For a strong whiff of the sea and a taste of what remains of old Surabaya visit the Kalimas Harbour, the city’s original port. This is where broad-beamed pinisi schooners unload produce along a 2 km stretch of quayside. The best time to visit is early in the morning when the boats are setting sail.
Surabaya’s most important museum offers fascinating insight into the ancient history of the city. See exhibits dating back to the era of the Majapahit Empire, Chinese and Annamese ceramics, wayang puppet figures, paintings and photos of colonial Surabaya and batik print-making equipment.
On the bank of the Kalimas River, the Indonesian Navy’s first submarine - the Soviet-built Whiskey class sub Pasopat - is now a national monument honouring heroes of the independence struggle and celebrating the country’s seafaring tradition. Built in Vladivostok, it was bought by Indonesia in 1962.
The huge national banner and colonial era cannon outside this gracious colonial building underline its status as the official residence of the governor of East Java. The gardens are often used for cultural events, colourful official ceremonies on national holidays and state occasions.
The museum's most popular attraction is the operating production line of the famous local cigarette brand Dji Sam Soe (banned in a number of countries for excessive tar content). Come before 3pm on weekdays to see labourers at work; any day until 10 pm to see the tobacco/cigarette-related exhibits.
The monumental Masjid Nasional Al Akbar is a spectacular modern mosque, one of the most imposing in Southeast Asia, let alone Indonesia itself. Access is open to visitors, and the top of one of its minarets offers spectacular views over the city (staff will guide you to the elevator on request).
The Novotel’s poolside restaurant offers a wide choice of international dishes. The daily dinner buffet offers an excellent selection of savory dishes and desserts, as well as very good value for money. Seating is in pleasant garden surroundings. Buffet-style breakfast is offered daily.
The "food center" is a collection of street food vendors who set up shop daily (at around 4 pm) right in the middle of Surabaya's Chinatown. This is, perhaps, the best place to try various Indonesian and Chinese delights with minimal expenses - perfect or travelers on a budget.
This outdoor food court is home to a multitude of local eateries, and is the perfect place to acquaint oneself with Indonesian cuisine. Most stalls have photo illustrations to give you an idea of what the dishes look like when served. Arrive early, as it tends to get very busy around dinner time.
Perhaps the most popular seafood restaurant in town, Layar Seafood is something of an aquarium with multiple marine creatures inside glass tanks lining the walls. Fish, calamari, clams, prawns, crab and any kind of seafood imaginable are cooked to perfection and offered at moderate prices.
Kwetiao Apeng is a name known to locals - the restaurant is said to offer some of the best kway teow (fried noodle dish with vegetables, meat and/or seafood) in town. A favorite meal in a number of Asian countries, it has been cooked to perfection at Kwetiao Apeng for a number of years.
This upscale Japanese restaurant invites visitors to a "dinner and a show" - chefs use the teppanyaki grill to entertain diners with creations like an "onion volcano", and the extensive menu features some of the finest examples of Japanese cuisine, including sushi.
As hard as it is to pick a stand-out amongst the dozens of "warungs" dotting the city, Bu Kris definitely makes the cut as one of the best. Try the "iga penyet" - a traditional local dish consisting of ribs and a dip called "sambal", generously smothered over the meat. The interior is authentic and very casual.
If you like chocolate, you have come to the right place. At Dapur Cokelat you can taste everything from cream and cake blends to chocolate figurines, and shop for some of the most elegant chocolate creations in the city. Prices are above average, but sales are held regularly.
Colors Pub & Restaurant is a little bit rough and ready, but attracts a lively young local audience. This place has regular live bands and plays popular hits. Come in the evening for a solid pre-party (the drink list is extensive), or stay until late and dance the night away.
The Marriott Hotel’s lively bar regularly re-invents itself, and was recently re-opened as a high-tech, led-light lit premium lounge and club occupying the entire basement of Surabaya's JW Marriott hotel. Food served here is premium, too - delicacies like foie gras and caviar feature on the menu.
In the west of Surabaya you can find 15 Palms Pub and Sports Bar - a rather remote pub that is, however, well-visited by expats. This is the place to go if you want to catch a game of football or rugby and have a nice, cold beer. The owner is exceptionally welcoming.
Surabaya's shopping central, this mega mall is a giant made up of five different zones, with zone 5 being home to the most upmarket brand boutiques. Bring time, as navigating the endless maze of stores might prove difficult to first-time visitors. The mall houses an IMAX cinema and a food court.
Both a mall and a hangout venue for the local young crowd, Surabaya Town Square has admittedly lost some of its former prowess, yet still remains attractive to many. Food stands, cafés, estaurants and even a number of nightlife establishments run shop on its premises.
Juanda International Airport is located just outside Surabaya. Facilities include currency exchange, post office, business centre, tourist information desk, car rental desks and tax free shopping. Fixed price taxis operate from a rank outside the Arrivals terminal, and all major hotels offer mini-bus shuttle transfers or chauffeur-driven meet-and-greet service. Bus service operates between the airport and the Bungurasih bus station. Using the bus is only recommended if your route continues from here to other destinations, and you are planning to continue your journey by bus.
For the visitor, the deluxe air conditioned buses which operate on the cross-town routes are the best public transport option. Key points in the city are also connected by city express buses, operating on two main routes. For all services you can buy tickets on board. Bemos (small mini-buses) operate on set routes but without a timetable, and leave only when all seats are filled. One of the best ways to see the local environs is to charter a bemo for the day. You can also charter a bemo for a single journey on the same basis, and this can be the most cost effective way of getting around the city.
Surabaya has plenty of taxis, but meters lag behind fare inflation and negotiating a fare can be tricky unless you speak Bahasa Indonesia, as few drivers speak any other language. Drivers should carry a rate sheet showing the current fare to most destinations - check the fare before getting in. More sensibly, ask your hotel or restaurant to call a cab for you. Three-wheeled scooter-taxis (called becak in Indonesia) are ubiquitous, but have no fixed price. For foreigners, they can often be more expensive than a taxi, and a becak ride is rarely enjoyable. Two longstanding taxi companies are: Blue Bird Group +62 31 3721234 Orenz Taxi +62 31 8799999
Consult the concierge desk at your hotel if you need help locating a pharmacy. Drug stores can be found in various locating throughout the city. Apotik Prayogi 62 Jl. Kalianyar +62 31 3719921 Open daily 7.30 am-12 am Guardian Tunjungan Plaza, 8-12 Jl. Jenderal Basuki Rachmat +62 31 5468190 Open daily 10 am-10 pm Century Healthcare - Grand City Grand City Lt. Lower Ground 30-31 JL. Gubeng Pojok Dalam +62 31 5240 5929