Pandai Sikek Village. The village is famous for its Minangkabau songket (a fabric).
Taufik Ismail Poetry House. You can find the collection of Minangkabau poets and literatures by Taufik Ismail, an Indonesian famous poet and litterateur.
Minangkabau Information and Documentation Centre. It's a large rumah gadang (Minangkabau traditional house) used as a museum of cultural and historical documents of Minangkabau.
Minang Fantasy (Mifan) A family theme park and water park located near the Minangkabau Information and Documentation Centre.
Asasi Nagari Gunung Mosque. Located in nagari Sigando on the way between Padangpanjang and Singkarak, it's one of the oldest mosques in West Sumatra. It's a beautiful mosque with Minangkabau architecture.
Anai Valley. Located along the road to Padang, it's a beautiful green forest and valley with a crystal clear rocky river. Visit the picturesque Anai Valley Waterfall.
Padangpanjang is a university town and houses the high profile and growing Arts Academy STSI, and there are often performers rehearsing or who know of late night village gigs you can find out about if you hook up with some of the local or foreign students there. Either contemporary or traditional performing arts not on the tourist books. If you are around for a while you might even do a deal on some flute or drum lessons. Be sure to cross their palm with silver for their efforts - they are struggling professional artists and students with exams and festival commitments. The tiny cafes around the campus can sometimes prove fruitful for meeting artists. There is also a private library/drop-in centre for performing arts resources if you have such an interest, on Jl Puti Bungsu, where Indra Utama will be able to direct you to more cultural resources.
Scenic Tours by horse and cart. If you want to go to Padangpanjang market you can charter a horse and cart called a bendi (in other parts of Indonesia these are often poor runty ponies but some of the horses used here are racing horses working between seasons so you can and should choose a strong well-fed beast to lug your great body around!). So, either work out a fee for a period of time (eg: "satu jam" means 1 hour; satu-setengah jam means 1 and a half)or just wing it and ask the driver to take you round-about mau jalan-jalan keliling. Ke mana he will say (where) and just say ke sana (there) and then just point as you go - its a slow pace great way to look at life in the region - you can go out to Batipuh for example, spend about half your time and then get him to take you back to the market. It's relatively cheap and you don't really have to know where you are going. You can do the same anywhere of course, for example, from Bukittinggi charter a whole day and go down into ngarai sianok. Don't expect them to go down the main highway though. If you want a faster pace charter an ojek motorbike taxi. Some are students and may speak a little English. They charge a lot more though cover more territory and you are probably in bit too close proximity to the driver if you are a woman. They have strict rules on gender protocols and hence will take a mile if a situation gives them an inch. Beware.
Swim in a beautiful water hole Get on a bus from Bukittinggi to Padang and get off at Simpang Lubuk Bunta between Kayu Tanam and Sicincin abt 1 hour and a bit down the road. At the turn off there is a bamboo shelter. pick up an ojek there and for a small fee equivalent to a dollar (they are unlikely to rip you off there) they will take you to the water hole lubuk bunta. This spring is the site for the local bottled spring water one of few clean bathing spots with a little waterfall and is a favorite among locals not tourists so please respect that. it is polite to approach someone there to "ask permission" even if they too are visitors. It acts as an introduction. They will be surprised you knew where to come. This is spot where male and female bathe together recreationally (most bathing spots are used in segregation to wash oneself rather than swim). Either way please don't strip off,you can swim in a sarong or shorts and t-shirt over swimmers, take your cue from other bathers.
Shadowboxing On your way you will pass a village called Tarok which has an interesting triple slatted bamboo stage called a laga-laga where on certain nights the men gather to practice a high art of Ulu'ambek an esoteric non-contact spirit form of martial art. If you are interested you would have to ask in the local cafe nearby for Pak (Mr) Mak Yan and mention "ulu'ambek" or "randai". These activities are seasonal and unpredictable but you might get lucky. Gigs or rehearsal always happen after nine at night so plan to come back with a chartered car or motorbike if you want to see this.
Padangpanjang is a great alternative market if you find Bukittinggi too intense and huge to navigate in. Sunday is the big market day. Find the aisle in the main undercover building where rows of women dish up dollops of sweet pudding of many varieties. The seated women, each one a matriarch with warmth and goodwill, offer a little respite from the market buzz and sell sell sell while eating these pudding pots, find a stool to park your bum in mama's circle. Each one has only one combo to serve so just nod and point - most ingredients are the same just configured differently - glutinous rice or rice flour and coconut milk and sugar, coconut flesh or maybe banana or other toppings and red palm sugar syrup - very cheap, and comforting. Stay until you feel ready to face the frenzy again.
If you depart from Padang from PadangPanjang (or on the way back to Padang), it's recommended to stop by at one of the local Sate restaurants: Mak Syukur or Saiyo. The sate is a similar to Sate Padang, but the cool temperature makes it nice to eat the spicy sauce. Sate is usually eaten with rice cubes, bull's rinds/cracklings, and the spicy sauce. Besides meat, they usually also serve other organs such as intestines, liver, etc.
Kayu Tanam and Sicincin are famous for their durian sellers so if you want to sample this famously smelly fruit the most engaging way, pooter past on a vesper after dark, (you will see stalls along the side of the main highway lit up of an evening in high season) and ask for one durian to be opened and "eaten in" with puluik. Eat it with your fingers with a friend.
There are some famous and delicious Minangkabau restaurants which serves Minangkabau rural-style meals. Try Aie Badarun or Pak Datuak.
Bukittinggi. A popular tourist town with some interesting places like Sianok Canyon and Jam Gadang, and delicious fatty, hot and spicy food like Nasi Kapau.
Pariangan Village. The oldest Minangkabu village on the foot of Mount Marapi. Located between Padangpanjang and Batusangkar. The civilization of Minangkabau people began here. There are some important archeological and historical sites like Balairung Sari Tabek (ancient Minangkabau meetings hall) and some beautiful rumah gadang.
Sawahlunto. A little Dutch town with many historical buildings with Duch architecture. It was originally a Dutch coal mining town. Visit Railway Museum, a museum of railway history of West Sumatra located at old railway station; Mbah Soero Tunnel, a historical coal mining tunnel; and Gudang Ransum Museum, a museum about the history of mining in Sawahlunto. Another historical buildings are Sawahlunto Cultural Centre, St. Lucia Church, Pek Sin Kek Mansion, etc. Sawahlunto is a unique town because it's located in a large mining hollow.
Solok and South Solok. The land of thousands Rumah Gadang. Visit the Village of Thousand Rumah Gadang and Palace of Rajo Balun. Also visit the twin lakes, Lake Diatas and Lake Dibawah. There's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kerinci Seblat National Park.
Padang. The capital city of West Sumatra province. It's a historical city and was one of the most important Dutch harbour in Dutch East Indies. There's many historical buildings there. Visit its colourful Old Town, Old Harbour and Chinatown.