4D/3N Backpacking Bromo & Ijen Without A Tour (Part 3) : Surabaya – Banyuwangi Economy Class Train Ride

It was in rustic East Java, Indonesia where I had my very first long distance train ride, clocking up a total of 12 hours travelling on rickety steel tracks, through the East Java countryside – chugging through timeless villages, endless paddy fields and lush green forests, over rivers, unexpected ravines and steep cliffs, and more!

It is an enlightening experience fondly imprinted in my heart. The idea of taking the train comes from the initiative to save some travelling time and also, to travel in comfort and safety. It is a safer mode of travelling, not necessarily the cheapest, but definitely safe for two zesty girls backpacking on their own to Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater in East Java, Indonesia. 🙂


Easy Breezy, Ticket Story

My sister and I arrived at Surabaya Gubeng Train Station, via Prima Taxi from Juanda International Airport. Read my taxi ride experience and find out the fare here. We then made our way to the ticket counter to purchase our train tickets. For your info, there are two ways to purchase the train tickets:

  • On-the-spot at the ticket counter when you arrive OR
  • Online via Ticket.com for foreigners (accepts overseas credit cards)
  • Online via Kereta-api.co.id for Indonesians (accepts only Indonesian credit cards)


Those with reservations or online bookings may proceed to Counter a.k.a Loket 1 and 2 to collect their tickets, while Loket 3 and 4 (Go Show) are for the rest. Do keep in mind that we need to present our passport to purchase the tickets. Do not hesitate to drop by the Customer Service counter located on the right side of the station entrance to find out the train schedules, ticket fare, etc. 😉

We effortlessly bought Sri Tanjung/174 train tickets @ 13:40 hours, travelling from Surabaya (SUB) to Karangasem (KNE) @ Banyuwangi, bypassing Probolinggo station along the way. The train tickets cost Rp. 140,000 per person @ Economy Class.

We then made our way into the train station. The officer-on-duty checked our tickets and directed us to the left side of the train station where we patiently waited for our train to arrive. There are several cafes, shops and kiosks selling food and drinks, as well as adequate seats for waiting passengers. The toilets are not properly ventilated, but clean.


The entrance to Surabaya Gubeng train station
A typical scene at Surabaya Gubeng train station
Ticketing counter at Surabaya Gubeng train station
Travellers waiting for their turn at the customer service centre, Surabaya Gubeng train station
The train tracks at Surabaya Gubeng train station


All Aboard The Iron Horse!

Our Surabaya – Banyuwangi train arrived on time, at Jalur a.k.a Track No.3. We boarded the train and got comfortable on our cushioned seats. Like travelling in an aeroplane, the seats are numbered. 🙂 At the ring of the bell, the train took off in a slow and steady motion, picking up speed as we bid farewell to Surabaya Gubeng Train Station. Thus, we began our 7-hour journey through the scenic East Java countryside.

Lady Luck was with us that day for we had the entire seats to ourselves and the entire carriage to only a handful of us – locals and foreign travellers. It was after all, the low season for travelling to Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater which we deliberately chose to travel. Each set of seats came with a standard 2-pin power sockets to charge our electronics on the go. The carriage was fully air-conditioned, clean and comfortable. There is sufficient luggage space above us to keep our bags and belongings.

Every now and then, the train attendants will drop by to offer us a selection of hot/cold drinks such as aqua, coffee, tea, orange juice, or carbonated drinks, and food such as fried rice and pop mie a.k.a instant cup noodles. We had the fried rice for Rp.17,000 per packet. The fried rice was plain and had tiny bits and pieces of chicken/hotdog, a fried egg and prawn crackers. It tasted economic. 😛


A sample of the Indonesian train tickets at Surabaya Gubeng train station
Economy seats on board the Sri Tanjung/174 coach
Standard 2-pin power sockets in the Sri Tanjung/174 coach to charge our electronics on the go
Banyuwangi – Yogyakarta train routes
The passengers on-board the Sri Tanjung/174 coach to Banyuwangi Baru (Ketapang harbour to Bali)


When Nature Calls…

When you got to go, you just got to go! 😀 Paying a visit to the unisex toilet was a hilariously eye-opening experience for my sister and me. It was not the tiny cubicle or the squat toilet that made us giggle, it was the fact that the toilet window was not positioned high enough that when you are not careful, someone out there might get a sneak peek of you with your pants down. 😛

Balancing yourself while answering nature’s call on a moving train requires the concentration of a meditating monk! However, rest assured that the toilet is fitted with strategically positioned handles to help you keep your balance.

Note: Do keep the carriage’s sliding door closed at all times to prevent the stench from the toilet from polluting the air in the carriage. The automatic air freshener dispenser in every carriage helps to freshen up the air a little – getting rid of lingering body odour, musky sweat smell and other unpleasant odours.


Porong train station
A train ride offers a glimpse into the East Java countryside
A train crossing in East Java
We passed by lush greenery and vast paddy fields throughout the East Java countryside
Pasuran train station
A train station in East Java
Diligent maintenance personnels checking the train tracks regularly made us feel at ease
Probolinggo train station, we’ll see you soon!


Scenic Time Lapse – Of Paddy Fields, Rustic Villages, Greenery and the Beautiful Sunset

I must admit, travelling on the train through the quiet, scenic countryside put me in deep thoughts as I ponder on life – its marvels and its mysteries. Flashes of memories came running back to me, of my previous travels and all. Green paddy fields/terraces stretched as far as the eyes can see reminded me of enchanting Bali.

Our journey took us through timeless villages, lush green forests and fertile plantations. We crossed rivers, ravines and steep cliffs too! What a magnificent sight it was! 🙂 And as we travelled through time and place, the sky changed colours from bright blue, off white, dark orange and subsequently, pitch black as the sun sets in the background.

From there onwards, we see nothing but flashes of lights in the horizon. It was not long before my sister and I dozed off peacefully, serenaded by the lullaby of the chugging train and heavy rain. There was nothing that worried us, no one that bothered us. Everything was calm, peaceful and quiet.


Cruising at high speed on the railway tracks in East Java
Sunset in the horizon, East Java
The sky changed colours from bright blue, off white, dark orange and subsequently, pitch black as the sun sets in the background…


Up next: A Night at Kg. Osing Inn and Ijen Crater’s Blue Fire Midnight Tour!

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