Bukittinggi, The Minangkabau Highlands
Bukittinggi lies surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills in the Minang Highlands. Bukittinggi is the commercial centre of the region and a bustling hill town. It’s a great place to discover arts and crafts, as numerous surrounding villages are easily accessible from the town itself. These small villages named Koto Gandang, Pandai Sikat are all located in the Agam Valley. If you are in search of the world’s largest flower – the Rafflesia, look no further as it can be found in Batang Palupuh.
The town of Bukittinggi is rather compact and easy to navigate. The central part of town is noticeable by its clock tower, which can be found south of the market at the junction of Jalan A. Yani. The clock tower was built by the Dutch in 1825 and is best viewed during the day although the town has tried to illuminate it at night with modest effect.
Your best option of arriving in Bukittinggi is by bus. There are routes from Padang and Medan. The buses end their journey at Air Kuning terminal, which is located around 3 km outside of town. There are numerous bemos from the station to take you into town where you can find some good budget accommodation.
A wonderful place to visit while in Bukittinggi is Panorama Park. The park is situated on a slither of land overlooking a breathtaking view of the valley below. Be careful as the cliffs are sheer and are as high as 1400 metres. It is a popular spot among the locals as a picnic area or even just a stroll around the park. An area of interest for the traveller is the Japanese tunnels and rooms that were built during World War Two. You can gain access to these tunnels for a small fee however there is not much to see as it is dark and very damp.
Bukittinggi is great for a day or so but if you find yourself staying longer then you really should head out deeper into the highlands, to observe more of the rural life. The Agam Valley has the village of Koto Gadang where you will find artisans crafting silverware. Pandai Sikat is a woodcarving and weaving village. If you do decide to purchase some of the crafts in these villages make sure you barter for a reasonable price.
There is a good choice of eateries in Bukittinggi that cater mostly to the budget traveller. You can find some nice restaurants where you will meet fellow travellers to share stories with. The Night Market serves simple noodles and chicken, beef sate along with plain rice dishes. It’s a great place to immerse yourself into the local community.
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