I love train rides and whenever I can, I take this mode of transport, especially abroad. Like when I was in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, France, Spain, Singapore/Malaysia… And I will always do this again and again. In the Philippines, I’ve taken the Legazpi (Albay) PNR train back to Manila years ago.
There’s just this satisfaction of taking the long way to a destination and sitting by the window, seeing the world pass by. That’s why, when I traveled to eastern Java, I took the Jakarta to Surabaya train for an overnight trip.
Traveling by train in Indonesia is available only in the island of Java and it is one of the most efficient train systems in Southeast Asia. It has an extensive network that connects most cities and towns. Trains in Java are cheap, clean, fast, comfortable and punctual, in my experience. With a computerized ticket system there’s no hassle of getting a ticket that you can also book online. Of course, during high season, it’s always better to book days before your trip.
Jakarta to Surabaya train
The Jakarta to Surabaya train ride is around 10 hours long and stretches 660 kilometers end to end, west to east. It starts at the Gambir Station in Jakarta with its final stop at Pasar Turi Station (also Pasarturi) in Surabaya. Trips are mornings and evenings and as I arrived after the last morning trip, I didn’t have any option but to take the evening train. As much as possible, I always take the daytime trips as I really want to see the countryside.
After arriving at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport from Manila on an Air Asia flight, I immediately headed to Gambir Station to book my ticket for a night train ride. As it was not peak travel season, there was a seat readily available. For better comfort, I booked the Executif class. To kill time, I just went around the area of Gambir Station, visiting Merdeka Square and ate at street food stalls.
The train was punctual, boarding is fast. I really like that the seats at the Executif class are very comfortable with wide leg space. It’s arranged in a 2×2 configuration. There are two power outlets at each row. For this trip, I brought my copy of Johanna Michelle Lim’s “What Distance Tells Us” book which I read from cover to cover. It’s a collection of her travel essays, well written and sets the mood for this long train ride. After reading the book, it was already late and I slept.
Arriving at Pasar Turi Station
It was already the break of dawn when I woke up, just a few hours of shut eye. In between, there were short stops in Semarang and other towns. By past 5 AM, the Jakarta to Surabaya train approached Pasar Turi Station.
Other train rides that I did in Java after this trip was the Surabaya – Bandung, Bandung – Jakarta and Yogyakarta – Jakarta. Taking the train around Java is one really one of the best types of travel in Indonesia.
To book your ticket online or check for schedules and stops, check out the Kereta Api website.