The name goes back and forth from Makassar, to Ujung Pandang to now, Makassar again. This great city port has been the gateway to eastern Indonesia for centuries. The Bugis are known for their magnificent sailing ships that trade all over Indonesia, and the legacy remains with the city’s strong identity. There are many interesting things to see in Makassar, but it is highly recommended to spend a few days extra exploring out of the city. Here are some of the highlights of Makassar that you need to check out:
1. The amazing food!
Sulawesi is home to some of the best food in Indonesia. If you are used to types of food commonly found in Java or Sumatera, the contrast and the plethora of great food here will take you by surprise. Because the Sulawesi people’s ancestors are Indonesia’s seafarers, many of the staple food here is from the sea. This is where you want to be if you love sea food. Especially in Makassar, you will hardly find any seafood dish that wasn’t fresh. For those that prefer less fishy delicacies, the south Sulawesi people have a lot to offer, such as the Konro Bakar (beef ribs grilled with peanut sauce and Es Pisang Ijo. Other specialties include Nasi Goreng Merah, Mie Titi, and otak-otak.
2. Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park
From Makassar, you can drive north for about an hour to reach the Bantimurung National Park in Maros Region, where the temperature is slightly cooler, and you can see a big waterfall where a lot of locals play and used the waterfall as a huge (yet rather dangerous) slide with the aid of big rubber donuts. You will also notice that the area is surrounded by tall Karsts, or Limestone, and many types of butterflies, which gained this place the nickname ‘Kingdom of Butterflies’ in the old days.
3. Leang-leang Prehistoric Park
In the local dialect, leang-leang means caves, and that’s how the leang Pettakere is widely known by the locals. The caves in this park was found in the 1950s by a couple of Dutch anthropologists who discovered a cave decorated with prehistoric drawings of hand prints, babi rusa or babyroussa, and remnants of kitchen midden in the form of sea shells. There are more than 100 of these caves in the Karst rich area of Pangkep-Maros, albeit not all of them have archaeological drawings. The easiest drawings to notice are the handprints and some animal drawings.
4. Tanjung Bira
Technically, this is not Makassar, but you definitely shouldn’t miss it. Located a good 4 hours away from the city, Tanjung Bira is home to pristine beaches and some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in Sulawesi. The travel used to be longer due to bad road condition, but recently, the main road connecting Makassar and the southern coast has been a lot better. There are plenty of options for accommodation in Tanjung Bira, but if you’re looking for the best around, stick with Amatoa Resort, a luxurious private resort that offers one of the best beachfront view. From the 7 cozy bungalows, you can even directly jump into the amazingly clear sea full of beautiful tropical fishes. Better yet, book a day trip to the neighbouring islands of Liukang Loe and Pulau Kambing, that is just a short 15 minutes away by boat!