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One of Indonesia's oldest cities, Semarang is situated on Java's north coast between the shore of the Java Sea and a small ridge of mountains Located on the picturesque Java Sea, the port of Semarang is the capital of Central Java and a fascinating tourist destination. Home to 1.5 million residents, Semarang is Indonesia's fifth largest city and a true metropolis. In this thriving city, you will find a wealth of attractions and activities, including fascinating museums, incredible architectural sights in and around the city, delicious and diverse dining opportunities, unique shopping experiences, and so much more.
Semarang's history dates back to the 9th century, when it was known as Pergota. While the city initially took a back seat to the neighboring port of Jepara, it began to gain prominence in the 17th century, growing exponentially thanks to Dutch trade influences in Indonesia.
Semarang has truly come a long way from its humble beginnings, and it is a great melting pot of East Asian and European cultures. The Chinese quarter is a lovely, colorful enclave near downtown Semarang, in stark contrast to the Dutch commercial district, a quiet, forgotten region of Semarang that hints at the city's European past.
Today, with a population of over one million, a third of which are thought to be of Chinese extraction, Semarang has developed into Central Java's largest city and administrative capital. It consists of two parts; the coastal lowland where most of the commercial activities are found, and the hilly residential area. Although more of a business centre than a city for tourists, Semarang has a number of attractions that are worthwhile seeing. However, it mainly serves as a gateway to the mountainous interior of Central Java and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur.
Where You are Dock
Cruise ships dock at the port of Tanjung Mas, located about 1.5 miles from the centre of Semarang. Taxis are generally available outside the terminal building. Be sure to agree on the fare before leaving the port.
Semarang is served by an efficient bus and van system that will take you all around the city at an affordable price. The main bus terminal is in Terboyo in the eastern region of Semarang. Beware of pickpockets on the buses, however. You can opt to take a taxi around Semarang. There are many taxis that cruise the streets, yet if you have trouble finding one, call ahead for a pickup. Widya Taxi (24/513-466) will be happy to give you a ride. If you'd like to rent a car while in Semarang, contact Mekar Abadi Rent-A-Car (24/603-115) or Dua Tiga Rent-A-Car (24/512-924) for rates and availability.
Things to See and Do in Semarang,
Located five kilometers south of downtown Semarang, on the west bank of the Banjer Kanal Barat, is the Gedung Batu temple, sacred to followers of Confucianism and Islam alike. Gedung Batu is a series of four shrines built around a forested cave, the meditation site of Zhenghe, a 15th century missionary of the Chinese Ming dynasty. Monks occupy a home next to the westernmost shrine, and they will be happy to read your fortune, providing you speak Mandarin or have a translator on hand!
Rangga Warsita Patriotic museum
Of particular value are the exhibits documenting the Indonesian battle for independence which saw the Dutch withdraw and Indonesia successfully claim independence. Of course these exhibits and dioramas are highly patriotic and paint a glorified picture of what took place, but are interesting nonetheless.
Other exhibits related to previous Javan kingdoms are noteworthy and of some value to those interested in such things.
Getting to Rangga Warsita is relatively straightforward when using an angkot from either Lawang Sewu or Simpang Lima. Simply catch any angkot heading east along Jalan Pandaran which then turns into Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, but mention to the driver you are heading to Rangga Warsita to ensure you are dropped off in the correct location. The fare should be 3,000 rupiah.
The Borobudur Museum
There are two museums located within Borobudur Archaeological Park, the Karmawibhanga Museum and the Samudraraksa Museum. These museums are housed inside the park just a few hundred metres to the north of the temple. These museum ticket are already included within the Borobudur entrance ticket, so visitor are free to enter the museum.
The Samudraraksa Museum display the actual size replica of Borobudur Ship. It also display the maritime technology and trade network of 8th century Asia and Africa, especially the maritime trade of Indian Ocean. In 1982 a British naval history scholar called Philip Beale was visiting Borobudur when he noticed 10 panels depicting ocean-going ships. He surmised that these ships may have been a part of a famous shipping route — the Cinnamon Route — that linked Indonesia to Africa many centuries earlier. This led Beale to build a model ship based on those depictions, and that is now housed in its own dedicated space within the museum.
The Karmawibhanga Museum display archaeological findings around Borobudur, the restoration process, as well as the photographs of Karmawibhanga relief on hidden foot of Borobudur. It does a sometimes haphazard job of presenting the restoration process. Perhaps the most interesting exhibitions about this are those of the law of karma reliefs, with explanatory comments, and the photo gallery of late 19th-century shots of the complex before it was restored.
The museum is open daily 6AM-6PM and entry is included with the main Borobudur ticket.
Lawang Sewu Old - Colonial buildings
Construction commenced in 1904 on the large main building with features such as high ceilings, large windows and many doors – Lawang Sewu meaning "thousand doors" in Javanese.
After the Japanese invasion during the Second World War, the Japanese used these buildings among other things for rape and torture and to this day may local people believe the place is inhabited by unhappy spirits.
The complex itself is rather disappointing and many sections which have been renovated look shabby and in need of maintenance. In fact, the whole complex disappoints on every level with access to the main building being blocked over the course of 2011 and 2012 due to an ongoing dispute about access between government-owned Indonesian Railways and the Semarang government.
For those that love colonial architecture, this place is worth a visit. For everyone else, it really is just a time filler .
Gedung Songo is a stunning Archaeologicalsite; a series of eight Hindu temples built over twelve hundred years ago. There is much to see and do at this unique sight besides marvel at the temples. Horses are available for rent at the site for a nominal fee; a great way to tour the slopes of Gunung Ungaran. A natural hot spring can be found on the premises, so be sure to bring a swimsuit and towel. Surrounding you are the picturesque mountains of Sumbing and Sundoro to the west, and the looming Gunung Lawu volcano to the east.
Closer to the city center is the Ronggowarsito Museum, located on Jl. Abdulrachman. Featuring a wondrous collection of artifacts from all over Indonesia, the museum is open daily from 8am to 2:30pm, except Mondays.
Old City
It's a small area of town that warrants a walk around, a few photos and perhaps a visit to the old Dutch church built in the 1700s.
Sadly most of the buildings in the Old City are rundown, falling down or simply just facades of former glory. Even though the buildings themselves are largely poorly maintained, the area is so densely filled with them that it still evokes a certain colonial charm that really could be something special if someone would only put some work in restoration and preservation of these treasures.
Gereja Blenduk is an old Protestant church built in 1753 and is to this day used by church-goers. It is open to the general public for the Sunday service and at other times by request only. It's a beautiful building that stands out among the many other old buildings due its well-preserved look.
The Old City is prone to flooding and it's not uncommon to have to wade through water to get to where you want to go when the heavens open. The only option when the area is flooded is to hire a becak or taxi to take you to your destination although even then you might get wet.This part of Semarang is certainly worth a look.
Chinatown (Vibrant night markets)
It is one of those places that can look deceptively mundane at first glance, but it quickly reveals itself as a little slice of bustling Semarang intent of making a statement – it's in fact one of the city's highlights especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights when the Semawis night market fires up.
Reminiscent of Melaka's Jonker Walk, Gang Warung, the main street of Chinatown has since 2005 transformed itself into a centre for food, socialisation and cracking iced tea. Most of the food here is different to what you'll find elsewhere and a number of stalls sell mouthwatering dishes with pork in them – a rarity anywhere in Java.
The street buzzes throughout the evening and it makes for a good night out. Outside of the nights of the market, Chinatown is a little empty, but it's still an interesting place to poke around.
The many laneways and old buildings will keep all but the most culturally deprived interested for at least an hour or two.
Cruise Shore Excursions 
Semerang City Tour
We pick you up at Semarang harbor when your cruise ship dock. Depart to go around the old city or Little Netherland where there are 50 old buildings such as Blenduk Church : Protestant church was built in 1753 by Dutch with neo-classic style has two minarets and one dome. Sam Po Kong : Chinese temple was built in 15th century by chinese great admiral Zheng He/ Cheng Ho who visited this area in 1405. Other one is Thousand Door Building: This building was built in 1903 and torturing even killing place toward Semarang youth in Japanese colonial period. Youth Monument : Has function to commemorate 5 days battle against Japanese occupation army. Gombel Hill : View point to see Semarang city from the hill. Return to your cruise ship.               
Gedong Songo and Ambarawa Old Trains Museum
Pick up from Semarang harbor when your cruise ship dock. Depart to visit Gedong Songo Temple : A hindu temple is located on the hill of slope Mt. Ungaran around 900 meters above sea level. By riding horse we will visit nine temples at location. On clear day, the horizon is one long row of volcanoes from mt. Lawu in the east toward mt. Sumbing, mt. Sinduruo and Dieng Plateau in the west. Proceed to visit Ambarawa Old Train Museum : There are 21 old steam trains in the museum and mostly production of Esslingen, Henschel, Hartmann Chemnitz [Germany] and operated by Dutch in Indonesia. Old train museum is one location with William I train station in Ambarawa and the train was found in 1873 by Nederlandsch Indische Spoorweg Maatscappij [NISM].   
Borobudur Temple Tour
Pick up at Semarang harbor when your cruise ship dock. Depart to visit Borobudur Temple : The greatest buddhist monument in the world was built in 8th century. We will pass [not visit] Watu Gong : Buddhist monastery for ritual ceremony.   The ceremony is held in the eight roofed pagoda every year. Ungaran District : Many kinds of modern factory such as : Textile, beverage, plastic, snack etc. Ambarawa Heroes Monument : Has function to commemorate battle against Dutch occupation army.
If you are still at Borobudur in the late afternoon, return to the top level for sunset. It is often very quiet at this time, and the sunset behind the mountains to the west is quite magical.
Semarang has several beaches nearby if you would like a relaxing day out in the sun. Kartini Beach is a fabulous recreational area on the north coast. It is actually located on Panjang Island, a kilometer offshore. Marina Beach is close to downtown Semarang, and offers a variety of water sports, including boating, water-skiing, swimming, and snorkeling. It's a wonderful beach for an afternoon picnic with the family.
Eating Out
Semarang has an assortment of delicious restaurants featuring cuisine from all over the world. Gang Gang Sulai (24/315-398) can be found at Jl. Diponegoro 27, and features wonderful Korean Food. If authentic Chinese food is to your liking, look no further than Hong Kong Palace (24/549-274) at Jl. Jurntan Plaza Blok D-5. For delicious European cuisine in an elegant atmosphere, head to Semarang International (24/310-140), located at Jl. Gaiahmada 125. Semarang, for its large population, has a rather meager nightlife. Yet, you can enjoy a great cocktail at Chips Bar in the Hotel Ciputra (24/447-123), located on Simpang Lima in downtown Semarang. The Metro Hotel (24/547-371), located at Jl. KH. Agus Salim 204, houses the Xanadu disco nightly.

Brobodur where is the bus station area is home to a multitude of hawker stalls selling standard Indonesian street food and all manner of drinks.

Paksi Coffee House, Jl. Badrawati | Ngaran I, Borobudur, Indonesia (when you come out of the temple, head down the road towards Rajasa Homestay and you will see it on your left hand side), +62 293788025, +62 8139 1785 656 (paksicoffeehuse@gmail.com). Paksi is a Coffee House which serves coffee from different areas of Indonesia, food and other drinks, where you can try absolutely delicious pisang goreng with cheese. Very clean, very nice decor. Maya, the owner, is warm, friendly and helpful with information about the local scenes. She also provides contacts to rental cars at a fraction of the cost quoted by hotels.  edit
Manohara Restaurant, (inside the grounds of the hotel of the same name). Serves up standard Indonesian fare while offering beautiful views of Borobudur. Mains from about Rp 25,000.  edit
Amanjiwo. Has truly spectacular food at even more spectacular prices. Coffee Rp 80,000.

The largest shopping complex in Semarang is the Mal Ciputra (24/841-3608) located at Jl. Simpang Lima in downtown Semarang. It is a 21st century shopping mall with clothing stores, jewelry boutiques, and delicious cafes. Semarang has a number of stores specializing in local artwork and crafts. Head over to Danar Hadi (24/331-7445) located at Jl. Gajah Mada 186, or Panjang Art (24/541-460), located at Jl. Widohario 31, and marvel at their wonderful collections.
Pasar Ya'ik Baru (Tame clothes market) Upon entering the market, you are immediately transported into a labyrinth of fake designer handbag, clothes and shoe stalls. The prices here are already keen, but with stallholders desperate to do business, bargaining is all but a certainty.
Apart from clothes and accessories, there are also a couple of warungs inside should you get hungry. In the scheme of Asian markets, this is a fairly tame one.
Persistent touts hassle tourists on the approaches to the temple but are usually kept away from the temple itself. Be firm and polite about your intentions and they will soon get the message. Be careful when you exit the temple as there are confusing signs pointing to exit gates which lead you through a maze of stalls. If you want to avoid the maze of handycraft stall, do not turn left and follow the nearest exit sign, just move straight forward to the exit located nearest to the entrance.

If you do intend to buy some souvenirs here then make sure your bargaining skills are at their best. Pedlars sell small statues that they claim are carved from lava stone, but most are cast coloured cement. Identifying genuine lava stone is easy enough as the stone is quite light for its size compared to the weightier concrete. Nonetheless, if a concrete Buddha head will suffice you should not pay more than Rp 20.000. Their first offer is around Rp 150.000. Just tell them, that you already bought for Rp 20.000 and they will give you this price. An authentic lava stone version carved by a skilled craftsman will cost, and be worth, considerably more.
Should you be in need of cash, there is a Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) ATM close to the main park entrance.

Muntilan is a market town on the main route from Yogyakarta to Borobudur, and it has developed as a leading manufacturing centre of carved stone Borobudur replicas. If you are thinking of buying a stone Buddha, stupa or wall relief, this should be your port of call.
Muntilan is 13-14 km (8.5 mi) back towards Yogyakarta from Borobudur on the main road (Jalan Magelang). You cannot fail to find it.
Simpang Lima, or Five-way Intersection, is simply a massive roundabout with a large park in the middle of it. What makes this particular place appealing to visitors, however, are the shops and malls around the outside of it which provide a welcome relief from the midday heat.
It's a perfect place when you have a few hours to kill before your onward journey and you are certain to find something decent to eat around here because of the large variety of malls. Just don't expect to be immersed in the culture of Central Java as you might be when leaving the city.

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