In this destination trip report, we will guide you around the sights of Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city.
I had only one-and-a-half day in Surabaya – with the original plan being some sightseeing in Indonesia’s second biggest city in the afternoon on day one, and making a day trip to the top of the Mount Bromo volcano on day two.
Change of plans
As I already wrote before in some earlier chapters of this trip report, my plans for this Indonesia trip changed drastically when my provisional days off from work were retracted and I had to do an afternoon shift on my laptop, therefore being bound to my hotel room.
With the Mount Bromo trip taking the entire day, it meant that I simply didn’t have enough time to make this otherwise worthwhile day trip from Surabaya.
Instead, I spent the first afternoon in Surabaya working from my hotel room, and planned to explore the city in the morning and early afternoon of day two before having to return back to the Majapahit Hotel for another work shift on my laptop.
The area directly around the Majapahit Hotel mixes the old with the new. Some of Surabaya’s most historic buildings can be found here, as well as the highest office towers with their modern steel-and-glass architecture.
When walking out of the hotel on day two, I was surprised how quiet it was. The roads were eerily quiet, there were no cars and almost no pedestrians – a huge contrast to the previous day!
I asked around why it was so quiet and was told that some city centre roads were closed off for traffic due to Indonesian Independence Day. A friendly local told me that there would be a military parade just a few metres away from my hotel, so obviously this was where I went.
There parade took place in the street on which the historic Governor’s House is located. Right opposite this white villa, a stand was built which was filled to the brim with Indonesian girls all dressed up in immaculate white uniforms and long blue skirts who were waving flags and cheering and chanting the entire time.
All branches of the Indonesian military, police and other civil services took part in the parade as they walked by some local bigwigs.
I have seen a few military parades before, but this one absolutely stood out for one single reason: it didn’t feel militaristic at all.
Sure, some heavy guns were towed around and many soldiers carried arms, yet it felt so peaceful. Most soldiers were smiling rather than showing a stern look and some were even dancing! It was all jolly good fun to watch.
After the parade I walked a bit more around the area. It was good fun to see the soldiers all walking back to their respective trucks parked in the area to transport them to to their respective barracks.
Many soldiers happily asked me if I could take their photo before I managed to ask them if it was OK to snap a picture! If one thing impressed me most during the entire Indonesia trip it was for sure the smiling nature and kindness of the Indonesian people.
Next up I walked a bit along the river which streams through Surabaya’s city centre and explored a nearby park.
I got the impression that although there isn’t that much to see in the centre of Surabaya itself, the city did for sure feel more peaceful than chaotic Jakarta, making it rather pleasant to walk around despite the oppressive heat.
In the park, many families were out for a picnic, or to simply take a walk and buy an ice cream or some fresh juice from one of the many vendors.
In the end it turned out that it really was not my lucky trip at all. Besides being forced to suddenly spend a lot of my time doing remote work on my laptop instead of sightseeing – I also got involved in a small accident.
I was walking along the riverbank when suddenly the pavement ended. Instead of turning back, I decided to continue my walk at the side of the busy road. Suddenly an oncoming motorbike crashed into a cyclist and in their fall they took some 10 to 12 other motorbikes down with them in a giant crash.
One of the bikes involved in the pile-up then crashed into me, causing me to fall hard on the road. My legs were all bloody from multiple scratches and abrasions and one of my arms hurt like hell.
It wasn’t anything too serious as I quickly realised that I hadn’t broken a limb, but it was still quite a painful fall. I decided to head back to the hotel to clean my wounds and to take it easy for the remainder of the day.
Unfortunately, in the late evening my legs and arm still felt painful, so I decided to stay in the hotel and order room service instead of finding a nice restaurant on my last evening in Indonesia.
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to see and do a lot in Surabaya due to unforeseen circumstances so I might not be in the best ever position to give a definite opinion about Indonesia’s second biggest city.
Surabaya seemed to be a lively, modern city with a nice vibe and friendly people. I for sure enjoyed watching the military parade for Indonesian Independence Day, which happened to coincide with my visit.
If you visit Surabaya, I would for sure highly recommend to stay in the fabulous Majapahit hotel, which has so much history and is located on such beautiful and quiet grounds right in the heart of the city.
I hope that one day I can visit Indonesia and Surabaya again to finally see more of the city, make that Mount Bromo day trip, and enjoy some great Indonesian food in some of the city’s restaurants.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Journey to Java‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Rome Ciampino (Airbus A321)
2. Half a Day in Rome: A Walk Around the Eternal City
3. Review: Casa Alitalia Lounge ‘Piazza di Spagna’ Rome Fiumicino Airport
4. Review: Saudia Business Class Rome to Riyadh (Airbus A320)
5. Review: Saudia Alfursan Business Lounge Riyadh Airport
6. Review: Saudia Business Class Riyadh to Jakarta (Boeing 777-300)
7. Review: The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia
8. A Day in Jakarta: Exploring Indonesia’s Bustling Capital City
9. Review: Garuda Indonesia Domestic Business Lounge Jakarta Airport
10. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Jakarta to Yogyakarta (Boeing 737-800)
11. Review: The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta – Mgallery By Sofitel
12. A Magical Sunrise Visit to Borobudur Temple
13. A Visit to the Great Hindu Temple Complex of Prambanan
14. Review: Yogyakarta to Surabaya (Indonesia) by Train
15. Review: Majapahit Hotel, Surabaya, Indonesia
16. A Day in Surabaya: Exploring Indonesia’s Second Biggest City (current chapter)
17. Review: Concordia Premier Lounge Surabaya Airport
18: Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class Surabaya to Singapore (Airbus A330-300)
19. A Short Singapore Stopover: Into the City or Stay at the Airport?
20. Review: SilverKris Lounge Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2
21. Review: Singapore Airlines business class Singapore to Manila (Boeing 787-10)
22. Review: PAGSS Lounge Manila Airport Terminal 1 Gate 2
23. Review: China Airlines economy class Manila to Taipei (Airbus A330-300)
24. Review: China Airlines Business Lounge Taipei Airport Terminal 1
25. Review: China Airlines Economy Class Taipei to Rome (Airbus A350)
26. Review: TAROM economy class Rome to Bucharest (Boeing 737-700)