When you’re getting bored looking for entertainment in a big city like Jakarta, there’s always a way to try new things. One of them is to travel by train and get away from Jakarta with a fraction of the price of air travel.
As most of the train tracks are in Java, Jakartans are actually quite lucky to be exposed to this economical and fun transportation method. It is probably not the means of transport to take if you are catching a meeting the next day, but a train ride gives you a perspective and scenery of Indonesia like no other. Consider it a back alley of Java’s main roads.
Especially in the recent year where the government did a major restoration to Indonesia’s train company, PT Kereta Api Indonesia. Unlike before where the economy class passengers are deprived of AC, all carts are now equipped air-conditioned. The ticketing system has also been upgraded to the much needed electronic system with convenient booking systems. If previously passengers can only buy tickets at the central train stations, now anyone can purchase tickets at nearby convenient stores like 7/11, Indomart, and Alfa Mart.
Here are some weekend getaway destinations that can be reached by train:
Take the Commuter Line train from Kota or several stations around Jakarta to get to Bogor. PT KAI (Kereta Api Indonesia) provides an economy air-conditioned train from Kota to Bogor for only Rp 7,000! Upon arriving at Bogor Station in West Java, public transportation or taxis await to take you around the charming city.
For its high frequency of rain, Bogor is also known as the Rainy City. It is also full of culinary adventure choices; many restaurants offer good food but also a unique environment and exciting place to visit.
One of the most renowned and nearest tourist destinations to the station is Kebun Raya Bogor (Bogor Botanical Garden). The 87-hectare garden is the perfect place for a picnic under the shade of one of its thousands of giant trees and plants.
The commuter line to Bogor is also accessible from various stations including Tangerang, Bekasi and Depok.
Due to its proximity, Bandung is a popular destination among Jakarta’s weekend travelers. For that same reason, going to Bandung by car is something to avoid at all costs! And that is the mor reason to go there by train.
Other than a shopaholic’s heaven, Bandung also offers more adventurous activities for families. In Bandung, you can choose anything, start from culinary adventure, big amusement place, or factory outlets.
The less than three-hour train trip to Bandung in West Java is a lovely experience in itself as it offers passengers plenty of beautiful scenery.
PT KAI provides six regular trips on the executive and business class train Argo Parahyangan, with ticket prices ranging from Rp. 75,000 to Rp. 120,000 from Gambir Station.
One of the more exciting destinations near Cianjur Station is the Gunung Padang Megalithic site in Karyamukti village. Many believe the structure to be older than the Egyptian pyramids and cite it as evidence that an advanced civilization had existed in the country for centuries.
PT KAI only began operating the Pangrango train, which connects Bogor, Sukabumi to Cianjur, last year. The trip takes less than four hours from Bogor and offers miles-upon-miles of awe-inspiring views, taking in Mount Pangrango, hill, valleys and paddy fields.
From Gambir Station or Jatinegara Station, you can take the Cirebon Express for Rp 70,000 (Business) or Rp 95,000 (Executive), travel time is about 3 hours and 15 minutes. There are so many thins you can enjoy here: food, batik, heritage and culture, all of are a result of the interesting blend between the Javanese, Sundanese, Chinese and Islamic cultures.
Enjoy variety local dishes such as nasi jamblang (local rice buffet), nasi lengko (vegetarian rice) and tahu gejrot (tofu in hot and sour sauce) on top of the abundant seafood, which gave it its moniker of Prawn City. Best way to get around the city is to ride a becak or a rickshaw; doable as the size of the city isn’t too massive.
To reach Sukabumi, take the commuter train to Bogor and take the Bogor-Sukabumi train which takes roughly two hours. For those that are green fingered or nature lovers, Selabintana, a popular resort and hotel, boasts a tea plantation and a plethora of decorative plants. Local snacks such as the Japanese cake mochi and cilok (rice flour ball on a stick with peanut sauce) are among the popular treats you can try in this small town. The Bubur Ayam vendors around town is also quite famous; some of the most famous is Bubur Odeon and Bubur Ayam Bunut.
However, the area offers more than just food, so it is best to rent a car and visit the many options, which include Pelabuhan Ratu beach, Ciletuh Geopark (about 3 hours of driving from Sukabumi town) waterfalls, caves as well as the Pangrango, Halimun and Gede mountains.