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City of Surabaya

For you, International Students


Surabaya is Indonesia’s second largest city and the capital of the province of East Java. It is located on the northern shore of eastern Java at the mouth of Mas River and along the edge of Madura Strait.

To the Indonesians, it is known as ‘the city of heroes’ due to the important battle for Indonesian independence during the Indonesian national revolution. This incident is then commemorated as one of the Indonesian national days, ‘Hari Pahlawan’ (the Day of Heroes).

Surabaya is locally believed to derive its name from the word ‘sura’ (shark) and ‘baya’ (crocodile), two creatures which, in the local myth, fought each other in order to gain the title of ‘the strongest and most powerful animal’ in the area according to Jayabaya prophecy. Now, the two animals are used as the city’s logo and it is depicted in a statue located near the entrance to the city zoo.

The city offers a nice blend of historical and modern sites to visit. For visitors, highlights of the city include its submarine museum locally known as Monkasel, the Sampoerna museum, the old city, Tugu Pahlawan (the Heroes monument), the unique Cheng Hoo Mosque, the majestic Sanggar Agung temple or a visit to the island of Madura via the Suramadu Bridge. Monkasel is a museum literally established inside a decommissioned Russian made a submarine. It served the Indonesian navy from 1962-1990. You can tour inside and experience a slice of history. At the Sampoerna museum, visitors can learn about the history of the tobacco industry and enjoy the visuals. There is also a unique city tour bus that can take you to the landmarks called ‘Sparkling Surabaya’ (please view this link for more information

Surabaya is also known as a green city. Big trees stand along the main roads. There are also several botanical gardens and nurseries visitor can enjoy such as Taman Bungkul, Taman Sakura, and Kebun Bibit. Surabaya has obtained several awards internationally and nationally for its development as a liveable city such as the best city in Indonesia (2017), innovative government award (2017), UNESCO learning city award, and global green city award. This year Surabaya obtains ‘Lee Kwan Yee’ award as a liveable city from Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in Singapore. Being in a tropical country, Surabaya always offers the warmth of the sun but still in the humid atmosphere.

It is not complete for visitors if they do not explore the Surabaya culinary, offering fine dining choices to unique local snacks. From fresh fruit salad known as Rujak Cingur, the savoury black soup with diced meat called Rawon, Pecel Semanggi made of Semanggi leave completed with seasoning sauce, and the fried tofu dish named Tahu Tek. Most famous food souvenir from Surabaya is the layered cake brand of Spikoe Resep Kuno, Almond Crispy chips, Bu Rudy’s chilli sauce and the latest hits of Surabaya Snowcake – mixed of pastry and sponge cake.

With the development of the city, Surabaya now has every facility a metropolitan city can offer for a convenient living. Located in the city centre, Tunjungan street has several international class hotels such as the Mojopahit hotel with its beautiful colonial style building. There is also Plaza Tunjungan, a one-stop shopping for any necessities.

Various mode of transports makes people in Surabaya very dynamic and mobile. Car rentals or taxis are available if you need to circle around the city with ease. There are also motorcycles called ‘ojek’ and minibuses. The latest public transport offered in the city is ‘Surabaya bus’, a friendly vehicle for people with disabilities, the elderly and pregnant women. This public transport is free; the passengers only need to bring the plastic waste as its payment. It is a way to educate people to care about the plastic waste.

The city keeps sparkling with the lights from the shopping centres and from the vehicles people use at nights, and this makes the city never sleeps. The people are still actively mobile even during the night, a common feature of a metropolitan city. Despite which, the people are friendly and hold the value of Javanese and Islamic culture. With all the facilities it provides and the convenience it offers, the sparkling Surabaya serves as a good place not only to stay but also to study.