route from Sewu to Banyuwangi is much less travelled. You’ll be lucky to meet one English-speaking local, but you’ll be able to expand your horizons. Indonesians, especially in these rural areas, are the friendliest of the lot. Thereby it saves you also a lot of travel time!
Should I take the northern via Malang or southern route via Klakah?
If you rather not waste too much time on travelling, it will be the quicker to take the southern route by getting a taxi from Sewu waterfall to Klakah station (1.5 hours) and then continue to Banyuwangi station (4 hours). This total journey will be around 5.5 hours.
If you decide to travel back to Malang (2-3 hours) and then take the train to Banyuwangi (7.5 hours), the total travel time will be around 10 hours, which is almost double the time compared to the southern route.
When it comes to expenses, the train rides for both routes are both around $4. The difference is in whether you take taxi or local bus from Sewu back to Malang. If you take a bus back to Malang, you will spend about $10 for the bus+train to Banyuwangi, while the southern route via Klakah station will costs you around $28. If you will take a taxi back from Sewu to Malang, your expenses of approximately $40 will be higher
Lost track of all the times and costs? Hopefully this overview makes the comparison a bit easier to understand:
- Bus/taxi from Sewu to Malang: 72,000/500,000 IDR ($5/$35), 2-3 hours
- Train from Malang to Banyuwangi: 61,000 IDR ($4.30), 7.5 hours
- Total: 130,000-560,000 ($9-$39), 9.5-10.5 hours
- Taxi to Klakah Station: 360,000 IDR ($25), 1.5 hours
- Train to Banyuwangi: 43,000 IDR ($3), 4 hours
- Total: 400.000 IDR ($28), 5.5 hours
Destination #5: Bali
Bali is an island paradise with a compelling mix of nature and culture. It is a constant item on many travellers’ bucket lists for the famous Balinese culture, sandy beaches, rice terraces and age-old temples.
It has an overall laidback vibe, also making it a go-to destination for surfers and digital nomads. The south Bali beach resort towns like Kuta and Seminyak are the most touristic destinations but it’s an eclectic island with so much to offer adventurous travellers as well.
There is the famed art heritage of Ubud, miles of rolling paddy fields, hidden waterfalls and volcanoes to hike. Bali is also a great base to explore the many offshore islands such as Nusa Penida or a side trip to nearby Lombok.
How to get to Bali?
From Banyuwangi, you can get to Bali through a combined train, ferry and bus.
First, go to the Karangasem Station in the city centre and take the train to Ketapang Station. A ticket costs around 43,000 IDR ($3) and travel time is 20 minutes. From Ketapang station, the harbour is just 10 minutes away on foot.
Next, take a ferry from Ketapang Harbour to Gilimanuk Harbour on Bali Island’s western coast. Ferries are available 24 hours and a ticket costs 8,000 IDR ($0.50) for the 45-minute journey.
From Gilimanuk Harbour, downtown Bali is still 130km away. Taxis are available just outside the harbour, but they are very expensive with rates from 1,200,000 IDR ($83). This is why we prefer to take a minibus from the terminal just outside the harbour.
The minibus will take you up to Ubung Bus Terminal in Denpasar for around 50,000 IDR ($3.50). The bus journey takes about 3.5 hours. From Denpasar’s bus terminal, it’s a 15km journey to South Bali. Your only option from here is a taxi with fares from 144,000 IDR ($10).