Bukittinggi, literally means ‘high hills’ in Indonesian, is the second biggest city in West Sumatra with a population of over 117,000 people. Many travelers going north from Java make Bukittinggi their first stop. Its location at 930m above sea levels in the Minangkabau hills makes Bukitttinggi quite cold at night and very refreshing in the morning. Here are a list of places to see both in Bukittinggi and its surrounding area:
1. Jam Gadang
If England has its Big Ben, Indonesia has Jam Gadang or ‘Big Clock’; a clocktower and must visit landmark of the city of Bukittinggi. It is located in the centre of the city, near the main market, Pasar Atas. Although much smaller in size and less famed, jam Gadang has quite the interesting history.
The structure was built in 1926 during the Dutch colonial era, as a gift from the Queen. It was designed by architects Yazin and Sutan Gigi Ameh. Originally a rooster figure was placed on the apex, but it was changed into a Jinja-like ornament during the Japanese occupation. Following Indonesian independence, it was reshaped to its present form resembling traditional Minangkabau roofs.
2. Pasar Atas
image credit: uninuna.wordpress.com
Pasar Atas or Pasar Ateh, as the local dialect says it, is part of the bigger Pasar Bukittinggi that is divided into three parts, Atas (top), lereng (slope), and bawah (below). A large and colorful market brimming with stalls of fruit and vegetables, clothing, crafts, and occasional antiques and souvenirs. You will be overwhelmed with the option of beautiful songket, the locally crafted hand-woven silk or cotton fabric with gold or silver threads paired with different colors. The market opens daily but it is recommended to visit on Wednesday and Saturday, when the stalls overflow down the hill. Here is also where you can find authentic and delicious West Sumatran snacks and delicacies.
3. Lake Maninjau
Located 38 km west of Bukittinggi, Danau or Lake Maninjau is another of Sumatra’s idyllic mountain crater lakes that is relatively unspoiled. One of the most unforgettable experiences other than the lake itself is the ride from Bukittinggi; the road twists and turns through 44 hairpin bends and offers the incredible view of the shimmering blue lake and the green hills surrounding it. Lake Maninjau is a great place to relax, experience local rural lifestyle. Around the lake, you can swim, cycle or hike the Sakura Hill and Lawang top, which offers great view of the lake but is a rather strenuous hike.