Visiting Tana Toraja, the Land of Heavenly Kings

Posted on

Tourism of Indonesia

Ready to Go to Tana Toraja

Planning to go on a tour or travelling, we definitely want a smooth trip, comfortable accommodation, cheap hotels, good food, cheap plane tickets, close to everywhere, and can rent a motorbike or car.


In Tana Toraja, there is natural beauty and unique culture of the local community. There are many uniqueness, starting from the village (desa), sub-district (kecamatan), district (kabupaten) and provincial levels.

In Indonesia, each province has different and interesting characteristics. Each province has a different and unique culture and lifestyle.

Tana Toraja Regency or Torajaland or Land of the Toraja, and the abbreviation is Tator.

Tana Toraja is a regency (kabupaten) of South Sulawesi Province of Indonesia, and home to the Toraja ethnic group. The center of government is in Makale, while the center of Toraja culture is in Rantepao.

Nowadays, Tana Toraja has been divided to two regencies that consist of Tana Toraja with its capital at Makale and North toraja with its capital at Rantepao.

Tana Toraja is also known as the Land of Heavenly Kings.

Tana Toraja is safely protected beyond the lofty mountains and rugged granite cliffs of the central highlands of the island of Sulawesi, are the Toraja people who live in valleys that are lush with green rice terraces and fertile coffee plantations.

Tana Toraja was opened to the world from their long isolation only since the beginning of the last century, the Toraja today still adhere to their age-old beliefs, rituals and traditions, although many of her people are modernized or have embraced Christianity or Islam.

The government is taking good care of the preservation of nature and maintaining the condition of the forest.

The environment is also well maintained.


Visiting Tana Toraja, we will witness routine community activities in unique traditional cultures. And there are special dishes and food as part of culinary tours that are delicious and yummy.

Visiting Tana Toraja highlands we will be awed by the spectacular beauty of nature, at the same time experience how communities have through the ages sustained their beliefs and traditions in splendid isolation in order to survive this eternal cycle of life and death on earth.

The road from Makassar to Toraja runs along the coast for about 130 km’s and then hits the mountains.

After the entrance to Tana Toraja at the market village of Mebali one enters a majestic landscape of giant, gray granite and stones and blue mountains afar that form a sharp contrast with the lively green of the fertile, rain-fed terraces and the rusty red of the tropical soil.

This is Tana Toraja, one of the most splendid areas in Indonesia.

Toraja is most well known for its elaborate funeral ceremonies that can take days and involve entire villages. These are not only moments for mourning but are moreover events to renew family ties and to ensure continued unity among villages and communities.

Death ceremonies, however, are held only after the last rice harvest is in and cleared, which is normally between July to September, while ceremonies celebrating life are held in conjunction with the planting season which starts in October.

These timings are possible since the dead are not buried immediately but are kept for months, sometimes for years, in the ancestral house until time and funds allow for a proper funeral.

Also will be attracted by its unique culture and  rituals, most of which are mostly centered around graves and death ceremonies.

While others prefer to avoid the morbid images and go trekking through the spectacular, almost untouched Toraja countryside visiting remote villages, or exhilarate in rafting the Sa’dan river rapids.

  • In  Rantepao, explore the colourful traditional ‘Pasar Bolu’ market where you can get top end Toraja coffee beans, such as Robusta and Arabica.  Here you may also find necklaces of antique beads.
  • When you happen to visit Rantepao during the weekly market days do make an effort to see the market when water buffaloes and pigs are being auctioned.
  • To see a model Toraja settlement, visit the village of Ke’te Kesu’, where you find a row of beautifully decorated Tongkonan – or ancestral homes  and rice barns.
  • The Tongkonan are the typical Toraja saddle-shaped roofed houses, reminiscent of buffalo horns. The walls of the houses are beautifully decorated with abstract and geometrical patterns in natural black, red and white.  Ke’te Kesu’ is also known for its bamboo carvings and traditional handicrafts.
  • At Lemo are the “hanging graves” of the nobility, where crypts are carved high into steep rock cliffs, and wooden effigies of the deceased – called tau-tau – stand in a row on a balcony staring unseeingly over the green rice fields below.
  • At Londa are coffins-filled caves piled up deep into the interior. Not for the squeamish.
  • At Suaya are the king’s family graves, while at nearby Sangala are the tree-graves of babies. The ancient Toraja believe that dead babies and children must be buried into a tree, where the tree will grow around the dead body.
  • Visit Palawa, the Toraja’s weaving center and an excellent village to see a Tongkonan.
  • Then proceed to Batu Tumonga Plateau, – the stone that faces the sky – on the slope of the Sesean mountain, some 25 km. from Rantepao. From here you will find a spectacular panorama of terraced rice fields in the valley below shimmering like a patchwork in gradual hues of green, scattered with huge megalithic boulders. A number of these have been turned into grave caverns. Visit coffee plantations and enjoy walks through villages.
  • Sa’dan To’Barana’ is a traditional plait center, located in the district of Sesean about 16 km north of Rantepao. This area is known for its traditional Toraja ‘ikat’ weaving.

Here, the nobility of Toraja are believed to be descendants of heavenly beings who came down by a heavenly stairway to live here on earth in this beautiful landscape.

And to keep up the energy of the land and its people, the Toraja people believe that these must be sustained through rituals that celebrate both life and death, which are attached to the agricultural seasons. Here rituals in connection with life are strictly separated from death rites.

In this place there are also regular events or activities held every year, both national and international.


The journey to Tana Toraja is now very easy. We can enter through various modes of transportation.

Access to go to Tanah Toraja:

To reach Toraja take a plane to Makassar There are daily flights from Jakarta and Bali and regular flights from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. It takes between six to eight hours by road to reach Toraja.

While the journey may be long, but you will be well awarded with the magnificent panorama of the Toraja highlands.

There are many good hotels in Makale, Ranteapo and surrounding and experienced travel agents to take you around. Toraja is ideal for those enjoying ecotours, culture and adventure.

  • To get to Tana Toraja one must fly to Sultan Hasanuddin airport in Makassar, capital of the province of South Sulawesi. As a hub for East Indonesia there are many airlines flying to and from Makassar both from Jakarta, Bali, Manado and other cities (see: Flights to Makassar)
  • The only way to Toraja from Makassar airport is overland. There are no flights between Makassar and Toraja.
  • There are buses to Rantepao that leave Makassar daily. The journey takes around 8   hours and includes a meal stop. Tickets must be bought in town but coaches actually leave from DAYA bus terminal, 20 minutes out of town by bemo. Coaches typically leave in the morning (7 am ), around noon ( 1 pm ) and in the evening (at 7 pm).
  • Several companies in Rantepao run buses back to Makassar. The number of buses each day depends on the number of passengers.
  • It is best and easiest to contact an experienced travel agent to arrange and take care of your full itinerary to the Toraja highlands.

A Bemo – local transport is the best way to get to know the locals, besides chartering vehicles (minibuses or Jeeps) with or without driver. Enjoy walking around  villages.

The condition of the infrastructure is getting better. Starting from highways, airports, trails, ports, bridges, stairs, even some places can be reached by toll roads.

We can visit by plane, car, ship, bus, motorcycle and bicycle. At some point, we can take the train. We can also walk freely.


In Tana Toraja, as technology getting better. We can easily find locations for mini markets, shops (warung kedai), ATMs, Bank BRI BCA BNI Mandiri, BTPN Bank Nagari BJB, supermarkets, and restaurants. So we will not starve or lack the necessary items.

Suggestion before visiting Tana Toraja:

  • Visitors are expected to keep to local dress and customs and to bring a token present, such as cigarettes or coffee when entering a Tongkonan.
  • As roads are not always paved, it is necessary to use a jeep or walk, even when the weather is good (between May and October).
  • Beware of your head whenever going inside a Tongkonan, the Torajan traditional house, since passageways are low.
  • Enrekang, Makale in the Toraja Highlands are surrounded by astonishing volcanic rocky cliffs. Do not miss this, just stop and take pictures for a while and you will not regret it.

If you are sick and need help, you can also visit clinics, drugstore pharmacies (apotek), practice doctors, hospitals, and health centers (puskesmas).

In this place we can also look for places of worship such as mosques, churches, and others.


Finding place to stay in Tana Toraja is very easy. We can stay at homestays, hotels, inns, hostels and other places.

To get lodging at a cheap and definitely comfortable price, please see below:

Experience and Reviews

There are already many visitors have visited Tana Toraja, there are many interesting stories that are told. Like feeling satisfied, happy, wanting to come again, sleep well, and almost no one is disappointed or complains to come here.

So, visitors will find out on how to find the best hotels, where is exactly located, why it is amazing, how much is the fare and rate, who are the people, whom to ask, and when is the best time to visit.

We can visit these tourist attractions from Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Redep, Tanjung Selor, Tapak Tuan, Tarakan, Tarutung, Tasikmalaya, Muara Bungo, Muara Enim, Muara Teweh, Muaro Sijunjung, Muntilan, Nabire, Negara, Nganjuk,

That’s all the information we provided, hopefully useful.

Comments are closed.