If your chosen way for traveling from Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo includes taking an overnight train from Yogyakarta Tugu Station to Surabaya Gubeng Station, there are plenty of things you need to know before traveling as this part of your trip in Indonesia is quite an adventure.
There are 3 overnight business / executive class trains connecting Yogyakarta Tugu Station and Surabaya Gubeng Station:
- Bima train – departure time 00.52; arrival time 05.38;
- Mutiara Selatan train - departure time 01.38; arrival time 06.24;
- Turangga train - departure time 03.30; arrival time 08.14.
All these trains should reach Surabaya Gubeng Station before the morning train going to Probolinggo which leaves from the same railway station at 09.00.
Choosing the Train
Even if trains are considered reliable in Indonesia, we’ve decided not to risk with a connection of only 46 minutes at Surabaya. Spending extra half hour at Malioboro night market also sounded better than just staying longer at some unfamiliar to us train station, so we chose Mutiara Selatan train which departs from Yogyakarta Tugu Station at 01.38 and arrives at Surabaya Gubeng Station 06.24.
Booking a Ticket
The best website for booking a train ticket in Indonesia is Tiket. We used it for our bookings and can confirm that everything went smoothly.
The journey from Yogyakarta Tugu Station to Surabaya by business / executive class train costs from 165000 IDR to 375000 IDR, depending on the seat class and availability as cheapest seats are usually sold out first. The price went higher during the time of preparation so we ended up by paying 190000 IDR per person for a business class seat.
380000 IDR was an official ticket price for 2 persons but Tiket gave us a discount of 15000 IDR and charged extra 7500 IDR for a convenience fee and 14500 IDR for a payment by credit card. All in all, booking on Tiket cost us 7000 IDR extra for booking with them which is a reasonable amount for the service they provide.
However, only one booking can be added to the shopping cart and paid at a time so they still have room for improvement.
Keep in mind that Tiket issues booking only and you need to get your ticket/boarding pass printed at the railway station.
Yogyakarta Tugu Station
Yogyakarta Railway Station or Tugu Station is located in the center of the city, just at the end of Malioboro Street. Getting to the railway station from the main touristic area of Yogyakarta is easy as you can walk or get there by Becak (pedicab), GoJek motorbike taxi or any other kind of public transportation.
The good thing about Yogyakarta Tugu Station and other train stations in Indonesia is that they don’t let people with no tickets into the waiting area of the station. That makes the environment of the station much safer.
In order to get inside the waiting area of the station, you need to have a valid ticket for the same day travel and your passport. There will be a check-in counter near the entrance. Check-in counter here is basically just a few PCs with a barcode scanners and printers attached. You need to scan the barcode and get you boarding pass printed. However, 2 times out of 3 the system didn’t work for us and we ended up asking for help at ticket counters.
The waiting area at Yogyakarta Tugu Station is convenient, seats comfortable enough so you can even take a nap while waiting for the train. Just like we did.
Inside the Train
Taking an overnight train in Indonesia isn’t comfortable one, as even the most expensive executive class trains here don’t have sleepers. As we are heavy sleepers and can easily take a good nap even while sitting, we took this challenge and it pay off. However, don’t expect much comfort here and avoid taking this train if you want to rest well a night before going up to Mt Bromo.
How do business (BISNIS) class trains in Indonesia look like? Well, they are far from the business class you might have been imagining.
Executive seats offer more comfort as they are folding to some level. Consider by yourself if it’s worth your extra money.
Length of Journey
The distance between Yogyakarta and Surabaya train stations is 308 km and the journey takes from 4.5 to 5.5 hours. Our train (Mutiara Selatan) departed from Yogyakarta Tugu Station following the schedule (01.38) and arrived at Surabaya Gubeng Station surprisingly on time. The journey took 4 hours 46 minutes, just like it was scheduled.
Surabaya Gubeng Station
Once you arrive at Surabaya Gubeng Station, you need to leave the waiting area as you need to check-in for the next train and it can be done only outside the waiting area. Check-in counter can be found on the right from information booth.
If the check-in counter won’t work and your boarding pass won’t be printed, as it happened for us, just go to the ticket counters and ask them to print it. People here are nice and ready to help.
When choosing this train from Yogyakarta, you have about 2.5 hours before the train to Probolinggo leaves. There are plenty of cafes and bakeries at Surabaya Gubeng Station and some of them open early enough to serve local and international delicacies for your breakfast.
Taking a Train to Probolinggo
Morning train called Mutiara Timur Siang departs from Surabaya Gubeng Station to Probolinggo at 09.00. The journey by this train from Surabaya to Probolinggo takes about 2 hours. We took this train and again it was on time. It was quite a surprise after traveling by train in Thailand.
Business class train ticket from Surabaya to Probolinggo cost us 70000 IDR per person. You can find tickets for this train even cheaper if you’ll be booking a bit more in advance as the cheapest tickets are normally sold out first.
Like everywhere in Indonesia, for getting inside the departure area of Surabaya Gubeng Station you need to present a valid ticket / boarding pass.
The waiting zone in the departure area is by far less crowded than the area outside and finding a seat for napping there is much easier. There’s also a charging corner so you can conveniently charge your phone before continuing your trip towards Mt Bromo.
Even if giving a name to a train might seem a bit strange, knowing the name of your train is worth it as at Surabaya Gubeng Station they put the name of arriving train in the table with track numbers to inform which track you should go to.
Probolinggo Train Station
Probolinggo Train Station is a small one but you will still find all the main facilities here.
Plenty of places to eat or just grab a cup of coffee are located just outside the station and even more of them on another side of the street.
From Probolinggo Train Station to Bus Terminal
Buses to Mt Bromo depart from Bayuangga Bus Terminal which is about 6 km from the center of Probolinggo. From Probolinggo Train Station to Bayuangga Bus Terminal you can get by ojek (motorbike taxi) or by a yellow public minivan, locally called Bemo. Bemos are waiting for passengers in front of the main entrance of the train station, you will definitely notice them.
However, expect to be approached by touts who will be offering to use the same bemo as a private taxi. The starting price was as high as 100000 IDR and suddenly it dropped to 50000 IDR but we still ignored the touts, just walked a bit away and took the bemo for a normal public price - 5000 IDR per person. The driver wasn’t in a hurry and picked up people on the way but it still didn’t take long, just about 20 minutes.
Even if we were not dropped off at a travel agency, the driver still tried to stop at one but didn’t argue much when being told to go further to the bus terminal. We can confirm that most of the scams in Probolinggo you read about on internet are still present and you need to be attentive for avoiding them.
Bus from Probolinggo to Mount Bromo
At Probolinggo’s Bayuangga Bus Terminal you will not see any signs leading to minivans, just pass the main bus terminal until you will see a number of blue-green minivans parked by the road.
These blue-green minivans are called Bison and they are the transport you need to go to Cemoro Lawang which the village nearest to Mt Bromo.
Normal minivan ticket price from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang is 35000 IDR per person but for getting such a price you need all the seats in the minivan to be occupied. However, for both of our trips by Bison (up and down) we ended up by splitting the full price of the minivan (525000 IDR) between less people and paying more than a normal. Considering the time we would need to wait for the minivan to fill up, the deal wasn’t that bad.
The last minivan from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang leaves at 16.00. If arriving later, you will need to take an expensive taxi/private car or spend a night in Probolinggo. By taking the morning train from Surabaya to Probolinggo it can easily be escaped.
Arriving at Cemoro Lawang
The trip by minivan from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang took us about 1.5 hour. The minivan dropped us off at the T-crossing in the center of the village. This T-crossing is the place where minivans from Cemoro Lawang to Probolinggo park so just need to get back to the same place for taking the bus going down from the mountain.
Even if there are plenty of guesthouses and homestays to choose from at Cemoro Lawang, the supply of accommodations online is quite limited. If there’s a specific place in Cemoro Lawang you would like to stay, better book it in advance on Booking.com or Agoda as the best places fill up quite fast, especially on a high season.
It is advisable to book your train tickets online in advance as the cheapest seats sell out quickly in Indonesia and there's a risk to miss out getting on the particular train as seats are limited. Tiket is the most popular online system for booking train tickets in Indonesia and we always use it.
More useful tips for traveling in Indonesia can be found here: Indonesia Travel Tips.