Yogyakarta, popularly known as Jogjakarta or Jogja among the locals, is a city in the southern part of Central Java in Indonesia. Being a gateway to the great Buddhist Monument Borobudur, a great Hindu Temple Prambanan and the holy volcanic mountain of Merapi, Yogyakarta is considered as the cultural hub of Java Island.
Yogyakarta is served by an important airport, that offers services to many cities in Indonesia as well as direct flights to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It has an excellent train and bus connectivity with the neighbouring cities in Java. Although Jakarta to Yogyakarta flight is a convenient, quick and can be a cheaper options sometimes, but a daytime journey by a train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta is just fantastic with the view of scenic paddy fields, gorgeous mountains and interesting rural life.
I divided this post in two parts: The First Part is about the planning part of this train journey and the booking of the train ticket. The Second Part is about my personal experiences on a day-time train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta.
Which Journey is Better, Day-Time or Night Time? Depends on the preferences. Normally all the trains take approx 8-9 hours to cover the 530 kms distance between Jakarta and Yogyakarta. Night Trains, Day Trains, Executive Class Trains, Economy Class Trains..all type of trains mostly run on the time.
Executive Class night trains from Gambir Station in Jakarta arrive early in the morning at Tugu Yogyakarta Station between 0300 AM to 0430 AM. Although the journey is very comfortable in an executive class coach, but it is advisable when you have a prior booking at a hotel and an arrangement for pick up from the station. You can get some sort of transports outside the station, but in early morning hours, getting an accommodation is a challenging task, if there is no prior booking. It often left you on the mercy of touts.
Economy Class night trains from Pasar Senen Station in Jakarta arrive in the morning at Lempuyangan Station in Yogyakarta between 0600 to 0700 AM.
Be aware that most of the time hotels/hostels in Yogyakarta don’t allow an early check-in. Mostly check-in time is 1200 PM. So, if you think that travelling by a night train can save you few bucks on the hotel accommodation, then it may cause some inconvenience, particularly in case of the Executive class trains.
Most of the day-time trains depart early from Jakarta and arrive in the afternoon at Yogyakarta. As I said earlier that the day-time journey is just fantastic with the view of scenic paddy fields, gorgeous mountains and interesting rural life.
Which Class to Choose During The Journey? Apart from the Urban Commuter Trains, there are many long-distance trains to travel between the cities in Indonesia. In India, you have many categories of the trains like Passenger, Express, Superfast etc and thus, travel time between the cities is mostly depends on the train category. Further, we have coaches like General, Sleeper, 3 AC, 2 AC and all in the same train or on different trains. Some trains have only one or two type of coaches.
In Indonesia, the train category is defined by the ticket class only and there are mainly two ticket classes:
Executive (First) Class: The expensive one. Fully air conditioned. Four seats in a row (two seats left side, two seats right side and a corridor in-between). The seats normally face the front side, but they can rotate to face the back side, so these seats are highly suitable for the family/groups. All seats have footrests, inclining backrests and cushions. While booking tickets, you can see subclass A, H, I, J with different prices. Actually, all these are similar, but they only differ in the prices like a flight ticket, where prices vary according to the seat location inside the aircraft.
Economy (Third) Class: The cheaper one. Fully air conditioned. Two rows of seats with a corridor in-between. Front and Back facing seats. Each seat can accommodate two passengers. While booking tickets, you can see subclass C, S, Q, P with different prices. Actually, all these are similar, but they only differ in the prices like a flight ticket, where prices vary according to the seat location inside the aircraft.
Sometimes, you may find a train class termed as Business (Second) Class. Most of the trains between Jakarta and Yogyakarta don’t have this class now.
It’s very rare that a single train has more than one type of classes. So, an Executive class train has all the coaches as the Executive Class and an Economy Class train has all the coaches as the Economy Class. The trains can be identified by their name following by a number like Gajahwong 164, Taksaka Malam 54 etc. The Economy Class train is fully air-conditioned and nice enough to experience a pleasant journey, however, the Executive Class trains are mostly used as a comfortable way of travelling. The Economy Class trains have more stoppage than the Executive Class trains, so the travel time for Economy Class train is 1 hour to 2 hours more. The ticket prices for the Economy Class train is vary from 70000 IDR to 270000 IDR, while for the Executive Class, the ticket prices vary from 260000 IDR to 430000 IDR. The ticket prices also vary with the availability status and the date of the journey. In my opinion, Economy Class train is a decent option to travel between Jakarta and Yogyakarta.
Which Railway Stations Should You Go to Travel from Jakarta to Yogyakarta? It depends on the ticket class. All Executive Class trains depart from Gambir Station (GMR) in Jakarta and arrive at Tugu Yogyakarta (YK) station in Yogyakarta. All Economy Class trains depart from Pasar Senen Station (PSE) in Jakarta and arrive at Lempuyangan (LPN) station in Yogyakarta.
Gambir Station is situated near the National Monument, Monas, in Jakarta and a relatively easy to reach, while Pasar Senan is slightly away, still good to catch a train. In Yogyakarta, Tugu station is in the center, few minutes away from Maliboro Street, always busy irrespective of the time and lot of backpacker hostels/hotels are in the vicinity. However, Lempuyangan station is also not too far, hardly 3 kms away. Catching a train from Gambir and leaving at Tugu is the best option for smooth journey, but the ticket price is relatively higher. They journey from Pasar Senan to Lempuyangan is cheaper because of the economy train tickets.
Online Ticket Booking: It is possible to book the train tickets online. Ticket reservations can be made starting 90 days in advance. Indonesian railway official website is useful to book the tickets online, but as a foreign traveller, I found Tiket.com more useful, where online ticket booking is possible with a small transaction fee. Both websites charge 7500 IDR convenience fee while booking the tickets online.
The online tickets can also be booked at numerous Indomaret and Alfamart Superstores situated across the country. They charge a small fee for the ticket booking. The offline tickets can be purchased from the ticket booking counters at the railway stations.
Ticket Printing Machines: The online tickets booked on the official railway website, tiket.com, Indomaret stores or booked through any other sources are not valid for the journey. After booking, you will get a reference number (kind of PNR number). These e-tickets must be redeemed with the physical railway ticket, an orange ticket, before commencing the journey. There are many ticket exchange counters at the railway stations. Apart from the ticket exchange counters, many ticket printing machines are also available. The ticket printing machines are like self-service kiosks, where you can print orange tickets without any help by using your reference number.
If you buy ticket offline before 3 days of the journey from the booking counter at the stations, then you get a blue ticket, and within 3 days of the journey , then you get an orange ticket. The orange ticket is valid for the journey and you can straight board the train. But blue ticket must be redeemed at the ticket printing kiosks, just like online tickets, before the commencement of the journey.
Few Points to Note:
1. Passengers are required to bring an original ID Card (Passport in case of Foreign Nationals)
2. Passengers are required to check in at least 1 (one) hour prior to the time of departure.
3. Redeem the ticket at least one hour before departure time at the counter or at the ticket printing machine. Please be reminded that the operational hours of the stations may vary.
4. Postponement, cancellation, or modification of journey can only be done at the nearest train station counter by showing the Passport for whom the ticket has been issued in the reservation system.
5. Cancellation can be done at least 30 minutes before departure time.
6. Refunds for cancellations will be reduced by 25% of the ticket price for administration fee.
7. Modification of the reservation can only be done once, at least one day before departure time.
8. It’s better to take foods and drinks with you.
9. Toilets may not look neat and clean. You have to bear with that. No other choice.
10. The baggage limit is 20 kg per person. However, normally there is no check. If doesn’t look too bulky, then you can easily travel with it, else you have to pay the excess baggage fee.
11. The Trains in Indonesia, irrespective of their class and journey time, don’t have the sleeper berths.
12. Few Economy Class trains are equipped with the Fans instead of the Air Conditioners.