Java’s main cities are linked by train and allow for travelling in comfort whilst enjoying the scenery. From Jakarta you can access Yogyakarta, Kota, Bogor, Bandung, Solo, Surabaya, Semarang and Cirebon. Many travellers take the long but stunning train journey from Jakarta, across Java to Bali. This does take over 24 hours, so many people break this down by travelling to Yogyakarta or Surabaya for a few days and then continuing on with the train, bus and ferry to Bali.
Jakarta’s main train stations are Jakarta Gambir, this is close to the city centre (modern city centre) and Jakarta Kota, which is close to the old city centre (colonial city centre). We used Gambir station, both to book and depart from, on our journey from Jakarta to Yogyakarta.
Indonesian trains can be broken down into three classes:
- Executive (Eksecutif) – air-conditioned, seat reservation is compulsory, spacious carriages.
- Business (Bisnis) – no air-conditioning, seat reservation is compulsory.
- Economy (Ekonomi) – no air-conditioning, seat reservation is not usually possible and it can be crowded (especially during rush hours).
Booking a train at Gambir Station, Jakarta to Yogyakarta:
- Head into the main terminal at Gambir and first look for an area signposted as “Ticket Reservation Form” or “Formulir Pemesanan Tiket Kereta Api”. You must fill in this form before you get to the ticket booth. (Although my partner queued and I filled in the form to try to save time).
- You will also need to know the name of the train (as part of the reservation form). Here is the list of trains and times that confirmed we needed the Taksaka Train at 8.30am.
- Once you have completed the form, head to the ticket booths numbered 14 to 21 to book the train from Gambir to Yogyakarta.
- We just happened to queue for a ticket on the first day of a holiday and unfortunately had to wait over 4.5 hours to get our two tickets so we could travel the following day. From talking to other passengers in the queue, we found that this was an unusually long time to wait and that depending on the time of day, it can take just 30 minutes to purchase a ticket.
- Booking online will save you the time and hassle, however you are charged a small commission for the booking. This can be done up to 30 days before travel. It is especially useful during Chinese New Year, Ramadan and certain other religious festivals, where tickets may sell out weeks in advance. Do bear in mind that you will still need to swap your emailed confirmation for the ‘actual’ ticket at least 1 hour before departure at the same ticket booths mentioned above.
For more information on planning your trains in Indonesia visit SEAT 61. We used this site to help plan our train journeys around Java.