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.
ATMs and internet are readily available throughout the city as is access to police and medical attention.
A post office is located at the very northern end of Jalan Pemuda.
The tourist information centre is located on Jalan Pemuda about 300 metres north of Lawang Sewu but is not very helpful and is often closed.
By Adam Poskitt.