This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Semarang. To help you make friends with Semarang before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
Semarang is situated in the northern part of Central Java right on the coast, but it is not a beach city; on the contrary, the shore is entirely taken up by the harbour and the closest nice beaches are about one-and-a-half hours' drive away. Semarang doesn't have a lot of hostels, but it does have a lot else to offer.
However, Semarang has a lot to offer for the ardent fans of culture. A place of Dutch heritage, the city has beautifully preserved colonial buildings, including the impressive Dutch church called Gereja Blenduk (free to enter) and Lawang Sewu, the landmark of Semarang, which used to be the railroad office, but nowadays hosts an exhibition about the railways of Indonesia.
Besides the Dutch heritage, Semarang is famous for being the meeting point of many religions. Along with the many Catholic buildings, the city abounds with Buddhist temples and Chinese monuments as there is a high population of people of Chinese origin living here. In the Chinatown of Semarang, it is worth trying the traditional food of Semarang called lumpia and visit one of the many smaller Chinese temples this corner of the town has to offer. However, without doubt, the two most spectacular sights of the Chinese heritage are Sam Poo Kong, the massive temple complex and the Chinese pagoda (free to enter) at the northern entrance of the city.
For those interested in Hindu temples, one of the most breathtaking venues of century-old Hindu worship can be found thirty minutes outside of the city. The temple complex called Gedong Songo is situated on the side of a mountain and its trail takes visitors through nine temples either on foot or on horseback. There are plenty of places of interest for those fascinated about the Muslim religion as well. Masjid Agung, the biggest mosque of Semarang, offers not only a spectacular sight, but the muezzin tower next to it also provides a brilliant view of the city and hosts an exhibition about the Muslim religion.
Another place that might be of interest to some tourists is the park with traditional houses from every region of Central Java that you can enter and talk to the people who were moved here from each respective region to be ambassadors of their area. Furthermore, there are plenty of beautiful green hills and hiking possibilities within easy reach of the city; Ungaran is a favourite amongst hikers.
Semarang is a modern and surprisingly clean city for Indonesia with plenty of modern buildings and it can be heaven for shopping lovers. However, it is also one of the hottest cities of Java, with temperatures reaching thirty-five degrees Celsius in the dry season.
All in all, Semarang is a place that offers a lot if you are interested in the different cultures and religions present all over Indonesia, but it is definitely not a resort town and to travel from your Semarang hostel to the mountains and beautiful nature, you will definitely need your own transportation.
Written by local enthusiast for Semarang hostelsJudyM