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Palembang is the capital city of the province of South Sumatra.


Palembang is the capital city of the South Sumatra province in Indonesia. It is the 7th largest city in Indonesia and 2nd largest city in Sumatra after Medan. Located on the Musi River banks on the east coast of southern Sumatra island, it has an area of 400.61 square kilometres and a population of 1,742,186 people as of 2015. Traditionally, Palembang is divided by Musi River into two regions. The north bank of the river is known as Seberang Ilir or simply Ilir, is the commercial and historic centre of Palembang while the south bank, known as Seberang Ulu or simply Ulu lies the residential area and some government buildings.

It was nicknamed by Dutch as The Venice of the East referring to its 120 canals plus the Musi. But as of 19th century, most of the canals is replaced by road, and almost all of its citizen using land transportation nowadays.

Perhaps Palembang is most known as Kota Pempek (Pempek City) pointing to its delicious specialty pempek, fishcake made from fish (mostly snakehead, wahoo or Chitala lopis) and sago.


Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, have founded as early as 7th century. The Kedukan Batu Inscription found near the Musi River dated from 683 AD mentioned a foundation of a city called Srivijaya in the area. Palembang is believed as the first capital of the huge and glorius Srivijayan Empire that influences most of Southeast Asia in its golden age.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The main airport is Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport. Its IATA code is PLM. The airport is constructed to replace the formerly Talang Betutu Airport, now serves as military airport. SMB II International Airport was opened in late 2005. International flight operated by SilkAir [1] and Jetstar [2] from Singapore and AirAsia [3] from Kuala Lumpur. Some domestic flights include Jakarta (frequent), Pangkal Pinang, Batam, Medan, Padang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Bandung, Lubuk Linggau. Garuda Indonesia serve daily flights to neighbouring cities of Bandar Lampung, Pangkal Pinang, Bengkulu, Jambi, Tanjung Pandan using ATR72-600. Recently, the infamous departure tax are included as you purchase the ticket and no longer paid at the counter. Liberal looking foreigners should expect to have thier bags searched for contraband items. Taxis in the airport are overpriced due to lack of competition, prices should be around Rp70,000-Rp90,000 (January 2014) to Palembang Indah Mall, Palembang Square mall or near to the bridge, depending on the mood of the driver. Bluebird use a meter and are safest, but you can get a TransMusi, a local transit bus to the town instead, which is cheaper. However, the last bus departs the airport on 5 PM, otherwise you have to take taxi instead.

By bus[edit]

Palembang connected by inland bus transportation to other cities in Sumatra (Jambi, Padang, Pekanbaru, Medan and Lampung) also to Jakarta crossing Sunda strait by ferry.

By train[edit]

Rail transport to Palembang are limited, the only passenger trains running is a six times daily service from Bandar Lampung near the southeastern tip of Sumatra. Note that the train services only run in the morning (6-9 AM) and night (7-9 PM). This connection can be quite useful if traveling from Jakarta overland. You can check the schedule and do online booking through KAI website [4]

Other destination Kertapati-Lubuk Linggau (Sindang Marga-Serelo), it takes about 8 hours with economic and business class. Useful for traveler to Lahat, Muara Enim, Bengkulu also Kerinci.

The main station is Palembang-Kertapati, often shortened to just 'Kertapati, is located two kilometres south of city centre.

Get around[edit]

By public buses and angkot[edit]

It is quite easy to get around in Palembang since there are a lot of public buses (Bus Kota) and modified minivans (called angkot, stands for Angkutan Kota). Don't be surprised if they keep packing the buses and angkots with people even though they are full. Angkots and buses route is easily recognized from the text written in its front and back window, and also by its color. The fare, far or near the distance, is fixed at Rp3,500 as of April 2016.

By TransMusi[edit]

TransMusi BRT and waterways route

The TransMusi bus rapid transit system was operated in early 2011 to connect most of the city parts. TransMusi is similar to TransYogya in Yogyakarta, both operated smaller bus compared to larger TransJakarta bus.

The transit bus serves 8 regular corridors:

  • Corridor 1: Alang-Alang Lebar (AAL) Terminal - Ampera Bridge
  • Corridor 2: Sako Terminal - Palembang Indah Mall
  • Corridor 3: Plaju Terminal - Palembang Square (PS) Mall
  • Corridor 4: Karya Jaya Terminal - Jakabaring Terminal
  • Corridor 5: Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Airport - AAL Terminal
  • Corridor 6: Pupuk Sriwijaya (PUSRI) - PS Mall
  • Corridor 7: Kenten - Letkol Iskandar
  • Corridor 8: Karya Jaya Terminal - AAL Terminal

This regular corridors serve the city tansportation. The fare is fixed at Rp5,000 as of April 2016. A ticket can be used for two times transit, there's no need to pay for extra money.

There were three TransMusi routes that connects Palembang to its satellite cities, one to Pangkalan Balai in the north and two to Indralaya in the south. Now the routes is no longer operated except the college bus to Indralaya.

  • Corridor UNSRI: Universitas Sriwijaya (UNSRI) Palembang Campus - UNSRI Indralaya Campus

By taxi[edit]

Taxis are nowadays pretty prevalent, but don't count on flagging one down. Most taxi companies operate by haggling prices. The most reliable and safe taxis in Palembang are by the Blue Bird group (0711 36 1111), minimum charges are at Rp30,000 which is around 5-7km depending on traffic. Motorcycle taxis, ojek, are cheap, quick, and can be found everywhere.

By boats[edit]

Boats can be hired at jetties, such as at one under Ampera Bridge or Sriwijaya Convention Centre (the bright red building right west of the bridge, near Benteng Kuto Besak). The small motorboats, called ketek, serve Musi River crossing, but can be rented for a tour.

By driving[edit]

Driving in Palembang could be complicated even by Indonesian standards, as most of Palembang driver tend to ignore the driving regulation. Palembang is famous for its very huge amount of motorcycle in the street. They frequently overtake another vehicles path; and in rush hours, they take the pedestrians. Several location in Palembang are known for its daily traffic congestion, most notably Ampera Bridge every morning (7-8 AM) and evening (5-6 PM). This due to lack of bridge that connects Ulu and Ilir, at 2016 is only two bridges serving. The other one is Musi II Bridge.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Ampera Bridge is the first bridge that constructed to cross the wide Musi River. It is also Palembang's landmark. The bridge is constructed as war compensation from Japan. It was a bascule bridge till 1970s, notable for its center parts that can be lifted up.
  • Great Mosque of Palembang. This grand mosque has been renovated a few times already. Now it is a very large and beautiful mosque. In some sections of the mosque you can see old Srivijayan style architecture. It is located in front of the main roundabout in Palembang which you will pass coming from the Ampera Bridge.
  • Benteng Kuto Besak the old fort located on Musi riverbank. It is the first fort in Indonesia that constructed by the locals (in this case the Palembang Sultanate; not by a colonizer like British or Dutch) that met European standards for defensive fort.
  • Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Museum, located near Benteng Kuto Besak. The museum building is in Palembang Limasan traditional architecture, displaying the history of Palembang city, from the era of Buddhist Srivijaya empire to Palembang Sultanate and colonial era.
  • Balaputradewa Museum, named after the greatest Srivijayan king, displaying the history of ancient South Sumatra till post-colonial era.
  • Monumen Perjuangan Rakyat, abbreviated Monpera, literally 'People's Struggle Monument'. Located besides Ampera, it is a remembrance of the Independence War that take place from 1945-1949. The monument has a museum inside it.
  • Dekranasda Sumsel, though every provinces in Indonesia has a Dekranasda office, but in Palembang it is located inside a huge complex of culture park. Here you can see many beautiful traditional buildings that still in good condition, though the place is largely abandoned with grasses covering the pathway.
  • Kemaro Island, a small island in the Musi river delta east of the city centre. It is famous for its origin legend, the love story of a Chinese prince and a Palembang princess that die together there. There is a pagoda in the island. Every year Chinese New Year and Cap Go Meh is celebrated here.
  • Sriwijaya Kingdom Archaeological Park, known locally as TPKS (Indonesian: Taman Purbakala Kerajaan Sriwijaya) or Karanganyar Site, is an archaelogical site in Karanganyar, Gandus. It is the ancient remnants of garden and habitation area near the Musi River. Archaelogist have found many artifacts dated from 7th to 13th century suggesting that the site was an urban centre of the Srivijayan Empire. Though so many artifacts discovered here, you cannot see building remnants here. Some scholars suggest this is due to use of wood, as in and around the place there are no hard stone either good soil for making bricks. The museum displaying artifacts is in the complex. Its provide English translation and flyers for brief information.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Late afternoon on Benteng Kuto Besak. The river front plaza on front of Kuto Besak fort overlooking Musi river and Ampera bridge is a popular spot for local family, youngsters and visitors to enjoy late afternoon breeze in Palembang. It is a nice place for hang around and people seeing. The warung terapung (floating warung) are boat eating establishment offering nice and cheap snacks and Palembang famous dishes such as pempek. On east side of Ampera bridge, numbers of traditional eating establishments offering various local delicacies.
  • Cruising Musi River. The small perahu ketek (motor boat) offer a short cruise on Musi river, overing view of Ampera bridge and Palembang city from Musi river. It can be rented personally or shared with locals. The ketek also serve route to Kemaro Island.
  • Cinema. Movie theater is an affordable entertainment in Palembang when you don't have any idea where to go and what to do. The fare per movie is around Rp. 25,000 per ticket. Beware the heavy hand of the Indonesian censor though. The cinemas would be full of students and teenagers especially on Monday where there is a promotion that only cost around Rp. 15,000 per ticket.
  • Sunday morning exercise in Jakabaring. Jakabaring Sport City with its grand Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium was the host of 2011 Southeast Asian Games. In sunday morning it is a popular spot for locals to converge and do jogging and exercise.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Songket. Among Indonesians, Palembang is famous for its songket handycraft. It is a traditional handwoven cloth with metalic golden or silver threads. Songkets are available in most Palembang marketplaces and even available in Palembang airport, however for richer variety and choices, several songket handycraft centres, production houses, boutique or showroom are avaliable in the city.
  • Food souvenirs. Although pempek can be found in most of Indonesian cities, the original Palembang pempek is said to have distinct taste and beyond compare. Unfried, packed, precooked boxed pempek is popular as food souvenir among Indonesians visiting the city. Fish-based Palembang crackers kerupuk kemplang is also popular choice. Durian-based lempok is also good and don't have a strong taste (it's accepted in hotels). You can buy all of this in most of pempek establishment in Palembang. Some establishments are Pempek Candy, Pempek Ellen, Pempek Pak Raden, and Pempek Selamat.
  • Palembang Square [5] is a mixed use complex that opened in August 2004, with site-area about 54,000 square meters and features:
3rd storey strata title Shopping Mall (41,536.5m2 gross area), have re-sellable area about 28.481,78 m2, and have the biggest shopping mall atrium at South Sumatra (777m2.
120 unit Shop-Offices (Kantor Toko=Kanto).
The Aryaduta Hotel is a 5-star hotel with 18 stories, together with Convention Hall for 3.000 people’s capacity.
The shopping mall is the modern and the complete mall which is built as the recreation center and the 'shopping heaven' for families in Palembang and operational with three big anchor tenants (Carrefour hypermarket, Grand JM department store, and Gramedia bookstore); some Family game stations (Amazon, Fun city); four billiard center (with total table about 55 billiard table); some Café, local and national fast food restaurants (KFC, CFC Texas, Popeye’s, Mc Donald, etc); Hairdresser (Jonny Andrean, Yoppie Salon, etc); Shops; Local TV station (PAL TV); National FM Radio station (Oz Radio); etc. Palembang Square nowadays becomes as one of the favorites place at South Sumatra (about 750.000 regular visitor/month).
  • Pasar 16 Ilir. A very busy multi storied bazaar situated near Masjid Agung. When coming into Palembang on the Musi Bridge you will be able to see the bazaar on your right. Women's clothing is widely sold. A lot of clothing sold here are in beautiful colours and embroidery with Indian/Pakistani styles. Bargaining here is a must. Some people refer to this bazaar as the Tanah Abang of Palembang. Pasar 16 is also good to buy traditional palembang textile called Songket. You can get songket as a textile to make clothes, songket shoes, purses, cushion covers, calligraphy, art, hand fans, etc. Songket is a must buy if you come to Palembang. Don't buy it at the airport as it would be more expensive.
  • Palembang Indah Mall (PIM), Jalan Letkol Iskandar no.18, +62 711-350999. operational hour 10.00 - 22.00. PIM is the 30,000 square meter mall with many national and international brands such as Giordano, Crocodile, POLO and Ralph Lauren, LEVI's, ANDREW, Point Break, Planet Surf, NIKE, ADIDAS, FISIK, Hammer, Leonne Uomo, Bruno Piatelli, Osella, Contempo, GOSH, ETUDE HOUSE, The FaceShop, C n F Perfumery, Sport Station and Kids Station, Swatch, Samsonite, SHARP, the BodyShop, Breadtalk and GOLF HOUSE. The mall has also many anchor tenants such as ACE Hardware, INFORMA home furnishing, HYPERMART, Cinema 21 (6 cinema), and Electronic Solution. If you want to relax and chat with friends you can try to hang out at JCo doughnut and coffee, EXCELSO and the upcoming Roppan. To have meals you can dine in Pizza Hut, A&W, Brasserie, Es Teler 77, CFC, DON Cafe, Mr. Pancake or Solaria, or you can also have a great time at the Le Garden Food court which offer you many kinds of Palembang cuisines. When your kids need more games, you can go straight to TIMEZONE. There are a lot more stores of Optics (Optic Seis and Optic Melawai), Accessories Stores and Cellular and Gadget Stores (PAZIA, Erafone, Global Teleshop, WellComm and also hairdressers (Johny Andrean, My Salon and Christopher Salon). The people in South Sumatra and Palembang consider PIM as an exclusive mall for middle upper class. Around the mall currently there are Standard Chartered Bank, Bank Central Asia, Bakso Lapangan Tembak, Ma Maison (Italian and French Cuisine), Istana Mama Susi Resto, Fugu Sushi Bar, billiard, karaoke center and Hotel. The mall has a parking lot building which can contain up to 1200 cars. PIM is considered as a one stop entertainment and shopping for the people of South Sumatra.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • When you're in Palembang you must eat the traditional food called pempek. Pempek is fried fishcake and eaten with a spicy dips called cuko. There are many varieties of pempek, most notable is the kapal selam, big pempek filled with egg and served with cuko, ebi(minced shrimp) and noodles.
  • In Palembang most fast food and outlets are available. There is a McDonalds in International Plaza. Other fast foods available are KFC, CFC (Californian), Texas Chicken, etc.
  • In Palembang one famous eating joint is Martabak Har. Martabak Har sells Murtabak or Prata filled with minced meat and egg and eaten with curry. Most of the owners are Indian descent. There are many Martabak Hars but the original one is near the big roundabout (Alun Alun) near Masjid Agung.

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • Penginapan Lebar Daun, Jl. Demang Lebar Daun, +62 812 7129405, [6]. Where backpackers are most welcome.  edit
  • HomeInn Palembang, Jl. Mayor Ruslan No.8, +62 711 377799. checkin: 11000; checkout: 1200.  edit
  • Hotel Maqdis, Jl. Jend. Ahmad Yani, 9/10 Ulu, Seberang Ulu I, +62 711 518998. checkin: 11000; checkout: 1200.  edit

Mid-range and splurge[edit]

  • BATIQA Hotel Palembang, Jl. Kapten A. Rivai No. 219, Palembang, Sumatera Selatan, +62 711 522 9600, [7]. checkin: 11000; checkout: 1200.  edit
  • Novotel Palembang Hotel & Residence, Jalan R Sukamto No. 8A, Palembang, +62 711 369777. checkin: 11000; checkout: 1200.  edit
  • Hotel Horison Palembang, Jl. Ahmad Yani, Seberang Ulu I, +62 711 355000, [8]. checkin: 11000; checkout: 1200. A 4 star platinum hotel on a service level that equals any 5 star hotel.  edit
  • Hotel Aryaduta Palembang, Jl. POM IX, Palembang Square, Palembang 30137, South Sumatra, Indonesia, +62 711 383 838, [9]. Hotel Aryaduta Palembang is located in South Sumatra, Indonesia. The Aryaduta Hotel & Convention Center is an 18-storey atrium hotel offering 174 rooms. One of the facilities they offer to guests is their the largest banquet and meeting space in South Sumatra, accommodating up to 2,500 guests reception-style. Guests could also enjoy their experience in their Pool Café that offers healthy food, snacks, and light refreshments. Best rates on official website start at USD 64.46.  edit

Get out[edit]

Palembang is the main gate for travelling in South Sumatran region. The Bangka-Belitung is an island province off the east coast of South Sumatra. It is three hours away using hydrofoil from Palembang. The Tanjung Api-Api seaport also provide passages to Muntok in West Bangka. There are also flight to Pangkal Pinang from SMB II Airport.

If you are interested in nature, you can try to visit Sembilang National Park which are three hours away sailing with a speed boat that can be rented in Palembang. It is the last mangrove conservation in South Sumatra, also a huge wetland that attract migrating birds from Siberia and Australia. The birds will stop for some times there to find food before continue their journey. The Kerinci-Seblat National Park, a World Heritage that include areas of South Sumatra is famous for its near extinct Sumatran tiger, but its distance is far from Palembang, though you may considering to visit it.

The hilly town of Pagaralam is about nine-hour bus trip from Palembang. The town has a beautiful scenery and cooler climate. Pagaralam serves as the main gate to the Mount Dempo (3183 masl), the highest peak in South Sumatra province. It is an active volcano which half part is covered by tea plantation.

You can go to Singapore with Garuda Airlines or Silk Air. AirAsia also flies to Kuala Lumpur. Some domestic flights also available include Jakarta (frequent), Medan, Batam, Padang, Jambi, Bandar Lampung, Bengkulu, Bangka-Belitung, and Lubuk Linggau. Domestic departure tax is now inclusive and no longer paid at the airport.

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