Semarang, located on the north coast of Central Java, is the provincial capital and a major transport hub for those travelling along the north coast. Approximately 1.5 million people call Semarang home, but it sometimes feels more like a small town due to the lack of traffic snarls which are experienced in other large Indonesian cities.
The city centre is situated around a triangle of roads: Jalan Pemuda, Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Pandanaran. At the corner of Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Pandanaran is the main square called Simpang Lima, which is surrounded by loads of shops and eateries making it a popular spot for locals to visit during their down time.
Jalan Gajah Mada houses a range of shops selling fabric, household items and an assortment of regional knick-knacks. This road is the main thoroughfare through Semarang up to the port district and the old city. On the corner of Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Pandanaran is the haunted Lawang Sewu, a complex of grand old administrative building of national repute.
The old part of town is where hundreds of old buildings from the Dutch colonial period still sit. Walking through this part of town can feel a little bit like walking back through time, but be aware that flooding occurs regularly in this part of town due to a combination of tidal surges and rainfall.
Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Semarang or check hotel reviews on Agoda and Booking . Hungry? Read up on where to eat on Semarang. Want to know what to do once you're there? Check out our listings of things to do in and around Semarang. If you're still figuring out how to get there, you need to read up on how to get to Semarang.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.