The second largest city in Indonesia and the heart of the movement that ultimately gained the nation its independence, Surabaya gets short shrift on the international tourism scene. Tourists in a hurry to get from Jakarta to Borobodur or Bali miss this historical and multicultural metropolis, but it's worth a few days of your itinerary.
Like many Indonesian cities, Surabaya grew into itself as an important trading port and at its height drew officials, sailors and merchants from across Asia and Oceana. True to those roots, the international neighborhoods of Surabaya are one of its most compelling draws. The Chinatown district is a crumbling warren of historic buildings where most goods are carried to its atmospheric Pasar Pabean market via hand-drawn carts. On the east side of Chinatown, the Kong Co Kong Tik Cun Ong temple is a colorful example of a living holy site. Just to the north, the Arab Quarter feels like you've stepped into a medina in Cairo or Morocco.
Besides wandering the neighborhoods, Surabaya has a handful of activities for visitors. If you're planning an extended stay, make room in your itinerary for Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, the Masjid al Akbar mosque, and the Monumen Kapal Selam military museum, which includes a cold-war era Soviet submarine.
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