In the 15th century, Chinese emperor’s emissary Zheng He, otherwise known as Admiral Cheng Ho, set foot on Java. From the 17th century onwards, Semarang became an entrepot for spices, also a busy harbor for trade and passengers when travel was made predominantly by sea. The city of Semarang, capital of the province of Central Java, sits precisely in the center of the northern seaboard of the fertile and densely populated island of Java.
This strategic position of Semarang has made the city a melting pot of Chinese, Indian Arab, and European cultures. Wander around the Chinese quarters and the Dutch commercial district, you will see the influences of different cultures everywhere. In the older part of the city near harbor named Kota Lama, or the Oudstadt, stroll around to explore the historic old buildings in what was once the European commercial district.
What to Do
The most renowned landmark to see here is the Koepelkerk, a Phanteon style church, locally known as Gereja Blenduk, a copper-domed Dutch church dating from 1753. Don’t forget to visit Gedung Batu where stands the old Chinese temple and the recently erected statue of Admiral Cheng Ho.
Another tourist gem you should consider when you visit Semarang is Brown Canyon, located in Rowosari. This landmark showcases its majestic sandy brown cliffs with greenery spread throughout the area. The Brown Canyon's panoramic scenery has brought attention among professional and amateur photographers as it offers similar nuance as the Grand Canyon in America.
Though originally created for mining, this site has naturally eroded throughout the years, creating a unique structure. Those who are interested to visit this site should consider exploring during the weekends, as it will be filled with workers during workdays.
After venturing the city’s attraction, one thing that you definitely must try in Semarang’s Chinatown is the famous Lumpia (Springroll) Semarang. A lot of people say that Gang Lombok has the best Lumpia in the entire city.
For a complete culinary experience, the Pasar Semawis Culinary Center in Gang Warung is truly a must. Most of the food here is different to what you'll find elsewhere. Here a number of stalls sell mouthwatering dishes with pork in them – a rarity anywhere on Java.
In Semarang, taxi is everywhere. Small buses are visible going by the city streets. They go to different parts of the city. You might want to ask the locals before taking one of those city buses.
Becak or rickshaw (trishaw) is a pleasant choice to feel the breeze in Semarang while you enjoy the city scenes. When visiting Kota Lama, take one of those becaks, and enjoy the relaxing ride.
Semarang is accessible by air and land. Its strategic location does not make it so difficult to get there. Many domestic airlines fly to Semarang from Jakarta and Surabaya.
From Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, and Malang, trains are available as well as buses and rented cars. Going to Yogyakarta and Solo, buses are available.
The train station in Semarang is called Stasiun Tawang, It is located right at the northern side of the Kota Lama. Bus station is in Terboyo, which serve inter-city buses.
Cruises depart or visit Semarang from the port of Tanjung Emas. Taking a cruise is a great way to take in the attractions of Central Java at a relaxed pace. International cruise liners also stop in Semarang, using it as a base to visit various attractions in the region including Borobudur and Prambanan.