The West Sumatrans (also called the ‘Minangkabau’ or ‘Minang’) are known for their deep-rooted traditions, timeless lore, and colorful ceremonies and festivals. Legend has it that the Minangkabaus are descendants of the youngest son of Alexander the Great, King Maharjo Dirajo.
West Sumatra is one of the most stunning regions in Indonesia. This area is blessed with mountains with wonderful fertile valleys, the land with exquisite bluish-greenish lake and mountainous scenery. Minang land has a distinctive landscape in the form of houses with water buffalo’s head shape in the roof top in coconut tree surroundings.
The Minang people are famed for their spicy-hot and multifarious Padang cuisine and ancient matriarchal customs. The women own property and the men leave home to seek their fame and fortune. Migrating is considered a mark of one’s success. Padang restaurants are found in all major towns across the nation. The people are hospitable and eloquent; primarily speak the Minang language, with poetic style of speech. Much of its scenic vistas are highland formed by the Bukit Barisan Mountain range; virgin jungles inhabited by elephants, tigers, leopard and rhinos
Minangkabau has a special place in Indonesian culture. Their hospitality is unrivaled; they like to chat with tourists and inform them with their adat istiadat (tradition). Visitors who are interested in their tradition will be considered as member of their clan. They are not hesitating to invite foreigners to their house so they can explain their tradition to them. This thing makes Minang people different from other Sumatrans.
Historians believe that Minang culture has close relation with Yunnan people, those who migrate from China to Indonesian archipelago in the era of metal. Both people, to certain extent, have similarities in their food, tradition and the concept of matrilineal line age.
Padang is the provincial capital of West Sumatra and gateway to the homeland of the Minangkabau people. It is a busy harbor, a crossroads for the rubber, cinnamon, coffee, tea and nutmeg trade. One can find Minang houses, prehistoric artifacts, ceramics, manuscripts and also modern art. Wander the streets of Kampung Cina (Chinatown) lined with turn-of-the century houses, Chinese herbalist stalls and coffee shops. Enjoy a good day’s hiking and wonderful view of the city from the top of Bukit Monyet and Gunung Padang.
Bukittinggi is West Sumatra’s center of culture and tourism, nestled in the highlands north of the provincial capital of Padang. It is a pleasant two-hour drive (90 kilometers) from Padang through the breathtaking Anai Valley up to Agam Plateau. Located 930 meters above sea level, it has a cool climate and is surrounded by three volcanoes: Tandikat, Singgalang and Merapi. The central landmark is the town’s clock tower, referred by the local people as Jam Gadang (Big Clock). The tower overlooks the market square, a beehive of activity and fantastic place for souvenir hunting. Also worth visiting is the Rumah Gadang Museum, a traditional Minang extended family house built in the 19th century.
Indigenous tribe of Siberut
Siberut National Park
Siberut National Park can be reached using the regular ferry service, which sails three times a week in the evening from Padang (Muara Padang) to Muara Siberut/Muara Sikabaluan/Muara Saibi. The trip takes approximately 10 hours. Alternatively, take an express ferry that travels every Thursday morning from Padang to the town of Tuapejat in Sipora Island and then on to the southern part of Siberut Island in only four hours.
Ngarai Sianok is steep valley with remarkable natural scene sitting nicely in the borderline of Bukittinggi. This valley extends in length and it is winding which serves as the south borderline of the valley of Koto Gadang up until Sianok Enam Suku valley and it ends in Palupuh.
This 100 meters deep-ravine extends as long as 15 kilometers in length and 200 meters wide and is part of the fault in earth crust dividing the Island of Sumatera into two parts (Semangko Fault Zone).
This fault forms steep or even vertical wall, and form a green valley – the results of the lowering movement of the earth crust (syncline in geology term) with the clear water of Sianok River flowing. In Dutch colonial era, this ravine was also called ‘kerbau sanget’ due to the fact that many wild oxen live freely in the valley floor.
To enjoy the natural scene of Sianok Valley, tourists can sail on the Batang Sianok using a canoe or kayak. The route starts from Lambah Village to Sitingkai Batang Palupuh Village and can be covered in about three and half hours. In the river side, tourists can find rare plants like the medicinal plants. There are several animals that can be found here such as long tail monkey, long-armed black gibbon (locally called siamang), deer, boar, leopard tiger and tapir.
To be able to get here, tourists will need about two and half hours drive in a car from Padang to the direction of Bukittinggi
Situated on the outskirts of Batusangkar, capital of Tanah Datar Regency. Batusangkar was the seat of the ancient of Minangkabau Kingdom. In its early history, Pagaruyung flourished under the rule of Queen Bundo Kanduang. Relics of this ancient kingdom, including stone inscriptions, are widely scattered over the area Lake Singkarak is surrounded by a splendid vista of green hills and mountains. This largest lake in west Sumatra is 129,70 square kilometers and lies on the Trans Sumatra highway between Bukittinggi and Solok regency and is about 36 kilometers from Bukittinggi or 86 kilometers from Padang.
Bung Hatta Forest Reserve
Formerly known as the Setya Mulya Botanic Garden, situated 15 kilometers from Padang in the direction of Solok. The reserve also houses the rare giant Rafflesia arnoldi flower.
Fit to its name, Twin Lake actually is a couple of lake. To distinct it from one another, Minang people calls it Upper Lake (Danau di Atas) and Lower Lake (Danau di Bawah). Lower Lake is located at the left side of the main road to Alahan Panjang whereas Upper Lake is at the right side of the same road, some 47 kilometers from Padang.
Mosque of Tuo Kayu, Witness of the existence of Islam since Sixteenth Century
Islam in Solok Regency, West Sumatra, has developed since sixteenth century. The Old Mosque in Jorong Kayu Jao Nagari Batang Barus, Gunung Talang District is the testimony of the Islam spreading. A Mosque with ijuk (black palm fiber) roof that was built by several Islamic Scholars in sixteenth century has been kept authentic. Bedug, a large drum suspended horizontally to summon to prayers, located next to this mosque, is as old as the mosque.
Basurek stone, Adityawarman Inheritance
Tanah Datar Regency, a place believed as the origin of the Minangkabau ethnic group, also called as Luhak Nan Tuo, has plenty of historical sites that could be developed to serve as cultural tourism destination. One of them is Basurek Stone (a stone on which a letter/message is written) in Limo Kaum. This stone of Sanskrit inscription and Palawa script stated that Adityawarman is the King of Kinikamedinindra (Gold Island) at 1347. Basurek Stone in Pagaruyung was written in 1347. All these inscription stones, including Bapahek Stone (or Bapahek Banda) are legacies from Adityawarman era.
Lake Maninjau is situated at the altitude of 500meters above sea level. Surrounded by soaring and steep Bukit Barisan Mountains, Lake Maninjau appears like a giant caldera. It is also known as the lake with romantic scene because from every point of view you can see exquisite scenery and feels the romantic atmosphere.
Singgalang Mountain is at the altitude of 2,877 meters above sea level, located in Agam Recency, close to Bukittinggi. This mountain is covered with tropical rainforest. Two lakes sit on its peak: Telaga Dewi (The Goddess Lake) and Telaga Kumbang (The Bug Lake).
This is a fishing village located on the scenic west coast, 4 kilometers from the city of Padang across the Batang Arau River. The village is home to the legend of Malin Kundang, a young man who was cursed into stone for being disrespectful to his mother. A rock outcropping from the waters of the Air Manis shore is believed to be the hull of Malin Kundang’s unfortunate ship.
Anai Resort and Golf Course
Anai Resort and Golf Course.
The Anai Resort is a first-class hotel facility located in a gorgeous natural setting roughly 550 meters above sea level.
12 kilometers from Bukittinggi, is a nature reserve and sanctuary for the giant flower Rafflesia Arnoldi which only blooms once a year in November. Guides are available at the reserve’s office.
Rimbo Panti Nature Reserve
Rimbo Panti Nature Resere is located 108 kilometers from Bukittinggi alongside the road to Medan. This nature and wildlife reserve is home to many species of monkeys and the black panther.
Located at 7 kilometers from Lake Singkarak. Visitors can enjoy the exhilaration of hang gliding in its fresh and cool air.
Mount Talang Tea Plantation
Mount Talang Tea Plantation, 35 kilometers from Padang, is one of the highest mountains in Sumatra at 2,572 meters above sea level. The plantation overlooks the beautiful Twin Lakes and Lake Singkarak.
About 20 kilometers from Batusangkar, this traditional village showcases beautiful old Minangkabau long houses. Around the village one can enjoy the beautiful scenery and experience the traditional social life of the Minangkabau matriarchal society.
Some 30 kilometers from Batusangkar, Tabek Patah is a lookout point in the foothills, which offer a wideopen view of the magnificent central Minangkabau countryside.
Pandai Sikek village
Pandai Sikek village is 13 kilometers south of Bukittinggi and is famous for its handwoven and carving industry. The village has thousands of looms turning out beautifully rich colored cloth. Carved wooden ornaments and furniture are also made here.
Mentawai has beautiful beaches with huge sea wave which is required for surfi ng. Since 1990, Mentawai has been visited by a signifi cant number of tourists who are surfi ng enthusiasts. As far as surfi ng world is concerned, Mentawai’s sea wave is the top 3 in the world. The day by day life of Mentawai tribe is also interesting and becoming a tourist destination. Mentawai also has luxurious resorts and home stays. Tourists love to swim, fi sh, dive, camp and watch beautiful sunset there. Find out more info Diving in Sumatra.
Beautiful Sunset at Nirwana Park Beach always wins the heart of the tourists. Adding up to its beautiful canyons and hills, West Sumatra is also proud to have wonderful beaches; one of them is Nirwana Beach, usually called Caroline Beach. Tourists can enjoy more this beautiful beach with such supporting facilities. There are huts with strong Minang architectural features, swimming pool for kids, benches to sit on while watching the open sea, jogging track, spacious and save parking lot, children playground, and camping ground with the capacity for 300 people.
Arta Beach is located some 16km off the town of Pariaman, Kuranji Hulu Nagari (sub district), Sungai Limau District, Padang Pariaman Regency. Tourist can go there through PadangAgam Regency asphalt main road. This beach has some supporting facilities such as gazebo (relaxing place), restaurants and children playground. The weather is cool with fresh air thanks to the leafy mahogany and coconut trees that grow along the beach.
Carocok Beach with its white and clean sand and clear water along with shallow coastal line is an excellent place for swimming, both children and adult. This beach faces Kereta and Cingkuak Islands. From this beach, tourists could also from a far see Semangki Island that offers beautiful scenery and stunning beach with very clear water.
Tridaya Eka Dharma Combat Museum
The establishment of this museum was initiated by Brigadier General Widodo, then the West Sumatra and Riau Regent Armed Forces Commander. It was intended to serve as the communication medium between generations in order to remind younger generation on heroism value and fighting spirit of the previous generation.
Bung Hatta’s Birth Place Museum
One of Indonesia’s founding fathers, Mohammad Hatta or widely known as Bung Hatta, was born in West Sumatra. This museum and its surroundings were reconstructed like its original form in 1994 for the memory of Bung Hatta. The land and house built on it in where Bung Hatta’s was born was granted by Bukittinggi Municipal Government. Wawasan Nusantara Education Foundation that manages Bung Hatta University renovated this house in September 1994. Built on 799 square meters land and 440 square meter building, this museum is managed by Bukittinggi Tourism, Art and Culture Office.
Mande Rubiah Museum
Mande Rubiah Museum or known as Mande Rubiah Big House (Rumah Gadang) houses the Bundo Kanduang inheritance artifacts and her offspring inheritance artifacts. The history of this museum is linked to the history of Bundo Kanduang and her family and followers migration from Pagaruyung to Lunang in 1520. The existence of this house and the inhabitants was kept secret from generation to generation for hundreds of years as a mandate the offspring should respect.
Sawahlunto Train Museum and Gudang Ransoem Museum
Sawahlunto Train Museum
Since WG de Greve found coal deposits in Sawahlunto in 1868, supporting infrastructures for mining were built there. Railway was the most important one. It connected Sawahlunto to Teluk Bayur Port. This railway construction caused hundreds of native people died. Construction of 835m tunnel, around 500m off Sawahlunto, was carried out by chained workers that were inhumanely treated by the Dutch colonial offi cers. Many workers died during the construction. It took 5 year to complete the construction, started at 15 July 1889 and ended at 1 February 1894.
Goedang Ransoem Museum
Goedang Ransoem Museum was once the remains of Dutch colonial building that served as a kitchen and storage of cooking appliances. This public kitchen was built in 1918, equipped with two big storage building and steam generator (stove) with around 100 workers.This museum collections are cooking pots, pan, stove, steamer, saw, cloth replica, pe’neng, old photos, old songket (traditional cloth) and ceramics.
Gedung Joang 45
Gedung Joang 45 was built on 4,790 square meters-wide land with 428 square meters building area. During Dutch Indie period, this building is under the possession of a man of German nationality. After the Indonesian independence, this building was used as Inmindan III/17 Agustus offi ce. In 1996-1997, this building was listed in prehistoric and historic site as cultural preservation building.
Rumah adat Baanjuang Museum (Baanjuang Customary House museum)
This museum was built on the 1st July 1935 during Dutch occupation period, located in Zoo Complex, Pasar Atas, Bukittinggi. The founder of this museum was Mondelar Countrolleur. It takes traditional house shape, with right and left platform. Its traditional look could be traced in almost all of the materials, such as the roof that was made by ijuk (black palm fi ber), bamboo or wood wall and wood floor.
Adityawarman State Museum
The name of this museum, Adityawarman, was taken from the name of a former king in West Sumatra region. Adityawarman was a prominent King who ruled Minangkabau at the same era as Gadjah Mada, a powerful commander from Majapahit Kingdom.
Spicy dishes from West Sumatra
Padang cuisine is the generic name of many types of cuisine coming from all over Minangkabau region, West Sumatra Province, Indonesia. To have Padang food is easy. Almost every place in Indonesia has Padang restaurant that offers the signature cooking of Padang like rendang (long-cooked meat with pungent spices), soto Padang, dendeng balado, and gulai kepala kakak with sambal balado. Padang food is known for its thick coconut sauce with spicy flavors.
Different types of beverages are also served in Padang restaurant such as pinang juice (palm tree fruit mix with condensed milk) and orange juice. The sweetness of milk combines with bitter taste of pinang make a unique and fresh flavor. The lemon juice is made from local type of lemon that has unique sour flavor. Typical Padang restaurant management maintains the original taste of Minang food.