House of Sampoerna


Undoubtedly the city’s best-presented attraction, the House of Sampoerna is home to one of Indonesia’s most famous kretek cigarette manufacturers (now owned by US giant Altria, formerly Philip Morris). Whatever you think about the tobacco industry, this factory and museum make a fascinating place to visit. The building itself is a wonderful 19th-century Dutch structure, originally an orphanage but later converted into a theatre (indeed, Charlie Chaplin once dropped by).

The former lobby is now the museum and is something of a shrine to the Sampoerna empire. It has exhibits on the use of cloves and the history of kretek in Indonesia, alongside uniforms and drums of the Sampoerna marching band and other quirky company curios. There's also an incredible collection of cigarette lighters, holders and cases, mainly from Europe, as well as some Ming dynasty china and a vintage Heidelberg printing press.

Upstairs there’s a bird’s-eye perspective of the factory’s former shop floor, where, until very recently, hundreds of women hand rolled, trimmed and packed the Dji Sam Soe brand (banned from most countries as the tar content is so strong). The fastest rollers here churned out 4000 cigarettes a day.

After your visit, consider a trip on the company's free sightseeing bus tour, the Surabaya Heritage Track.