Mount Ijen is an active volcano in East Java, Indonesia
How to get to Mount Ijen
Mount Ijen is pretty close to Bali. Everybody’s heard of that place, right? It’s a short trip from Bali or anywhere in East Java. Depending where you are in Indonesia, you’ll probably have to take a bus or two, a van or two, and for further treks, a train.
I made my way from Yogyakarta, Central Java. It’s best to pair the trip to Mt. Ijen with Mt. Bromo, another volcano nearby. It is another volcano, but its a completely different experience.
Mount Ijen Price
The best part about my experience is that I didn’t take a tour. I did it myself. Well, with a few new friends I met along the way. Most people who come here are told they have to take an expensive tour, and we almost believed it. But we decided to try it without a guide, and it was amazing.
We got to take our own route, stay as long as we liked, and even talk with some of the sulfur miners at the bottom of the crater. All the other tourists with their guides had to leave hours before us, and they didn’t get to deviate from the normal path.
So it cost us nothing, except the small entrance fee of 150,000rp or $11.
Where to stay
We actually slept in our car (hired van) in a town about an hour away from the volcano. Because you will want to arrive at 2 or 3am, why pay a hotel for only a few hours of sleep?
Hiring a van with a few friends or people you meet along the way is a cheap option, especially because it doubles as a bed for a quick night.
If you don’t got a van/tent, stay in Banyuwangi.
How much time do you need at Mount Ijen
You’ll need to arrive at the entrance of Mount Ijen by 3am. That’s when it opens and the stream of tourists flows in. This is the perfect time because it takes an hour to hike to the top, and the main reason Mount Ijen is famous is the blue fire.
This gives you an hour or so before sunrise when you can see the blue flames in the dark of the night. Once the sun starts to rise over the crater, the flames seem to disappear. But that provides you with a whole new experience, and a new beautiful landscape to explore.
The amazing turquoise crater lake appears, and the intense yellows of the sulfur can now be seen all around you. So in all, spend 3am-8am here to see it all.
When is the best time to go
You can come here any time of year. Arrive at 2 or 3am. We slept in a car in a town nearby until 1:30 and then made our drive to the entrance. You can’t avoid tourists if you go early for the blue fire. The only time you’ll find yourself tourist-free is if you linger a bit longer.
Most tourists will leave with their groups an hour or two after sunrise. Take your time, and enjoy the view without the crowds if you stay past 8am.
What to do there
Get there at 2 or 3am to see the wondrous blue fire. Get as close to it as you can, but beware, even with the gas mask provided to you, the sulphuric gas cloud can be swept toward you by the wind, and it burns your eyes and throat. You’ll live though. It’s quite fun.
Then make sure to hike to the very bottom to actually talk with the miners working at ground level. Once you’re done inside the crater, you’re not done yet.
Hike to the very top and then take a left turn to hike halfway around the rim of the volcano. There you’ll get the most amazing view of Mount Ijen and it’s turquoise lake.
Mount Ijen Tips
When we were in the area (East Java) we spoke to many people who had gone before us. They all said they paid large amounts of money for a tour.
Some paid $100 or more for the experience. Don’t do it. Go to Mt. Ijen yourself, without a guide for a better, more unique experience. And pay next to nothing.
Why should Mount Ijen be on my bucket list?
There is no place like this in the world. A trip here is like many experiences in one. You get to witness the blue fire, beautiful and painful sulphuric gas clouds, miners working hard to extract bright yellow pieces of sulphur from the crater, and the most incredible view of its turquoise acidic crater lake. Where else do you get multiple once-in-a-lifetime experiences in one place?