Without a doubt Bukittinggi is probably the most laid-back and friendliest places you could ever visit in Sumatra. Located 930 meters above sea level it is a picturesque place and so cool in temperature it makes a delightful change from the hotter places like Medan. The city is surrounded by three volcanoes named Tandikat, Singgalang and Merapi. Bukitinggi was formerly named Fort De Cock by the Dutch and the centrepiece of town is the town’s clock-tower, which is topped with a horn- shaped roof and referred to by the people as Jam Gadang. This is a good place to visit as it overlooks the market square and the city’s beautiful surroundings. As a tourist center, Bukittinggi has a multitude of craft and souvenir shops as well as those for jewellery and antiques. For some of the better stuff and to be where a lot of it is made then it is advised you travel further out of town w here many of the craft villages are. Most are within an hour ride from Bukittinggi.
Most of the places in the town are within walking distance with each other as Bukitinggi is relatively small. Here are a few of the places in and around Bukittinggi worth visiting:
Museum Bukittinggi: A traditional extended family house built in the 19th century (Rumah Gadang), it is a fine example of Minangkabau architecture. It house Minangkabau cultural and historical items.
Jam Gadang: Built in the 1920’s the clock tower it houses lock from the Dutch queen at the time of occupation. Things soon changed after Independence and the clock was fitted with a Minangkabau roof giving it the local feel. Grat views from here right into the highlands.
Taman Panorama: This magnificent place located on the edge of town overlooks the amazing Sianok Canyon. What’s great here is that there is a two-story observation tower that overlooks the whole canyon. Even better is what happens at Dusk. Megabats fly from the gorges into the forest to feed from the fruits on the trees.
Benteng de Kock: Built by the Dutch during the Padri wars there is virtually nothing left of the place except for a few rusty old canons. However, it does have incredible views from its hilltop position. Note that the hilltop outpost is connected to the zoo by the Limpapeh pedestrian overpass.
Pasar Atas: An insane but delightful and colourful market that gets so big on Wednesdays and Saturdays that the stalls etc can be seen spread across the nearby hills. This is an interesting traditional market where the usual fare of fruit, vegetables and handicrafts can be bought.
The Harau Valley: A beautiful gorge about an hour east of Bukittinggi comprising a valley floor of rice paddy hemmed in by shear cliffs. There are several waterfalls with pools in the area. You can go rock climbing on the cliffs if this is your thing.
The Equator: I know that sounds crazy but, if you are interested in visiting the equator then you can take a bus to Bonjol where there is a monument marking the equator built over the main road. Here you can stand in both hemispheres simultaneously. Cool eh.
From Jakarta International Airport to Minangkabau International Airport in Ketaping it will take about 2 hours, after you arrive you can use Taxi or Bus to Bukittinggi.
Tourist Office: Jl Syech Bantam 1 (Mon-Thurs 8am-2pm, Fri 8-11am, Sat 8am-12.30pm; tel 0752/22403), near the clock tower.