A guide to visiting Semarang

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Semarang City

Here are some recommended activities for your holiday.

THE JAKARTA POST ( http://www.thejakartapost.com )

A toll road connecting Jakarta and Semarang in Central Java is set to open during the Idul Fitri holidays.

It is certainly good news for those planning to leave the capital city as part of the annual homecoming exodus, locally known as mudik. However, those yet to plan an itinerary may want to use this opportunity to take an impromptu trip to Semarang. If you choose to visit Semarang, here are some recommended activities for your holiday.

What to wear

Semarang’s weather is considered hot and humid. Hence, casual yet modest clothing is highly recommended.

Where to stay

Simpang Lima is a huge roundabout in Semarang, the interior of which features a lush green field. The area is surrounded by food centers, shopping complexes and hotels, such as Amaris Hotel Simpang Lima, Hotel Santika Premiere Semarang and Hotel Ciputra Semarang, making it an ideal place to stay.

At night, visitors can stroll around the field, take a ride in a neon light covered pedicab or sample local delicacies.

What to see

Housing five temples, Sam Poo Kong is Semarang’s oldest Chinese temple. The temple’s foundations were built by Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho in 1405 after he arrived in Semarang. Visitors can check out the klenteng (Chinese temple), see details of Cheng Ho’s journey in a relief on the rear wall or take photos in traditional Chinese clothing.

In addition to Sam Poo Kong, Lawang Sewu (A Thousand Doors) is another Semarang landmark. Built by the Dutch between 1904 and 1907, the colonial building is said to be haunted, but that does not stop tourists from visiting. For first-timers, a visit to the building’s eerie underground jail is recommended.
In addition to these popular destinations, Kampung Pelangi and Kota Lama are also must-visits. Located on J. Sutomo, Kampung Pelangi has recently began capturing visitors’ imaginations with its colorful houses.

Meanwhile, Kota Lama, also known as Little Netherlands, is home to many colonial buildings, including Blenduk Church (Nederlandsch Indische Kerk).

Besides visiting the colonial buildings, tourists are also encouraged to drop by Klitikan Market, which hosts a range of antique shops.

What to do

Embark on a culinary adventure by visiting Semarang’s Chinatown. At night, Semawis Market, also known as Pecinan Semarang, hosts a plethora of street food vendors, offering a wide array of dishes.

Sample pisang plenet (grilled banana served with various toppings), es hawa (traditional ice cream bar), es teler durian (a beverage made of shaved ice, syrup and fruits served with durian) and jamu (traditional herbal beverage) while experiencing the Chinese cultural influences in Semarang.

What to eat

Some of Semarang’s most popular dishes are tahu gimbal (prawn fritters in shrimp-paste sauce), tahu pong (fried tofu) and soto Semarang (Semarang-style chicken soup). However, loenpia (spring roll with bamboo sprouts, fried egg and prawn filling) is said to be the city’s most iconic local food.

Loenpia Gang Lombok is the City’s legendary loenpia seller. Established around 100 years ago, the stall opens at 8 a.m. and is usually packed with customers since morning. For this holiday, Loenpia Gang Lombok will be closed on June 25 to 26 and will reopen on June 27. The loenpia is priced at Rp 15,000 (US$1) per piece.

Toko Oen is another iconic food spot in Semarang. Located on Jl. Pemuda, the eatery was established in 1910.

Presently, Toko Oen Semarang is the only remaining outlet operated by Tjoen Oen Hok’s family, the founder. Here, foodies can sample a wide array of Dutch influenced delicacies such as bitterballen (Dutch meat-based snack), poffertjes (mini pancakes), bestik lidah (braised beef tongue), ice cream and more.

What to buy

Those in search of souvenirs should also check out bandeng presto (grilled boneless milk fish) at Bandeng Juwana outlet on Jl. Pandanaran. The milk fish is packed nicely and can last around five days if refrigerated and months in vacuum packaging.

Furthermore, do not forget to buy wingko babat. Combining coconut and sugar, the sweet treat can easily be found in souvenir shops along Jl. Pandanaran.