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. Ceded to the Dutch West India Company in 1677 by King Amangkurat I as payment for his debts, it became their headquarters and the seat of the Dutch governor of the Northeast provinces. Semarang's usefulness as a port waned due to the gradual silting up of the harbour; by the 19th century, Surabaya had eclipsed Semarang as Java's premier port.
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.
Going Ashore in Semarang
The ship is scheduled to 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.
Pasar Johar Market is the sprawling central market. It sells brassware and bric-a-brac in addition to the usual foodstuffs and textiles. Citraland is a convenient shopping mall on Simpang Lima, one of the major shopping streets. The local currency is the Rupiah.
The majority of Semarang's restaurants are centred around Jalan Gajah Mada. Their menus feature every variety of Asian cuisine. Food courts in the modern shopping malls offer Western-style fast food.
This Protestant Dutch church dates from 1753, and is Central Java's oldest church. Built in the shape of a Greek cross, it features a Baroque organ and pulpit.
One of Chinatown's most renowned attractions is the Confucian Thay Kak Sie Pagoda, dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. The main temple was built in 1772.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship. Guides are the best available, but may not be up to the standards found in other destinations.