"Little town Salatiga" Salatiga by theo1006

Salatiga Travel Guide: 80 reviews and 342 photos

We chose to live in Salatiga

Salatiga is a small town in Central Java, situated halfway between the cities of Semarang and Surakarta (Solo) at the foot of Merbabu mountain. The town lies at an altitude of 550 to 600 m above sea-level, therefore its climate is less hot than that of both bigger cities.

According to the 2004 census Salatiga counts around 150.000 inhabitants. Of it’s 60 square kms two-thirds is hilly terrain and only ten percent is level. Therefore becak drivers have a hard time in Salatiga, and they only appeared here when they were ousted from Jakarta during Suharto’s reign.

Salatiga is best known for its university, Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana, founded in 1956 and now having an enrollment of over 10.000. The university offers intensive Indonesian language courses for foreigners; its Department of Performing Arts brings several FREE music performances every year.
There are several other educational institutions, among which an International School, so that Salatiga is seen as an ‘education town’. Many of its inhabitants make a living out of letting rooms to students. Salatiga is also called a ‘retirement town’, a good place to retire to from active life in Jakarta or another big city. A number of expats live in Salatiga, among them us, Theo and Helen.

The Dutch founded many plantations around Salatiga, mainly of coffee and rubber. See Kampoeng Kopi Banaran and How latex is won respectively. After independence they have gone through ups and downs, but recently they are doing well again, catering also for wisata agro or agricultural tourism. See e.g. Tlogo and Salib Putih accommodation tips.

But Salatiga has also entered the industrial era. The town counts two textile factories, Damatex and Timatex. And since 2005 a modern foodstuff processing plant, allied to the Dutch brand Frisian Flag, has been operational on the site of a former diary factory.

History of Salatiga

In 1995 it was decided to canonize July 24th, AD 750, as the date Salatiga was founded. This is based on an inscription in stone, Prasasti Plumpungan, dated back to that day, which may be admired by visitors.

When the Dutch arrived in Central Java, they soon discovered the strategic value of Salatiga, half way between Semarang harbour and the Solo sultanate. The VOC (United East Indian Company) built a fort and garrisoned a detachment at Salatiga.
In the 19th century Salatiga became a center of coffee and rubber plantations. Because of that the number of Dutch people living in Salatiga rose to over 2000 in 1905. In 1917 the colonial government gave Salatiga the status of an independent town. More and more Dutch came to live here and Salatiga was then considered ‘the most beautiful town of Central Java’.

Salatiga has lost some of its beauty due to its rising number of inhabitants. Many colonial buildings have been demolished or are in poor repair. Traffic has become a nuisance and green sidewalks have made place for paved ones. But the local government makes a commendable effort to keep the town clean, green and livable. It was concluded that Salatiga was too small to be viable with its only 18 km2 mostly built-up area, therefore in 1992 the town was allowed to annex several villages from the surrounding kabupaten (regencies), tripling its area.

Discover Central Java from Salatiga

Salatiga is an excellent base for discovering Central Java. Close enough to the big cities Semarang, Solo and Yogyakarta for a daytrip. But less hot than these at Salatiga's higher altitude. There is a choice of budget and luxury hotels, as well as restaurants.

Typical travel times to popular destinations:
- Semarang: one hour
- Ambarawa (Railway Museum): half an hour
- Bandungan (Gedong Songo temples): 50 minutes
- Kopeng (starting point for climb of Merbabu mountain): 30 minutes
- Ketep Pass between Merbabu and Merapi: 50 minutes
- Selo (starting point for climb of Merapi mountain): one hour
- Solo (Surakarta): 75 minutes
- Yogyakarta, Prambanan, Borobudur: two hours
- Dieng plateau: four hours
- Jepara: 2.5 hours
- Sarangan (Lawu mountain): 2.5 hours

Websites about Salatiga:
City government website (Indonesian language)
Website by Ed Vos (Dutch language)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Ideal climate and strategic location.
  • Cons:More crowded than Salatiga used to be.
  • In a nutshell:A little town with great facilities.
  • Intro Updated Jul 16, 2012
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Reviews (66)

Comments (9)

  • elpariente's Profile Photo
    Jan 8, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Good photos and very interesting tips
    Thank you
    Gracias !!!

  • Jul 12, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    I am from salatiga, and I willing to teach indonesian and javanese language for foreigner for free. I usually work at kalimantan and always have time in salatiga like 13 days every two months. What my benefits for doing this, because I need to practice my english skill, so it is mutual symbiotic. :) contact me plis @ just email me hansfryko@yahoo.com

  • Paris92's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    I agree with Lori--very interesting pages! Your Barney nomination is well deserved!!!

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Nov 23, 2010 at 3:16 AM

    Hello Theo & Helen: I can see why you were nominated for a Barney Award. Salatiga looks like a very interesting place to call home. Greetings from Canada. Lori

  • Aug 14, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    I had been wondering from childhood where the generators were! Thanks.

  • Oct 16, 2008 at 11:29 PM

    Pak Theo, this house used to be the Pasaribu's....

  • Aug 26, 2008 at 7:39 AM

    hi Theo, nice sites I can see here...well I am originally come from Muncul, abt 9kms fro salatiga.Make me missing home to see youpicture..

  • aussiejen's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2008 at 5:38 AM

    Great tips, great photos, but I think I'll give the mountain climbing a miss!!

  • meggy88's Profile Photo
    Mar 28, 2008 at 5:01 AM

    my dad was in Salatiga this year studying indonesian and loved it very much.

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