Semarang – old appearance, new flavour

Now Semarang City is getting broaden, modern and the people changes, but still leaves the glory from the past when this city become a true ancient citadels as one of well-established city harbour in North side of Java.

Although seeming to have presided over the heart of Central Java since time immemorial, this city doesn’t emerged as a cultural and political force that would shape the Javanese culture nowadays.  Many cities in Central Java have their own history that already mixed and shape the culture of Java in common.


Based of the contour of the land, we can say semarang separated into two part. The South Area that contain hilly land and flat in north side. From the south part, we can see all part of Semarang City that glow in the dark night sky. The origin of Semarang can be found in the north part. The Dutch Colonial heritage area is lay down in the north part of Semarang and called “Kota Tua’.


Semarang at night


It’s not difficult to find the city on the map. You can easily find the big dot in the large scale map at north part of central Java in the Indonesia map. The closest big city from Semarang is Surakarta/Solo (86km) and the second closest city is Yogyakarta (112km). From Solo, you can easily find bus to Semarang with the reasonable price (start from 15.000 IDR/3 hours) or by train. Semarang also can be reached from Yogyakarta by bus (Nusantara Bus or Ramayana Bus start from 20.000 IDR) and will take 4 hours through province road. Both of them also have minibus service called ‘Joglosemar’ (means: Jogjakarta – Solo – Semarang, the golden triangle in central of java). You can buy the Joglosemar Bus in the Semarang tourism board office (further information see this link: )

Semarang lays in the middle of Jakarta – Surabaya route, two biggest city in Indonesia. All train route from Jakarta to Surabaya and opposite direction through Semarang. The ticket is starting with 130.000 IDR for business class and 240.000 for executive class from Jakarta.

By air transportation, Semarang connected to several big cities in Indonesia such as: Pontianak, Balikpapan, Jakarta and Surabaya and also Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The Ahmad Yani International airport provides Visa on Arrival service also for foreigner. From the airport passenger can use taxi with meter and will charge about 15.000 – 25.000 IDR to the city downtown. Semarang doesn’t have airport shuttle, but just walk about 20 minutes until the flyover and turn left in the second turn below the flyover passenger can find the TransSemarang Bus Stop about 300 meters from that flyover.

Where to Go?

Still doubt where to go? I have several favorite spots in Semarang. In the north part of Semarang, near the harbour and not so far from Airport lies old part of Semarang that build during the colonial period.

Road of Old City (courtesy from

Road of Old City (courtesy from

Marba Building (courtesy of

Marba Building (courtesy of

Hundred of ancient building still can find in Kota Lama since the government confirming this area as heritage in Semarang. So many object here including the Tawang Railway station that still operates today. From this station, you can go to another major city in Java such as Jakarta, Bandung, Solo and Surabaya.

courtesy of

old picture of Tawang Station

Another famous building is Lawang Sewu. This building built during Dutch colonized  in Indonesia. The construction began at February, 27. 1904 and reserved as Het Hoofdkantoor van de Nederlansch Indische Spoorweg Maatscappij (NIS) or Private Railways Company’s Headquarter. Lawang sewu as the building named (Lawang sewu means: Thousand doors) has so many doors with hundred of chambers that used for office for worker of Railways company. Nowadays this building becomes a museum.

Tips: go to Lawang Sewu at night, currently known as haunted building. Reported several sightings of ghosts of this place. Strange noises are heard when night especially in the basement that recently used as jail. So many peoples killed in the basement during the Dutch colonial. Spooky!

Lawang Sewu

Lawang Sewu

Not so far from Lawang sewu lies Simpang Lima (intersection of five street) as center of Semarang City. You can find couple of big mall, luxury hotels and around the Simpang lima can be found so many local cuisine with good price. At weekend you even can find bazaar. So many people sell and buy things such clothes, household, food and drink or snack here. Among Lawang Sewu and Simpang Lima you can see Pandanaran Street. Ah! here you can buy so many traditional food from Semarang as souvenir.


Semarang also known as City of Lumpia. Lumpia is a  fried spring roll originally from Chinese snack ‘Lun Pia’. Choped bamboo sprout with prawn and chopped carrot wrapped by thin skin made by flour then fried until the skin become brown. Bite it with small leeks and bird eye chilli. That’s one of my favorite snack ever! The original Lumpia from Semarang is more expensive than another kind of Lumpia in Indonesia because the size that bigger than other kind of lumpia. One roll of this snack cost about 5000 – 10.000 IDR.

lumpia semarang

lumpia semarang

Not enough by only snacking? Just walk to Simpang Lima and you can find hundred of food stall just on the roadside. You can try tahu gimbal, tahu pong, bandeng duri lunak, Satay (chicken, lamb and beef) and so many other varieties of semarang food. The food typically has salty and bit of sweet flavour.

When night falls, just go to the south side of Semarang. You can ride public bus or mini van called ‘angkot/ompreng’ to go to the south part of Semarang. From the hill in the south you can see the amazing panorama of the Semarang at Night. Not to long time needed to explore this city. I suggest you stay in Semarang for 2 days only and you can continue your trip to Solo or Yogyakarta

2 responses to “Semarang – old appearance, new flavour

  1. Pingback: What we can enjoy in Solo City | Me Against the Distance·

  2. Pingback: Solo, the Spirit of Java | Traveleggo·

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