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There is much to learn about Semarang : the place, the climate, the culture and even the people. Semarang is the capital city of Central Java . It is more a commercial center than a city tourists. The Javanese call Semarang ‘the hot city', although over the year it is not measurably hotter than Jakarta . The average yearly temperature is 30ยบ C ( 86 F ) with some, but not much, variation over the course of the year. It's hot and rather humid all year round, but feels better in the rainy season (October to March). The heaviest rains are usually around Jan and Feb. Lightweight cotton clothing is about right for here. Woollen clothing is not needed at all in Semarang , unless you plan to spend time at some of the higher elevations.


Indonesians are polite people. On meeting and leaving it is customary to shake hands with both men and women. A business guest will often be offered and served a drink and it is advisable not to reach for this until the host gestures to do so. It is polite to at least sample the drink or any food offered.

Indonesians are not known for their punctuality, and offence should not be taken if events do not start on time, or if a guest arrives late.

Most of the people in Semarang are Javanese. They are pleasant people; cheerful, unwilling to give offense, or, seemingly, to take offense. Generally, Indonesians prefer to avoid disharmony or conflict and to preserve their own and other people's dignity. They pride themselves on being one of the most refined, polite and cultivated peoples on earth. They make allowances for foreigners, but it is polite to learn how not to offend them.


The following hints regarding Indonesian customs and etiquette may help you feel more at home and save you some embarrassing moments while in Semarang. They are guidelines only, so interpret them according to circumstances.

The left hand is unclean – When offering or receiving something, it is given and accepted with right hand. This includes money, gifts or paper. Also, when eating it is polite to use the right hand. The left hand is considered unclean according to the Islamic tradition (and it sometimes is).

Heads are sensitive and backs are private – Do not touch or pat the heads of others, including children. The hearty slap on the back and a too readily seized shoulder are not particularly appreciated. If some gesture of familiarity is felt necessary, a gentle touch on the elbow is more likely to please.

Respect the diet of others – When planning dinner parties, dietary restrictions should be considered. Moslems do not eat pork and do not drink alcoholic beverages. If either is served, the particular dishes or beverages containing the restricted items should be pointed out. During the fasting month of Ramadhan, it will be wise not to invite a Moslem to lunch. If you are going to invite them to dinner, make it after 7.00 p.m. (after they break their fast).

Dress modestly – Women dress in modest fashion in Indonesia. Women wearing halter, tops, backless dresses or sportshorts may invite negative reactions. Appearance is very important in Indonesia and even occasional lapses are likely to be remembered.

Be careful not to offend – The following are considered offensive: standing with one's hands on one hips is considered a sign of superiority (and anger) and should be avoided; loud voices are often considered offensive; anger is usually not openly expressed (in addition, it is helpful to know that an Indonesian may nod to be polite); public displays of affection (even holding hands) are not appreciated; the following may also cause offense – bringing a dog along when visiting an Indonesian family, pointing, especially at a person's face, and entering mosques and houses of prayer wearing shoes.

Above all be polite: When entering a room or an office, it is customary to acknowledge those present with a nod. When leaving an Indonesian's house, it is considered polite to ask permission to leave. ‘Permisi' is the Indonesian word commonly used.


More than 90% of Indonesians are registered Moslems. The remainder are made up of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and others. In the case of Central Java, while most would tell you they are Moslem, the adat (local religious laws) are dominately influenced by the Javanese culture.
Atheism is strongly associated with communism and so a religious preference is required of all Indonesians.


Semarang has an adequate supply of comfortable homes that meet expatriate standards and needs. The homes are predominately located in the foothills on the south side of town in an area called Candi Baru, others are Bukit Sari, the Marina area (near the harbour) and downtown within say 1-2 km of Simpang Lima where Matahari and Mal Ciputra are located.


Electricity - Most homes have 220 Volt 50 Hertz power. The number of watts available is limited by the capacity of your meter and the quality of your wiring. Power-outages are becoming less common but do occur (especially in the rainy season). They seldom last more than a couple of hours. Keep a supply of candles and a flashlight close by.
Electricity is expensive here. Monthly bills range from Rp. 200,000 – 600,000 for a family house.

Water - Water is probably the biggest problem in many houses here. Many homes are not connected to the city water supply (PAM) and wells are often unpredictable. Most houses do not have overhead tanks for catchment or storage but, instead, have large ground storage tanks (5 to 15 cubic meters) from which the water is pumped on demand by a small electric pump (so there's no water supply during a power cut).

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