Semarang, Java, Great Mosque of Central Java
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Great Mosque of Central Java iStock / hanafichi
Semarang, Java, Borobudur Temple
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Borobudur Temple iStock / NaughtyNut
Semarang, Java, Lumpia Semarang and condiments in bamboo
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Lumpia Semarang iStock / MielPhotos2008
Semarang, Java, Monks at Borobudur for the Waisak Festival
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Monks at Borobudur iStock / Rares Kovesdi
Semarang, Java, Lawang Sewu, Thousand Doors
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Lawang Sewu (Thousand Doors) iStock / DanielFerryanto
Semarang, Java, Carving detail at Borobudur Temple
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Carving detail at Borobudur Temple iStock / &#169 simon gurney

Semarang, Java

Semarang, Java, Traditional Indonesian dancers performing the Ramayana Dancers performing the Ramayana iStock / rudi_suardi

A former Dutch colony, Semarang is situated smack-dab in the middle of Java's northern coast and is a mainstay on Indonesian cruise circuits for its gateway access to the superlative UNESCO-protected Buddhist site at Borobudur. A bustling city of more than 1.5 million people, this steamy Indonesian port has an atmospheric Dutch-colonial historic quarter, a traditional Chinatown, and a fast-developing cityscape of mega-malls and high rises — all serving its large Javanese and ethnic Chinese population.

What We Love

Sam Poo Kong Temple: Also known as Gedung Batu, this massive, pagoda-roofed temple complex in Chinatown, with roots dating back to the 15th century, attracts multidenominational practitioners and visitors who come to admire its many shrines, carvings, and statues.

Gereja Blenduk: This mid-18th-century Dutch domed church — notable for its large cupola, baroque organ, and unique wooden pulpit — is well worth a look.

Best Known For

Borobudur: One of the standout architectural heritage sites in all of Southeast Asia, this behemoth Buddhist temple complex — the largest Buddhist monument in the world — is 60 miles inland from Semarang. The craftsmanship of its bell-shaped spires, dating back to around 800 A.D., is mesmerizing, as is its transporting setting amid palm trees, rice paddies, and soaring volcanic peaks.

Lawang Sewu: This elegant early-20th-century colonial landmark has a long and fascinating history: It served as headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Railway Company, and later as a Japanese interrogation camp and prison (it's even said to be haunted).

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Who It's Best For

Culture Lovers and History Buffs: With noteworthy historical landmarks and multiculturalism aplenty, Semarang is an enriching and educational port.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Don't Miss All-Aboard: A trip to Borobudur — the one must-see attraction in this port — can take up to three hours one-way, when factoring in traffic jams. Do yourself a favor and stick to the cruise line-led excursion to avoid the stress of worrying about not making it back to port on time.

Elissa Garay

Elissa Garay is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

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Itineraries Including Semarang, Java
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