Driver of the train to Jakarta about the leave Surabaya
 

Take the train across Java!

Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Bromo & Bali...

Indonesia is a great place to visit.  Here we travel from capital Jakarta across the most populous island of Java by train and across the straits to Bali by ferry.

  Jakarta

  Jakarta to Yogyakarta by train

  Yogyakarta & Borobudur, world's largest Buddhist temple

  A day trip to Solo

  Yogyakarta to Surabaya by train

  Surabaya & a trip to Mt. Bromo

  Surabaya to Bali by train & ferry

  Bali

Practical information on other pages...

  Useful country information

  Indonesian train times & fares

  How to buy tickets

  What are Indonesian trains like?

  Luggage, food & train travel tips

  Recommended hotels


Jakarta...    See map of Jakarta

The obvious place to start is Java's (and Indonesia's) capital Jakarta.  A huge metropolis, most of the tourist sights are in the old Dutch colonial city to the north of the modern centre, known either as Jakarta Kota or by it's old Dutch name, Batavia.  Strangely, all the main tourist hotels seem to be in the modern city south of Merdeka Square, so a taxi or tuk-tuk is needed to reach old Batavia, although a suburban train into Jakartakota station is also an option.  Jakarta lacks a metro system, although there are buses.

The old Stadthuis of Batavia

The old Stadthuis...  At the heart of old Batavia is the old colonial town hall (in Dutch, stadthuis) on Fatahillah Square.  It's now the Jakarta History Museum, also known as the Fatahillah Museum.

Fatahillah Square, Old Batavia, Jakarta

Also on Fatahillah Square you'll find other colonial buildings including the post office (worth a wander inside) and the Batavia cafe...

Batavia Cafe, Jakarta   Downstairs bar, Batavia Cafe

Batavia Cafe...  Built in what was once the VOC (Dutch East India Company) admin offices, the well-known Batavia Cafe is the place on Fatahillah Square to stop for a beer, coffee or meal.  It's the second oldest building in Batavia after the stadthuis itself, according to their website, www.cafebatavia.com.

Old Dutch Bridge, Jakarta   Governor's house, Batavia, Jakarta

Old Dutch bridge...  Not far from Fatahillah Square is the old Dutch lifting bridge across the canal, dating from 1655 (above left).  For a few rupiah you can still walk across it.

Governor's residence...  The red-tiled building in the photo above right is the old Dutch governor's residence, one of a row of old colonial buildings on the far side of the canal behind Fatahillah Square.

Harbour watchtower, Jakarta   Insidethe harbour watchtower, Jakarta

Harbour tower...  15 minutes walk north of Fatahillah Square, just south of the harbour, is the  19th century harbour lookout tower.  For a small fee you can climb to the top.

Sunda Kelapa - old Batavia harbour   Sunda Kelapa - old Batavia harbour

Sunda Kelapa...  Old Batavia's harbour is now a haven for wooden fishing boats.

Jakartakota station exterior (north side)   Inside Jakartakota station

Jakartakota station...  A stone's throw from Fatahillah Square, the impressive Jakartakota station was once Batavia's main rail terminus.  It's well worth a look!  Built in 1926, you could almost be in 1920s Holland.  It now only handles local trains, the expresses depart from the modern stations of Gambir or Pasar Senen further south, closer to the centre of modern Jakarta.  You can easily travel by suburban train between here and local stations across the Jakarta urban area, including Pasar Senen, although strangely not Gambir as suburban trains don't call there.

Jakarta cathedral   National Monument, Jakarta   National Monument, Jakarta

Jakarta cathedral, completed in 1901...

 

The National Monument in Merdeka (Freedom) Square.  This is the epicentre of today's Jakarta, with the modern city to the south and the old city to the north.  In Dutch times it was known as the Konigsplein (King's Plain).  Express lifts take you up the tower to the observation deck.

The train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta...    See the video

The best Eksekutif and Bisnis class trains leave from Jakarta's modern Gambir station, located to the east side of the vast grassy park known as Merdeka Square.

Jakarta Gambir station   Inside Gambir station - south concourse

Jakarta's Gambir station

 

South concourse, beneath the overhead tracks...

Check-in machines   ID check at entrance to platforms

Check-in using the machines to get a boarding pass...

 

ID check at the entrance to the platforms...

Trains at Jakarta Gambir station

Ready to leave Jakarta.  The tracks are above the concourse, on a viaduct running across the city.  The station has just four platforms, only used by long-distance trains - the suburban trains pass through Gambir without stopping.

Eksekutif class car at Gambir   Eksekutif class seats on train to Yogyakarta

Boarding the Argo Dwipangga...

 

Eksekutif class seats...

Suburbs of Jakarta

The train passes through the crowded Jakarta suburbs...

Rice fields and Mt Cereme from the train

Around Cirebon you'll see the imposing shadow of Mt Cereme on your right, an active volcano & highest point in West Java.

Village & rice paddies   People in the fields

Villages & more rice fields...

 

People working in the fields...

The train stops at Kutoarjo station

The train calls at Kutoarjo station.  At major stops you have a few minutes to stretch your legs.

Working in the fields   Railway bridge

More people at work in the fields...

 

Rivers & bridges...

Scenery from the train

Rice fields, occasional mosques, distant hills, villages...

Crossing a river on the train   Refreshment trolley

Crossing another river...

 

Trolley refreshments!

Buffet car on the Argo Dwipangga train  

A visit to the buffet car...

 

Palms and rice...

Train from Jakarta arrived at Yogyakarta station   Yogyakarta station, south entrance

The Argo Dwipangga arrives at Yogyakarta Tugu...

 

Yogyakarta station's southern exit...

Visiting the city of Yogyakarta...

Often just called Yogya or Jogya, Yogyakarta is Java's cultural capital, and most travellers pass through here sooner or later.  The contrast with the hectic metropolis of Jakarta couldn't be more pronounced.  Yogya is also the jumping-off point for the famous temple at Borobudur.  Yogya's main rail station is also known as Yogyakarta Tugu.

Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta   Deluxe pool view room at the Phoenix Hotel

The Phoenix Hotel, Yogyakarta, the most venerable hotel in town and arguably the best place to stay.  The main building dates from 1918, originally the home of a wealthy merchant and after WW2 the residence of the Chinese consul before being converted into a hotel.

cycle rickshaws in Yogyakarta   Main street, Yogyakarta

Exploring the city using local transport.  Above right, the main road south through central Yogyakarta from the Phoenix Hotel past the railway station to the kraton (royal palace).

The Kraton, Yogyakarta   The Kraton, Yogyakarta

The Kraton (royal palace)...

Market, Yogyakarta   Market, Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta's market...

A morning trip to Borobudur...

Borobudur is the world's largest Buddhist temple, and one of Java's must-see sights.  It's around 40km from Yogyakarta and easily done as a day trip, any travel agency or hotel can arrange transport - we used www.viaviajogja.com.  For more information see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borobudur and the official site borobudurpark.com.  You'll be offered sunrise or daytime tours, personally I can't say I regret not getting up at 4am to do the sunrise tour.  The temple is impressive enough by day!

Borobudur temple, wide shot

Borobudur temple...

Borobudur temple stupas   Borobudur temple, carved figure

Inside each perforated stupa is a carved figure...

Borobudur temple

Borobudur temple...

Borobudur temple

Borobudur temple, looking at the backdrop of mountains...

A day trip to Solo...

Solo is just an hour east of Yogyakarta.  It's Yogya's cultural rival, and well worth a visit.  The station you want in Solo is Solobalapan.  It's on the way to Surabaya so can be a stopover in its own right, but we chose to do a day trip from Yogya to avoid moving hotels.

Interior of Prameks train   Prameks train at Yogyakarta

The easiest way to travel between Yogyakarta and Solo is to use the cheap & regular Prameks local service, see the Prameks information here...

Dezentje graveyard at Ampell   Dezentje graveyard at Ampell

Solo has a kraton (albeit largely rebuilt) and many interesting sights and at this point I would have shown you some photos of Solo if events hadn't taken an unusual twist.  Mrs 61 had been searching for the burial site of her Dutch colonial ancestors, and as the train sped towards Solo she received a reply from a local archaeologist.  An associate of his had discovered the forgotten graveyard of the Dezentjé family and had reclaimed it from the jungle only the previous week.  If we could get to Ampel, some 40km from Solo, he would meet us there.  We hopped in a taxi. And here was the grave of Mrs 61's second cousin 5 times removed, Augustinus ('Tinus') Dezentjé, who had married an Indonesian princess, the daughter of the Sultan of Solo.  He died in 1839 aged just 42...

Yogyakarta to Surabaya by train...

Approach road to Yogyakarta station   Yogyakarta station, north entrance

Yogyakarta station.  A steam traction engine (above left) stands guard on the main road at the foot of the station approach road to the station building on the northern side of the tracks.  The station is an attractive 1920s art deco structure...

Interior of Yogyakarta station   Interior of Yogyakarta station

Yogyakarta station, inside the station building on the northern side (above left) and (above right) waiting for the train on the main eastbound platform next to a rather nice station cafe...

Train to Surabaya arrives at Yogyakarta station   On the train, Eksekutif class

Train 102 Ranggajati from Bandung to Surabaya pulls in to Yogyakarta station...

Train 102 Ranggajati at Solo Balapan

The Ranggajati makes a station stop at Solobalapan.

Scenery   Buffet car on the train to Surabaya

More Javan scenery...

 

The buffet car...

Train food   Village

Lunch on the train!

 

Passing a typical Javan village...

More rice fields

Yet more rice...

Steam locomotives at Purwosari station

Steam locomotives rusting gently in the yard at Purwosari station...

Rotor cultivator in the fields   More rice!

Rotor cultivators seem to have replaced water buffalo here...

Train arrives at Surabaya   Surabaya Gubeng station

Arrival at Surabaya Gubeng station...

Visiting the city of Surabaya...

Hotel Majapahit, the former Hotel Oranje

The Majapahit Hotel, formerly the Oranje Hotel, opened in 1911 with this art deco front building added in 1936.  Charlie Chaplin and others attended the inauguration!  This isn't just a place to stay, it's a Surabaya landmark and an original Sarkies Brothers hotel like Raffles in Singapore - but at a fraction of the price.  History was made here in 1945 with the Flag Incident, for more photos & information about this hotel see the hotels in Indonesia section.  Don't even think about staying anywhere else, this is the place...

Surabaya submarine museum   Surabaya governor's residence

Surabaya's submarine museum - the Indonesian navy's first submarine, built in Russia in 1952.

 

The governor's residence, Surabaya...

A day trip to Mt. Bromo...

Mount Bromo is an active volcano and another of Java's must-see sights.  It's most easily visited whilst staying in Probolinggo (on the Surabaya-Banyuwangi rail line en route to Bali) or perhaps in Malang (also on the rail network), but in this case we made a long day trip from Surabaya to avoid moving hotels more than necessary.  For more information about this volcano see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Bromo.  Any decent Indonesian travel agency or your hotel can arrange a trip to Mt Bromo, we used www.bromotour.com who were fine.

Overview of Mt Bromo area

An overview of Mt Bromo, taken from a viewpoint on the side of a neighbouring mountain after the visit.  This is the overall 10-mile-wide crater with the sandy floor, ringed by smaller craters and mountains.  Mt Bromo is the smaller smoking crater to the right of centre.  The distinctive green conical volcano to the right of Mt. Bromo is Mt. Batok.

Driving into the hills   Onto the Sea of Sand

1.  It's a long way up into the hills in a minivan.  The minivan is then swapped for a jeep for the final leg, an old Toyota Landcruiser.

 

2.  The jeep drives further up into the hills then descends onto the sandy floor of a vast 10-mile-wide crater...

Old Toyota Landcruisers at Mt Bromo   Walking the last 1.5km to Mt Bromo

3.  The jeep parks up on the Sea of Sands.  You can rent a horse here if you like...

 

4.  It's now a 1.5km walk (or horse ride) from across the sandy crater floor to the foot of Mt Bromo...

Approaching Mt Bromo   250 steps to the rim of Mt Bromo

5.  The path gets rocky and starts to climb...

 

6. The final leg, 250 steep steps to the rim...

Mt.Bromo, the rim walk   Mt Bromo, the crater

7.  At the rim of Mt Bromo you'll find little by way of safety barriers.  You stare down into Mt Bromo's crater, listening to the volcano's deafeningly loud roar.  You can smell the sulphur...

Descending from Mt Bromo rim

8.  You head back down the way you came.  Here you can see the 250 steps down, the rocky walk to the flat sand.  The jeeps are just visible as a collection of specks in the background upper-centre-left.

Surabaya to Bali by train & ferry...   See the video...

Surabaya Gubeng station interior   Eksekutif class seats on train to Bali

Back to Surabaya Gubeng for the 09:00 train to Banyuwangi...

 

Eksekutif class seats...

Mutiara Timur from Surabaya to Banyuwangi

The Mutiara Timur at Probolinggo...

Probolinggo station   scenery from the train

Probolinggo's pretty station...

 

Scenery...

Great scenery from the train in eastern Java

The scenery just keeps on coming...

More great scenery from the to Banyuwangi

Jungle, hills, rice paddies, palms, bananas, villages...

Passing through the hills

Passing through the hills in eastern Java.  This stretch of line included several short tunnels, the only ones we noticed on Java, and some high bridges...

The train arrived at Banyuwangi Baru station

Arrival at Banyuwangi Baru station, spot on time...

Banyuwangi Baru station   Exit from the station

Banyuwangi Baru station...

 

At the station exit...

Ketapang ferry terminal   Ketapang ferry ticket office

Walk 150m directly away from Banyuwangi Baru station down the station approach road, turn right onto the main road and walk another 150m.  The ferry terminal is on your left on the far side of the road (pictured above left), see it on Google Maps.  Or you can take a taxi or cycle rickshaw.  Walk into the passengers entrance (marked by the blue arrow above), along the retail tunnel to the ticket office (pictured above right)...

Ferry to Bali boarding at Ketapang   Seats on the ferry

Ferries sail every 15 minutes around the clock.  Board the next ferry via the car ramp and go upstairs into the passenger area.  There's a kiosk selling water, drinks, biscuits & crisps.

Crossing by ferry from Java to Bali

Bali ahead!  The crossing takes just 45 minutes...

Another Ketapang-Gilimanuk ferry   Ferries at Gilimanuk

The ferries come in all shapes, sizes & colours...

 

Approaching Gilimanuk...

Ferry arrived at Gilimanuk on Bali

Arrival at Gilimanuk on Bali...

On Bali...

The change in culture between Java and Bali is immediately apparent.  The many mosques become few, Hindu shrines appear in every front garden, temples dot the towns and Hindu statues adorn many main road junctions (below right).

Road transfer from Gilimanuk to Padangbai   Hindu statue at road junction, Bali

Gilimanuk bus terminal is right next to the ferry terminal for buses to Denpasar, Bali's capital city.  However, on this occasion I arranged a transfer by minivan to our hotel (above left).

 

Ubud...

Denpasar is the island's capital and largest town, it's also where all the buses go.  But Ubud is Bali's cultural and tourist capital.  It's well worth a visit, wherever you're staying on Bali.

Royal palace at Ubud   Saraswati Temple, Ubud

Ubud Palace...

 

Saraswati Temple, Ubud...

The rice paddies of Ubud

The rice fields of Ubud...  Just behind Ubud's shops and houses are the town's famous rice paddies.

Padangbai...

Bali is a holiday island and it goes without saying that there are many resorts, some better for surfing, some for diving.  This is Padangbai, which also happens to be the ferry terminal for boats to Lombok and the Gili Islands.

Padangbai beach

Padangbai beachfront and harbour....

View from Bloo Lagoon Village, Padangbai, Bali

After the journey from Jakarta to Bali with no airports, no flights, I think we earned some R&R at a resort, the highly-recommended Bloo Lagoon Eco Village.  Now back to Jakarta again by minivan, ferry and train...

Practical information...



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