For those who want to combine a pure Indonesian experience together with a trip to touristy Bali, nearby Java represents the ideal destination. Covered in green wild nature, the island of Java offers plenty of attractions, above all mesmerizing temples and volcanoes to hike. The large dimensions of the island require a stay of at least 7-10 days for a complete visit.
JAVA FROM WEST TO EAST
This is our suggested itinerary for a journey throughout Java from West to East (clearly you can follow it both ways). A reliable railway system allows easy transfers between main cities, whilst you need to refer to travel agencies to be taken by private car or minivan to volcanoes excursions.
Indonesian capital city is notorious for its hellish traffic, caused by a lack of an underground link in a 10 million inhabitant metropolis. This makes transfers to and from the airport long and hard (it can take up to 4 hours in peak times). The city is equally chaotic and desultory, the only alternative to queuing in a taxi are endless strolls among crowds. We stayed for one night only and left with the first train in the morning!
Yogyakarta special administrative region is certainly more charming and fascinating. Its of the same name capital also known as Jogja is the cultural heart of Java. Here you can find the most notable temple of Indonesia, Borobudur, besides multiple Buddhist, Hinduist and Muslim worship places. In the centre of the old city rises the ancient sultan residence, a mystical area worth a visit. The sea is reachable on a day trip, as much as it is possible to trek onto Merapi Volcano (if it’s not erupting like it was when we were there!). You can plan to spend 3-5 nights in Jogja. Traffic here is quite intense too, but more flowing out of town; if you are up for it you can rent a scooter for 4$ and plunge into crazy Java roads!
PROBOLINGGO – BROMO VOLCANO
Keeping on moving eastwards, it’s possible to reach Probolinggo city by train from Jogja via an 8 hour journey, and from there start trekking to Mt. Bromo and its adjacent volcano, the most iconic peak in Java, often depicted on travel guides (and on top of this post!). Read our detailed article on how to reach and plan the best way to hike Mt. Bromo from Jogja and Probolinggo.
BANYUWANGI – MOUNT IJEN
Charming likewise and in growing tourist consideration other than local, Mount Ijen and its blue fire represent a very unique experience. Here you have the chance to see blue sulfur flames coming out naturally from the volcano crater at over 600°C, a spectacle to be seen at night before dawn.
After crossing the strait by ferry from Bali, Banyuwangi is the ideal town where to spend the night before the trip.
For all the info on how to get to Mt. Ijen and see the blue fire, read our dedicated post here.
Following here are some useful info about Java and Indonesia:
HOTEL – WHERE TO STAY IN INDONESIA?
You can prebook all your accommodation with free cancellation in Indonesia here.
Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa: a dream place to use as base to leave from for day trips around Jogja. During medium-low season it’s rather easy to find rooms at affordable prices.
With a lower budget it’s still possible to find great stays in Jogja, such as Nextdoor Homestay which offers room, breakfast and swimming pool for 20$ only!
In Jakarta, Yello Hotel Harmoni is perfect and cheap to spend the night coming or going to the airport.
For Bromo and Ijen volcanoes, it’s much likely that agencies organizing your trip will suggest you a homestay as well, you can check here and see the choice is little and modest.
WEATHER – WHEN TO GO TO JAVA?
Java is subject to a monsoon tropical climate, dry season goes from May to October, rainy season from November to April.
Transition months as May and October are the best period to avoid extreme hot and big tourist crowds.
DO I NEED A TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Yes you do. Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
WHAT ABOUT VACCINES?
It’s always recommendable to check whether you need specific vaccines, in particular if you travel for more than 15 days. Check with a doctor at a medical centre what you could need for Indonesia.
DO I NEED A VISA TO INDONESIA?
Most citizens from Europe and America can enjoy a free visa up to 30 days when visiting Indonesia. For longer stays and to check your citizenship eligibility visit iVisa.
FLIGHTS – WHERE TO START YOUR JAVA TRAVEL?
If you are coming from abroad Jakarta is the most obvious and cheapest choice, although flying to Yogyakarta may be a valid option too in order to skip West Java and proceed from Jogja to Bali.
Arriving from Bali it’s possible to cross the strait by ferry and start your journey from East Java.
TRAINS, BUSES, FERRIES – HOW TO BOOK TICKETS IN INDONESIA?
The Indonesian railway link is quite advanced for Southeast Asian standards, with on time, clean and pleasant train services. It’s easy and comfy to travel between Jakarta, Jogja and Surabaya by train, you can read more about it in our detailed article here.
Train tickets can be bought at stations on the same day of traveling. To plan in advance you can book tickets online through reliable agency Tiket.com.
Traveling by bus is less convenient compared to trains. For shorter distances or steep sections as to climb on volcano sides, the best solution is to deal with local agencies. We spent 50,000 rupiah each, 3$, for a van ride from Probo to Cemoro Luwang, at Mt. Bromo feet.
Ferry tickets are sold at the pier for just 7,000 rupiah, or by paying 100k you can get a joint ferry+bus ticket to Denpasar terminal in Bali, some 100 km away.
WHAT TO EAT IN JAVA?
The most simple and famous Indonesian dishes are Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Mie Goreng (fried noodles), which can be found basically everywhere in all their varieties with chicken, fish, eggs, or vegetarian. Other typical dishes are Sate Ayam (chicken satay), Bakso Mie (meatball soup), Gado Gado (boiled vegetable salad).
That’s all! You are now good to go and plan your journey to Java, should you need any more info, please let us know in the comment section below!
HAPPY TRAVELS THROUGHOUT JAVA!
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Awesome guide guys, really helpful! We are hoping to head over to Java in a few weeks. Had no idea there was a train!
Thank you Alex, we are very glad to help! It was a pleasant surprise for us too, and it was so much easier and comfortable to travel those 8-hour-long routes by train!