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[GUIDE] Things to do in Surabaya for a weekend

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Getaway Category: Culture & HeritageGetaway Tags: Asia, indonesia, and Surabaya

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  • This article contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. This article was first published on Nov 02, 2016 and updated in March 2018.

    As Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya is a centre of commerce and few foreign visitors come to the city for tourism purposes, preferring to have a short layover on their way to Mount Bromo. But don’t make the mistake—if you want a quick tour Surabaya has a lot to offer in terms of culture, history, food and attractions. Here is your complete list of things to do in Surabaya. 




    Day 0 in Surabaya, Indonesia 

    8pm: Kya Kya Night Market

    At night, this Chinese district along the Kembang Jepun street is closed off from traffic and the nightlife in Surabaya comes alive with a diverse choice of cuisine from authentic Surabaya, Chinese, Javanese and other dishes at Kya Kya Night Market in Surabaya.

    Jalan Kembang Jepun, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Open daily 6pm-2am

    If you arrive late and prefer not to go too far from your hotel in Surabaya, you can instead try out a couple of excellent signature Surabaya dishes near the hotels recommended in this itinerary:

    Lontong Balap Garuda “Pak Gendut”

    Lontong balap

    Lontong balap. Photo cred: Lasthib

    If you want to know what to eat in Surabaya, Lontong Balap is a traditional East Java cuisine made from boiled rice cake. In Surabaya, the lontong usually comes together with fried tofu, beansprout and especially lentho (fried patties made of tolo beans). It typically costs Rp. 7,000 per bowl, with option to add scallop satay at Rp. 700 per stick.

    Jl. Embong Malang No.38, Genteng, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur 60275, Indonesia
    Opens 3-10pm daily

    Mie Tidar

    Surabaya’s top noodle vendor offers chicken noodle with mushrooms, with optional additions of dumplings, quail eggs and meatballs. A bowl of mie tidar costs Rp. 28,000.

    Jalan Tidar no. 20A, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, Indonesia
    Opens 10am-1am daily

    Day 1 in Surabaya, Indonesia

    8.30am: Breakfast at Rawon Setan

    Rawon Setan is a local pride and you absolutely shouldn’t leave Surabaya without trying it! Rawon is a type of East Java beef stew with black gravy and is probably our best food in Surabaya if we had to choose. The black colour comes from the unique ingredient of keluwak kernels. The popularity of Rawon has since spread to other parts of Indonesia, but here you get to taste it first-hand from the original shop! The dish should cost you around Rp. 30,000-45,000.

    Jl. Embong Malang I No.78, Genteng, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Open Wed-Sat 8am-4pm and 6pm-4am, Sun-Tues 8am-10pm

    10am: House of Sampoerna

    House Of Sampoerna

    House Of Sampoerna. Photo cred: Haffata Yahfitu

    There’s a whole museum cum art gallery dedicated to cigarettes? How cool is that?!

    Not surprising, though, when you realize that Indonesia is one of the Top 5 largest tobacco-producing countries in the world and an average labourer can produce up to 300 cigar per hour! This former colonial building is now transformed into a distinctive landmark with four cigarette pillars at the front exterior.

    Whether you’re a smoker or non-smoker, you’ll still be amazed as you unravel the history of hand-rolled tobacco aka “kretek” and pass through halls exhibiting different types of tobaccos and cloves, retro cigarette packs, old-school lighters, stalls replica, traditional grinding equipments, etc. Plus, the entire décor simply screams Instagram. The best news: entrance is free!

    Once you’re done, drop by their photogenic café for a quick lunch (opens 11am-10pm daily). Expect to pay around Rp. 30,000-80,000 for meal per person.

    Taman Sampoerna No.6, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Open 9am-10pm daily

    1pm: Discover Old Surabaya

    From the museum, you’ll walk past the Old Surabaya area with plenty of heritage buildings and photo opportunities. This area has existed since the days of Majapahit Empire, forming a crucial economic zone where merchants from various countries came to trade back in the 14th century. So crucial that it was once the nation’s largest city, eclipsing even the importance of Jakarta (then known as Batavia).

    De Javasche Bank

    Built in 1829, this building has witnessed the transformation of Surabaya and birth of banking industry in Indonesia. The architecture is a mixture between Neo-Renaissance architecture and Javanese adornment. Nowadays, it’s a free museum housing collection of old currencies and cultural treasures.

    Jalan Garuda (Rajawali) No. 1, Krembangan, Jawa Barat, Indonesia
    Open 9am-4pm daily

    Gedung Cerutu

    One of the most recognizable buildings in Old Surabaya is Gedung Cerutu, which is distinctive mostly due to its cigar-shaped tower! This historical building was completed in 1916 by a Dutch company called N.V. Maatschappij Tot Exploitatie van Het Technish Bureau Gebroeders Knaud.

    Jl. Rajawali No.7, Krembangan Sel., Krembangan, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia

    Jembatan Merah

    Jembatan Merah in Surabaya

    Jembatan Merah in Surabaya. Photo cred: Midori

    Old Surabaya was divided into ethnic lines, with Europeans living on the West side and Javanese on the East side. This charming red bridge from the 1890s connected the two halves of the city. The bridge was so romanticized it was made into a keroncong song by famous composer Gesang (who also wrote the “Bengawan Solo” song). While walking pass the bridge, you can listen to the “Jembatan Merah” song here.

    Jl. Rajawali – Krembangan, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia

    2pm: Shopping in Surabaya at traditional markets

    Pasar Ampel

    Pasar Ampel

    Pasar Ampel. Photo cred: Adib Wahab

    Areas surrounding Pasar Ampel are also known as Kampung Arab (Arab Quarter), given the large population of Arabs who lived there and the vast amount of Middle Eastern goods which are being sold in the huge souq-style market. Look out for carpets, perfumes, prayer beads and all sorts of food items.

    Jl. Nyamplungan, Ampel, Semampir, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Opens 7am-4.30pm daily

    Pasar Pabean

    Chicken traders in Pabean market

    Chicken traders in Pabean market. Photo cred: Joe Arian

    Pasar Pabean is the biggest market in Southeast Asia. Linking the Arab with Chinese quarters, this is a very vibrant and dynamic market with strong haggling culture. Items sold range from Madurese chickens, Chinese crockery, spices, seeds, food items, clothes, etc. As we are culture geeks, this is one of our favourite places to visit in Surabaya. 

    Pasar Pabean

    Pasar Pabean. Photo cred: Schristia

    Ps. Pabean, Jl. Songoyudan, Nyamplungan, Pabean Cantian, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Opens 24 hours, but many merchants run 7am-5pm daily

    3.30pm: Kelenteng Hong Tiek Hian

    Hong Tiek Hian Buddhist temple

    Hong Tiek Hian Buddhist temple. Photo cred: Lasthib

    As Surabaya’s oldest temple which was built during the Majapahit Empire era, Kelenteng Hong Tiek Hian helped popularize Wayang Potehi (a hand-gloved puppetry specific to Central Java and East Java Chinese communities). Catch a 3,000-year-old performance of Wayang Potehi here, which is shown every afternoon on a 4 x 4 metre stage with drums and cymbals.

    Jalan Dukuh, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia

    5pm: Jalan Gula

    Adorned with beautiful red bricks, worn out doors and windows, this old street is a secret spot only locals know. Nowadays, it’s a favourite pre-wedding shooting location among lovebirds due to its raw splendour.

    Jalan Gula, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia

    7.30pm: Suroboyo Carnival Park

    Suroboyo Carnival Park at night

    Suroboyo Carnival Park at night. Photo cred: Tour Mount Bromo

    Have a taste of the city’s night carnival! From over 50 recreational vehicles to endless local food to sample in the Night Market section, there is plenty of fun to be found at the carnival. Entrance to the carnival costs Rp. 60,000 weekdays and Rp. 80,000 weekends.

    Suroboyo Carnival Park, Jalan Ahmad Yani No. 333, Gayungan, Surabaya, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Open daily 4-11pm


    Day 2 in Surabaya, Indonesia

    8.30am: Cruising the waters of Surabaya

    Book a 9-11am sailing package at Rp. 120,000 per person from PT. Pelindo Marine before visiting Surabaya. The boat departs every Sunday (or by request) from Surabaya North Quay. The cruise will pass by the following landmarks:

    Tanjung Perak Harbour

    Tanjung Perak

    Tanjung Perak. Photo cred: Hernawan Widhi

    Tanjung Perak was (and still is) crucial in contributing to the economic development of not just East Java, but also the Eastern part of Indonesia. A visit to this area provides a glimpse into how it must have been like to arrive at the glorious Surabaya, which at the time was the largest city during the Dutch era.

    Terminal Peti Kemas Surabaya

    This busy container terminal demonstrates just how vibrant the economy of modern Surabaya is.

    Cagar Budaya APDEL SURABAYA

    Office building of Surabaya’s port authority.

    Jalesveva Jayamahe Monument

    Jalesveva Jayamahe

    Jalesveva Jayamahe. Photo cred: Valens Hascaryo

    If you’re looking for more things to do Surabaya offers some great landmarks. Think of this 60.6m structure as Indonesia’s own Statue of Liberty. This imposing-looking statue is modeled after an Indonesian Navy officer in Ceremonial Service Dress. The monument’s name is taken from Indonesian Navy’s motto which means “in the sea we are glorious”.

    Suramadu National Bridge

    Surabaya Suramadu bridge

    Surabaya Suramadu bridge. Photo cred: sue prasetio

    With a total length of 5,438m, Suramadu is Indonesia’s longest bridge and it connects Java with Madura Island, a unique region most famous for its annual bull-racing competition. The bridge is supported by twin towers of about 140-meter tall.

    Jl. Pelabuhan Tj. Perak, Perak Utara, Sukun, Kota Malang, Jawa Timur, Indonesia

    12pm: Brunch at Sate Klopo Ondomohen Bu Asih

    Sate Klopo Ondomohen Bu Asih

    Sate Klopo Ondomohen Bu Asih. Photo cred: Indi and Rani Soemardjan

    This is not your typical satay!

    Marinated with grated coconut before the grilling process, the satay meat is especially crispy and savoury. With a recipe which has been around since 1950s, there’s no wonder Sate Klopo is well-loved by locals. The eatery even has a section where they hang photos of famous Indonesian celebrities who have dined there. Expect to pay around Rp. 20,000-27,000.

    Jl. Walikota Mustajab No. 36, Ketabang, Genteng, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Opens 7.30am-11.30pm

    1.30pm: Dessert at Zangrandi Ice Cream

    The quintessential Surabaya dessert with a strong, nostalgic 1930s taste, yet with a very unique twist. Popular menu items include noodle ice cream (Rp. 36,000), love deal with 6 scoops of homemade ice cream goodness (Rp. 55,000) and blue island, which is a blue-and-pink soda with raspberry ice cream and milk taste (Rp. 33,000).

    Jl. Yos Sudarso No.15, Embong Kaliasin, Genteng, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur 17530, Indonesia
    Opens 10am-11pm daily

    2.30pm: Explore surrounding landmarks

    Balai Pemuda

    Balai Pemuda Surabaya

    Balai Pemuda Surabaya. Photo cred: BxHxTxCx 

    This beautiful orange building was a former meeting point for nationalist young fellows just before Indonesia’s independence. It is closed on Sunday but you may view the exterior from the outside.

    Jl. Gubernur Suryo No.15, Embong Kaliasin, Genteng, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Opens Mon-Fri 8am-4pm

    Bambu Runcing

    Bambu Runcing Monument

    Bambu Runcing Monument. Photo cred: Everyone Sinks Starco

    This bamboo-shaped monument holds significant, symbolic meaning.

    Surabaya is known as “Kota Pahlawan” (“the Hero City”) due to the city’s role in solidifying Indonesia’s independence. The heroism can be strongly seen in how the Surabaya people fought together to protect the nation and shoo away the colonial power with just bamboo spears back in 10 November 1945! The bravery is especially commendable seeing that the colonial power at the time had the advantage of advanced war weaponry such as land and sea cannons. Today, 10 November is officially recognized as “Heroes’ Day”, which is a public holiday in Indonesia.

    Jl. Panglima Sudirman, Embong Kaliasin, Genteng, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Opens 24 hours daily

    Kapal Selam Monument

    Kapal Selam or Submarine Monument in Surabaya

    Kapal Selam or Submarine Monument in Surabaya. Photo cred: Midori

    A few minutes’ walk away from the bamboo monument, you will encounter a green monument to a a manufactured by the USSR back in 1952. It was brought back to land to commemorate the heroes of Surabaya.

    If your flight to Surabaya is departing a little late at night, you can consider entering the submarine for a charge of Rp. 10,000 per person. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience to discover the inner workings of a submarine. There are 7 rooms which are open for visitors: the torpedo launching room, the commissioned officers’ dwelling room, the periscope room, the officers’ relaxing room, the diesel motor room, the electric motor room, and the aft torpedo room.

    Jl. Pemuda No.39, Embong Kaliasin, Genteng, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
    Opens 8am-9pm daily

    4pm: Catch your flight back home!

    Head back to your hotel, pack your things up and take a cab to airport to catch your night flight back to Singapore! For international flights, make sure you arrive at least 2 hours before your flight time. Expect around 1-hour commuting time from the proposed hotels in this itinerary to the airport.




    Places to stay in Surabaya, Indonesia

    Here are our top picks of places to stay in Surabaya.

    HotelType of accomRating on TripadvisorPrice per nightMore Photos & Availability
    MaxOneHotels at TidarBudget4S$23

    The Krowi innBudget4,5S$24

    RukotelBudget4S$30

    YELLO Hotel JemursariBudget4S$35

    Grand Darmo Suite by AMITHYAMid4,5S$41

    The Alana SurabayaMid4S$60

    JW Marriott Hotel SurabayaHigh4,5S$98

    Hotel Majapahit Surabaya managed by AccorHotelsHigh4,5S$103

    Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

    Affordable

    Rukotel

    Rukotel

    Rukotel Hotel is conveniently located at a hotspot where many local favourite Surabaya food can be found. Attractions in Surabaya such as Submarine Museum, Balai Pemuda and Bambu Runcing Monument are also within walking distance. All rooms come with a TV and there is a 24-hour front desk.

    Price range: SGD$24-31

    Mid-range

    MaxOneHotels Tidar

    MaxOneHotels Tidar

    MaxOneHotels at Tidar‘s rooms are nicely-designed and they are equipped with flat-screen TV with cable channels, free Wi-Fi and private bathroom, making this hotel an excellent value-for-money.

    Price range: SGD$27-35

    High-end

    JW Marriott Surabaya

    JW Marriott Surabaya

    JW Marriott Hotel Surabaya offers exquisite European décor, outdoor pool, fitness centre, 24-hour car rental and free on-site parking. A wide range of international dishes are also served at this 5-star and best hotel in Surabaya.

    Price range: SGD$98-173

    Getting to Surabaya, Indonesia

    Singapore AirlinesGaruda Indonesia, AirAsia and Jetstar have several daily flights from SGD$250-800 return. However, the best flight time from Singapore to Surabaya departs Friday 4.30-7pm and the best return flight time to Singapore departs Sunday 5-7pm. The flight lasts slightly less than 2.5 hours.

    Getting around Surabaya, Indonesia

    Like other big cities in Indonesia, the traffic in Surabaya can be quite congested and commuting may take slightly longer than expected when travelling within the city centre area. Despite this, taxis remain the easiest way to get around.

    Only board reputable operators such as Blue Bird (+62 31 3721234) or Orenz Taxi (+62 31 8799999). Make sure the metered fare is turned on. Fares are rounded up to the nearest Rp. 1,000, and if you don’t carry small change, it is common for the locals to pay a little extra as “tips”. Fares typically cost around Rp. 40,000 within city or Rp. 100,000 to the airport.

    Uber and Grab are both available in Surabaya. Another alternative is an Indonesian variant called GO-JEK. All three provide standard carpooling services.

    Other important notes

    Time difference

    Surabaya is 1 hour behind Singapore.

    Best months to visit

    Weather in Surabaya is generally hot all year round. Average rainfall days are high from December to March. Rainfall days are lowest during around July-September, which is a more pleasant time to visit Surabaya.

    Things to pack

     • Breathable clothes: The weather in Surabaya is hot all year round

    Safety

     • Surabaya streets can be quite busy. The number and variety of vehicles on the road far exceeds the capacity of the infrastructure, which can be frustrating and some drivers may disregard traffic laws. Pay extra attention to incoming vehicles before crossing the road, even during the green light.

     • Be careful of snatch thieves when walking along the roadsides. Keep your valuables on the front and away from the street side.

     • While not ubiquitous, there are reported cases of dishonest employees from smaller businesses, shops and restaurants who copy down your payment card details to make fraudulent charges. As much as possible, try to use cash when dealing with smaller merchants.

    Helplines

     • Police: 110

     • Ambulance: 118

    "Surabaya, Singaporenbeyond, Indonesia'

     

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    Map of Surabaya

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