08 December 2019

The Gateway of West Sumatra

If you want to explore West Sumatra, Padang is the place to start your adventure. The largest city on the western coast of Sumatra is a doorway to major regional attractions including the Mentawai Islands, Bukittinggi, Mount Kerinci, and Lake Maninjau.

Padang is the capital of West Sumatra province and is the third-largest city in Sumatra. Located between the Indian Ocean and the Minangkabau hills, Padang is a popular transit point for tourists, including backpackers and surfers, who are heading off to explore the tourist destinations of the region. 

While it functions as a gateway to other areas, some places within the city are worth seeing before heading onwards. The museum, beaches, and a small handful of tourist points are well-presented and proved interesting insights into the city. Originally used as a port for traders of gold, spices, and timber, Padang was a Dutch historical harbor town, one of the main harbors in the Dutch East Indies. 

The main attractions of the city are the colourful Dutch old town and harbor by the Muaro River and also the old Chinatown. In addition to those, a visit to Adityawarman Museum is a great way to learn about the culture and heritage of West Sumatra, while the Great Mosque of Gantiang is the oldest mosque in Padang and one of the oldest in Indonesia. Air Manis Beach, Padang’s most popular beach, is home to Batu Malin Kundang, a stone formation that is famous in West Sumatra folklore. The legend of Malin Kundang, a sailor from a poor family, states that he was cursed and turned to stone along with his ship for the denial of his mother after becoming rich. 

Padang is also the home of the delicious Padang food and unsurprisingly, the town is stuffed with restaurants and street stalls. They help make it  satisfying to spend one to two days in Padang before you venture on to enjoy other unique destinations in West Sumatra. 

Along with many other destinations, the 1000 Bull-Horned Houses area in Solok Selatan Regency is a 3.5-hour drive to the east of Padang. Guguak Sarai Hill in Sawahlunto and Harau Valley in the city of Payakumbuh are a 2.5 hour and 3.5-hour drive respectively to the northeast of Padang, while Maninjau Lake in Bukittinggi is to the north by about three hours.

Tourists who have the true spirit of a traveler will love to experience the different cultures of the area, especially that of Mentawai Island. The Mentawai tribe who live on the island has one of the most unique cultures, and many of their customs are still preserved today, namely their tattooing! 
Meanwhile, Mount Kerinci is a must-visit location for those seeking a challenge. Located in the conservation area of Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat, Mount Kerinci rises 3,805 feet above sea-level and is one the highest volcanos in Indonesia. Plan for almost 12 hours to reach the summit.

In West Sumatra, there’s just so much to see, smell, taste, and experience, the stunning architecture, fascinating cultures, delicious food, and natural vistas will leave you breathless. You may never want to leave!


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