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Chinatown, Surabaya Overview

A bustling marketplace with dilapidated buildings and narrow streets and cul-de-sacs, Chinatown is a great place for photo-ops, due to the cultural influences of Buddhism on all the buildings. The biggest attractions apart from the cheap commodities and delectable fusion cuisine are the Kong Co Kong Tik Cun Ong Temple, which is one of the largest Buddhist temples in Indonesia, and Pasar Pabean which is the marketplace that links Chinatown to the Arab Market. Every evening, a fish market opens in the area, and locals flock there to buy fresh produce.

Kya Kya Chinatown of Surabaya is a 750 meter long and 20-meter wide road lined with hundreds of food and beverage stalls, making it one of the hotspots in East Java. The entrance of Chinatown is marked by a wide red Chinese gateway with two dragon figures at the top. Kya-kya translates to hanging out or sightseeing in HHokkienlanguage but centuries ago, this street was established as a trading area and it built strong economic and cultural ties in the northern area of Surabaya.

Chinese were the first to settle in this area in Surabaya during the Dutch colonial era, this Chinatown is the oldest, biggest and architecturally richest part of Surabaya, with some colonial Chinese buildings and houses in its southern part. In the morning, Chinatown is filled with the aroma of freshly prepared Chinese breakfast at different stalls and in the afternoon, heavy trading makes it an economic centre for the Eastern Region of the country. By evening, hundreds of food and beverage stalls are set up to sell Chinese, European, American and Javanese cuisine. 

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Things to Do

  • Apart from being a haven for foodies, Kya Kya Chinatown is also a great place to witness live entertainment with great music performances. Karaoke stalls, palm readers and street-side tattoo artists can be found everywhere on this avenue. In the evening, the entrance of vehicles in the avenue is stopped and the area is open for pedestrians. 
  • Exhibition stages and promotional spaces are occasionally set-up to support and promote thriving artists. 
  • Pesar Pabean is China town's wet market and is one of the oldest markets in Surabaya which opened in the year 1899. The place is bustling with shoppers who visit to buy fresh seafood in the afternoon. 
  • Chinese Buddhist Temples are also one of the highlights of the area. Tri Dharma Temple is present in the Chinese quarter, which is mostly made up of old Dutch buildings. 
  • Boen Bio is a purely Confucian temple with shuttered Dutch windows and shiny tiled floors, simple yet aesthetic. It is located at a walking distance from Tri Dharma Temple. The Kong Co Kong Tik Cun Ong is an 18th-century temple and the largest in the old city. There are a plethora of altars with gilded Buddhas which feature Chinese scripts hang from the walls of the temple and its ceilings are black with centuries of candle grease.

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