The highlands city of Bukittinggi 95km north of Padang is the gateway to the gorgeous Minangkabau (Padang) highlands. With its cool climate and superb scenery, Bukittinggi has been a favourite retreat since the Dutch colonial period.
The region around Bukittinggi is dotted with the quaint villages of the Minangkabau people, the traditional inhabitants, who cultivate small family plots of rice, coffee, tea and tobacco surrounded by a treasure trove of natural attractions including Mount Marapi, Mount Singgalang, Lake Singkarak, Lake Maninjau, Lake Tarusan, Kamang Cave, the breathtaking Sianok Canyon and the Harau Valley.
Of interest in the town itself is the iconic 1827 Dutch built Clock Tower located at the southern end of the town’s main thoroughfare. At the northern end of thoroughfare, there’s a footbridge across to the old Dutch Fort de Kock which was built in 1825 during the Padri Wars. The colourful Pasar Atas (Upper Market) and Pasar Bawah (Lower Market) are the places to buy everything from fresh produce, spices, clothing, handicrafts, jewellery and souvenirs. They’re open 7 days a week but really go off on market days Wednesday and Saturday when villagers from all around descend on the town.
Needless to say, you’re probably going to need to spend several days or more in the region. As the main centre for the region, Bukittinggi is has good road and public transport links with Padang, Medan and Pakabaru, abundant accommodation, restaurants, banks and shops. Tours, transport and guides to most of the surrounding attractions can be easily arranged on arrival and with many attractions within 1-2 hours drive, most can be achieved as day trips from Bukittinggi.