Bukittinggi is a city in West Sumatera.
Bukittinggi is located about 2 hours north-east by road from the international airport. The only way to get there is by car. But all the roads are good and smooth.
by chartered minivan
Known by the locals as "Travel" is cheapest way to get there. The approximate price is about IDR 25,000/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.
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 $Rp 15,000. Not recommended for those who don't want to stop at Padang.
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 185,000. You pay 50% of the cost to the driver when getting in and the other 50% at arrival(January 2006). Recommended for small groups up to 4 people.
Beside city transportation (Angkutan kota), Bus charter and car rental is your solution for your trip in this city. If you want to rent a car, its better you use it since you arrive from Minangkabau Internation Airport. It will make you easy to get the city and it can minimize your time and cost. For car rental you can use one of them like:
Bukittinggi is a small town, so these places are within walking distance with each other (15-30 minute walk).
There are two tours that hotels and tour agencies try to push, a tour to Minangkabau and another tour to Maninjau.
The Minangkabau tour will visit these places in east area of Bukittinggi:
The Maninjau Tour will visit places in west area of Bukittinggi:
Each tour requires at least 6 hours and usually held from 9AM to 3PM (including a stop at some restaurants). In 2006, the price is ranging from Rp 100,000/pp to Rp 160,000/pp or Rp 450,000/car for up to 6 people. Hire a car is highly recommended if you're in a group of more than 4 people. Car's price includes driver, fuel, entry ticket, and parking fee. Tips aren't compulsory, lunch invitation is more than enough. For your note, most of the places require ticket and will charge a parking fee. One tour will require about Rp 40,000 only for parking and ticket entry. Another option is hiring a car and arranging with the driver to visit the places in Minangkabau and Lake Maninjau. Depart earlier, as the tour will take all day.
The budget option to Maninjau is to take the bus (or minibus) from the bus station (get there from the Bemo station near the market) to Maninjau (35km, 2hrs by bus, 1h by minibus). Unfortunately, a tourist racket has been set up so you wont get the ticket for the Rp 6000 (Oct 2007) the locals pay. Expect to pay at least Rp.10000 (Oct. 2007). Have the right change ready, dont expect to get any from the conductor. To get back, either try to catch a minibus (Rp 10000) or a big bus (Rp 15000-20000). The big buses you have to catch in the same direction you came, since the narrow road is a one-way for lorries.
The budget option to Minangkabau is to take the Batu Sangkar public bus for Rp. 7000 (Oct 2007) and hire a motorbike (Rp. 15000 return) from there (or walk the remaining 5km) to Pagaruyung. Minibuses and buses back to Bukittingi leave from the bus terminal or may be flagged down anywhere.
Bukittinggi's council have been developing a shopping mall next to Jam Gadang from January 2006. But there are 2 markets named Pasar Atas (Upper Market) and Pasar Bawah (Below Market). Pasar Bawah is for fruit and vegetables trade whereas Pasar Atas is for souvenirs and clothes trade. Most of the prices in each kiosk are similar and you can bargain up to 50%. One wholesale shop located in the middle of Pasar Atas, sell souvenirs with the lowest price. One pair of women slippers is about Rp 7,000 and one key holder is about Rp 2,000 - Rp 5,000. Most of the souvenirs sold here have low quality. Souvenirs for a better quality can be found in Pandai Sikek. One men shirt is about Rp 35,000 and a pair of leather woman slippers is about Rp 35,000.
Poeple in Bukittinggi like dry, spicy and sweet snack foods very much. They make snacks with different taste, shape from one ingredients that make the foods here are special. For example, from cassava they can make spicy long shape cassava chips, tasty cubes cassava chips, and sweet round shape cassava chips. And still much more like shreded dry eelfish, spicy potato chips, sweet potate chips, etc. They're can be found in Pasar Atas with low price but they're not fresh. On the way back to Padang, there're many food shops that sell these snack foods with a better quality.
There's small fish named Ikan Belibis in Lake Singkarak that we can't find elsewhere. Locals cook it in deep fry or in a sour soup together with vegetable. One portion of fried Belibis is about Rp 5,000, you can eat all the fish with its head and bones. Most of the restaurants available in Bukittinggi serve Padang cuisine which is creamy, spicy and hot. Average price is about Rp 15,000 per person for one meal. All the foods are stayed overnight and heaten up, so it's not recommended for those who like fresh food. After dark, there are many hawkers near Jam Gadang that sell fresh food such as nasi goreng(fried rice), boiled noddle, and beef pancake. One portion is about Rp 7,500 - Rp 10,000 pp.
Bring anti diarrhea medicine is highly recommended in case you get diarrhea during your food adventure.
The top hotels in the city are the Novotel and Pusako Hotel. Although the Novotel is comfortable place to stay especially for tourists from the West, the cost is Rp650,000 minimum and in comparison there are many small hotels around Fort de Kock that are around Rp120,000 that are quite nice. Small budget hotels are easy to find. Many locals offer accommodation in their which are like family owned hotels that provide a "feel at home" atmosphere. The prices span from Rp40,000 - Rp200,000/room without air conditioner. Breakfast is included. There are no lifts in these small hotels so just be prepared if your room is on the third floor. Room cleaning isn't provided everyday, 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. Three internet cafes are in the vicinity of (underneath) the pedestrian bridge which links Fort de Kock and the zoo.