Earlier in the month of May 2015 I experienced my first long-distance train travel in Indonesia. And it was so fun! I would highly recommend it for the experience, even if it is only one time.
Like most people, I usually travel by airplane, but I just wanted to experience the train for once. I travelled from Jakarta to Yogyakarta and then a few days later from Yogyakarta to Malang. The ride from Jakarta to Yogyakarta was from the morning until the afternoon and the ride from Yogyakarta to Malang was overnight. Two very different train rides and two very different experiences.
- Big comfortable seats with lots of legroom!
- Jakarta to Yogyakarta service was excellent.
- A one-way train ticket can be cheaper and more affordable than a plane ticket.
- Some amazing and beautiful scenic views can be seen during the ride!
- Decent food and drinks provided (not free though).
- A blanket is provided during overnight travel.
- There is a socket to charge your electric appliances.
- Stops at the stations were short.
- Booking a seat and getting a ticket at the station was supereasy. Just type in your booking number and print your tickets! That’s it.
- Cleanliness in some trains: we had cockroaches crawl around in the train cabin during our overnight ride from Yogyakarta to Malang. Our other train ride was spotless.
- There were no announcements during the overnight train ride to Malang. What if you fall asleep?
- Luckily we had to go out at the last stop.
- There was a monitor display in the cabin, but it did not show anything. Might be useful to announce the next station, especially for foreigners.
- Service during the overnight train ride was not so good as from Jakarta to Yogyakarta. Even though both rides were 7/8 hours long.
- For some people the cabins can be quite cold. So bring a jacket or sweater if you think you need it.
- Mini-adventure: going to a squat toilet on a fast-moving bumpy moving train.
- Guys watching loud kung-fu movies without headsets in the middle of the night.
- Some people have a lack of decency: they are not muting or turning down the volume on their videogames, movies, series, and Youtube clips. So bring noise-cancelling headphones if you are a light sleeper.
From Jakarta to Yogyakarta
We took the Argo Dwipangga that was supposed to leave at 08:00 from Stasiun Gambir, Jakarta in the morning. Unfortunately, the train was delayed for about 45 minutes, but we still arrived on time at around 16:30 in the Stasiun Yogyakarta in, well, Yogyakarta.
The ride took about 8 hours and was really comfortable. The seats were great and there is quite a lot of room for your legs. An electric socket is also provided to charge your phone and camera and such. You get a little pillow and the food and drink service was excellent too. The stations were announced clearly and there were even some employees waking up passengers to make sure they would not miss their stop. Great service!
The reason I took the day train was to enjoy the views along the way. While traveling by air saves you a lot of time, you don’t get views like this. And they were excellent throughout the whole ride. The train took us through cities and small villages, over brown, gray, and green rivers, up and down mountains and hills, along lush green rice fields complete with a picturesque mountainous backgrounds, and over deep jungle canyons. It was amazing and I loved every minute of it.
I highly recommend this train ride if you have time to spare during your travels in Indonesia. It takes longer than travelling by plane, but it’s a bit cheaper and the experience is totally different.
From Yogyakarta to Malang
We booked seats on the overnight Malioboro Ekspres to Malang to save on a night of accommodation. We departed from Yogyakarta Station at 21:00 sharp and arrived in Malang around 05:00 in the morning. It was a decent ride, but not as good as the one a few days earlier.
The cabin was not so clean, as there were cockroaches crawling around the seats. The service was also not so good; station names were not even announced. Luckily we had to go out on the final stop, but what if you have to go out earlier? You better not fall asleep or you’ll miss your station. This could be especially confusing for foreign travellers.
On the other hand, we did get a blanket to nap in. Unfortunately, our sleep was kind of interrupted by a guy watching loud kung-fu movies on his laptop in the middle of night WITHOUT any headphones. I mean, seriously. I was really too tired to ask him to turn it down. But after a few hours he kind of understood how rude that was to other passengers and turned his movies off.
All in all, while this ride was not as good as the first one. It was fun and there was no delay and we arrived on the dot. That was great. I think going by train to Malang from Yogyakarta is one of the cheaper and faster ways to get there, so I’d recommend it. Perhaps the day train is a very different experience. I think I would recommend that over the night train so you could enjoy the views there as well. There is not much to see out the window at night. But yeah, train travel in Indonesia is can be quite a fun experience.