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West Sumatra : Bukittinggi
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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


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.

Get in

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.

By bus

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. 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 185,000 IDR (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.

Numerous buses go from Medan to Jakarta and stop on the way at Bukittinggi.

By taxi

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.

Get around

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:

  • TotalCarRental, Tel: +62 (22) 8252 0044. They also provide Padang and Bukittinggi tour packages that you can

If you want to rent a car, you might contact:

  • Padang Rent Car


In town

Bukittinggi is a small town, so these places are within walking distance with each other (15-30 minute walk).

  • Sianok Canyon (Ngarai Sianok) and the Japanese Caves (Lubang Japang), a network of underground bunkers and tunnels built by the Japanese during World War II. There is a two-story observation tower that overlooks the Sianok Canyon. Ticket price: Rp4,000 (Aug 2009). During dusk you can observe megabats flying from the gorges to the forest in order to feed from the fruits on the trees. This is also a good place to get in contact with guides for tours such as to Lake Maninjau (see below) or jungle/hiking trips through the Canyon.
  • Fort de Kock. A fort built by the Dutch (nothing is left, only a water reservoir is on top of the hill) and Bundo Kanduang Park. The park includes a replica Rumah Gadang (traditional house), used as a museum of Minangkabau culture (many curiosities, such as stuffed animals with two heads and six legs, model houses and traditional dresses, foreign currencies... entrance Fee an extra Rp 1000 [Aug 2009]), and a zoo with a few very sad Orang Utans, a few expired species which are still rotting in their cages, two obese bears - not exactly a example in modern animal keeping. The Dutch hilltop outpost Fort de Kock is connected to the zoo by the Limpapeh pedestrian overpass. Ticket price: Rp8,000 (Aug 2009), camera Rp100,000 (June 2008).
  • House of Bung Hatta (the first Vice President of Indonesia).
  • Clock Tower (Jam Gadang)

There are horse carriages waiting around the Jam Gadang area. Please be cautioned that the rides are very costly, therefore please ask for their rates first.

Around town

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 King's palace in Pagaruyung
  • Balimbing village with old century traditional house that is more than 350 years old
  • Handcraft in Pandai Sikek
  • Traditional coffee toasters

The Maninjau Tour will visit places in west area of Bukittinggi:

  • Lake Maninjau
  • Puncak Lawang, a place where you can see a panoramic of Lake Maninjau
  • The "44 turns", forty-four numbered(!) hairpin bends up the mountain from where you can see a panoramic of lake Maninjau.

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. If you are alone, it is also possible to find guides in the Sianok Canyon park who will take you to Lake Maninjau with a motorbike (ask for Parta e.g., no fixed price, he will take what you give him). In any case, 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 won't 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; don't 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.

The Harau Valley is a pretty gorge about an hour east of Bukittinggi comprising a valley floor of rice paddy hemmed in by shear limestone(?) cliffs. There are several waterfalls with pools (both natural and constructed) for bathing, and you can go rock climbing on the cliffs. Overnight accommodation is available at the pleasant Echo Homestay, +62 752 77 50306 (unreliable). Rp. 300,000. , which is unlikely to have many guests except on weekends. Harau is reached via Payakumbuh. Another telephone no. mobile of Pak Adek is +628126730609 Breathtaking photos of Echo Homestay

If you are intereseted in visiting the equator, you can take a bus to Bonjol where there is a monument marking the equator built over the main road, good for photo opportunities if you are keen to stand in both hemispheres simultaneously. Theres also a museum on the site which houses a few artefacts of little interest - mainly coins and banknotes. Catch the bus from the Aur Kuning bus station, minibuses depart fairly frequently. Expect to pay Rp. 10 000 as a tourist. To get back there is a bus which comes from the opposite direction (or northern hemisphere) at 5 o'clock, or alternatively you can wait at the small roadside cafe right next to the monument where locals will help you flag down a bemo which is destined for Bukittinggi (its quite difficult for non-locals to distinguish between a service bemo and a someones car, but the locals seem to know what is what.)


  • Traditional dances are performed for 90 minutes every day from 9 pm to 10:30 pm. Each group has its own schedule. Ticket price is RM 16 for adult; RM 8 for child. If you want to buy a souvenirs or CDs about their performance, wait until the show finish because every dancer will offer you a souvenirs. The prices are, for CD about Rp100,000, for the traditional flute about Rp50,000. It's more expensive because you can get with half price in the town. (No Rupiah!!)
  • Bukittinggi and West Sumatra in general also is the great place for Adventure, as for Rafting, Kayaking, Surfing, Rock Climbing, Mountaineering and Paragliding.
  • There are several rivers for Rafting and Kayaking, as Kuantan River, Anai River, Sinama River, Ombilin River and many others. The grade of the rivers is varied from grade 2 to grade 5.
  • For Rock Climbing, there is cliff in Baso, Harau Valley and Sijunjuang. The grade of route are varied from 5.8 to 5.14 and the high also varied from 20 m to 150 m.
  • There are several place for Paragliding, as Puncak Lawang near Lake Maninjau, Pintu Angin Hill near Lake Singkarak and Aia Manih Beach near Padang.
  • For Mountaineering and Trekking there is several volcano with the high more than 2500 m above see level, as Merapi , Singgalang, Tandikek, Sago, Talang, etc. Merapi is an active volcano.
  • Mentawai island is one of the best place in the world for Surfing.


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). There are near Jam Gadang. Pasar Atas is the largest market in Bukittinggi. In Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday, the vendor can sell their goods until beside of road.

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.

People 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.

  • Aishah Chalik Art Shop, Jl. Cinduamato 90. Various souvenirs. There is good quality traditional cloth called kain songket (colorful cloth with golden thread embroidery), as well as shoes, T-shirts, sarongs, prayer rugs, female prayer clothing, etc.


There's small fish named Ikan Bilih (Bilis?) 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 Bilih 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), mie rebus (boiled noddle), and martabak mesir (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.

  • B and J's (formerly Apache Cafe), near Fort de Cock. Great, reasonably priced food and friendly staff that speak very good english. They can also arrange tours and give information on transport.
  • Simpang Raya, Sudirman St No 8, (+62)752 22163, [1]. Traditional Minangkabau Food.


1. Sikotang or Sarobat Sikotang or Sarobat is one of famous drink in Minangkabau. That beverage is made from red ginger (Zingiber sp) and spices, for example cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum sp), pala (Myristica fragrans), etc. Usually sikotang mixed with egg, bread,green bean (kacang padi/kacang ijo) and cane or palm sugar. Having 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.

2. Daun Kawa (Coffee leaves) Daun kawa originated from roasted dry leaves of coffee tree. The dried leaves is boiled with hot water and put into bamboo. Daun Kawa drink is poured to a "cawan tampuruang" (coconut shell). This drink is available in Bukittinggi, Payakumbuh and Batusangkar. Please ask anyone, especially people over age 40. They will show you where a good place is to taste a Daun Kawa drink!. Price Rp 5,000 - 15,000 in 2009

3. Jus Pinang (Pinang Juice) Juice of Pinang (Areca catechu seed) is a bitter taste drink, available in Padang, Bukittingi and some other areas. Jus Pinang is believed to have an effect on sexual stamina. For beginners, don't drink more than one pinang seed. 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! Price Rp 5,000-15,000 in 2009

4. Teh Talua (egg tea) This is Minangkabau specific drink. Egg is mixed with hot tea and lemon. Please taste it. You will never forget this experience! Price Rp 5,000 - 15,000 in 2009

You can enjoy one of specific traditional Minangkabau beverages (drinks) during a stay in the Motherland area, Minangkabau in Sumatera. Actually they also have some traditionally alcoholic beverages such as tuak. Tuak is made from fermented nira. Nira is sap or a liquid collected by cutting the fruit branch of enau tree (Arenga pinnata). Unfortunatelly it is quiet difficult to find it now due to religious reasons.


The top hotels in the city are the The Hills Bukittinggi (formerly the Novotel Coralia) and Pusako Hotel. Although The Hills Bukittinggi is comfortable place to stay especially for tourists from the West, 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 40,000 - Rp 200,000 per room without air-conditioning. Breakfast is 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.

  • The Hills Bukittinggi Hotel, Jl. Laras Datuk Bandaro, +62 752 35000 (fax: 62 752 23800), [2]. There are 98 rooms available in this hotel with a notable blend of Moorish and Minangkabau architectural styles. The hotel is located in the city centre, right next to the city's landmark - the Jam Gadang Clocktower.
  • Hotel Pusako, Jl. Sukarno Hatta 7, +62 751 22111. From US$54.
  • Hotel Royal Denai, Jl. Dr Rivai 26. From US$36.
  • Hotel Grand Malino, Jl. Panorama. From US$25.
  • Hotel Cindua Mato, Jl. Cindur Mato 96 (across the street from the Zoo), +62 752 21346 (fax: +62 752 22808). Around 10 rooms. No hot water. Rp65,000.
  • Hotel Orchid, Jl Teuku Umar, doubles from R90000 (Aug 2010) including a very basic breakfast. Located near the mosque, the call to prayer can be extremely loud, especially from Friday to Sunday and during Ramadhan. Staff is nice but constantly trying to sell you tours, transportation, etc. They have mini-dorms on the top floor, that they will try to hide at first, for R40000.
  • Hotel Asean, Jl Teuku Umar, singles from R60000.
  • d'enam Hotel, Jl Yos Sudarso No. 4, double with toilet R65.000, toilet outside R55.000 (prices 2010); located on top of a hill close to the mosque and the clocktower, friendly and helpful staff, telp. (0752) 32240.
  • Hotel Tigo Balai, Jl A. Yamin. smallish rooms but reasonably clean and nice staff. R30.000.
  • Hotel Munri, Jl A. Yamin (north end). Quite pretty well-lit rooms, nice clean building. Rooms with two beds: Rp40,000


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 Rp 4,000 per hour.

Get out


  • Indonesia's Official Tourism Website [3]
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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