Semarang

The capital of the region Middle-Java (Jawa Tengah) is 373,67 km², has over 1,5 million citizens and is well known for their large Chinese population. Located on the North-coast of Java, Semarang used to be an important port city during the Dutch Colonial era and currently it’s still a wealthy business city because of the many industrial places, manufactories and (multinational) business based here. Hospitality is one of the big business segments, Semarang has a couple of huge hotels which focus on hosting meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE). Besides the high amount of business and industrial places, there also is a big National Police Academy.

Semarang is a popular city for people who want to travel to Karimunjawa but most travellers are positively surprised by the fifth largest city in Indonesia. Because of its rich past, Semarang has a beautiful historic centre with classic colonial buildings. In addition, it is a city with a good atmosphere and a nice balance between Western influences and Indonesian culture.

The city has a brand new airport which has connections to all over Indonesia and international flights to for example Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. So it’s the perfect alternative to fly to in Centre-Java if you are looking for a slightly less European city or possibly already visited Yogya.

Semarang has a few different sights. Of course there is Kota Lama, the old historical town centre, but don’t forget to go downtown where most of the shops and China Town are located. The south sight, which is a super fancy neighbourhood called Candi, is impressive to drive through. If you arrive in Semarang by car from Yogya, you will automatically see this area as the way from Yogya to Semarang goes right through this neighbourhood. The houses are super impressive and there are a few cool restaurants and bars hidden between these crazy mansions.

This city is becoming my little city get away from Karimun! I really start to appreciate this place more and more. Once a month I come here to extend my visa at the immigration office and it always turns in to a typical city experience. Eating food we don’t have in Karimun, taking a haircut, drinking cappuccino and going around the malls to score the necessary goodies before return home (Ciputra Mall Semarang, Transmart Carrefour DP Mall and Paragon City Mall Semarang are three of my favourites). Through my friends Astrid and Tono I got to know this very cool group of people and of course with my friend Jess (who lives in Semarang as well) it becomes a nice place to come back to. Although I haven’t visit that many touristic sights, I definitely know some places I would advise you to visit.

Kota Lama 5
With Friends 3
With Friends 2
Kota Lama 5

Semarang

The capital of the region Middle-Java (Jawa Tengah) is 373,67 km², has over 1,5 million citizens and is well known for their large Chinese population. Located on the North-coast of Java, Semarang used to be an important port city during the Dutch Colonial era and currently it’s still a wealthy business city because of the many industrial places, manufactories and (multinational) business based here. Hospitality is one of the big business segments, Semarang has a couple of huge hotels which focus on hosting meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE). Besides the high amount of business and industrial places, there also is a big National Police Academy.

Semarang is a popular city for people who want to travel to Karimunjawa but most travellers are positively surprised by the fifth largest city in Indonesia. Because of its rich past, Semarang has a beautiful historic centre with classic colonial buildings. In addition, it is a city with a good atmosphere and a nice balance between Western influences and Indonesian culture.

The city has a brand new airport which has connections to all over Indonesia and international flights to for example Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. So it’s the perfect alternative to fly to in Centre-Java if you are looking for a slightly less European city or possibly already visited Yogya.

With Friends 3
With Friends 2

Semarang has a few different sights. Of course there is Kota Lama, the old historical town centre, but don’t forget to go downtown where most of the shops and China Town are located. The south sight, which is a super fancy neighbourhood called Candi, is impressive to drive through. If you arrive in Semarang by car from Yogya, you will automatically see this area as the way from Yogya to Semarang goes right through this neighbourhood. The houses are super impressive and there are a few cool restaurants and bars hidden between these crazy mansions.

This city is becoming my little city get away from Karimun! I really start to appreciate this place more and more. Once a month I come here to extend my visa at the immigration office and it always turns in to a typical city experience. Eating food we don’t have in Karimun, taking a haircut, drinking cappuccino and going around the malls to score the necessary goodies before return home (Ciputra Mall Semarang, Transmart Carrefour DP Mall and Paragon City Mall Semarang are three of my favourites). Through my friends Astrid and Tono I got to know this very cool group of people and of course with my friend Jess (who lives in Semarang as well) it becomes a nice place to come back to. Although I haven’t visit that many touristic sights, I definitely know some places I would advise you to visit.

Kota Lama 3

Sights

Semarang has several touristic attractions but most travellers don’t spend that much time here. Therefore, I just share my highlights with you. First of all Kampung Pelangi is a much see! What used to be slum on the south sight of the city, turned in to this beautiful colourful city. Over a 230 homes where painted like the rainbow to brighten up the neighbourhood.

In May 2017 a principal of a local high school and the mayor of Semarang started a project which was financed by the Central Java Community Center. They invested over 22 thousand dollar in this project, inspired by three similar villages in Indonesia. Besides brightening up the neighbourhood, this project encouraged other positive actions from people in the village. People are cleaning actively and try to keep the river, flowing through the town, clean. This village has been attracting visitors from all over the world to come and take photos. The project has brought economic benefits to the local people, as families has started small business to sell drinks, food and souvenirs.

Besides Kampung Pelangi, the old city centre called Kota Lama is a must visit. Beautiful Colonial architecture and the antique market are two of the main reason why I love to walk around this neighbourhood. Furthermore, this is also the area where some of the best western restaurants are located. Last but not least check out Dharma Boutique Roastery. I have not been here yet but I heard great things about this place. This coffeehouse is the oldest roastery of in town and perfect for gaining some knowledge about the local coffee cultivation and of course to drink a coffee. Click here to visit their Instagram and here for their Facebook page.

Kota Lama 2
Kampung Pelangi 1
Kota Lama 4

Sights

Semarang has several touristic attractions but most travellers don’t spend that much time here. Therefore, I just share my highlights with you. First of all Kampung Pelangi is a much see! What used to be slum on the south sight of the city, turned in to this beautiful colourful city. Over a 230 homes where painted like the rainbow to brighten up the neighbourhood.

In May 2017 a principal of a local high school and the mayor of Semarang started a project which was financed by the Central Java Community Center. They invested over 22 thousand dollar in this project, inspired by three similar villages in Indonesia. Besides brightening up the neighbourhood, this project encouraged other positive actions from people in the village. People are cleaning actively and try to keep the river, flowing through the town, clean. This village has been attracting visitors from all over the world to come and take photos. The project has brought economic benefits to the local people, as families has started small business to sell drinks, food and souvenirs.

Kampung Pelangi 1

Besides Kampung Pelangi, the old city centre called Kota Lama is a must visit. Beautiful Colonial architecture and the antique market are two of the main reason why I love to walk around this neighbourhood. Furthermore, this is also the area where some of the best western restaurants are located. Last but not least check out Dharma Boutique Roastery. I have not been here yet but I heard great things about this place. This coffeehouse is the oldest roastery of in town and perfect for gaining some knowledge about the local coffee cultivation and of course to drink a coffee. Click here to visit their Instagram and here for their Facebook page.

Kota Lama 2
Kota Lama 4

Restaurants & Bars

Semarang has a range of different cool places I like to go to for some Western food. By far my favourite is Saka Patat, which is both a restaurant and a bar. Down below my three favourite places but don’t limit your options because there are many other great places if these options are a bit out of your way. Are you not really in to Western food or you don’t want to go to a restaurant? No worries! Semarang has plenty of good street food all around town. For example, opposite the big Paragon mall is a food court were you can order Indonesian dishes for a price way lower than the food in the mall (and tastier!). I tried the Sotto Ayam there and this was very tasty. One of my friends has his own restaurant specialist in chicken and I definitely recommend going there. His place is called Ayam Bakar Balarasa and is located in the south sight of town.

Photo by The Fat Mermaid
  • Aroma is a bar with a great view on the south sight of the city. It’s a great place to meet friends, listen to life music, watch sports or play a game of pool yourself. So come here in the evening to and enjoy a wide variation of beer, Italian wine and coffee, pizza and much more.
    Instagram: aroma_bar_semarang

     

Photo by Sakapatat
  • Sakapatat is very hip and trendy place! The atmosphere is great and the people there are always very friendly. It’s a beer garden but they have an extensive menu with all kinds of yummy Western and Asian dishes.
    Instagram: sakapatatsemarang

Photo by The Fat Mermaid
  • Restaurant De Spiegel is located in the middle of Kota Lama, in this old colonial building. A great inside venue with quiet a fancy look. They serve Western an Asian food an did I mention that the building is just stunning? Because it is! Go check it yourself.
    Instagram: spiegelbistro

Photo by Eastman Coffee
  • As you may know by now, I love coffee. Therefore, when my friend told me about this cool place I called Eastman Coffee, I got excited right away. The place is near to Simpang Lima and catches your eyes immidiatly while passing it because it’s a very cool venue. Of course, I tried the coffee but we tried some food from the menu and this was delicious too. My conclusion? Go check this place out because it’s great! A perfect location to see the Indonesian city life: people working, meeting friends or having a relaxed afternoon drink. Oh .. and the place is open daily from 7am till 2 am.
    Instagram: @Eastman Coffee

Coffee shops

When I am on the road, I always try out many different coffee shops to open my laptop and do some work. Down here some of my favourites in Semarang. 

Photo by The Fat Mermaid
  • In down town in Semarang I found this place called the Kofitiére, hidden in a neighbourhood but around the corner of Lapangan “Pancasila” Simpang Lima. This very cute looking coffee shop is spacious and super bright because of all the big windows. They don’t have a big breakfast menu but when I was there I ate a nice little overnight Mango granola and of course I drunk my cappuccino. For sure a place I would recommend for people who need a quiet place to work or just want to drink a nice coffee.
    Instagram: kofitiere

Photo by The Fat Mermaid
  • Makabana is an coffee shop and creative space located close to the city centre. Besides the coffee shop, they serve delicious food and have a garden. The owners, who also own the restaurant Saka Patat, just started this Co Working Space concept, so besides a great place to drink a coffee Makabana is also perfect if you are looking for a place to work or a meeting room. Daily open from 7am – 10pm. 
    Instagram: makabanaspace

Photo by Peacockoffie
  • Peacockoffie is a very cool chain of coffee shops in Semarang and Yogyakarta. Currently Semarang has three locations and my favourite is in the south of the city, Jalan Gombel Lama No. 11. At this location there is a small space downstairs but upstairs is this bright and open space surrounded by plants (it’s a smoking area though..). Besides the coffee shop, you will find a very cool store which sells cool, high quality clothes.
    Instagram: peacockoffie

Hotels & Guesthouses

Semarang offers a large about of accommodations to choose from, still I find it very difficult to find a nice place to stay for a decent price. Normally I stay here for a few days, so personally this makes the atmosphere of the accommodation a bit more important to me. As I told you before, there are many big hotels in Semarang and they are all very similar. I do not really like to stay in a hotel but I have to admit that a little bit of luxury during my stay in Semarang isn’t that bad. Especially when I come on my own. A great place which I recently visited for the first time is called Hills Joglo Villa. This place is a bit out of town but on the way to Yogya. With their beautiful garden, pool and terrace it’s a great place to get away from the busy city and relax. There is a small museum with all kinds of antiques found over whole Indonesia. It’s an accommodation and a perfect venue for weddings too. They got nine Joglo’s (little Javanees houses) in different sizes, a coffee shop, a convention hall, a restaurant and did I mention that their garden is beautiful?

Photo by The Fat Mermaid
  • Het Achterhuis is a guesthouse located in the old centre Kota Lama. The rooms are not expensive at all, basic but comfortable. They don’t serve breakfast but there are many coffee shops where you can order some food and drink a coffee. In front of Het Achterhuis is a coffee shop called Tekodeko, they serve a broth range of coffee and have a small Indonesian menu. Upstairs is great lounging area for both hanging out during the day and at night.
    Instagram: achterhuis.indo

Photo by The Fat Mermaid
  • This is definitely my favourite place to stay in Semarang! Djajanti house is located in the south sight of the city, in a quiet neighbourhood just of the main road between Semarang and Yogya. They have a great garden and their accommodation is mainly outside! They rooms are very comfortable and have a pretty half outside bathroom. On the third floor is a small library with a cute little balcony. I just love this place, but I think that was clear already.
    Instagram: djajantihousesemarang

Photo by Aston
  • Aston is a big hotel located in the old city centre. The price for a room is a bit more expensive compared to other places in town, but it’s definitely worth your money. The breakfast is tasty, they got a pool, the facilities over all are great and the service is good. Back in Europe you would definitely pay over a hundred euros for a night. Therefore, when you are looking for a nice hotel with more comfort, located in the centre? I would for sure recommend Aston.
    Instagram: astonhotelsemarang

Photo by HA-KA hotel
  • HA-KA hotel is a new hotel near to the famous Simpang Lima in downtown Semarang. The hotel has a high price/performance ratio, the price is budget but the facility is great. It’s clean, comfortable and has a great location. Besides the nice rooms, they have a big breakfast buffet and the service is very good. As the hotel is right in to the town centre it’s a great location from which you can explore the city.
    Instagram: hakahotelsemarang

Transport

Semarang is very easy to reach either by air plane, train, bus or car. There are several bus companies who run mini buses between Yogyakarta, Semarang and many other cities. Two of the companies I like to use are Daytrans or Alloy. Normally I call the office or just go there to check if I can go with the first out going bus. If you need help with booking a bus, you can always ask for help at your homestay. Of course you can also book a private car if you like to be a bit more flexible or don’t mind paying more. Semarang is a big city so I often use the applications GoCar or Grab to go around. This is basically the Asian version of Uber, not expensive at all and very easy to use.

Are you planning on coming to Semarang 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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