Essential Tips for visiting Semarang for the first time

Written by Mike Samson

Semarang is one of those places that deserves a spot on every traveler’s bucket list. It’s filled with culture, history, and breathtaking natural landscapes.

If it’s your first time visiting this colorful Indonesian city, you’re probably incredibly excited. The things you can do and see in Semarang are endless!

However, just like with any other first-time traveling adventure, creating a proper plan is of the utmost importance. It’s the only way to ensure you make the most out of your trip!

So, here are a couple of tips that can help you organize your vacation in the best way possible.

Create a budget

Setting a reasonable traveling budget is something you simply must do before you visit Semarang. It will help you look for hotels, arrange transport, and plan your daily routine in an efficient way – you won’t have to deal with financial barriers once you reach Indonesian soil.

Now, how you should set your budget solely depends on what you plan to do and where you plan to go while visiting Semarang. Outdoor activities such as trekking and skydiving can be quite pricey, so make sure you count those towards your budget in advance.

Either way, the city is quite cheap according to Western standards. Some guides claim you can get by with only 30$ a day there.

Additionally, if you’re traveling on a really tight budget but still want to experience the city to the fullest, you can save money by using public transport (instead of taxis) and eating locally as much as possible.

Avoid the rainy season


The monsoon season usually starts in November and lasts until April in this part of the country. If you’re an outdoor lover, you should certainly avoid this time of the year for the best possible experience in the city. The rainstorms can be incredibly long, preventing you from going sightseeing in natural areas near Semarang.

Otherwise, Semarang is known for its hot weather – you don’t need to pack warm clothes in most cases.

We still advise you to do your own research depending on the time of the year you’re planning on visiting Indonesia – some weather shifts can be a bit unpredictable.

Use public transport


Unfortunately, Semarang is not incredibly pedestrian-friendly. If you’re not renting a car, you’ll have two options for getting around the city: taxi and public transport. As we’ve mentioned before, buses and minibusses are the cheapest transportation option in the city. Still, for very short distances, hiring a taxi usually makes more sense.

Now, if you’re planning on venturing outside the city for sightseeing, buses are the optimal choice. Many locals speak English, so you won’t have issues when it comes to buying the right bus tickets.

While we are on the topic of traveling outside the city, one of the places you should keep in mind is the Gedong Songo Hindu temple. It’s located at the foothills of Mount Ungaran in the south of the city. The stratovolcano is a beautiful sight of its own – if you enjoy natural wonders, it’s something you probably wouldn’t want to miss out on.

Pick your accommodation wisely

There are tons of different accommodation options in Semarang – chain hotels, hostels, motels, and even guesthouses can be found all over the city. For the most part, the accommodation in the city is quite affordable. Check the prices online before you book your flight. Keep in mind that pricing levels tend to change depending on the season.

Besides that, hotels near the city center and its mesmerizing architectural attractions tend to be pricier than those in the suburbs. If you’re only staying in the city for a short while, you should look for accommodation near the airport or the train station to save money. Otherwise, beautiful hotels such as Arrus might be a better option.

Similarly, choose the location that’s the closest to the places you want to visit. If you’re interested in exploring the outdoor wonders of the city, you should book a hotel that’s near its natural resorts. If you’re more interested in visiting the city’s numerous museums or experiencing its exciting nightlife, you should stick to the center of the city.

Remember to stay safe

Semarang is generally a safe city for tourists. However, petty theft still happens occasionally in some areas. It’s why we recommend that you don’t carry too much cash around, and don’t leave your bags unattended for too long. Similarly, avoid walking through the city alone at night, and try sticking to the main roads and tourist hotspots.

If you’re an adventurous person, you’ll probably want to experience some of the city’s outdoor attractions. For example, you might want to try crossing the famous Umbul Sidomukti Bridge to get panoramic views of the city and explore the nature surrounding it. While we think it’s a wonderful way to truly experience Semarang, we also advise you to be extremely careful while doing so. Some of those outdoor activities can be a bit risky, especially if you have a fear of heights!

Meet the culture


As we’ve already mentioned before, Indonesia has a very rich culture and history. There’s hardly a better place to truly experience it than Semarang! Tasty food, plenty of museums, temples, and even the oldest Church in Indonesia (Gereja Blenduk) is just a fragment of what awaits you in this beautiful city. So, don’t shy away from the culture. Even if your main goal is to replenish your body by relaxing in one of the city’s famous hot springs, make some time to truly meet the local customs and traditions, and maybe even learn a bit of their language – it will make your stay so much more enjoyable!

The bottom line


There’s more to Indonesia than just Bali and Jakarta. Semarang, while sometimes overlooked, is an amazing place everyone should visit at least once during their lifetime! In this article, we provided you with some of our favorite tips for visiting this fantastic city that should help you make your trip to Indonesia a bit more memorable.


Mike Samson


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