The town of Bukittinggi (literally means high hill) is West Sumatra’s cultural center. This town is nestled in the highlands north of Padang in the Agam valley. While Padang may be the modern commercial and administrative hub, Bukittinggi is a bustling market town.
Although it is less than a degree south of the equator, Bukittinggi has a refreshingly cool climate due to its elevation – over 900 meters above sea level. While it rains here often, this is not enough to deter travelers who come to enjoy what many claim is the most hospitable city in Sumatra.
The town also has an alternative name: Tri Arga (literally means three majestic mountains) that shape the regions fortunes.
Many visitors come to Bukittinggi to visit the remarkable Ngarai Sianok Canyon where giant rock cliff faces, rugged trees which grow on top and the dramatic surrounding mountains make this canyon a spellbinding view.
This is an ideal place to go if you want to get beyond the average tourist trail. Compared to other spots in Sumatra, Bukkitinggi only receives a handful of visitors that use the town as a base for nearby hikes or to take cultural tours to the Minangkabau highland.
Located on the southwestern edge of Bukkittinggi, the spectacular Ngarai Sianok Canyon is a unique geographic wonder. For a truly haunting spectacle, visit the canyon in the early morning. As dawn creeps across the peak of Mount Singgalang, blankets of mist drift around the canyon’s 100 metre cliffs. A river meanders through the rice fields below dissapearing in the hazy distance beyond. This canyon is a part of a tectonic rift valley which runs the entire length of the island. The canyon has sheer walls and a flat bottom.Photographers won’t be able to put away their cameras as they try to capture the spectacular view of this majestic gorge. The best look out over the canyon is from Panorama Park which is also a popular spot with locals who come here to stroll in the afternoon air.
Within the town of Bukittinggi the main landmark is the clock tower, dubbed by the local people as Jam Gadang (Big Clock). It overlooks the market square, a beehive of activity and the best place to do some souvenir shopping.
Get an insight into Minang culture by attending a dance performance at the museum’s open stage conducted every Sunday and on public holidays. Night dance performances are at Sliguri. You might also want to check out the bullfights at Padang Lawas (6 km south of Bukittinggi) every Tuesday at 5.00 p.m.
Take in remnants of the towns colonial past with a walk to ruins of Fort de Kock, a Dutch fortification built in 1825. While not much of the fort remains today, there is a lookout tower which is an excellent spot to watch the sunset and take in a view of Mount Marapi (Fire Mountain) which occasionally lets out plumes of smoke.
For the energetic, why not make the one hour hike to Kota Gadang, a small village of silversmiths a few kilometers from Bukittinggi. Here you’ll find all kinds of silver-wares for sale, from delicate silver filigree to pins in the form of ornate flowers. If you don’t feel like walking, the village can be reached by opelet (local bus) from Aur Kunung bus terminal. A number of tour operators in Bukittinggi also run tours to Kota Gadang.
It you’ve got time, it’s worth visiting the Rumah Gadang Museum, a traditional extended family house built in the 19th century.
A flight from Jakarta to Minangkabau International Airport in Ketaping Padang will take about 2 hours. From there you can use a taxi or bus to get to Bukittinggi.
Bukkittinggi is a pleasant two-hour drive (90 km) from Padang through the gorgeous Anai Valley up to Agam Plateu.
There are frequent local buses from Padang to Bukkitinggi or cheaper shared minivans which depart from Minang Plaza.
The town centre is compact so practically everywhere in Bukkittinggi is within walking distance. Bring your walking shoes and take the opportunity to wander around and meet the friendly locals.
Taxis and buses are also available. The bus terminal is in the south of the town.
A rented car with chauffeur is the best choice if you prefer privacy.
Horse carriages or sado are a colorful, charming transportation to move around town.
Source: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Republic Indonesia