Located just 1.5km southwest of Bukittinggi, Sianok Canyon (Ngarai Sianok to the locals) is simply breathtaking. Sheer 100-120m cliffs face each across the Sianok River which meanders lazily along the 15km canyon, feeding the lush green foliage along its length.
The best view of the canyon is from Panorama Park 1km from Bukittinggi town centre (head south from the Clock Tower). Easily walked to or you can grab an angkot (traditional horse carriage). Entry to the park is 5.000Rp per person. An extra 20.000Rp will get you a guide and entry into the Lubang Jepang (Japanese Cave), an underground bunker built by Indonesian forced labour gangs under the Japanese during their WWII occupation. The bunker was tunnelled into the side of Sianok Canyon about 12m below ground and is quite extensive with an ammunition storage hall, kitchen, prison, interrogation room and sleeping quarters.
For a different perspective, walk down to the end of Jalan Teulu Umar road which leads down into the canyon, skirting to the left of the rice fields then across over the so called “Great Wall” bridge. Follow the road through a little hamlet and continue on through the rice fields for about 2 hours to the silver smithing village of Kota Gadang.
Alternatively, simply head left or right at the river and trek along the foot of the canyon. Heading left, the forks after about 500m. Keep veering left and after another kilometre the canyon narrows and starts to twist and among some heavy vegetation where there’s a good chance you’ll spot some long-tailed macaques and deer that inhabit the area. Heading right from the bridge, the canyon is wider and passes by some lovely rice paddies and farm plots where you’ll see locals tending their fields and perhaps buffalo wading in the river. Whichever way you head, the natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere in the canyon that is the real winner.