Java, the most populated island of Indonesia, is home to some of the most incredible volcanic landscapes in the world. Central Java and East Java are a must for your Indonesia itinerary.
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 East Java itinerary will guide you through some of the unmissable highlights of Java that we visited on our first trip through the area, starting in Central Java and ending in west Bali.
✈ Where To Start
The starting point of this Java itinerary is Yogyakarta in central Java, Indonesia.
Fly to Yogyakarta International Airport (YIA), 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 Rupiah ($70 USD) or flights from Bali (DPS) for only 600k Rupiah ($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 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
○ Prambanan Temple
Spend the morning exploring Prambanan, a group of massive Hindu temple ruins near Yogyakarta city in central Java. 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 Rupiah (~$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
○ Tumpak Sewu Waterfall
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 very early start!
○ Kabut Pelangi Waterfall
From Tumpak Sewu, drive another 10 minutes east to the trailhead for Kabut Pelangi. This is a huge waterfall worth the 45-minute hike!
○ Kapas Biru Waterfall
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
○ Coban Pelangi Waterfall
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 130 kilometers (80 miles) but be prepared for it to take 3+ hours. Get to bed early so you can be ready for Bromo!
Mount Bromo is one of the main highlights of this East Java itinerary, so you’ll want to do it justice.
• 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 (a homestay nearby is best). The distance from Bromo to Ijen is 230 kilometers (140 miles) and the drive takes a whopping 6+ hours.
• Day 7: Kawah Ijen Crater + Ferry To Bali
○ Kawah 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 the 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 Rupiah (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 when it’s more sunny and dry.
The rainy season runs from November to April. You can go during this time, but it may not 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 on this East Java itinerary, plus Mount Bromo and Ijen, and finally dropped us at the Bali ferry.
His daily price at Malang was 400k Rupiah + petrol, which worked out to be 620k Rupiah ($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 on this East Java itinerary. Highly recommended and much cheaper than booking a full tour package!