What's There in West Sumatra
Ahh… Sumatra, the island where you go for an adventure trip to the lush jungle to see the Orang Utans. If you are extremely lucky, probably a little encounter with Sumatran Tiger. Or maybe just to chill by the world’s largest caldera lake, Lake Toba and enjoy a kayak or two and cruising around in Samosir Island by motorbike. When people talk about visiting Sumatra, most of them are talking about North Sumatra, which is a part of the 8 provinces of Sumatra. It is a huuuuge island. As the 6th largest island in the world, the island has many to offer beyond North Sumatra. One of the underrated provinces that we would like to discuss is… West Sumatra.
What’s there though? This underrated Sumatran province keeps hidden beauties from volcanoes, cultural immersion, surfing paradise, and tranquil villages.
First of all, the tallest active volcano in Indonesia is in West Sumatra, Mount Kerinci. Okay… the truth is it’s exactly on the border of West Sumatra nd Jambi provinces. If you are flying from overseas, Padang is an easier entry to get to Kerinci. It’s still around 6-8 hour drive through bumpy roads (God bless our butts) but the view of endless tea plantation is worthless. And once you’re there, the top of Mount Kerinci will bless you with the best view feat the subtle sulfur which is really dope to see. Read more about our journey to the top of Mount Kerinci here
The second destination is not so low key anymore, especially for surfers enthusiasts. Yep! It’s the Mentawai Islands. Although Mentawai is home for some of the most popular surf breaks in the world, as Huffpost said, “these islands belong on everyone’s bucket list”. From trekking, fishing, snorkeling, chilling or even immerse in the native culture. Speaking of culture, Mentawai Tribe is a semi-nomadic tribe that is indigenous to Mentawai Islands. In fact, if you’re into tattoos, especially the ones that are traditionally done, Mentawai people will gladly help you with that.
Here, the locals will say that their food is the most accepted cuisine nationally in Indonesia. Well… it’s true (unless you don’t eat spicy at all like me). Everywhere you go in Indonesia there is always at least one Padang Restaurant. Besides being the origin of the most delicious cuisine in Indonesia, Padang is also cool to see for it’s Minangkabau tradition as the World’s largest matrilineal society from the architecture and Museums (such as Adityawarman Museum). In fact, people in Padang are also deeply rooted in Muslim culture. The Grand Mosque of West Sumatra is also cool to see contemporary mosque architecture with a local touch.
Fun Facts: countries with significant Minang population: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and... the Netherlands
Only less than 2 hours away from Padang, Bukittinggi is a lowkey but beautiful destination that surely can’t be missed when in West Sumatra. It’s a small town filled with some tourist attractions such as the Gadang Clock, Fort de Kock Fortress and also museums dedicated to Indonesia’s first vice president, Bung Hatta. Moreover, the spooky yet interesting Japanese tunnel is also great to visit to see what’s left during the Japanese colonialism. If you’re quite unsure how to explore the tunnel (since there is limited signage inside) feel free to hire a guide. As a bonus, they will explain the history and things happened inside the tunnel.
Things get better if you hire a scooter and go out a little bit out of the city. Scoot around towards the Maninjau Lake and enjoy the scenic drive along the way! Another cool thing to do is to 20 minutes further from Bukittingi to Batang Palupuh Nature Conservation Centre and see the largest flower on earth, Rafflesia Arnoldi!
How to Get There and Where to Stay
Access to West Sumatra is easier to be reached from Padang, the capital city. Here, Minangkabau International Airport in Padang welcomes flights from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, China, and Jeddah as well as domestic flights, including from Jakarta and Bali. You can also go to West Sumatra overland by bus from North Sumatra and other provinces in Sumatra (there’s no railway that connects provinces within Sumatra)
Accommodation wise is not as difficult as it seems. Sumatra is pretty civilized despite the jungle and tribes. There are various types of accommodation available on your favorite travel booking platforms. In fact, all of these accommodations and some restaurants in cities like Padang and Bukittinggi provide a pretty good internet connection. If you are traveling Solo, West Sumatra is completely safe for you to travel alone. Public transport or shared taxis. (that’s how they call the shared car where you only need to pay for a seat instead of the entire car. Popular routes from Padang are to Kerinci and Bukittinggi)
How does West Sumatra sound to you?