Semarang is located in and approximately around 4 hours’ drive from Yogayakarta. When I told my Malaysian friend that I was headed to Semarang for a 2 Days 1 night short getaway, he wonders why we should go there. Well, that’s not his fault. There’s not so much information about this city in Google and the surface, it might not appear to be as attractive as neighboring Yogyakarta,. But, believe me Semarang is worth it to go for a short getaway and in this article I will share with you some places and things you can do in Semarang.
Back to the 16th Century, Semarang is the capital city of Central Java. During that time, It was full with Chinese and Dutch cultures which brought the cultures of it in their architecture, culinary and cultures.
There’s airport in Semarang which is Ahmad Yani International Airport, but since I was travelling from Yogya. I just took a shuttle from Yogya to Semarang which cost me around Rp 75,000 and around 4 hours’ drive.
Sam Po Kong
As Semarang was full with chinese immigrants previously, Sam Poo Kong Temple was built to commemorate Chinese Admiral Zheng when he visit to Semarang in the 15th Century. Admiral Zheng was a chinese Muslim voyager who was sen to several countries in Asia for trade and diplomatic mission.
When I first google and look at this place in a picture, I thought it is just the same as the other chinese temples in Malaysia. But, this place is totally different. This temple architecture mixed of chinese and Java. Interestingly, it is not just one temple, but a huge complex of five different temples: Sam Po Kong, Tho Tee Kong, Kyai Juru Mudi, Kyai Jangkar and Kyai Chundrik Bumi
How to get here : I just get a Gojek/ Grab
Entrance Fee : Local person. Rp. 5000 and foreigner Rp.10.000 ( I pretend to be Indonesian because I’m cheapskate and want the local person entry fee price but my trick didn’t work out Hahaha)
Comeon, Lawang Sewu is one of the reasons why I wanna come to Semarang! Well, who doesn’t want to get spooked out at one of the most haunted places in the world hahaha. So, Lawang Sewu is definitely a must-go place in Semarang!
Built as headquarters for the Dutch East Indies Railway Company, the name Lawang Sewu translates to ‘a thousand doors’, as its design consists of many doors and windows. During the Japanese occupation in WWII, the building was declared as a Japanese base and the basement was used as a prison.
People said there’s Pontianak and some other ghost in this place. But luckily, I didn’t found any headless or scary ghost but I have to admit that I get spooked enough by sudden wind and the real silence of this place.
How To Get Here : As it located in the city centre, once again I used Gojek/Grab
Entrance Fee : Rp 10.000
Kampung Pelangi Semarang
Actually, We found this place accidentally when looking for a restaurant for lunch. My friend pointed at this place and say “hey, that’s a colorful village! And in front of it, there’s a lot of florist stall which looks like in Brazilian movies”. Then, we told our Indonesian friend and she brings us there. It is so easy to come here as it is near to the city center and for far you can see the vibrant colors of this village.
There’s no entrance fee to come here and not much activities to do here. But if you just love to take street photography, and enjoy looking at the locals especially local kids doing their daily routine, this place is totally worth it. If you come with a group of friends, make sure you didn’t make noise because you will passes through villager’s house and even though it is now tourist attraction place, it is still someone’s housing area.
Tips : Where plain clothes with basic colours for a good photos!
Try Local Culinary
Lumpia is a spring rolls which contains bamboo shoots ( orang melayu panggil rebung!), chicken and shrimps rolled up and fried ( or not) depends on your taste. It is brought into Semarang by early Chinese traders.
You can find it easily in Semarang as there are a lot of stalls and restaurants sell it.
Ayam Kampung Maknyus – Nasi Ayam
My Indonesian friend brought us to eat Nasi Ayam in late night and at first I thought that this Nasi Ayam is the same like chicken rice in Malaysia and Singapore, but it is totally different! If Yogyakarta has Nasi Liwet for its specialty, Semarang has Nasi Ayam. The steamed rice is doused with the yellow chicken gravy named “kuah opor ayam” and served with additional dishes such as sautéed chayote, shredded chicken, and sweet satay. One more thing, this meal can be found at night only!
Ikan Bakar Cianjur
This place has a lot of good reviews in tripadvisor so my local friends bring us here for dinner. I have to admit that it has a lot of menus and all of it is so delicious! I try Nila fish on the menu and I totally like it! Price is between IDR 10,000 – 20,000 for side dish, IDR 45,000 – 70,000 for main course and IDR 5,000 – 20,000 for drink.
As I come here and talked with a lot of locals here. There’s actually a lot more places that I should go like the National park, and others. Plus, there are a lot more local foods that I still didn’t try in Semarang. So, for me, Semarang is worth it to give a chance and I will come again to explore more!