Traveling Java there is really only one way to get around the island, and that is by taking the train. Almost all major tourist spots in Java have a train station, making it an easy and convenient way to get around the country. But taking public transportation in a foreign country might be a big daunting, and as the rules differ from your home country or some neighbouring country it might be good to do some research before boarding that train. So if you are planning on traveling Java, don’t look any further, here is everything you need to know about train travel in Java, Indonesia!
How to book a train ticket in Java, Indonesia
Lucky for all of us, and with being in the 21st century, it could not be easier to book your train ticket for your journey in Java. While you can go to the train station to buy a ticket there, I would strongly recommend you to buy your tickets online, it is super quick, easy, and you will know the exact time schedule of the train. We have used two different websites to book our train tickets:
Tiket.com – Tiket .com must be one of the most used websites to book your train tickets. Just simply go to the website, switch to English and type your departure/arrival station and travel date in. The website will then show you a range of trains available. Do be aware that many are the same train, just leaving from a different train platform within one city. Best to all quickly search for them in Google Maps to see which one is closest to both of your accommodations.
You can sort the trains based on departure time, price or even class. If you are a budget traveler, like we are, you will probably be traveling in Economy Class. As these seats often sell out the quickest, we would recommend booking them a couple of days in advance. This will guarantee you to still be able to choose seats and a place in your preferred train. Find an example on how the schedule of the train looks like below. Simply click the “Book Now” button and fill in your details!
Now, there is one issue with booking with Tiket .com that many travelers seem to run into, they can’t make the payment which means they can’t book their ticket. But don’t worry, there is a way to resolve this issue. Once you are in the booking screen, look for the “Live Chat” sign. Click on there and you will be put in contact with an online agent. Simply inform them of the situation. They will inform you they need to “White List” your credit card and will give you the instructions. For us this meant sending a photo of our passport and credit card (with certain details covered up, especially the back of your credit card) to a provided email address. While we never got a response the next day we had no issues with booking our train tickets.
Traveloka.com – Even though we had our credit card white listed, after three separate train bookings we had issues with paying for our tickets again at Tiket .com . When contacting customer service via Live Chat they could only recommend us to use a different payment option, something we did not have. Naturally, we looked for another way to book our train tickets and stumbled upon the Traveloka website.
Simply type in your departure and arrival station, number of passengers and your travel data and it will give you all the options of trains. On Traveloka you can also sort the train by departure time, transit time, price and class. Simply click “Book Now” to fill in all your details and be sure they are the same as in your Passport, as this will be checked at the train station. We received our E-Ticket within a couple of minutes of booking and had no issues with paying for our tickets at all. Find an example of the booking screen with Traveloka below.
What to Expect at the Train Stations in Java, Indonesia
So now that you have received your online E-Ticket you are ready to go to the train station. Lucky for all of us travelers, you actually don’t need to print your ticket. Once you arrive at the train station simply look for the signs saying “Check in”. Follow the signs until you will find either a room or a row of computers set up. Each of these computers are equipped with a scanner, simply open your E-ticket (if you have internet, or else save it to your phone) and scan the bar code. If you have any issues there is always a customer service agent nearby to assist you further. You will receive one orange ticket per passenger, only with this ticket you will be able to board your train.
With your orange ticket and your passport in hand walk towards the platforms, here is another customer agent sitting waiting to scan your ticket and to check your passport, so be sure your details on your ticket are the same as on your passport. This customer service agent will also tell you of which platform the train will be leaving. While we were able to check in early and they request you to check in one our before the departure of your train, on one station we were not let onto the platform until 45 min before departure time.
Now that you have some time left you can buy some snacks and drinks for your train journey, as some of them are as long as 8 to 10 hours, you might want to eat a good meal in advance. If you don’t get the chance to buy any drinks or snacks, don’t worry, snacks and drinks are also sold on the train, may it just be slightly more expensive then in the shop.
Train Travel in Java, Indonesia – The Journey
All checked in? Time to find your train. Head to the platform the customer service agent has informed you about and simply wait for your train. Once it arrives be sure to step into the right wagon. On the side of the wagons, next to (one of) the doors you will find a number, this is your wagon number and is also printed on your orange ticket. When you get inside the train you simply look for the seat numbers that are indicated above the windows. There is space for your luggage in the overhead racks and underneath your seat.
Almost all trains, in every class, nowadays, are equipped with two plugs per row of seats, in Economy this often means per 4 or 6 seats. You will also find (squat) toilets at the entrances to the wagons, be sure to pack some toilet paper or tissue as it is not uncommon for the toilet paper to be missing in the toilets. Besides that, just sit down and enjoy the ride. The views from the train in Java are simply stunning, from small villages to creeks, volcano views or endless rice fields, there is enough to see.
In the train the next stop is announced in both Bahasa Indonesia and English, so pay close attention to the announcements. As there are multiple stops in the major cities be sure to check that you are getting off at the right station. Then there is only one thing left to do, finding your accommodation, which brings us to the next step!
How to get from the train station to your accommodation
Unless your accommodation is right next to the train station you will probably either have to walk, or find another form of transportation. While taxi’s are widely available our recommended form of transportation is using Grab! Grab is like the Uber of Southeast Asia, but instead of using a credit card you can just pay cash upon arrival. Simply download the app and as long as you have internet you can download a GrabBike or a GrabCar from wherever you may be. You can download the Grab app here!
Grab is used a lot in Java, and some of the major touristic sights and airports even have assigned pickup points. Just be aware that in smaller cities, such as Probolinggo, Grab has only recently become available, as such there are still some “red zones”. In the red zones the drivers cannot pick up new passengers, as this might be a danger to them and their passengers. Our driver informed us that he had a rock thrown at his window before when he picked a passenger up at the bus station. So be aware that some drivers may cancel your ride! In bigger cities such as Jakarta and Yogyakarta you can simply use the app anywhere you like.
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All ready to hop on your first train? Enjoy the ride! If you have any questions left be sure to ask them in the comments down below and we will do our best to answer them. Don’t forget to check out exactly how much it costs to travel in Java and our post on 15 things you need to know before going to Java!