Semarang

Semarang is the capital of Central Java in Indonesia.

Understand

The city's name derives from the Javanese words "asem" and "arang", which literally translate to "scarce tamarind."

Semarang, the provincial capital, lies in the north-eastern part of Central Java along the coast. It is a bustling, growing mid-sized city with a population of 1.5 million. More an administrative and business town, rather than tourism destination, it nevertheless has its own charm, with contrasting modern mid-rises, a significant set of Dutch colonial architecture, Chinatown, and a small "kampong" all jutting against each other.

Recent efforts started in 2007 have been made by the government to promote it as a tourist destination, such as the rather presumptuously named Semarang Pesona Asia (Semarang, Asia's Enchantment). Semarang does have several tourist attractions within its borders and in nearby towns, like Ambarawa, Salatiga, Bandungan and Demak.

Semarang, in contrast to many Indonesian cities, still has a fair amount of greenery, but locals will tell you that areas that used to be (by their standards) "cold" are no longer. The city's weather is hot and humid, except on the slope - where it is slightly more pleasant - up towards Ungaran, so wear light-coloured cotton clothes, such as a T-shirt and knee-length trousers for comfort.

Don't be surprised, however, if you see lots of people on motorcycles dressed as if bracing for autumn. Many places, like masjid (mosques) and puri/candi (temples) as well as government offices, require polite dress such as long trousers/skirts and neat clothes. Hot pants/mini skirts will attract people's attention in ways you might not like and is considered impolite, although changing perceptions of fashion have brought changes in this growing metropolis.

Semarang is still rather off the tourist trail and knowing even basic Indonesian words and phrases will be helpful and Javanese will be well-received, although younger educated people are often able to speak some English, especially those from the middle and upper classes.

One of Semarang's problem is 'rob' or high tide, which can cause flooding more than a kilometer from the coast, because of the flat contour of Semarang. Severe flooding may occur in the peak of the rainy season (generally in January).

Visitor Information

Get in

By plane

Semarang's   Achmad Yani International Airport (Bandar Udara Internasional Ahmad Yani) (IATA: SRG) is located relatively close to the city centre. It is well connected with multiple flights each day to hub airports in Jakarta and Surabaya. There are also direct flights to cities in Kalimantan, such as Pangkalanbun, Sampit, Pontianak, and Ketapang (KalStar), as well as Balikpapan and Banjarmasin (Lion Air). Direct connection to other cities include Bandung and Batam (Lion Air), Bandar Lampung (Aviastar) and Bali (Garuda, Wings Air). International flights are also available, albeit not daily, to both Kuala Lumpur (AirAsia) and Singapore, (AirAsia, Silk Air).

The airport is rather small and overcrowded at times. Immediately past the security check are the departure check-in desks. Before entering the waiting area, passengers need to pay the airport tax. Past the airport tax counter is the domestic departure waiting area, followed by the international departure waiting area. Regardless of the gates shown on your boarding pass, everyone would need to wait in a common waiting room, with the gate number only specifying the door you will pass on your short walk to the tarmac.

On arrival, once you've walked in off the tarmac, sometimes it is quite disorganized around the single luggage belt available. For international arrivals, if you need a Visa on Arrival, proceed to the left side of the immigration queue, otherwise proceed to the immigration counter.

Bus from airport

The TransSemarang bus system Koridor IV passes through the airport, with buses going towards Cangkiran and also the other direction towards the Tawang train station stopping at the same bus stop located just outside the parking lot gate after the railway track. To go to the city centre (e.g. Simpang Lima or the City Hall / Balai Kota), take the bus towards Tawang and transfer to Koridor I in Karangayu. Ticket costs a flat Rp 3,500, which includes transfers to another corridor. Keep your ticket for checking. The bus operates only between 05:30 and 17:30

Airport 'taxis'

Just at the kerb outside the arrival area, there is a dedicated pool of airport taxis on standby with a nearby taxi counter. Unfortunately, the price is almost double the price of normal city taxis because an airport cooperation body monopolizes traffic from the airport. The Transportation Ministry says that the airport taxis are not taxis but rental cars, so there are no taxi signs on these vehicles. A cheaper alternative would be to walk towards the departure drop-off area and take one of the taxis that just dropped its passengers off. For your safety, be sure to take only official taxis. City taxi to Simpang Lima or city centre area should cost about Rp 30,000, or slightly more for the airport taxi.

By train

Old locomotive in front of the Lawang Sewu building

There are two main railway stations in Semarang, both of them located in the northern coast mainline connecting Jakarta-Surabaya:

Semarang is well-connected to Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya by train. From Solo, once daily early in the morning there is an economy class train Kalijaga, meaning that travel from Yogyakarta all the way by rail is theoretically possible, although it requires a 4:00 departure with one transfer, and is likely to be slower and less comfortable than taking the direct buses. Multiple executive-class trains connect Semarang to Jakarta (6 hours) and Surabaya (4 hours) several times a day, with overnight journeys also being a possibility. The executive class trains are very comfortable, with air conditioning, reclining seats, power plugs, and foot rests available. Once daily, Bandung is also connected to Semarang overnight with the executive class, Harina (which also carries business and economy class wagons).

In most executive trains in Indonesia, the temperature is usually set very low, so bring a blanket or have extra clothes you can put on to keep warm. Also, most trains are equipped with TVs in each car set to KATV, which could either entertain or annoy you depending on the hours. On executive and business class, meals are offered during the journey, whether in a restaurant carriage or directly at your seat. The seats in business class seats are less comfortable. Economy class seats are hard and non-reclining, and food sellers will hop on at the stations to offer snacks and even boxed lunch (nasi bungkus). Nowadays, however, even the economy class wagons are equipped with air-conditioning, squat toilet, and power plugs just like the higher classes, although the recent improvement in quality was also followed by increase in prices.

Smoking is prohibited on trains run by PT. Kereta Api Indonesia (Persero) and hawkers are prohibited from getting on, although you'll find those rules being flouted on the platforms and on the economy trains. Advance purchase of tickets are now mostly done online, in convenience stores, and post offices. When in the vicinity of the stations, be cautious with touts, as not all of them sell legitimate tickets, although they might be useful on limited occasions. Porters are always hoping to earn a bit of money by carrying your bags, so if you do not need their service make it clear to them and hold on to your bags.

For further information and booking, please see the website of PT. Kereta Api Indonesia, in Indonesian only, or alternatively, tiket.com it's partner booking site with English information.

By car

Semarang can be reached by car from Jakarta. It takes around 10-12 hours depending on traffic. You can choose to leave early in the morning from Jakarta to arrive in Semarang in the next 12 hours or so. An over-night drive is faster yet more challenging and even dangerous for "Pantura", a driver who's not familiar with the roads. Pantura derives from "Pantai" which means beach and "Utara" which means North.

From Jakarta, you can take the Eastward route via Cikampek Tollway. Go along the toll road until you reach the Cikampek toll gate, take a left and you are in "Pantura Road". In Pantura road you have to follow the directing signs to "Cirebon", "Pekalongan", "Kendal", "Semarang" or "Surabaya" as those cities are east of Jakarta.

You will pass small towns like Patrol, Jatibarang, and relatively bigger ones like Cirebon. Before entering Cirebon, you can take the toll-road, which will steer you out of the heavy traffic, bypassing it altogether. That is, if you do want to avoid traffic and do not intend to sight-see Cirebon. After exiting the Cirebon toll road, you should drive eastward along Losari and then you will pass Tegal, Pemalang, Pekalongan and Kendal before you arrive in Semarang.

Gas stations are abundant, you can see them almost every 5-10 km along the road. They have toilet facilities, but usually only squat pots. Deposit Rp1,000 in the locked box stationed outside the toilets as you enter or leave. Beware of small or old gas stations as they have poor lighting and terrible toilets. Choose a newer and bigger gas station with good lighting, parking spaces and clean toilets. Please make sure that you have locked your car and do not leave your valuables unattended.

You can reach Semarang from Yogyakarta/Solo via the new tollway, which should take rather less than 2 hours, or you can take the highways and arrive in about 2-3 hours, giving allowance for traffic. Please note that drivers from Solo are noted for their more aggressive and more reckless driving - which is saying something in a country where driving seems aggressive and reckless.

Semarang can be reached from Banyumas/Cilacap without traveling through Yogyakarta via highways and streets. If you choose to travel through Magelang, be prepared for traffic problems, as well as in Ambarawa and Ungaran. Your best bet is to leave late at night via Purbalingga so that you can arrive early in the morning in Semarang, which will take about 8 hours (via Magelang-Ambarawa-Ungaran). If, however, you'd like a more scenic (during the daytime) and a faster drive, avoid Magelang entirely by traveling through Temanggung, bypassing Magelang entirely, after which you can choose to drive through Bandungan and take advantage of their all-day fruit and vegetable market, or take another route that isn't as mountainous as Bandungan (such as through Secang then Ambarawa). Bandungan is a mountainous, rural area that also offers Gedungsongo Park and numerous small hotels and it is only about 30 minutes (given good traffic) from Semarang. Average travel time for sane drivers is 5.5-6 hours. For F1 drivers, expect a record of 4-4.5 hours.

If you're coming from Surabaya, this is rather a long drive that doesn't follow the coast.

By bus

Many bus companies offer daily service from Jakarta to Semarang. You can choose to go in the day time with air conditioning from Pasar Rebo Bus Terminal in East Jakarta, Kalideres Bus Terminal in West Jakarta or from Lebak Bulus Bus Terminal in South Jakarta. The overnight bus with A/C is also available with good service. You can choose bus operators such as Rosalia Indah, Raya, Kramat Jati, Safari Dharma Raya, which are all well reputed. Sometimes the bus route is Jakarta to Solo via Semarang. You can choose them too, but make sure to remind the bus driver's assistant (the person who checks your ticket on-board the bus) to wake you up in Semarang.

There is also the executive-class tourist bus Joglosemar, which connects Jogjakarta, Solo and Semarang (hence the name). Joglosemar picks up tourists from specific hotels and provides snacks and water for their trip. Considerably pricier than other executive buses, it is also more comfortable and provides friendly service throughout the journey. The Joglosemar buses and vans depart from Jogjakarta to Semarang and Solo to Semarang almost hourly.

There are also other companies providing shuttle vans going to Semarang, including DayTrans (from Jogjakarta, Jepara), Cipaganti (from Jogjakarta, Solo, and Cilacap), Central Java Travel, Bejeu (from Jepara) and Putra Mandiri.

By boat

Semarang's Tanjung Emas Port (reachable by TransSemarang Koridor III) is located in the northern part, in an area that unfortunately is often flooded during high tide.

It is regularly served by ships mostly to / from destinations in Kalimantan. The state-owned PT PELNI has ships going to Banjarmasin (using KM Egon), Pontianak (using KM Lawit), and Kumai (using KM Leuser and KM Egon). Another operator with ships also going to Kalimantan is Dharma Lautan Utama, which serves Pontianak, Ketapang, Kumai, and Sampit. There are normally no regular ships going directly into Semarang from other major cities in Java, except for the occasional ships from Jakarta during the 'mudik' period close to 'Lebaran' (Eid) offered as an alternative for people going back to their hometowns.

Additionally, cruise ships occasionally spend a day in the port of Tanjung Emas. The port has few facilities for passengers, but an informal market of street vendors often assembles outside the secure-area. Most passengers take a one day tour to Borobudur, or a city tour of Semarang.

Get around

By mini bus/bus

There are medium-sized buses operated by government-owned company DAMRI in the city. These DAMRI buses are normally blue and white inc colour. DAMRI buses travels along the following routes:

All the buses operated by DAMRI are air-conditioned, and relatively well-maintained. There are also routes operated by other private companies(Rata Kencana, MINAS, Nugroho, etc.) although they mostly use non air-conditioned buses and the fleet tends to be less well-maintained. All these buses stops whenever a passenger flags them. Accordingly, to alight you just have to tell the driver or conductor and the bust will pull aside and stop. There are very few designated bus stops and no route maps whatsoever, so it is good to ask a local beforehand and double check with the conductor. Fares range anywhere from Rp 2,000 to Rp 8,000 depending on the distance travelled.

A blue-grey TransSemarang bus Koridor I passing Jl Pemuda near the Balai Kota

Aside from those buses, there are also TransSemarang buses with designated bus stops on raised platforms (locally known as shelter). Despite being called a BRT system, the buses do not travel on a designated lane. There are currently four operational corridors:

Most interchanging of buses is done at the Balai Kota (City Hall) or SMAN 5 shelter in Jl. Pemuda. Further expansion works are currently conducted for corridors 5 and 6. Ticket costs Rp 3,500 for adult and Rp 2,000 for students. Make sure to keep your ticket when transferring from one line to another so that you won't have to buy a new ticket. Some of the less-frequented shelters do not have officials selling ticket, so you have to buy one on-board. This is by far the most visitor-friendly method of going around by public transit, although coverage is still lacking.

There are also plenty of minibuses (locally called angkot/daihatsu) serving various other routes. The minibus has the route written on the windscreen, most of the times also at the back and the side of the vehicle. The route is normally written in the form of 'origin-destination' and sometimes with ' VIA ' information if there is more than 1 mini bus with the same origin-destination but through a different route or path in between. For example, the written route Johar-Sampangan, means that the origin is from Johar, with the end point being Sampangan and vice-versa. The fares for the mini-bus is around Rp 2,000-3,000. There are two kinds of minibuses, the orange coloured ones, which travels longer routes across the city, and the yellow coloured ones, which travels much shorter routes (e.g. from certain housing complexes to the nearest market or terminal). Do ask the conductor/driver of the minibus before you board, for the route it goes and whether it passes by the place you want to go. This is where you need some rudimentary Indonesian as the person you ask are unlikely to speak English.

By taxi

Taxis are very safe and comfortable, and reasonably priced (starting price, Rp 4,000).

Make sure you understand the route or ask a friend. Make sure the driver uses the meter ("argo"). If he refuses to use the meter, use another taxi. List of taxi companies:

By car

If you need to buy fuel for your car (Id:bensin) (Id:gasolin) is available in 3 different choices, "Premium", "Pertamax" and "Pertamax Plus" and (Id:"Solar") is available for diesel powered vehicles. Fueling a vehicle is not a self-service here, you cannot dispense the fuel yourself. The station has their own employees who will fill-up for you and then pay them.

See

One of the temple buildings in Sam Poo Kong temple complex, Semarang.
Gereja Blenduk

Northern Semarang has a lot of old Dutch colonial buildings. This was where the old walled city was located. The wall is no longer there, but many of the old buildings remain, especially in the area called Kota Lama (The Old Town or Oudstadt). On certain months, this part of Semarang is flooded by the rising tide (called "rob" in Javanese).

Semarang has very good landscape - some say the best landscape thanks to its coastal area in the northern part of the city, with Tanjung Mas as its international harbour and hilly area in the southern part stretching from Candi Sari area to Bukit Sari with the picturesque Mount Ungaran in the background. Unlike some other large cities in Indonesia, there are still a fair number of green areas and tree-lined streets. Be warned, however, that the sea is slowly reclaiming the coastal lowlands - a beautiful park showcasing traditional architecture has been partially inundated - and daily sea flooding occurs in some places, plus the temperatures and humidity can make it uncomfortably hot (above 32C). The highlands are more temperate but have also seen increases in temperature to an average of just about 29C.

Before you get into the hilly area named Bukit Sari, you will see on your left Taman Tabanas Gombel where you can stop by, drink tea and see Semarang from the hill. It's a really beautiful view in the daytime and a very special romantic view during the nighttime.

Mount Ungaran, with its tea and jasmine plantations, Bandungan village with its Gedungsongo (9 Shrines) Park and traditional fruits and vegetables market, Gua Kreo (Kreo Cave) with its interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations and, of course, the marina at Tanjung Mas are some alternatives for those who have more than 2 free days in Semarang.

Monuments

Side hall of Lawang Sewu

Tugu Muda is one of Semarang's landmarks - an obelisk set in the middle of a roundabout. It is situated westward of Simpang Lima, on one of the 5 streets crossing Simpang Lima named Jalan Pandanaran. This monument commemorates the 5 days of fierce battle (14-19 October1945) between Indonesian freedom fighters and Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender.

Stained glass window viewed from inside Lawang Sewu.

There are some Dutch colonial buildings around Tugu Muda; the most famous one is Lawang Sewu which means A Thousand Doors in Javanese, although it doesn't have that many doors. It was built as the headquarters of the local railway company, and over time served various purposes. The Dutch reputedly used the foundation as a sort of jail and torture centre. Flashlight tours of the foundation, with it's interesting system of small pools of water to help keep it cool, are a fun scare. The attic, with its twin water towers, is also interesting as it was used by the military at one point as a badminton court. During World War II, it was used as the Japanese army's headquarters, and further atrocities were committed by the Japanese. Lawang Sewu's main attraction is its tall stained glass windows. The building is now undergoing restoration and usage by the railway company once again, after many years of laying vacant and being used for events; fortunately it is still open to the public. Tour guides are available at the building's entrance. Though reputed to be haunted by a variety of supernatural beings from various eras due to the great number of executions there before and during WWII, Lawang Sewu remains one of Semarang's most prominent landmarks.

Museums

Amusement parks

Do

Learn

Semarang like all cities in Indonesia of its size and regional importance has a collection of colleges and universities. Some of them offer short courses of study via the Darmasiswa scholarship program for foreigners, while others offer courses independently of that or in cooperation with other organizations.

Diponegoro University is a state university and is the biggest and the oldest university (est. 1956), and houses 11 faculties: law, economics, medicine, architecture, engineering, fisheries and marine sciences, animal agriculture, humanities, social and political sciences, public health, natural sciences and mathematics, and psychology. It hosts almost 40,000 students in its two campuses, Pleburan (downtown) and Tembalang in the southern hilly part of Semarang. It sometimes ranks amongst the world's top 500 universities. UNDIP offers 6-month and 1-year Indonesian language courses through the Darmasiswa program.

Semarang State University (UNNES) has over 21,000 students in 8 faculties (Education, Language and Arts, Social Sciences, Mathematics and Science, Engineering, Sport Science, Economics, and Law) and has been in operation since 1965. UNNES offers 6-month and 1-year courses via the Darmasiswa program: Indonesian Language, Fine Art, Handicrafts, Traditional Music, Traditional Dance and Batik Art.

Satya Wacana, located in the suburb of Salatiga, offers a 3-month intensive Indonesian language course.

There are several other colleges throughout the metropolis and in nearby towns and cities which may also offer short courses. Some also offer the opportunity for the earning of degrees.

Work

For business travellers, Semarang is a transit city where you only have a chance to see Semarang's bustling activities from a taxi or a hotel's window.

Semarang is also an industrial city. Many companies have opened their manufacturing plants in the eastern, western and southern parts of Semarang. For a foreigner who wants to work in Semarang, this is a good place because of its landscape and variety of work available; it is also strategic since an international airport, a KanIm Kelas I (Class I Immigration office) and the KanWil KemenKumHAM (Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights) are seated there, as is the Polisi Daerah (PolDa - Provincial Police Headquarters), making handling work and stay permits much easier than in non-capital cities, towns and villages. You can live in the hilly and considerably cooler housing area in Candisari or Bukit Sari while you work in the downtown area. Traffic jams are considered to be fewer than in Bandung or Surabaya but the last couple of years have seen an upswing in traffic problems. Also, Semarang is famous for frugal business owners and is one of the most competitive cities to do business in. Some claim that if your business can survive here, it can survive in any part of Indonesia.

Semarang is the home of the biggest "Jamu" (means "javanese traditional herbal medicine") industry such as Jamu Jago, Nyonya Meneer and others.

Most of Jakarta's major banks and companies have opened branches in Semarang. Its relatively close vicinity to Jakarta (only 40 minutes by plane and 6 hours by train) allows Semarang to enjoy its status as a growing commerce hub on Java island.

Buy

Semarang marketplace

The currency used is Indonesian Rupiahs (Rp.), known also as IDR. There are money changers in the city centre, or you can go to a hotel or bank but you will get a worse exchange rate. Note that, as with elsewhere in Indonesia, money changers and banks will not accept US currency notes that are not in excellent condition or with an issuance year prior to 1999. They tend to prefer certain series, especially the "F" serie. Many US$ with an issuance date pre-1999 have been found to be counterfeits.

As Semarang is not a city frequented by tourists, you won't find a large concentration of money changers on one particular street. The money changers listed below are generally reliable, and you can even call ahead to 'lock' a rate first before coming in personally in the next half an hour or so.

Banks are open between 08:30-15:00.

You can visit some malls available in Semarang such as Sri Ratu (the first mall in Semarang from the 80's), Matahari Plaza, Ciputra Mall, Java Mall, DP Mall and Paragon Mall.

You can buy batik (attractive Javanese cloth traditionally prepared with a wax and dye system), antiques and traditional items in Pasar Johar (Johar Market)). They have plenty of choices. Ask if you can get assistance from hotel staff or a travel agent's staffer to take you around Pasar Johar. It is also accessible by Angkot (mini-bus) from Simpang Lima. Aside from there, you can also buy high-quality batik at department stores like Matahari, or at batik specialists like Batik Keris and Danar Hadi, both in the Simpang Lima square area. Semarang also has its own style of batik, which can be found in various stores around town. There are many batik stores throughout town, catering to all different bank account sizes, and some have very reasonable prices. Of course, the old addage, "You get what you pay for," is often true with batik.

There are numerous places around town to buy jewelry, paintings, handicrafts, art and other items that could make great souvenirs, and these places can be found all over town - even in unlikely places, like Club Merby on Jl MT Haryono (Mataram) No 653.

Semarang has many arts and crafts shops around the city. They normally sell Javanese arts, paintings and clothes including Batik. Some shops popularly visited by tourist are:

While Semarang is not a shopper's paradise when it comes to having it all, it certainly has an excellent variety of choices for those who want to take home a taste of Indonesia, or Semarang.

Eat

Although Semarang's choice of foods is not as complete as other larger cities, you can find Japanese, Italian (including pizzerias), Thai, Korean, Indian, Western and more. Although some of these places are inexpensive, such as many Chinese and Indonesian restaurants, most foreign food establishments tend to be expensive.

Budget

Many visitors buy Bandeng (milkfish) - locals call it Bandeng presto (pressure-cooked milkfish) or Bandeng duri lunak (soft-boned milkfish) - whatever the name, it has been pressure-cooked. Other famous food souvenirs include lumpia Semarang (a kind of fried spring roll with bamboo-shoot filling), wingko babat (small patties of glutinous rice and shredded coconut in a variety of flavours) and pia Kemuning (various kind of filling, but the traditional ones are filled with palm sugar). You can purchase any of these at food stores called toko oleh-oleh (a lot of them are located in "Jalan Pandanaran") or from street vendors and open stalls. If buying from street vendors or open stalls, you might look for those where locals go, as it is an indication of which ones are popular. Pressure-cooked milkfish can also be found in Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya supermarkets, but not in such variety, particularly the large number of hot sauces available locally. Wingko Babat is already known before World War II and can be stored in room tempearature at least for one week. It is from Babat village and the legendary is Tjap Kereta Api d/h Loe Soe Siang which then other many Wingko Babat makers imitate it, but usually smaller and not so delicious for cheaper price, although sometimes is sold expensive by many hawkers. There is also the money-minded eater's snack - nasi kucing (literally, cat rice, which is a very small portion of rice served with a modest amount of meat and vegetables), which can be had for about Rp 5,000.

There are hawker-style food stalls and tents all across Semarang. They are very popular and offer good food at unbelievably cheap prices. Please note that, as they are not permanent establishments, they do not have phone numbers and exact addresses. However, they usually open in the same spots and at a regular time every day. Also, as in any hawker-style establishments, hygiene is not a top priority here. If you have a sensitive stomach, you should always consider cook's access to the fresh water and toilets, as well as whether the food is cooked fresh or set out in serving dishes. Anything served with ice should be questioned so as to avoid the trots.

Food Stalls (Note: Unless stated otherwise, these food stalls are only open after sunset every day)

Mid-range

Jl. Pandanaran has a whole line of stores catering to foodstuffs, of which just a few are listed below.

Splurge

Drink

In Semarang it is not easy to find bars. However, lately a few stylish venues have sprung up, mainly caters to the trendy young population.

There are few bars and cafes around 'Simpang Lima' (right in the downtown). After sunset, please avoid small tents selling homemade tea (teh poci) as lots of hookers look for targets, especially rich looking travelers.

Wedang or wedhang means hot, soothing drink. You can get them in Simpang Lima, hotels or restaurants in Semarang. One of the most popular variety is STMJ (Susu Telor Madu Jahe, a concoction of milk, egg, honey, and ginger drink).

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Less than Rp250,000
Mid-range Rp250,000-500,000
Splurge More than Rp500,000

Budget

If you want to find budget accommodations, you can go to Jalan Kauman (Near Johar Market - TransSemarang Koridor II or buses to/from Terboyo Terminal) and you'll find a lot of cheap accommodations there. As is elsewhere in Indonesia, they are mostly not a hostel-style accommodation but likely to be a basic fan room with outside bathroom for the cheapest price level, some naming themselves as losmen (inns) and others as hotel. Several places offering basic fan room are located near the mosque at the northern end (Masjid Kauman) with rooms going for as cheap as Rp 50,000. Many budget places will not have a western-style shower.

Another group of budget accommodation, slightly more upmarket but still affordable hotels, can be found along Jl. Imam Bonjol. With Rp 250,000 or even less you can possibly have an air-conditioned room in these hotels, such as Hotel Bali and Rahayu. TransSemarang Koridor III and buses to/from Terboyo Terminal (except DAMRI) pass by Jl. Imam Bonjol.

Both above areas are not too far from both train stations (Poncol and Tawang), as well as the seaport (Tanjung Mas).

Mid-range


Splurge

Stay safe

Semarang's safety is considered moderate. The people are nice to strangers, helpful and friendly.

Never touch anyone's head (especially teenagers and older men) as it is considered as "insult" and might invite troubles. In the crowded bus/train/small car used as public transportation, "unintended touch" is tolerated. Never look at someone (especially young men) straight in the eyes more than 3 times as it might be considered as "challenging them to fight" (this applies especially in bigger towns/cities) - Villagers are more friendly to strangers.

Semarang is neither a small city nor huge city if compared to Jakarta. Everyone is urged to observe universal safety rules such as "only walk in the light-bright areas"; do not attempt to deal with hookers or trans-sexual hookers which are usually done under secluded and dark areas; lady travelers are urged not to travel alone after 23:00 especially in an unknown dark neighborhood, sometimes even in residential areas. Only withdraw a moderate amount of money in an open air ATM.

When riding the public transportation it is not encouraged to wear jewellery, or gaudy and branded or designer watches. Petty thieves are common, but they do not strike when it isn't obvious. During the night if you must use public transportation, look for those units which have more than a few people riding and do avoid the empty ones. You might want to choose a seat close to the driver.

Stay healthy

Tap water in Indonesia is not potable. So do not drink your hotel tap water unless you boil it first. Bottled water is very popular and not expensive, popular brand is Aqua, Ades, and 2 Tang. You can find bottled water in department stores and mini mart such as Indomart, Alfa Mart and in small street stalls. If in unfamiliar establishments or where you have no assurance of sanitation standards then take care with ice used in drinks, or water served to the table, ask if it has been boiled.

Hospitals with 24 hours emergency rooms (ER):

Connect

Post offices are easy to find. DHL, TNT, Fedex and other international couriers also available. Local courier and shipping company (also serving international courier and freight) is ELTEHA (LTH). Ask your hotel staff to help you dealing with these courier companies.

Cope

Police stations:

Tourism Information Centre :

Go next

Semarang is the major hub city of Central Java.

From Semarang you can go to Dieng Plateau to a small town named Wonosobo for a one day sightseeing ancient hindu temples/candi in a former ancient city which lies in the misty plateau.

Alternatively, within one and a half hours you can go to Borobudur temple in Muntilan and then to Prambanan temple in Klaten and buy some antiques and batik in Yogyakarta. It takes less than 2 hours to drive from Semarang to Yogyakarta. Solo is also only a one and half hour drive from Semarang.

You can also go further southward to some small towns like Ungaran, Salatiga, Ambarawa, Kopeng and Bandungan. It will take at least a one day tour but is really worth it. You will see beautiful scenery on the way between Semarang, Salatiga and the adjacent cities like Solo and Yogyakarta. You can reach Solo (sometimes called Surakarta) or Yogyakarta in less than 2 hours.


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