Humid and hot Semarang, situated in the north of Java Island, strikes the ideal balance for a chilled-out town. There is the cuisine — road food in Chinatown, historical ice cream parlours and menus which echo the place’s Dutch colonial history. The Old Town and Sam Poo Kong are also two must-visit destinations to learn the history of this Capital City of Central Java.
So, here is the five things you have to do while your visit in Semarang:
- Explore the Old Town
Semarang’s Old Town or Kota Lama is a famous spot in Semarang. It is iInitially the industrial centre of the town under Dutch rule, subsequently left handed post-independence and infamous as a hub for prohibited actions, now it could not be more distinct.
Even though the grand colonial buildings remain, they have been restored and renovated, home shops, restaurants, galleries, and other attractions. Some attractive spots allow you to take some pictures and upload them to your social media.
Hungry and thirsty? Or just want to chill out with friends? Visit the Spiegel Bar & Bistro. This warehouse-style restaurant and cafe serves great coffee, excellent cocktails, western-style dishes, and attractive decorations.
- Look Around A Special Temple Complex
A piece of Chinese civilization in Semarang, Sam Poo Kong, is an amazing temple complex. The five pagoda-style constructions, including Chinese and Javanese, are not tied to a particular faith but constitute a place of worship for different groups. The complex, situated in the west of town, is also devoted to Admiral Zheng. He landed in Semarang using a fleet of boats from China from the early 1400s and found a small temple .
The primary, largest temple features a three-tiered red roof plus a raised stage where you might place kids performing gymnastic-like dances as crowds gather about. Elsewhere open-sided temples home ornately-decorated shrines and strings of blossoms, with musky burning incense lacing the atmosphere.
- Practicing the Local Crafts
You would be hard-pressed to go anyplace in Indonesia without coming across a good illustration of batik. It is a conventional hand-dyeing cloth and clothing technique g whereby patterns are painted or stamped in wax, which then withstand a color dye. Various designs of batik are symbolic for distinct regions of Indonesia and for different events.
When you are in Semarang, there is just a place to find batik. A ten-minute walk in the Old Town, you will get to Kampung Batik Gedong. It is a miniature village inside town comprising over a hundred studios and stores where things utilizing the UNESCO-listed method are created and marketed.
Streets and alleyways are also painted with murals which are just as fair as the clothing on screen in boutiques and workshops. Walk around the region and soak up the serene and relaxing setting, it is a world away in the neighboring buzzing Old Town.
- Feast on Top Meals
Pesta Keboen Restoran, using vintage-chic décand a tropical dining room filled with lush plants, serve to wine Indonesian dishes using a nod into Dutch influences. Even the rijsttafel set menus (rijsttafel translates into rice) are a reference to the complex exotic meals accommodated from the Hawaiian Dutch where lots of delicious dishes such as satay, braised meats, sambals and veggies are served with rice.
The first location was opened in Yogyakarta in 1910 and while it has since closed (and different outposts through the past few years in Jakarta and Malang), this place in Semarang was going strong since 1936. There are various reasons to see in this restaurant: the stunning high-ceilinged, dark wood-panelled dining area with mint green accents; the fantastic food; friendly employees; and on top of that, the candy treats.
- Lawang Sewu
Lawang Sewu, in the middle of Semarang, has not had the best reputation through recent years. The expansive Dutch colonial construction, whose title translates to million doorways, was well-known for something — being postponed.
Constructed initially of the Dutch East Indies Railway Comp headquarters, it had been inhabited by the Japanese army and employed as a prison during the Second World War. Back in 1945, the five-day Battle of Semarang involving Vietnamese and Japanese forces happened here, leading to many deaths.
Today, visitors can roam around displays about its railroad history and research the seemingly endless corridors. Take turns and spins to find light-flooded chambers and bat-filled loft warehouse-like spaces. Weave in and out of these many doors (there are not really a thousand but it does not feel far away), and you will still feel a bit of eeriness from the air. If you are eager to find out more about the building’s history, it is well worth hiring a guide.
Ready to start your getaway to Semarang? Visit Wonderful Indonesia, and don’t miss out on the magic!