Things To Do In Semarang, Indonesia

Things to Do in Semarang

Thanks to the Loenpia Blogging Community, they’ve been showing me around their city of Semarang.

Once again, there’s lots of stuff to do here, so here goes:

1. See Gedung Batu (Sam Po Kong Temple) and know your future.

This Chinese temple was built in the name of Admiral Cheng Ho who led scores of Chinese fleets to Java.  He is revered as a saint and is credited with spreading Islam through Java.

One of the things you can do there is pray to him, ask for a wish, and one of the Temple head honchos performs a ritual to see what the outcome will be.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take photos, but this is what happens.
Firstly you buy some incense sticks. You then pray to Sam Po King, and have some incense candles lit.  You talk to the guy who has your incense sticks and tell him your date of birth, and what you want.
He goes up to this altar:
taps it three times, and places the incense candles in some sand.
He throws a couple of wooden blocks in the air with colours on each side – 1 is red, one is yellow.  Red means closed, yellow is open.  One red and one yellow is good.
Two yellows means the questions asked are not specific enough.  Two reds means bad.

Luckily for me, I had one red, one yellow.

He then shakes a few sticks, and the one that pops out determines your future.

This is what is in store for me:

The Poem:

The sunrise illuminates from east. In front of it there’s glory, behind it waiting prosperous people.  Clouds sweeping past’.  Then all troubles will be excluded and no-one will dare to make trouble.


Good deeds occur when you plant the seed of fortune. Because of other peoples prayers, your life will gain  improvement. Temptation can be handled by virtue.


There’s profit on sales.  If you look for profit there will be a result. There’s happiness in the household.  You will be in a perfect couple. Good news is approaching.  If you have certain problems, please fix it very soon. You can make a daughter and a son.


Sounds like good news! I’ll report back on how this works out!

2. See Lawang Sewu – the old Dutch Railway Station

Lawang Sewu was originally constructed by the Dutch as a railway station, and administration building.

It’s a grand colonial building that has seen better days, but there is some restoration going on around this attractive edifice.

Lawang Sewu Semarang Indonesia

Lawang Setu Stained Glass Window Semarang Indonesia

However, Lawang Sewu was grusomely used by the Japanese during World War II to execute Indonesians.

These concrete separations underneath Lawang Sewu were designed by the Dutch to be filled with water to help with the cooling of the building.

Lawang Sewu Torture Chamber Semrang Indonesia

The Japanese used them to house up to 5 prisoners in each compartment, in pitch black conditions with no sanitation.

This area below was used for a different kind of torture.  Prisoners stood up in neck high water, with no sustenance, until they literally dropped dead.

Their bodies were then removed and disposed of in a nearby river.

Lawang Sewu Semarang Indonesia - Torture Chamber

These photos were all taken with the flash.  There is virtually no light in these areas.  You also have to wear gumboots because some areas don’t drain very well and this creates a sloppy existence.

While Lawang Sewu may have a chequered history, it’s worth a visit.

3. Once again, like everywhere else in Indonesia, eat copious amounts of great food.

Here is some of the stuff that has made its way to my stomach:

Loenpia – this is the signature dish of Semarang.  It’s a mixture of a prawn with young bamboo cooked with egg, wrapped in pastry. It can be deep fried or left out of the oil!

Loenpia Food Semrang Indonesia

Rabbit Sate.  This is rabbit meat on skewers served with a peanut sauce.

Rabbit Sate, Semrang Indonesia

Deep fried banana and cassava.  You can feel the precise point when this stuff adheres to your arteries, but it tastes great!
Deep Fried Cassava, Banana

Kerupuk Rambak – Deep Fried Buffalo Skin. Sounds gross,but tastes crispy and salty.

Kerupuk - Deep Fried Buffalo Skin

4. Visit the Ambarawara Train Museum.

For those who love trainspotting, this is for you.

There’s loads of old locomotives that were brought to Indonesia by the Dutch, and they are sitting in a yard waiting for you to climb all over them.

Ambarawa Train Museum - Semarang Indonesia

The best thing about the museum is that you can take a short trip around the country side in a smaller, more modern train and see locals working in the rice fields.

Rice Fields Java Indonesia

5. Hike around the Gedung Songo Temples

Didut from Loenpia transported my big frame on his small motorbike to this great place.  It probably wasn’t a wise move, because I’m sure the addition of myself to his small Honda probably greatly exceeded the carrying capacity of the bike, especially his brakes when going downhill!

Gedung Songo Temples are a heap of Hindu shrines scattered around a mountain.  From here you can view a number of large volcanoes in the distance.  Try to arrive early if possible.  We walked around this place at midday and almost became vapourised.

It’s a great place to walk off the calories ingested by all the food you will eat here.

Gedung Songo Hindu Temples Semrang Indonesia

Gedung Songo Temples Semarang Indonesia

Or you could be a lazy arse and hire a horse and guide to take you around.

Hire a Horse at Gedung Songo Temples Semarang Indonesia

6. Spend Time With The Semarang Blogging Community

As mentioned before, The Semarang Blogging Community here is called Loenpia. I’m staying with Adi (or his nickname, Didut) at the moment.

These guys are very social beings and love nothing more than spending time with each other, mucking around, joking, eating and helping each other out.

They also do great community work.  They have set up a fund called Force which they contribute money into.

This fund helps some of the poorest children in the Semarang area to attend school.  School in Indonesia costs about $USD1 per month, but some families cannot afford that.

Loenpia also takes these kids out to other places out of school, such as museums, and other fun activities.

The voluntary contributions of Force help kids who would not be able to attend school, now do so.  Once again, this is just another example of the great people of Indonesia!

More Things To Do In Semarang

You might also need this Semarang Travel Map First Edition.

Air Asia has helped me get to Indonesia with no problems at all.  You can visit Indonesia with them by checking out their website and booking a cheap airfare here!

About Anthony The Travel Tart

The Travel Tart writes about the funny, offbeat and weird aspects of world travel today. Travel wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously! Check out ways to say hi below or sign up for his silly newsletter!

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  1. October 18, 2009    

    wow… that’s seem really exciting… you have a big adventure…

  2. November 9, 2009    

    It’s great post about Indonesia.
    Nice Blog, Nice to see you
    .-= topbloggerpost´s last blog ..Britney Spears II =-.

  3. maria maria
    January 13, 2010    

    i want serching my friends in semarang but dont know how….can you help me

  4. March 21, 2010    

    Nice to meet you. I hope you can visit Semarang again next time
    .-= Wisata Semarang´s last blog ..Wisata Kuliner di Waroeng Semawis =-.

    • March 21, 2010    

      Same here, I had a great time there!

  5. Farr Farr
    August 18, 2012    

    well ~ its lumpia =D

  6. November 22, 2014    

    It’s not Loenpia, but it’s Lumpia 🙂
    I’m from Surabaya, Indonesia. You should visit Surabaya next time!

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