Overnight train Yogyakarta to Malang: What to expect and how to book

KAI train at twilight

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If you’re looking for a convenient (and more environmentally friendly) way to travel from Yogyakarta to Malang (than flying), taking the overnight train is a better option than travelling by bus. In this article, we’ll share with you all the important things to know: how to buy your ticket, what to expect on the journey (and how to make it more comfortable); even tips on what to do before your departure in Yogyakarta and upon arrival in Malang.

Here are all your accommodation options in Yogyakarta and Malang.

I recommend you book your train tickets to Malang in advance.

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Map of Recommended Accommodations, Points of Interest, Eateries, and Transport

Below is the map of the accommodation, points of interest, eateries. and transport terminals/stops mentioned in this article.

Why take the overnight train from Yogyakarta to Malang?

The city of Malang in East Java is a key vantage point for visitors to Mt Bromo [Google Maps location] and the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park [Google Maps location] (Probolinggo is another). Taking the overnight train from Yogyakarta to Malang is the fastest and most efficient overland connection between the two cities. Trains on Java are (surprisingly) punctual and clean (unlike some of the overland buses servicing the island).

The train journey also provides a unique opportunity to observe locals going about their early mornings in the small towns and villages of East Java, as the sun slowly rises over Mt Bromo and Mt Semeru [Google Maps location], reflecting in the rice paddies as the train goes past.

malabar train travelling past rice paddies

Watch villagers go about their early mornings as the sun rises over the rice paddies in East Java | Photo on Wikimedia Commons

What time does the train depart/arrive?

The official name of the overnight train is Malabar 122, departing Tugu Station (YK) [Google Maps location] in Yogyakarta, the main train station in the centre of the city, at 0014h and arriving at Malang Station (ML) [Google Maps location] at 0634h.

There are other overnight trains between the two cities, but their departure or arrival times are less convenient:

  • Kertanegara 134: departing Yogyakarta at 2106h, arriving in Malang at 0328h
  • Gajayana 56: departing Yogyakarta 0131, arriving in Malang at 0706h.

Malang has two train stations – Malang Kota Lama (MLK) and Malang (ML). Don’t get off at the first stop in Malang (Malang Kota Lama) if your goal is the city centre.

Malabar train entering Stasiun Tugu Yogyakarta

The Malabar 122 is the most convenient of three overnight trains travelling from Yogyakarta to Malang

How to purchase train tickets?

Indonesians can purchase train tickets through the Access by KAI app [Google Play | Apple Store], provided by PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI), the country’s public railway operator. We (foreigners) were unable to buy tickets through the app. But thankfully, tickets can also be booked online via Tiket.com and Traveloka. Alternatively, you can also buy train tickets in person at any train station.

The cheapest fares sell out first, so book well in advance. Also worth noting: Seat reservation is mandatory (not just on this train). So, if you don’t book ahead, you may miss out altogether (we had that happen on a train ride from Malang to Surabaya).

Ticket counter in Malang

With seat reservation mandatory even for local trains, make sure you book your train journey on the Malabar train (well) in advance

The Malabar 122 offers tickets in two classes (both have AC and charging points by the windows):

Executive (Eksekutif) – Offers spacious reclining seats with footrests (similar to business class on aeroplanes). There are two seats on either side of the aisle. Windows have curtains to block out the light, and there are closed overhead compartments for your luggage (again similar to the overhead lockers on aeroplanes).

Malabar train Executive Class

Executive Class seats on the Malabar train are comparable with Business Class seats on airplanes and the most comfortable way to travel

Economy (Ekonomi) – With two fixed seats on either side of the aisle, this class offers limited legroom (similar to economy class on aeroplanes). Windows have blinds to block out the light. Your luggage can be stored on open overhead shelves.

While the new Economy class seats are much better than the benches used in Economy until recently, we recommend booking Executive as the greater legroom and recline make for a more comfortable journey.

this photo is taken with brica b pro5 alpha edition mk.¢ò

The train's Economy Class seats are not reclinable and have limited leg room | Photo on Wikimedia Commons

What to do in Yogyakarta before the overnight train departs?

Before you travel, you must check in (similar to what you’d be doing when flying). Unlike air travel, however, you can check in for your trip up to seven days (7×24 hours) before your train departs. All you need to do is

  • show the counter staff at the train station the QR code on our phone OR
  • scan the QR code at one of the check-in stations at the train station’s entrance.

In exchange, you will receive a boarding pass.

check in stations stasiun tugu yogyakarta

Train passengers are required to check in (up to seven days prior to departure) and will receive a boarding pass

Passengers are allowed to access the inside of Yogyakarta Station (earliest) three hours before departure. To access the station, you will need to present your boarding pass.

There are co-working desks, comfortable chairs and toilets next to platform 3 (the train’s usual departure platform). You can also find a few shops within the train station offering food and drinks – all open well into the night.

stasiun tugu yogyakarta platform 3 waiting area

Chairs like these make waiting for the overnight train reasonably comfortable

As there is no opportunity to take a shower on the train, we recommend heading to the Shower & Locker facility [Google Maps location] outside the station (on Jl. Ps. Kembang, open daily until 23:00). You can store your luggage there for a few hours and wander around the Malioboro area, then have a shower before heading into the station.

The bathrooms (equipped with a toilet, wash basin and shower) are cleaned after every use. You don’t need to rush either – each bathroom can be used for up to 45 minutes. Payment is in cash or by credit card (the latter seems to depend on the willingness of the attendant).

shower and locker yogyakarta lockers

Shower & Locker offers the opportunity to explore Malioboro luggage-free and have a refreshing shower at the end of a hot and humid day

The Sky Lounge atop the Hotel NEO [Google Maps location] (across from the train station on Jl. Ps. Kembang) is also a good place to hang out and enjoy some drinks and food while you’re waiting to access the station. The views over the city as the sun sets are pretty spectacular (you can see Mt Merapi in the distance and an old aeroplane parked on a neighbouring property).

The bar is only open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights (also until 2300h).

stasiun tugu from hotel neo at night

On Friday and Saturday nights, you can also enjoy a drink and some food while watching the sunset from the Sky Lounge atop the Hotel NEO

What is the train ride like?

First thing to note: The train comes from Bandung (BD) in West Java (leaving there at 1720h), and delays are possible. That said, our train arrived (and departed) right on time.

Access to the train is via moveable steps where the platform is not level with the train.

Blankets are provided by the train attendant upon departure (at least in Executive Class). That said, we didn’t find the aircon to be too cold, so you might be fine with just a jumper/jacket.

malabar train leaving stasiun bandung

The Malabar train starts in Bandung/West Java which might affect its arrival/departure times | Photo on Wikimedia Commons

During the night, a cleaner passes through a few times to collect rubbish, but there is no food cart (at least there wasn’t on our journey). There may be a dining car, but we were too tired to search for it.

It’s easy to have dinner beforehand. There are a ton of options around the train station and even a few shops inside the station for some last-minute snacks and drinks – you are allowed to bring your food/drinks on board.

meal at selawase wedangan yogyakarta

Make sure to have dinner before your train departs - there are many eateries in walking distance from the train station

As these may impact your ability to sleep, it is also worth noting:

  • The lights in the carriages are only lightly dimmed.
  • Loud station announcements are being made all through the night (there are 12 stops in total), and people come and go at every stop.

Bring an eye cover and earplugs if these might bother you. If you have: a neck pillow is also a good idea as the head rests can’t be adjusted. Keep valuables on you at all times (even in Executive Class).

malabar train signage with stops enroute

Between Yogyakarta and Malang, the Malabar train stops 12 times - bring ear plugs if loud station announcements bother you

Other things to note:

  • Toilets are cleanish (as far as train toilets go) – they even have toilet paper and hand soap.
  • There is no Wi-Fi/Internet access provided on the train.
malabar train bathroom interior

Toilets on the train are surprisingly clean - they even have toilet paper and soap

What to do (upon arrival) in Malang?

Upon arrival in Malang, you will find a coffee shop at platform 1 and some (traditional) eateries outside the station.

If you’ve only got a few hours

If you only have a few hours to spare, make sure you visit the Blue and Rainbow villages (Kampung Biru Arema [Google Maps location], Kampung Tridi [Google Maps location] and Kampung Warna-Warni Jodipan [Google Maps location]). Former slums that have been cleaned up and given a coat of paint, villagers now earn a living from visitors.

kampung tridi and kampung warna warni jodipan

While in Malang, don't miss visiting the Blue and Rainbow villages (Kampungs Biru Arema, Tridi and Warna-Warni Jodipan)

Also worthwhile is a stroll through the Kajoetangan Heritage Village [Google Maps location] (coffee connoisseurs, make sure you stop by Pawon Baja Coffee [Google Maps location]- a family-run business that grows and roasts its own coffee) and the nearby Flower Market. All are within walking distance from the train station.

If the exploration has left you hungry, head to Kopi Siippp [Google Maps location] for delicious toasties or Warung Isor Nongko [Google Maps location] for yummy traditional food. Both are at the same intersection (Jl Gajahmada/Jl Sultan Agung) 5 minutes’ walk away from the train station.

kajoetangan heritage village

Kajoetangan Heritage Village with its quirky antique shops and the nearby Flower Market are also worthwhile places to check out

If you have a few days in Malang

Hire a motorbike and head out of the city to explore the gorgeous waterfalls in the area:

  • The most famous (and admittedly one of the most stunning waterfalls in Indonesia) is Tumpak Sewu [Google Maps location]. While in the area, make sure to also check out Kapas Biru [Google Maps location] – another stunning waterfall, 4km further east from the Malang-Lumajang bridge. Located between the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park and the coast, it takes about 2 hours one-way (making it a full-day trip if you’re taking your time at the waterfalls).
  • If you don’t want to ride that far, other options are only about an hour away (in the opposite direction), including Coban Rondo [Google Maps location], Grojogan Sewu [Google Maps location] and Coban Talun [Google Maps location].

A good place to hire a motorbike is SJ Motor Rent [Google Maps location], a minute’s walk from the train station on Jl Kertanegara.

tumpak sewu waterfall wikimedia commons

Malang is a major gateway for Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park and a great base to explore Tumpak Sewu and other waterfalls nearby | Photo on Wikimedia Commons

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Where to stay in Yogyakarta

For accommodation, as with any other travel expenses, it’s worth shopping around. When we booked our accommodation, we looked across several booking platforms to find the best value-for-money option but found in this case that Booking.com offered us the best choice and price point. Wherever you book, do make sure you read the fine print to make sure you compare apples with apples. For example, your stay may incur extra charges (like local tourist taxes or cleaning fees). Some booking platforms include them, while with others, you have to pay them to your host upon arrival.

Below are my recommendations for accommodation options that fit the criteria of affordable, often meeting a sustainability certification, and that are close to public transport and points of interest.

NameProperty FeaturesTypePriceBook Now
BSH YogyakartaTravel Sustainability Level 2
Great location
Variety of bedroom options
Guesthouse$Book Now
Griya Wijilan SyariahTravel Sustainability Level 1
Traditional and modern Javanese design
Restaurant onsite
Guesthouse$Book Now
Nomore Gallery and GuesthouseTravel Sustainability Level 3
Reconnect with nature
Coffee shop
Packed lunches are also available.
Guesthouse$Book Now
Omah Gerjen 29 by Bukit VistaTravel Sustainability Level 3
Superb breakfast
Views of the city
Guesthouse$Book Now
Snooze YogyakartaTravel Sustainability Level 1
Breakfast Included
Adults-only accommodation
Coffee shop on-site
Guesthouse$Book Now
The Patio YogyaTravel Sustainability Level 3
Open-air bath
Superb breakfast
Part of Preferred Partner Program
Guesthouse$Book Now
Travel Sustainability Level is based upon the Booking.com criteria. $ is USD50 and below. $$$$ is USD150 and above.

Where to stay in Malang

If you’d like to stay in Malang for a night (or a few), here are our recommendations within walking distance from Malang Station (that are also quiet):

NameProperty FeaturesTypePriceBook Now
Cozy Boutique Guest HouseClose to town square
24-hour front desk
Laundry
Guesthouse$Book Now
Hotel Tugu MalangTravel Sustainability Level 3
CHSE certified
Close to train station
Hotel$$Book Now
Snooze MalangTravel Sustainability Level 2
Adults-only accommodation
Shared kitchen
Guesthouse$Book Now
The Shalimar Boutique HotelOutdoor swimming pool
Room service
Hotel$$Book Now
Travel Sustainability Level is based upon the Booking.com criteria. $ is USD50 and below. $$$$ is USD150 and above.

Alternative accommodation options in Malang are below:

Booking.com

Have you taken the overnight train from Yogyakarta to Malang?

What was your experience like? What would you add to our guide above? Please let me know.

And if you’re planning to take the train but have any further questions I haven’t answered (yet), please let me know too.

Author: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandrarosenau/" target="_blank">Sandra Rosenau</a>

Author: Sandra Rosenau

Sandra Rosenau is a Gen X gal from Germany, born and raised behind the Iron Curtain, with an unquenchable thirst to learn. Self-starter. Multi-lingual. Minimalist. Environmentally conscious. Financially and location independent. Energised by connecting with others and helping people succeed.