Java, the most populated island of Indonesia, is home to some of the most incredible volcanic landscapes in the world.
The smoking craters at Mount Bromo and Kawah Ijen have become famous tourist destinations in Java, but this island is also dotted with jungles, ancient temples, and waterfalls galore.
This 1-week itinerary will guide you through some of the unmissable highlights of East Java that we visited on our first trip through the area, starting in Central Java. You can click the links for more information on each of these sights as you go!
Where To Start
The starting point of this itinerary is Yogyakarta in central Java, Indonesia.
Fly to Adisucipto International Airport (JOG), which is served by a bunch of budget friendly airlines with good ratings.
AirAsia often has flights from Singapore (SIN) or Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Yogya for 1 million IDR ($70 USD), or flights from Bali (DPS) for only 600k IDR ($40).
You can also do this itinerary in reverse if you’d like, starting with the Bali ferry ride and then ending in Yogyakarta. The whole process will be largely the same!
Day 1: Dieng Plateau
Kick off your Java sightseeing with a full day trip to Dieng Plateau in the volcanic highlands west of Yogyakarta, starting from town in the early morning hours to get there in time for an epic sunrise on Sikunir hill.
After the sunrise, go see the sulfuric lakes, hill terraces, smoking hot springs, and some of the oldest surviving temples on the island of Java.
More info: Dieng Plateau
Day 2: Prambanan & Borobudur Temples
Spend the morning exploring Prambanan, a group of massive Hindu temple ruins near Yogyakarta city. This temple is less famous than its cousin Borobudur, but I actually like this one best.
• Borobudur Temple
Move on to Borobudur, a big 9th century Buddhist temple that is a bit further outside Yogya and is famous as the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Side note: you can swap the order of Borobudur and Prambanan on this day if you want to see the sunrise at Borobudur.
Day 3: Train To Malang
Take the 7:45 AM train from Yogyakarta Stasiun to Malang.
The train ride takes 8 hours and costs 170k IDR (~$12 USD) per person. Book your tickets online at Tiket.com and scan the e-ticket when you reach the station.
This train ride was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip! It’s comfy, scenic, and enjoyable. You get A/C and food, and some amazing views of the Java countryside.
Day 4: Malang Waterfalls
Start your day at the most impressive waterfall in Indonesia, Tumpak Sewu. The best lighting for photos is early in the morning, and it’s a 2 hour drive from Malang, so you’ll need to get a super early start!
From Tumpak Sewu, drive another 10 minutes east to the trailhead for Kabut Pelangi. This is a huge waterfall worth the 45 minute hike!
From Kabut Pelangi, drive another 10 minutes east to the trailhead for Kapas Biru waterfall. This one is a short 30 minute hike, but the waterfall at the end is incredibly scenic.
Day 5: Coban Pelangi + Drive To Mount Bromo
This is a cool side trip you can do before the drive to Bromo. Coban Pelangi waterfall is a hidden beauty, located in the mountains 1 hour east of Malang.
• Drive From Malang To Mount Bromo
Drive from Malang to Cemoro Lawang (the village at Mount Bromo). The distance from Malang is only 80 miles (130 km), but be prepared for it to take 3+ hours. Get to bed early so you can be ready for Bromo!
Day 6: Mount Bromo Sunrise + Drive To Banyuwangi
• Mount Bromo Sunrise
Wake up early and hike or drive to the sunrise viewpoint for Mount Bromo. Seeing these smoking volcano craters at the crack of dawn is a bucket list experience you’ll never forget.
• Drive From Bromo To Banyuwangi
Drive from Bromo to Ijen (homestay nearby is best). The distance from Bromo to Ijen is 140 miles (230 km) and the drive takes a whopping 6+ hours.
Day 7: Ijen Crater + Ferry To Bali
• Ijen Crater
Wake up early and hike to the Ijen Crater. It’s a tough hike and you have to start very early if you want to see the blue fire (optional), or at least get there by golden hour for the best photos.
• Ferry To Bali
Cross from Java to Bali with the ferry at Ketapang. The trip takes 30-60 minutes and only costs 8k IDR (less than one US Dollar).
You can arrange a driver in advance to pick you up in Bali (recommended), or negotiate one when you land at the port. Welcome to Bali!
When Is The Best Time To Visit Java?
The best time to visit Java is from April to November.
The rainy season runs from November to April. You can go during this time, but it won’t be ideal for the waterfalls or sunrises.
Our East Java Driver
Starting from Malang (Day 3), we had a driver from Zaini Transport for the rest of the trip. He took us to all the waterfalls, Mount Bromo and Ijen, and finally dropped us at the Bali ferry.
His daily price at Malang was 400k IDR + petrol, which worked out to be 620k IDR ($44 USD) for a full day visiting 3 waterfalls in Lumajang, then driving back to comfy Malang. His Bromo/Ijen rate was a little higher, but still the lowest I could find anywhere!
Our driver Dayat was punctual and very familiar with the area, so we had no trouble finding the waterfalls or other sights. Highly recommended and much cheaper than booking a full tour package!