8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Surabaya

This article was written in collaboration with Have Halal Will Travel.

When thinking of a quick visit to Indonesia, most people would opt for the likes of Bali, Lombok or Jogjakarta. Most visitors would make Surabaya a place of transit. Very few would actually jump at the idea of paying Surabaya a visit, thinking that there is nothing much to do here - which makes this authentic city even more unique and underrated than it already is.

Being the second largest city after Jakarta, Surabaya actually has lots to offer, more than you can imagine - but very few would actually crawl out of their comfort zone in going to a place that is less frequented. Here's to trying to break that travel stereotype with 8 reasons why you should visit Surabaya if you ever get the chance! 

1. Cheap Travel Costs

One of pulling factor to get away is when an airline has promotions up for grabs. However, even without travel discounts, it is still much cheaper to travel to Surabaya. as compared to her frequently visited neighbours such as Bali, Lombok or Yogyakarta. With its newly refurbished international airport, there is quite a fair amount of flights, from many different service providers, going in and out of Surabaya in a day.

If you're from Singapore, return tickets would cost you as low as SGD50 per pax. Within the island, you can opt for a ride around on the tri-shaw, regular taxi, motor-taxis or even Uber/Grab your way around. There are also trains readily available to take you to the outskirts of Surabaya.

2. Affordable Accommodation   

Accommodation is also easily available within or on the outskirts of Surabaya. A night's stay in a cosy hostel would cost you as low as SGD8 per person while a night's stay at a well furnished hotel room would cost you between SGD30 - SGD90, depending on how luxurious you would like the space to be.

However, if you're the adventurous type, you can choose to stay in a local home or guest house via airbnb and get an entire apartment or private room for as low as SGD20 per night. You just need to put in a little extra effort and search for the right kind of accommodation that fits both your curiosity and budget๐Ÿ˜Ž

P.S. You can save even more on accommodation by claiming this airbnb travel credit

3. Authentic Indonesian Food

Credit: imanueljeff on Instagram

I dare say that one of the main reasons why I enjoyed my trip to Indonesia so much was due to the fact that it was a breeze when it comes to finding halal food as compared to neighboring Southeast Asian countries like Taiwan or Philippines. Be it street food, local stalls (also known as warung in Bahasa Indonesia)fast food franchises or local restaurants - almost everything is edible for us Muslims.

Credit: kulinersby on Instagram

One of the dishes that you have got to try would definitely be the Soto Ayam Ambengan (Ambengan's traditional chicken soup) or my personal favourite, the Sate Ayam Ponorogo (Chicken satay) with peanut sauce. My friends and I had a huge feast every night!

4. Historical Significance

Credit: dianairish7 on Instagram

I did not know this (until my Indonesian friend mentioned it to me), but it is here in Surabaya where Indonesia holds a lot of its history - especially due to the fact that this was where Indonesia had her battle for independence in November 1945. It was the largest battle of the Indonesian National Revolution, so significant that it become a national symbol of resistance and independence for their country.

Credit: rina.choa on Instagram

If you are a History geek like I am, there are many different museums (such as the 10 November Museum or the Surabaya Museum) as well as many different monument sites or war memorials for you to check out and pay your respects to. 

5. Unique Places of Visit

Credit: mahardikaprasetya on Instagram

Apart from the historical places of visit, there are also other unique spots where visitors can check out. One of the more unique museums that they have here is called the House of Sampoerna - a cigarette factory that turned into a tourist attraction, solely dedicate to showcasing one of Indonesia's most famous kretek cigarette manufacturers. You don't have to be interested in the tobacco industry to find this place interesting, the whole Sampoerna empire will explain itself.

Credit: tuabaru on Instagram

Another one worth mentioning is the Monkasel, otherwise known as Monumen Kapal Selam or the Submarine Monument. It is actually the KRI Pasopati 410 submarine (one of the Indonesian Navy fleets, built in the Soviet Union in 1952) that was taken apart into sections, brought to shore, pieced back into its original shape and then turned into a monument as a tribute to the Indonesian heroes from the Battle of the Arufura Sea. 

6. Masjed Muhammad Cheng Ho

Credit: windiyulia on Instagram

Surabaya is home to many Chinese Muslims and this mosque was named after Admiral Cheng Ho, who was believed to have been the one that brought the teachings of Islam to Indonesiaโ€™s Chinese Community.

Credit: Adib Wahab on Flickr

Having been brought up in Singapore and Malaysia, I have never seen a mosque as unique as this, not even while I was in China! I have never seen a mosque as unique as this, not even while I was in China. The mosque is mainly in the colour red, green and yellow - predominantly resembling Chinese architecture. How unique!

7. Suroboyo Carnival Park & Night Market

Credit: Ilham Ageng on Flickr

The first theme park in Surabaya that showcases both traditional and modern entertainment at a really affordable price. I would think of it as the Indonesian version of Luna Park in Australia.

Credit: richardvsw on Instagram

There are approximately 25 different rides and attractions, a whole long row of carnival games and food, a Family Fun House, magic shows, a mini circus, it's own archery range plus even meet and greet sessions with different characters. The best part? You get to experience all that with an entrance fee as low as SGD8 per person!

8. Mount Bromo 

Credit: Andreas Hunziker on Flickr

I'm sure most of you have heard of this beauty. The cheapest way would be for you to take a train or bus from Surabaya to Probolinggo and then continue on to Cemoro Lawang, a town at the base of Mount Bromo.

Credit: Wasin Waeosri on Flickr

The whole journey would take approximately 3 - 5 hours, depending on the time spent waiting and in traffic. However, if you are planning to pay Mount Bromo a visit, I would suggest to dedicate two days just for this. The first day for the visit to this stratovolcano itself and the day after to hibernate in bed from all the workout.

Credit: lightsray on Instagram

A unique experience would be for you to go on the Bromo Midnight or Sunrise Tour. You can either conquer the tracks on foot or (if you're as lazy as I am) ride a jeep all the way up to the crater. It is beautiful beyond words to be able to see the view at sunrise but then again, who am I kidding? With such an amazing creation of His, any time of the day would still be scenic to our eyes.

โ€œNo place is ever as bad as they tell you itโ€™s going to be.โ€ โ€“ Chuck Thompson

So the next time you find yourself contemplating on where to travel for a short getaway or feel like you have ran out places to visit for a short getaway over the long weekend, try Surabaya.

Now that youโ€™re done scrolling to the end of the page, what are you waiting for? Stop eyeing that flight ticket and just, go. Safe travels, always! โ™ฅ

โ™ฅ, NMJ