Ijen is one of the most unique volcanoes in Indonesia, if not the world. It’s claim to fame? The constant burning of sulphur deposits means Ijen is always spurting blue flames out of it’s crust. While getting there is by no means quick, going to Ijen from Bali can be cheap…if you plan it correctly.
While there are a few tour companies offering this service, with round trip coaches/vans and included bottled water, they tend to be quite expensive. If you go in a large group I didn’t see anything less than $50/person (not including Ijen entrance fee), and if you are a travel couple or going solo and want a private driver expect to pay $150-250 for a minivan.
So what should you do?
It’s entirely possible to get to Ijen from Bali on a budget, and we decided to see just how cheaply we can do it.
This is located in North Denpasar which means you should probably take a grab or GoJek from your accommodation. We went from Seminyak and our Grab totalled Rp.90,000 or about $6.50
Once in Ubung Bus Terminal just find a bus that says Gilimanuk on the front window. If you need help, there is a police station inside the terminal so just ask an officer. We did and he led us directly to the bus and told us exactly how much to pay. As you pay the driver, don’t give money to anyone hanging around the station. On the non-air conditioned busses the cost is Rp.50,000 per person or about $3.50. Another plus besides the cheap price is the schedule. The bus leaves every hour from the terminal.
Note that the ride takes anywhere from 4-8 hours dependent on traffic conditions.
You will be dropped off right near the ferry port and you have to buy your ticket before you get on. The cost is Rp.6,500 or about $0.45 per person. The strait crossing takes about a half hour.
These days they use a plastic card that locals can top up to buy a ticket. Unfortunately they do not have a cash window nor do the machines take credit/debit card. Unless you want to buy a card for Rp.25,000 you should ask the local attendent to buy tickets for you on his card and you’ll give him cash. He will ask for Rp.7,500 per ticket meaning he makes a cool 7 cents on the deal. Fine with me.
The ferry leaves every half an hour, so it is not that important to follow strict schedule. No meter at what time you will arrive to the port, it won’t be long till the boat departs
Ok, so we heard you could totally take a public bus, but as you are going to an accommodation you might as well take a TukTuk and be dropped off right in front. Just tell a local you want to go to Banyuwangi and expect to pay Rp.50,000. The Ketapang port is a grab/GoJek red zone so unless you want to walk a few blocks, you’ll have to take a local TukTuk driver.
We “stayed” at Mango Tree guest house and I put stayed in quotations since we didn’t sleep much. You have to leave around midnight to go to the volcano if you want to see the blue fire so it’s really just a place to put your things, charge your devices, and shower after a long journey.
The price at Mango Tree for one night was Rp.125,000 or about $9
Unfortunately there are no public busses that run from Banyuwangi to the base of the Ijen volcano, so you’ll need to either arrange a private driver, or find a tour.
Expect to pay Rp.500,000 for a private driver per car. If you spot other tourists you can discuss ride sharing to lower the cost individually. This doesn’t include the entrance fee to Ijen volcano, nor does it (usually) include the gas mask, headlamp, and goggles. You also don’t get a tour guide up the mountain and down the crater.
We suggest doing a tour because that will really help you save on the transport fee. We actually booked our tour through the owner of Mango Tree guesthouse and it was fantastic. I highly recommend doing the small group tour as you get really good service.
The total price this way was Rp.325,000 per person, however this also includes breakfast, waters, headlamp, gas mask, goggles, AND the actual entrance price to Ijen. Normally the tour is Rp.250,000 but we went Christmas Eve and had to pay holiday pricing. (The actual volcano entrance fee goes up, it wasn’t the operator just asking for more money).
This takes about 1 hour. We were in a van with 5 other people so it was fairly comfortable. On arriving at the base we had breakfast at a little parking lot restaurant and some much needed coffee.
Enough good energy to start the near 2 hour hike to the top of the volcano.
To Read My Complete Guide To Hiking Ijen Click Here
Going back to Bali from Ijen is similar to getting to Ijen from Bali.
After you finish at the volcano the driver will take you back to the guesthouse where you can have more breakfast (at least where we stayed). From there you can call a Grab/GoJek to the port. Take the ferry and the public bus back to Ubung station, then a grab to your accommodation.
All in all we did this trip in about 30 hours. You could leave later on the first day and do it in less, but we didn’t want to do the ferry crossing at night.
Total Expenditure…………….Rp.828,000 or about $60 per person.
Now I know some backpackers will still scoff at $60 a person and say, “well you can just ride your scooter to Ijen by yourself and only pay for petrol and the entrance fee!”
While this is completely true, that’s driving over 6 hours one way on high traffic and dangerous roads. I personally don’t want to put myself through that.
That being said, I am so happy we went to see Ijen and I highly recommend visiting it for anyone looking for a cool adventure. The blue flames were awesome, and the caldera lake was beautiful. My nose and throat still burn a little from the sulphur gasses, but that’s a small price to pay to see what is in my opinion the best volcano in Indonesia.