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Northern Sulawesi

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Northern Sulawesi consists of the provinces of North Sulawesi and Gorontalo in Indonesia.



  • Manado - the cappital and largest city as well as main gateway of the north
  • Tomohon - a town between two volcanoes where visitor can come to cool off in the highlands
  • Bitung - the main deep-water port and access to the Lembeh Strait, an amazing place for the critter diving.
  • Kotamobagu - a town in the south of North Sulawesi where kingdom of Bolaang Mongondow can be seen

Regencies of North Sulawesi[edit]

Other destinations[edit]


Inhabited by the Minahasa, Hulontalangio, Bantik, and Sangirese, much of Northern Sulawesi is a solidly Christian (mostly but not entirely Protestant) enclave in mostly Muslim Indonesia. A center of Dutch settlement in colonial times the region still retains many traces of Western influence.


Most of the people speak Bahasa Indonesia as a formal language. However, there is another form of language that is being used as local language, it is Manado Malay or Bahasa Manado, also known as Minahasa Malay. See example here Manado Malay. However, each tribe has their own language. Briefly, Minahasa regions covered Tonsea, Tombulu, Tolour, Tontemboan, Tonsawang, Babontehu, Bantik, Panosakan and Pasan.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Manado has an International airport with numerous flights a week to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Davao (in the Philippines), and just about all the big cities in Indonesia.

Air Asia, Asia's budget airline now run three flights a week direct from Kuala Lumpur to Manado [Update as of October2010 this Service seems to be terminated/suspended]. Silk Air run direct from Singpore but a quite a lot more expensive.

By boat[edit]

  • Manado has a harbour with ships going to and from the more Northern Islands (Sangir Talaud area).
  • Bitung is the major port of North Sulawesi and you can get on board a Pelni ship to sail towards other area's of Indonesia. Some of the larger cruise ships that travel from Australia towards Thailand or other Asian countries also make a stop at Bitung.

By car or bus[edit]

You can travel by car or bus from South Sulawesi towards Manado, however due to security issues in Central Sulawesi this is currently not recommended. So, if you plan on travelling by land, check the local situation first!

Get around[edit]

Traveling around North Sulawesi can be done by car, bus, mikrolet, motorbike and bentor. Depends on how visitor wanted to explore this region. Traveling around Gorontalo with public transportation can be done mostly by bentor.

By Motorcycle[edit]

Public Motorcycle is one means of transportation that can be easily found anywhere in Indonesia, including in Manado and surrounding towns in North Sulawesi. This public transportation is called Ojek. This type of transportation can be seen in many intersections. Conventional public motorbike can be seen in most of the town in North Sulawesi with an exception of Manado where Online Public Motorbike can be found. You can download apps such as Gojek or Grab on your mobile phone to use this facility. Important thing that people need to understand is that Public Motor Bike serve only in town up to as far as 30 km away from where the bike comes from. This is very rare though in North Sulawesi. Using public motorbike can be handy because sometimes the traffic is very bad in town, a motorbike can easily go here and there without big problem. Also, it serves to destination where other means of transportation do not go with cheaper price. The disadvantage of traveling with motorbike is the weather. When it rains, passenger should have their own raincoat. As it is not prepared by the Ojek Rider. Wearing helmet is a must while using ojek. Not only because the ojek can be in trouble when meet sweeping operation, but it is for the rider and passenger safety. You can always ask for helmet when you are using this means of transportation.

Motorbike rental is pretty much unheard of the region. But, there are some small companies offering guided and self ride tours. For more information of Motorbike Touring, you can contact [email protected] or visit their website [1]

By car[edit]

Rental cars are available in Manado, but like most other areas of Indonesia, hiring a car with driver is advisable because of traffic woes and knowledge of local conditions. That wiggly line on the map may or may not be passable. A bilingual driver with a car in condition may cost approximately Rp 500,000 per day, or self drive may cost Rp 300,000 per day.

By mikrolet[edit]

You won't go far without seeing a torrent of light blue Mitsubishi Colts (aka bemos elsewhere) trolling the streets for customers. Though usually used within towns, you can take mikrolets intercity as well.

By bus[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Do[edit][add listing]

Scuba diving is the main draw for tourists to North Sulawesi. Famous diving areas are:

  • Bunaken National Marine Park
  • Lembeh Strait, for its excellent muck diving
  • Bangka area, for its brilliant soft coral and diversity in dive sites (from beginner to very advanced)

You can also visit the Minihasan Highlands to climb some of the volcanoes in the area. Taxis can be arranged from your hotel in Manado to the town of Kinilow and Tomohon. From here it is easy to reach the nearby peaks. Also worth a visit is the local market in Tomohon, not for the faint hearted locals choose from delicacies dog, bat and the rather boring pig (North Sulawesi is largely Christian).

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Minahasan cuisine from North Sulawesi features heavy use of meat such as pork, fowl, and seafood. Woku is a type of seafood dish with generous use of spices, often making up half the dish. Ingredients of woku include lemongrass, lime leaves, chili peppers, spring onion, shallots, either sautéed with meat, or wrapped around fish and grilled covered in banana leaves. Other ingredients such as turmeric and ginger are often added to create a version of woku. Foreign colonial influence has also played a role in shaping Minahasan cuisine. Brenebon (from Dutch "Bruin" (brown) and "Boon" (bean)) is a pork shank bean stew spiced with nutmeg and cloves. Roast pork similar to lechon in the Philippines or pig roast in Hawaii is served at special occasions, especially weddings. Other unusual and exotic meats such as dog, bat, and forest rat are also regularly served in North Sulawesi region. Paniki is the bat dish of Minahasa. Manado is best known for Minahasan cuisine.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Being largely Christian, alcohol is a little easier to find than in some other parts of Indonesia. The local beer Bintang is between Rp 15,000 and 20,000 sold in resorts. Also worth trying is the local brews for something a little different.

Stay safe[edit]

The ethnic strife in central and south Sulawesi has not really affected the north. The Philippine rebel group Abu Sayyaf are said to operate in the northern islands near the Philippine border, but no attacks or kidnappings have been publicized.

Get out[edit]

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