Scratch beneath the bustling surface of the working port town of Surabaya and you'll uncover a myriad of charms. It's home to one of Indonesia’s largest Chinatowns and an Arab Quarter filled with narrow, twisting laneways. Dotted around the city are old Dutch buildings and market stalls selling food and trinkets. Away from the buzzing centre, Surabaya's beaches are relaxing places to unwind at the end of a long day. Trekkers can explore the region's active volcanoes and rugged inland mountains.
At hostels in Surabaya you can expect air con, free Wi-Fi and social spaces like common rooms, as well as outdoor terraces where you can mingle with other travellers. Climb into bed within a futuristic capsule at a Surabaya hostel with its own rooftop café and bar, or stay at a family-run hostel for extra comforts like free breakfast. If you're volunteering as an English teacher while you're in Surabaya, there's a hostel with a pool that will let you stay for free.
The diverse neighbourhoods of Surabaya offer insight into the history of the city. In Old Surabaya you'll find grand colonial-style buildings such as the Surabaya City Post Office and the Mandiri Bank. Close to the main train station, Gubeng is a lively centre with plenty of cafés and restaurants, malls and pop-up concept stores. Head to the Kenjeran district for a taste of seaside charm and stop by Surabaya Chinatown for oriental architecture, food, temples and the octagonal Cheng Hoo Mosque.
The city is filled with markets and monuments, but one of the top things to do in Surabaya is eat. Dine at the food stalls or upscale restaurants of G-Walk in CitraLand and stop by Genteng market – a foodie haven at night – where vendors serve their own specialties like spicy soups and nasi goreng (fried rice). Out of the city, there's the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park to explore. Hike around the active Mount Bromo volcano, cycle across the Tengger mountain range and see the gushing Madakaripura Waterfall.
Surabaya Juanda International Airport is a 45-minute taxi drive from the centre of Surabaya. There are no direct buses to the city, but you can jump on a bus to Purabaya Bus Station (13km south of the city) then change to a bus headed for the centre or the Gubeng train station. There's a good network of buses, making them the easiest way to move around in the city, or you can hop in a taxi that has air con.