Popular Tourist Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Ambarawa
Ambarawa may not be a familiar name for tourists drawing out their plan visiting Indonesia. It’s just a small city near to Semarang, one would say.
Yet as it goes, from the mystifying legend of Rawa Pening to the brave history of Indonesians fighting their unmatched battle for freedom, you will soon see why Ambarawa should make it onto your travel bucket list ideas. You need help, we know.
So, let’s help you get started with these 11 tourist spots that will show exactly why visiting Ambarawa is worth your precious vacation time.
1. Fort Willem Ambarawa
This fort known as Pendem Ambawara Fort or Fort Willem I was built between 1834 – 1845. Unlike the usual fort buildings dominated by protective walls, trenches and hollow walls for cannons, this fort instead has lots of open windows and balconies similar to those in Lawang Sewu, probably due to the fact that VOC built this fort not for defense but for barracks or logistics and to establish its relations with the Mataram kingdom during that time.
Through the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945, this fort was functioned as a military camp for the Japanese army. After Indonesian independence, it became the headquarters of the TKR (People's Security Army), and from 2003 until now it is still used as a Class II A prison and military barracks.
Located in Bugisari, Lodoyong, Kec. Ambarawa, Semarang, the fort can easily be found using navigation app, or a public transport available throughout the city. It opens daily from 8am to 5pm, with ticket price as low as 5,000 – 10,000 IDR (less than $1 USD) for each visitor.
2. The Ambarawa Railway Museum.
The closed access to Magelang in 1975, subsequently caused a halt on the Yogyakarta-Magelang-Secang railway line and Willen I Station (later known as Ambarawa Station).
This has caused then Governor of Central Java, Soepardjo Rustam, and the Head of PJKA’s Head in Central Java, Soeharso, to issue the decree for the opening of railway museum at Ambarawa Station.
On April 21, 1978, the Ambarawa Railway Museum was officially opened and began to attract tourists. It is still now open to public, and display a part of the glorious past its rails once had.
Ambarawa Railway Museum is located at Jalan Stasiun, Jl. Panjang Kidul No.1, Panjang Kidul, Panjang, Kec. Ambarawa, Semarang, Central Java. This museum operates from 08.00-17.00 every day, with affordable entrance fee of around 10,000 IDR (70 cents USD) for adult, and half of it for children under 10 years old.
3. Rawa Pening Lake
The legend began in a village called Ngasem, where it is said that there was a woman who gave birth to a child in the form of a dragon. The dragon who could speak like a human was called Baru Klinting, who grew up meditating on Mount Telomoyo.
Out of anger to the villagers who killed his father, and treated him with disgust due to his appearance, Boru Klinting’s punishment came in the form of flood that drown the whole village, and became the beginning of what is now called Rawa Pening Lake (Rawa is Lake in English, and Pening is Javanese word that means clear water).
Rawa Pening Lake is now a famous tourist attraction with Bukit Cinta (Lover’s Hill) located within its location, promising a long-lasting relationship to couples who put the locks with their name on it.
The route to Bukit Cinta Rawa Pening and Ticket Price.
The location of Bukit Cinta and Rawa Pening is close to the main road with an already a large signpost to the tourist location on the road. If you come from Jalan Raya Salatiga-Ambarawa, head toward Ambarawa Ring Road, where you’ll find a small, paved road that will lead you right to the tourist spot.
Visitors will be charged a price of IDR 10,000 (80 cents USD) if they come on weekdays, and IDR 15,000 (around $1 USD) for holidays and weekends.
4. Candi Gedong Songo (Gedong Songo Temple)
There is a Hindu temple complex built around the VIII century AD on the slopes of Mount Ungaran named Gedong Songo, which was first discovered by Loten in 1740. The name Gedong Songo comes from the Javanese language, namely Gedong which means house or building and Songo which means nine, so Gedong Songo means nine buildings (group of buildings).
The fact that you will only find 5 temple in these complexes, leads us to an unanswered mystery if there’s another meaning of the word 'Gedong Songo' or if there are other 4 temple complexes that have not yet been found?
Gedong Songo Temple has its own uniqueness which shows its distinguished acculturation. This is shown in the illustration of Parswadewata, which is an offering to the spirit of the ancestors who is united with Shiva (symbolized by the Lingga-Yoni who is guarded by three gods (Durga, Ganesha, and Agastya).
Another interesting thing about Gedong Songo temple is the position of the temples which are placed in a row from the bottom to the top of the hills. Some believe that the position of the temple describes the hierarchy of holiness, which means that the temple above it is holier than the temple below it.
This tourist area is located on the slopes of Mount Ungaran, so if you come from Ambarawa it will take about 40 minutes to Bandungan. From there going to west, you can choose to pass Temanggung then on towards Bandungan Semarang. It opens from 6.30 am – 7.00 pm and charges a mere 6,000 IDR (40 cents USD) for an adult to enter.
5. Curug 7 Bidadari (7 Angels Waterfall)
This tourism spot has natural beauty and charm that is true to its name. Granted, you may not actually find 7 beautiful angels bathing as the name suggests (or will you?), it will still be fascinating to experience in person.
Semarang does have unquestionable natural charm. Take this waterfall for example, that has 3 levels with a height of up to 14 meters, with each level is 6-7 meters apart and below each one you’ll find a pool with clear water, where you can swim to enjoy the cool water that falls swiftly from above.
Located in Tlawah, Keseneng, Sumowono, Semarang, Central Java. To get to the location, you can opt to either drive from Semarang City or Kendal. As you arrive in Bandungan, continue your journey towards Sumowono until you reach Sumowono Market. Once you find the fork in the road, you take the straight path following road signs on the left that you can use as a benchmark until you arrive at the location. The ticket price is 4,000 IDR (30 cents USD) and 5,000 (35 cents USD) during weekends.
6. Highlands Tourism Spots in Bandungan
Semarang offers a tourist area with cool weather typical to highlands, that is not inferior to Puncak or Lembang. It is located in Bandungan which is administratively included in the Semarang Regency area and take you about one hour from the city center.
From The most hit photo spot in Semarang Taman Bunga Celosia Bandungan, to boat riding through the clouds (Gedong Pass), Bandungan offers you a mystical land with its cold breeze and over-the-clouds sceneries.
With tickets cost you less than $1 each, one would argue it’d be a shame for you to miss spending time here in Bandungan, Semarang.
7. Kota Lama, Semarang.
Kota Lama (Old Town) is a city center that is well known as tourist’s attraction in Semarang, with a mixed look of the Dutch & Indonesian styles from the 18th century you just can’t miss.
Apart from the Blenduk Church, there are still many Semarang tourist attractions located around the Kota Lama area. Not to mention, with entrance fee of maximum 15,000 IDR ($1 USD), these historical places worth spending your day around: Semarang Contemporary Art Gallery ( a home for contemporary arts of Asia), Rumah Akar (though it looks haunted at first glance, this building looks beautiful with its high doors and windows, and exposed brick walls with its “giant” vines attached beside a window making it a pretty instagrammable photo backdrop).
There is also Kampung Batik Gedong Semarang, suitable for you who like culture and fashion, as Kampung Batik Gedong Semarang will invite you to see and learn Indonesian’s traditional batik artistry.
8. Nasi Ayam Semarang (Semarang’s Chicken Rice)
Semarang is famous among locals for its signature’s delicacies. Apart from tofu gimbal, tofu pong, spring rolls, and wingko babad, the capital of Central Java is also known for its chicken rice culinary.
At first glance it looks like liwet rice with slightly different yet flavorful taste of its own. You can enjoy this dish throughout the city with price ranging from 10,000 – 30,000 IDR (1 – 2 USD).
9. Vihara Buddhagaya Watugong
Vihara Buddhagaya Watugong or also known as Vihara Buddhagaya is one of the places of Buddhism located in Pudakpayung, Banyumanik, Semarang Central Java
Free to enter, this temple located on an area of 2.2 hectares on Jalan Perintis Kemerdekaan, Banyumanik District, has some favorite places among visitors. One that everyone would agree is the Avalokitesvara Pagoda which has a height of 45 meters, and Kwan Im Goddess facing 4 direction from the Pagoda. It is similar with the combination of red and yellow, typical of Chinese buildings, and was noted by the Indonesian World Record Museum (MURI) as the highest pagoda in Indonesia in 2006.
Apart from the Avalokitesvara Pagoda, there are also several locations that cannot be missed once you reach here. Try to take a look at a sleeping Buddha statue that is quite large in the complex, and a number of stone reliefs with other indulgence sceneries for local and international tourists alike.
10. Banaran Coffee Village.
Looking for a vacation spot that is suitable for the grannies to her grandkids, whilst filling your tour with educational and useful experience? Or probably you just need some fresh air to take a break from your trip? Opens from 7.00 am to 9.00 pm every day, Kampoeng Kopi Banaran in Semarang might be the answer you’re looking for.
Not only tasting the typical Banaran coffee, you can also walk around the coffee garden, snap a scene or two insights the coffee making, and indulge yourself in a variety of exciting activities within the area.
From the horse riding, target shooting, boat cruising, Water Parks, to Archery and fish therapy, you’ll spend less than $30 to enjoy all these activities (and more!) inside. Exciting indeed!
11. Lawang Sewu
Though in Javanese, Lawang Sewu means literally a thousand doors, and this building actually has 429 doors, not unlike most other Dutch buildings, Lawang Sewu has many large windows which when viewed from afar will look like doors. And that's the reason why people refer to this building as "Lawang Sewu" (A thousand doors).
Locally famous as the most haunted building in the city, Lawang Sewu has now been through restoration and renovation which was completed in 2011, and turned into a historical tourist spots. No more dark rooms with creepy visions just laying around here for you to find.
What is there now, is a beautiful building from the Dutch that is rich in history. You can come and see for yourself the splendor of Lawang Sewu from 07.00 am to 21.00 pm every day.
For entrance tickets, visitors only need to pay IDR 10,000 (70 cents USD) for adults and IDR 5,000 (30 cents USD) for children. You can also rent a tour guide to explore the basement, for an additional fee of IDR 30,000 (2 USD).
Did we change your mind yet?
We promise these 11 beautiful tourist attractions in Ambarawa, hold their worth to be the ones we recommend on starting out your journey exploring the central part of Java.
Come and visit Ambarawa to enjoy world-class culinary attractions, majestic highland sceneries and the legends that started it all. The right place where the past and present find each other in harmonious existence, don’t you think?