Semarang - Capital of Central Java


Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2017
In the so called Golden Triangle of "JOGLOSEMAR" consisting of Yogyakarta, Solo, and Semarang, is the capital of Jawa Tengah (Central Java) Semarang. I've been to Central Java many times, but only once to Semarang to visit a branch of Citibank. While there for the day, I was very impressed with the whole experience. Having said that, I know very little about the city, and what it's like to live there. What I did notice was an organized place with good infrastructure - at least much better than other places in Central Java. I'm guessing this is an effect of being the capital city, and having more access to tax funds from the region. I was told that Semarang has the "best lumpia in Indonesia", and not sure how to qualify this, but the lumpia we had was quite delicious.

From research on the web, I've noted that housing is often quite modern and priced somewhat lower than in Bali. However, generally Semarang houses appear to be different than the villas one sees in Bali. Lots of the "minimalis" style houses built in 24 hour guarded, walled, complexes, not to mention a series of new high rise apartments that sell units as condos. Also many, many other choices for housing, found on rumah123. There seems to be quite a bit of green spaces around the city, and in the outer regions expensive houses overlooking canyons covered with rain forest-like vegetation. Transportation appears to be very good, with lots of taxis, a public bus network, and it looks like Go-jek has expanded to Semarang. At the moment, the airport is on the small side, but it looks like there's an expansion and modernization to a decent sized international airport. Currently there are international non-stops to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, as well as a dozen or so Indonesian cities. Another selling point for me, is the expansion of fiber optic networks from Biznet and Telkomsel. When I get to Indonesia, it would be very nice to have that 100mbs speed, I see advertised from Biznet. As mentioned above, there's Citibank Indonesia, which has a relationship to Citibank in the US. For those with Citibank accounts (like in North America) this has a number of benefits for money matters. Finally, Semarang appears to have a quite modern hospital (Columbia Asia) with International standards - although can only comment on ratings I see on the web, which seem pretty good.

Here's what I don't know, and hope that others can comment:

1. How many expats are living there? I'm guessing there aren't that many, and this can be a benefit or drawback depending on one's perspective.
2. What's the safety factor and crime rate really like? If buying into one of the 24 hour guarded homes, what's the likelihood of a break-in while on vacation? (I'm sure this depends on the specific area one chooses...)
3. What's the social and entertainment scene like, and what are the best things to do? Beaches, mountains, day trips, expat association, etc.
4. What are the best areas of Semarang for expats to live in?
5. Is it recommended to have a car, or can one reasonably do without? Are contracted drivers with cars easily found?
6. Are there health food stores, vitamin shops, decent workout facilities, and yoga studios?

About hospitals, to me the best is RS Telogorejo its in the center of Semarang near Simpang Lima, some doctors speak good English .
Yes Citibank is there, I use HSBC a very good and friendly service.
About the what you don't know;
1. not that much Expats I think, but compare with where ?
2. I live 11 years in Semarang city and never had any problems from break-in, 8 years here on our hill in the forest 100 meters from the nearest house never had problems either.
3. entertainment for me enough when I go to Semarang city. mountains I have, beaches are in Jepara some nice ones and in Jepara still a lot of Expats live there, most of them working in the furniture business .
4. if you have the money look for something in the Gajah Mungkur area that is not to far from the city centre in the hills. if you want it a little less hot Ungaran area 15 km from Semarang near the Jalan toll
5. all depends where you live, but to me it's hard without car.
6. by my knowledge no specific health food stores. vitamins in the apotek. fitness centres in all good hotels.
Semarang, lovely place, big city with still the feeling of a small village. Lived there for a while, the Mrs. is from there so hopefully we'll end up there again in the near future. For hospitals, you have RS Telogorejo like Nasigan mentioned which is quite ok, they've just extensively renovated the place to make it look more 2017ish. Was pleasantly surprised last time that the doctor spoke Dutch :D

1. Plenty of expats in and around Semarang, not so much that you see them on every corner but plenty of them if you feel like socializing.
2. Never had any issues crime wise, then again , not much to steal from me :)
3.Entertainment, nowadays plenty of restaurants and bars around mostly around the Candi Baru area. If you like the outdoors and do a bit of running or walking you could join the HASH runs, with the nice option of drinking after. Beaches are in Jepara or on Karimun Jawa.
Also there's a nice new Go kart track called Semarang Speedway (end of promotion :) )
4. Candi Sari or Bukit Sari would probably be best if you want to live inside the city. If you don't mind living a bit outside, BSB or somewhere in Ungaran could be nice. Just make sure it's a bit higher up as it can get a bit hot down in the city.
5. You could if you wanted to, with the traffic in the city I much prefer a motorbike. If you're not comfortable with that a car would be better than taxis.
6.Fitness at all the hotels + in Paragon they have a Celebrity fitness of fitness first or one of those chains.
About hospitals, to me the best is RS Telogorejo its in the center of Semarang near Simpang Lima, some doctors speak good English .
Yes Citibank is there, I use HSBC a very good and friendly service.

Thanks for the pointer to RS Telogorejo. When I go to Semarang later this year, I definitely plan to stop by and visit - and hopefully talk to a doctor or administrative staff if I can.

Someone else mentioned HSBC, and that actually seems much better than Citibank for the internationally linked accounts.

The Institution for Social and Religious Studies, or Lembaga Studi Sosial dan Agama (eLSA), a religious and social study institution, said that acts of intolerance have increased in Semarang, Central Java.A number of incidents that hurt tolerance and respect among people of faiths continue to happen in the city.
This week, a number of Islamic organizations rejected the celebration of Cap Go Meh, which was initially scheduled to be held at Central Java Great Mosque.

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