Bukittinggi is a city in West Sumatra.
Bukittinggi (Indonesian for "high hill") is one of the larger cities in West Sumatra, Indonesia, with a population of over 91,000 people and an area of 25.24 km². It is situated in the Minangkabau highlands, 90 km by road from the West Sumatran capital city of Padang. It is located at 0°18′20″S 100°22′9″E / 0.30556°S 100.36917°E / -0.30556; 100.36917, near the volcanoes Mount Singgalang (inactive) and Mount Marapi (still active). At 930 m above sea level, the city has a cool climate with temperatures between 16.1°-24.9°C.
It rains every day in Bukittinggi. However, these tend to be short and light showers that will not affect your activities. Wear proper shoes especially if you intend to hike the Jangjang Seribu.
There are some interesting legends surrounding the foundation and naming of “High Hill” Bukittinggi. The city has its origins in five villages which served as the basis for a marketplace. The city was known as Fort de Kock during colonial times in reference to the Dutch outpost established here in 1825 during the Padri War. The fort was founded by Captain Bauer at the top of Jirek hill and later named after the then Lieutenant Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, Hendrik Merkus de Kock. The first road connecting the region with the west coast was built between 1833 and 1841 via the Anai Gorge, easing troop movements, cutting the costs of transportation and providing an economic stimulus for the agricultural economy. In 1856 a teacher-training college (Kweekschool) was founded in the city, the first in Sumatra, as part of a policy to provide educational opportunities to the indigenous population. A rail line connecting the city with Payakumbuh and Padang was constructed between 1891 and 1894. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in World War II, the city was the headquarters for the Japanese 25th Army, the force which occupied Sumatra. The headquarters was moved to the city in April 1943 from Singapore, and remained until the Japanese surrender in August 1945.
During the Indonesian National Revolution, the city was the headquarters for the Emergency Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PDRI) from December 19, 1948 to July 13, 1949. During the second 'Police Action' Dutch forces invaded and occupied the city on December 22, 1948, having earlier bombed it in preparation. The city was surrendered to Republican officials in December 1949 after the Dutch government recognized Indonesian sovereignty. The city was officially renamed Bukittinggi in 1949, replacing its colonial name. From 1950 until 1957, Bukittinggi was the capital city of a province called Central Sumatra, which encompassed West Sumatra, Riau and Jambi. In February 1958, during a revolt in Sumatra against the Indonesian government, rebels proclaimed the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PRRI) in Bukittinggi. The Indonesian government had recaptured the town by May the same year.
Bukittinggi is located about 2 hours north-east by road from the international airport in Padang. The only way to get there is by car, but all roads are good and smooth. As Bukittinggi is a tourist destination, try to avoid traveling on weekends as the traffic can be quite bad especially when climbing uphill.
By Private Car from Medan and Lake Toba
By chartered minivan
Known by the locals as "Travel" is cheapest way to get there. The approximate price is about Rp. 30.000/person for one way. The vehicle is a Honda Odyssey 2.4 minivan with a capacity of 7 seats. Keep in mind that the bus driver usually waits until the chair occupation is about 75%. Once the car is "full", the minivan will depart and take the passengers to their destination.
Ask a local for the location to take a red angkot to Jambu Air (about Rp.2000 - Rp.3000), where you will be able to wait for a minivan to take you to your destination. One way to Padang from Jambu Air, Bukittinggi will cost about Rp.25000/person. The journey will take between 2hrs - 3hrs. Be prepared for a squeeze! Last pick up time from Jambu Air, about 7.00 pm.
DAMRI is the bus operator that goes to Padang (price Rp. 17.500), from there you can continue to Bukittinggi by minivan ("travel") for the price of Rp. 15.000. Not recommended for those who don't want to stop at Padang. Several bus companies (such as ALS) run buses from Parapat near Danau Toba. The trip is very winding and rough, and takes approximately 15 hours. Be prepared for bus sickness, and to pay around Rp. 185.000 (as of 2010). As the trip is uphill from Danau Toba, the one-way fare is more expensive this way than coming from the south.
At BIM(Bandara International Minangkabau)-International Airport of Padang, there's an official desk where you can order a taxi. The trip price is fixed and you can't bargain. This is the better and faster way of getting a taxi. A taxi trip to Bukittinggi is Rp. 225.000. You pay 50% of the cost to the driver when getting in and the other 50% at arrival (Dec 2011). Recommended for small groups up to 4 people.
Besides city transportation (Angkutan kota), Bus charter and car rental is a good solution for your trip in this city. If you want to rent a car, it's best to do so at Minangkabau International Airport. This will make it easy to get the city and it can minimize your time and cost. Renting a motor bike is also convenient and a lot cheaper. Renting a motorbike for one day should cost around Rp 7000 to 10000 a day. Riding motorbike is a great way to explore Bukittinggi and it's surroundings. Road conditions are good and traffic is a bit chaotic but still manageable. Most guesthouses can arrange a motorbike.
Bukittinggi is a small town, so these places are within walking distance with each other (15-30 minute walk).
Around the town
Bukittinggi's council has been developing a shopping mall next to the Jam Gadang since January 2006. It's Bukittinggi Plaza with Ramayana Department Store and Supermarket. There are also two traditional markets accros Jam Gadang known as Pasar Atas (Upper Market) and Pasar Bawah (Below Market). Pasar Atas is the largest market in Bukittinggi. On Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays vendors sell their goods beside the road. Pasar Bawah is for fruits and vegetables whereas Pasar Atas is for souvenirs and clothes. Most of the prices in each kiosk are similar and you should bargain. One wholesale shop located in the middle of Pasar Atas sells souvenirs at the lowest price. A pair of women's slippers is about Rp 7,000 and a key holder is about Rp 2.000 - 5.000. One men's shirt is about Rp. 35.000 and a pair of leather women's slippers is about Rp 35.000.
Pasar Aur Kuning (Aur Kuning Market) is a large group of wholesale sales market. It is famous in the local people and seasonal tourist. If you are buying items in bulk, this is the place to visit. Some of the shops will allow you to buy in small quantities. Ask the trader if they allow you to buy in small quantities. The price per item may go down further after negotiations. To get to Pasar Aur Kuning, take the red angkot (public minibus) from Pasar Bawah (in front of Pasar Banto). Angkot no. 19 or 13 (Tigo Baleh) charge for Rp 2.000 one way. Pasar Aur Kuning also houses a bus terminal to various cities of Indonesia. Travel to Padang by van car is located adjacent to Simpang Rayo restaurant.
People in Bukittinggi like dry, spicy, and sweet snack foods. They make snacks with different tastes and shapes from ingredients that make the foods here special. Try Karupuak Sanjai, Karupuak Balado, Karang Kariang, Dakak-dakak, Rakiak Maco, Rendang Telur, Kalamai, etc. They can be found in Pasar Atas at low prices, but low quality. On the way back to Padang there are many snack shops that sell these traditional Minangkabau snacks of better quality. Some famous traditional snack shops are Sanjai Nitta and Sanjai Mintuo on the road to Padang.
Most of the restaurants in Bukittinggi serve Minangkabau cuisine which is fatty, spicy, and hot. An average price is about Rp 15.000 per person for one meal. Some famous Minangkabau restaurants are Simpang Raya and Selamat on Pasar Atas, Family Benteng near Fort de Kock and Saiyo in Garegeh.
The most famous food in Bukittinggi is Nasi Kapau. It's a more fatty and spicy version of Nasi Padang, with Gulai Kapau a gulai of jackfruit, cabbage, snaps, and bamboo sprout. Try it with Minangkabu fatty, hot and spicy side dish like Rendang, Dendeng Balado, Dendeng Batokok, Gulai Tunjang, Gulai Tambusu, Gulai Banak, Ikan Batalua, Goreng Baluik, Talua Dadar, etc. You can find many Nasi Kapau stalls at Pasar Atas or roadside restaurants. One of the most famous Nasi Kapau restaurant is Nasi Kapau Uni Cah on the road to Padang.
Gulai Itiak Lado Mudo is also famous in Bukittinggi. It's a green chili gulai of duck. You can find this food at Gulai Itiak Lado Mudo Ngarai restaurant at the floor of Sianok Canyon.
Ayam Pop is also famous in Bukittinggi. Contrast to most of Minangkabau food, Ayam Pop is less spicy and hot. It's chicken braised, boiled, and then fried with more simple spices. It's usually eaten with sambal and boiled cassave leaves. Family Benteng restaurant near Fort de Kock, is the place where this food is begin.
You also should try Minangkabau version of Pecel (vegetables salad with peanut gravy) in Pical Sikai restaurant.
After dark, there are many hawkers near Jam Gadang selling fresh foods such as Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles), Mie Rebus (boiled noodles), Roti Bakar (scrambled egg toast sandwich), and Martabak Mesir (Minangkabau version of beef martabak/murtabak). One portion is about Rp 7.500 - Rp 10.000.
One of the most famous martabak restaurant in Bukittinggi is Martabak Kaka. Located in Jl. Ahmad Yani in Chinatown.
Anti-diarrhea medicine is highly recommended in case you get diarrhea during your food adventure.
There are also KFC, CFC, Pizza Hut, and Bakso Lapangan Tembak in Bukittinggi. There are also some western food restaurants and cafes like:
Sikotang or Sarobat
Sikotang or Sarobat is one of the most famous drinks in Minangkabau. The beverage is made from red ginger and spices such as cinnamon bark, nutmeg, etc. Sikotang is usually mixed with egg, bread, green beans and white or brown sugar. Such a hot drink is useful for keeping your body warm during a cold highland night like in Padang Panjang, Batusangkar and Bukittinggi. Price Rp. 5.000 - 15.000.
Daun kawa is made from roasted dry leaves of the coffee tree. The dried leaves are boiled in hot water and put into sections of bamboo and drunk from a "cawan tampuruang" (coconut shell). It can be found in Bukittinggi, Payakumbuh and Batusangkar. Please ask anyone, especially people over age 40. They will show you where a good place is to taste Daun Kawa! Price Rp. 5.000 - 15.000 in 2009.
Juice of Pinang (betel nut) is a bitter tasting drink available in Padang, Bukittingi, and other areas that is believed to have an effect on sexual stamina. Pinang has a biological effect as a stimulant like tobacco, coffee, and tea. Its chemical contents are arecolin, arecain, tannin, and flavonoids. Just try it and feel the difference! For beginners, don't drink more than one pinang seed. Price Rp. 5.000 - 15.000 in 2009.
This is a special Minangkabau drink made from hot tea mixed with egg and lemon. Please taste it. You will never forget the experience! Price Rp. 5.000 - 15.000 in 2009
Enjoy one of world's most prestigious coffees, Kopi Luwak, in Batang Palupuah Kampong, Bukittinggi. The coffee is made from coffee beans that have passed through a civet cat before roasting. Try to source ethically harvested beans.
The Minangkabau also have traditional alcoholic beverages such as tuak. Tuak is made from fermented nira, a liquid collected by cutting the fruit branch of sugar palm. However, it is quite difficult to find in Bukittinggi now because alcoholic beverages are forbidden for Muslims.
The four stars hotels in the city are the The Hills Bukittinggi, Grand Rocky Hotel and Pusako Hotel. Although The Hills Bukittinggi is comfortable place to stay especially for international tourists, the cost is at least Rp. 800.000 for a night; in comparison there are many small hotels around Fort de Kock that are around Rp. 120.000 that are quite nice.
Small budget hotels are easy to find. Many locals offer accommodation which are like family-owned hotels that provide a "feel at home" atmosphere. The prices span from Rp. 60.000 - Rp. 200.000 per room without air-conditioning. Breakfast is sometimes included. There are no lifts in these small hotels, so be prepared if your room is on the upper floors. Room cleaning is not provided everyday in some cases, so don't hesitate to ask the hotel manager if you want a daily cleaning service.
There is a row of internet cafes along Jl. Ahmad Yani an Jl Pemuda. Four internet cafes are in the vicinity of (underneath) the pedestrian bridge which links Fort de Kock and the zoo. Check out the prices as the internet cafes on the main street are so much more expensive than the ones around the corner. Suggest you ask a local for the cheapest one. The local price is from Rp. 2.500 per hour.
Even in times of the internet, the assistance of a travel agency like Raun Sumatra (next to Bedudal Cafe on Jln. A. Yani) can be extremely helpful. They book flights for you at the same rates as online, but it's much faster and you don't need a credit card. They can also arrange bus tours for you, including pickup in front of the office.