Jepara, the neglected child

In Dutch we have a saying which literally means ‘A neglected child’ which means that something or someone hasn’t been appreciated. I guess that’s what Jepara was, for me, for quite a long time. I just slept there during my transit to Karimun, stayed in the harbor (the boat to Karimun leaves from here) and never took time to explore the city. However, when I started doing that, I discovered there is enough super interesting stuff that can be done.

Therefore, are you in Jepara because of your transit to Karimun or maybe you are stuck because the boat is canceled? Then it’s your lucky day because Jepara you will have time to relax, sit down for a sec and explore some pure aspects of the Javanese culture!

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What I like about Jepara is that the tourism didn’t completely take over the city. Walking around, you will see many aspects of the Indonesian cultural and het traditions. A real reflection of the Indonesian lifestyle. People sitting in front of their shops, doing business on the street, meeting each other at a warung or working on whatever it is they’re doing. I like visiting the local markets (this one is my favorite) and walking down the streets of Jepara. Many street sides have beautiful graffiti art which tell the stories of the people, I personally love that! It’s also possible to get a motor bike at your hostel btw (don’t worry).

There aren’t many other travelers here, so don’t be surprised if your (white) appearance makes some people look up but everybody is always very friendly! Most people are quite strict Muslims so be respectful and take this into account. Wearing shorts and tops, as a woman, is absolutely no problem but I would advise not to show too much skin and maybe wear a T-shirt.

Jepara is bigger than you think, there are living around one million people in this city. That is not that much smaller than for example Amsterdam. The city is located in the northeastern coastal region of Central Java, it’s the capital of the area which is also called Jepara. In many regions in Central Java people are speaking Javanese and not Indonesia. Also, in Jepara & Karimunjawa. They can speak often also speak Indonesian, but the Javanese culture is dominant is this area.

The city is famous for two cool things. First, it’s known for the Javanese teak wood carving art. When you walk around town you will see many different furniture places. The industry brought prosperity to the city as it employs around 80.000 people.  I always had the urge to buy things and now that I have my own little house in Indonesia, I finally have a good reason to do that 😊😊. There are quite a few tourists who buy furniture, and have it sent home because of the low prices here. If you are interested, my advice is, ask arounds about where you can find the product you are looking for. There can be a big price difference between the stores. You don’t want to buy anything? No problem at all, you can snuggle around maybe get inspired.

Kartini
Foto 1

Secondly, Jepara is the birthplace of Kartini, a pioneer of Indonesian women’s rights. In 1903 she was the first to open an Indonesian primary school for Javanese girls that did not discriminate on the basis of their social status. Her story is very interesting, I definitely recommened reading it. Here is a link I thought was very nice. Traveling around in Java, you will see many government buildings, statues or other places like the harbor in Jepara carrying the name Kartini. Jepara has a cute little museum about Kartini, for people who like to get to know her, and her journey, a bit better.

Although the beach is not as beautiful as Karimun’s beaches, Jepara has some great places to take a dive in to the ocean too. Bandengan Beach is a popular place but be warned, during the weekend it’s probably packed with local tourist. You can also decide to charter your own boat and cruise around the coast. Probably many places you can book that, but the place I know organizing those trips is Jepara Marina. Did you have ‘enough beach’ already and you want to see some mountain? Then this might be something for you! Take a day trip to the Duplak Coffee Plantation. The coffee is super tasty and although I never made the trip myself, I heard from a few people it is very cool!

What I like about Jepara is that the tourism didn’t completely take over the city. Walking around, you will see many aspects of the Indonesian cultural and het traditions. A real reflection of the Indonesian lifestyle. People sitting in front of their shops, doing business on the street, meeting each other at a warung or working on whatever it is they’re doing. I like visiting the local markets (this one is my favorite) and walking down the streets of Jepara. Many street sides have beautiful graffiti art which tell the stories of the people, I personally love that! It’s also possible to get a motor bike at your hostel btw (don’t worry).

There aren’t many other travelers here, so don’t be surprised if your (white) appearance makes some people look up but everybody is always very friendly! Most people are quite strict Muslims so be respectful and take this into account. Wearing shorts and tops, as a woman, is absolutely no problem but I would advise not to show too much skin and maybe wear a T-shirt.

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Jepara is bigger than you think, there are living around one million people in this city. That is not that much smaller than for example Amsterdam. The city is located in the northeastern coastal region of Central Java, it’s the capital of the area which is also called Jepara. In many regions in Central Java people are speaking Javanese and not Indonesia. Also, in Jepara & Karimunjawa. They can speak often also speak Indonesian, but the Javanese culture is dominant is this area.

The city is famous for two cool things. First, it’s known for the Javanese teak wood carving art. When you walk around town you will see many different furniture places. The industry brought prosperity to the city as it employs around 80.000 people.  I always had the urge to buy things and now that I have my own little house in Indonesia, I finally have a good reason to do that 😊😊. There are quite a few tourists who buy furniture, and have it sent home because of the low prices here. If you are interested, my advice is, ask arounds about where you can find the product you are looking for. There can be a big price difference between the stores. You don’t want to buy anything? No problem at all, you can snuggle around maybe get inspired.

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Secondly, Jepara is the birthplace of Kartini, a pioneer of Indonesian women’s rights. In 1903 she was the first to open an Indonesian primary school for Javanese girls that did not discriminate on the basis of their social status. Her story is very interesting, I definitely recommened reading it. Here is a link I thought was very nice. Traveling around in Java, you will see many government buildings, statues or other places like the harbor in Jepara carrying the name Kartini. Jepara has a cute little museum about Kartini, for people who like to get to know her, and her journey, a bit better.

biografi ra kartini

Although the beach is not as beautiful as Karimun’s beaches, Jepara has some great places to take a dive in to the ocean too. Bandengan Beach is a popular place but be warned, during the weekend it’s probably packed with local tourist. You can also decide to charter your own boat and cruise around the coast. Probably many places you can book that, but the place I know organizing those trips is Jepara Marina. Did you have ‘enough beach’ already and you want to see some mountain? Then this might be something for you! Take a day trip to the Duplak Coffee Plantation. The coffee is super tasty and although I never made the trip myself, I heard from a few people it is very cool!

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Restaurants & Bars

On the food department there is also plenty of choice in Jepara. I would definitely recommend you to eat at the local fish market, but are you craving some Western food or want to eat at a real restaurant. Look at my recommendations below. Another place I really like is called Home Juice n Food, their photo’s online are terrible so I decided to mention them like this 😉

Photo by Djago
  • Djago is a very trendy place in the city center. The venue looks very cool and the staff is super sweet. Sitting inside can be a bit cold as their aircon is always blowing like crazy… However, their terrace is great as well so come here for a nice hot cappuccino, a piece of pie or just to eat something. On their menu you will find both Western and Indonesian dishes. 
    Instagram: djagoresto

Photo by Sriya
  • Sriya is definitely one of my favorite places in Jepara. First of all because my sweet friend Joyce got married here but this place is also just very cool. The venue has a traditional Javanese style and the way they serve their food is very original. The people are friendly, sometimes they have live music and the food is delicious. Just one day in Jepara, don’t hesitate and go eat here!
    Instagram: @SriyaCafeHomestayJepara

Photo by gites.fr
  • Jepara Marina is one of the more exclusive places in Jepara but what I like about this place, compared to other places in the same price range, is the way they build their place. They are right at the beach, created a beautiful tropical vibe in their accommodation and the space is very open and spacious. The pool isn’t bad to btw haha! Therefore, Jepara Marina is a great place for a lazy afternoon in the pool (with sea view), a nice dinner or just a game of pool with a few beers and friends.
    Instagram: jeparamarina

Photo by TripAdvisor
  • Yam Yam Resto is another beautiful place on the beach. The view from their place is gorgeous and especially at night the venue has a bit of a romantic vibe. I like to go here because the food is nice, and I always get vacation feelings when I am here. I have never been here during the day, but the place also has a pool, so I imagine I can be nice to hang out here during the day as well. Maybe work on your tan a little bit or not, up to you. 
    Instagram: yamyamrestaurantjepara

Hotels & Guesthouses

Jepara has enough accommodation for you to choose from. Especially in the slightly more expensive segment, there are a few beautiful resorts you probably would feel very comfortable. Unfortunately, the choice in the lower segment is somewhat more limited. There is accommodation, but my experience is that the places are often not clean or comfortable. A hotel that I would recommend is Samudra Hotel. Do not expect too much, but it is cheaper than most other accommodations and close to the harbor. Perfect for a short transit. However, if you plan to stay in Jepara for a bit longer, I would recommend the following four options from the middle segment. Still a nice price, especially if you are traveling with two people.

Photo by The Fat Mermaid
  • Villa Isabella is probably my favorite place in Jepara. This Italian style villa is located right on the beach and has a beautiful garden including very relaxed and peaceful vibes. The family is super welcoming and great chefs. Every morning you can have breakfast on the terrace and enjoy the ocean breeze. If you like to have lunch or dinner, they can also prepare some delicious dishes for you. Always very happy when I arrive here. 
    Instagram: @Villa Isabella Putri B&b Jepara

Photo by Booking.com
  • The Gecho Inn Town is a very comfortable place in the city center. The rooms are very comfy, and I always love the breakfast because they have nice bread. That is not something I get to eat every day over here in Indonesia. In front of the guest house is also a nice bar & resto with a pool table. Therefore, if you don’t feel like going out, you got everything you need right there. 
    Instagram: @The Gecho Inn Town

Photo by The Fat Mermaid
  • A bit further out of town, the same owners as Gecho Inn Town have a resort with a similar name. Their location is super pretty, in the middle of the rice fields. I love this resort with the beautiful garden, great pool, nice resto & bar and of course the comfortable bungalows. The rooms are identical with the ones in town, as is their yummy breakfast (with bread). 
    Instagram: The Gecho Inn Country

Photo by hotels.com
  • Syailendra Hotel Syariah is a hotel in the city center and close to Sriya café. It’s a very nice place for a super decent price. My friend recommended the place to me because the rooms are clean and big, and the staff is friendly. Definitely a nice place in town for your transit to Karimunjawa!
    Instagram: #syailendrahotel

Transport

Jepara is an two hour drive from Semarang, but in bad traffic it can easily take your three hours to get here. There are many different shuttle bus services that run in between Semarang an Jepara. My favorite is Alloy Travel, very cheap and comfy. If you want to rent a private car I would recommend you to book that with ARTour & Rent Car. The owners are good friends of mine and will make sure you got the journey you want.
For a journey from Yogyakarta to Jepara you can use the same information!

Are you planning on coming to Jepara and do you need help with where to stay, how to get here or what to do? Don’t hesitate to contact me, send an e-mail or private message through my Instagram.

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