Viktorija Panovaite
Bukittinggi city


I visited Bukittinggi city for the Darmasiswa scholarship program closing ceremony in May 2015. So all the things were arranged and paid for, that’s why I don’t know some of the prices or didn’t visit some places. But still, I have what to share :).

Minangkabau styleBukittinggi (in Indonesian known as “High hill”) is the 2nd biggest city in West Sumatra island. From Padang airport, it ~ 2,3 hours by bus. The road through hills so a bit tortuous.  The town has a hilly contour with small hills and valleys where possible to find ascending and descending roads and stairs for pedestrians.

Bukittinggi citizens call their town “a town with thousand stairs” – but I hardly could call it like this :). Bukittinggi is well known for its beautiful scenery and is surrounded by 3 mountains: Marapi (still active), Singgalang (inactive), and Sago (these 3 mountains more popular in the term “Tri Arga”).

Even if possible to find information that there are many touristic places to see but in my personal opinion – not so much, of course, depends on what you are interested in. I think 1 day, maximum 2 it’s enough for this city.

So the main touristic objects to visit in Bukittinggi:

“Panorama park”
Located on side of The Silent Canyon (“Sianok Canyon”) where possible to see a beautiful view of the canyon with mountain Singgalang as background. You can see here a lot of wild monkeys. It’s a place to have a nice walk or have a picnic. As well you can find here a Japanese tunnel  (“Lobang Jepang”). It was made by the Indonesian people during World War II as a bunker for the Japanese military in 1942.

The Silent Canyon – “Sianok Canyon”
It’s ~ 2 km from the city center. It’s suited on the edge of Bukittinggi which separates the town from mountain Singgalang. The cliffs are 100-120 meters in height. Sianok Canyon is a beautiful green valley with winding rivers on the bottom flowing as far as ~15 km from the back of cliffs.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky to visit “Panorama park” and “Sianok Canyon”. But I think that these places the only ones that really worth seeing.

The big clock tower – “Jam gadang”
Some of the people call it “Bukittinggi Big Ben” :). It’s possible to see it in the center of the downtown and this object became the symbol of the city (this tower possible to see from many places in the city). The tower surrounded by some space where people hang around, sells souvenirs, snacks. In front possible to see “The Hills” hotel (if somebody would like to stay in the center).
It’s 26 meters high clock tower, with a roof shape like Minangkabau traditional house. From the top possible to see the Bukittinggi surrounding. The unique thing that in numerical order 4 numbers written in Roman numeral.
The tower was built in 1926 by the local architect Yazid Abidin with his partner Sutan Gigi Ameh. The clock itself was a present from Queen of Netherlands to Rook Maker, a secretary of Bukittinggi Municipality during colonization time. There are 4 clocks which face to 4 directions. The top of the clock was restored a few times. In the beginning, it had a rounds shape roof with a statue of the rooster. Then it changed into a monastery shape like a roof during the Japanese colonization. In independence time the top was changed to the shape like it is now.
Across the square is traditional tourist markets, called “Pasar Atas” and “Pasar Bawah”. Many goods sold there, from souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles, traditional food, traditional snacks, to fresh fruits, vegetables, chicken, meat, and fish. Behind the market is the town’s old Chinatown with many old shophouses.

Limpapeh bridge – “Jembatan Limpapeh”
It’s a beautiful bridge with Minangkabau architecture. It connects Kinantan Zoo (“Kebun Kinantan”) to Fort de Kock (“Benteng fort de Kock”) passing right on Ahmad Yani street. You can see a really beautiful view from the bridge: on one side the town part surrounded by one mountain on another side – another part and a different mountain.

Other touristic objects that you might be interested to see:

Fort de Kock – “Benteng fort de Kock”
Lays on the hill “Bukik Jirek” that was designed as a fortress by Duch during Paderi War. Like all visiting places have they own story but for me wasn’t so interesting this place – just a nice place to walk surrounded by some cages of birds and through it possible to go to the Zoo by “Limpapeh” bridge.

Kinantan Zoo – “Kebun Kinantan”
Was established in 1929 and is the first zoo in Indonesia with various rare endangered animals. Truly to say the zoo looks quite poor (even if there is really some exotic kind of animals). I was felt sad looking at the animals; some of them were eating plastic bags, some people were riding the elephant. And I could feel like the animal there as well – when local people started to ask making pictures with me. In this zoo, there is a customary house of Minangkabau named “Rumah Gadang”. The museum display many kinds of ancient collections and all building looks impressive. Unfortunately at that time when we visited the zoo, it was closed. And also you can visit the zoological museum.
There are few toilets but they don’t work. Some souvenir and snacks shops.
There is an entrance fee (for fort and zoo the same ticket) – but I don’t remember the price.

Tri Daya Eka Dharma Museum – located in front of “Panorama park”. You can see the historical things when Indonesia opposes the Japanese and Dutch colonial.
Museum rumah kelahiran Bung Hatta – located in Soekarno Hatta street. It’s a place where Muhammad Hatta (Bung Hatta) was born. He was the first Vice President of Indonesia and a proclaimer of Indonesia’s independence along with Soekarno.

Bung Hatta Library – located in the hill Gulai Bancah. The library made by international standards, equipped with audio-visual facilities, conference rooms, auditoriums, and mosques. Meeting rooms are usually rented for various events, weddings and etc. So if you will be lucky enough maybe you can participate in a traditional event.

The ladder 40 – “Jenjang 40” – was built in 1908 and connects the “upmarket” (“Pasar Atas”) with “down market” (“Pasar Bawah”). The ladder was inspired by composer Minang Syahrul Tarun Joseph with the title track ”Andam Oi”.
Panorama Baru view – a touristic object which has still a natural view. On the bottom side, it’s possible to enjoy the Sianok Canyon view. Here you can have lunch or dinner, camping or a bit of hiking.

The ladder 100 – “Jenjang seribu” – it’s an object with green fertile soil and the rivers follow the steep riverbanks gaps. Passing the ladder possible to enjoy the view of Marapi and Singgalang mountains.

 This is were located all the mentioned places:



The tourist office is at Jl. Syech Bantam 1 (near the clock tower). Working:  Mon-Thurs 8:00 am-2:00 pm, Fri 8:00-11:00 am, Sat 8:00 am-12:30 pm ( tel 0752/22403).

What food to try in Bukittinggi?
Locals say that here possible to try a lot of delicious food. I enjoy “rendang” – but not all “warungs” prepares it good.
As well this city is famous for: “nasi kapau”, “kerupuk sanja”, “kerupuk kulit”, “denting kering”, “belut kering”, “pisang kapit” and many others.
Where to buy in Bukittinggi?
There are some markets like:
  • “Pasar Atas” (east of Jl. Minangkabau) –  located in front of the clock tower.
    This market provides many kinds of souvenir and special food from Bukittinggi with reasonable price: “sate padang”, “nasi padang” and “kerupuk sanja”. There is another special culinary that you shouldn’t miss when you visit “Pasar Atas”, it’s “nasi kapau” made from special ingredients that have been passed from generation to generation, from area named Kapau.
    Besides the tourism market, Pasar Atas also become a center of trading. The other unique stuff that is selling here is “bordir kerancang” – special stripes. The people of Minangkabau is known for “border” making.  You can found in this market many clothes or material with “bordir kerancang”.
    “Hari pakan” market means special days that more sellers will come. And in each area or market, they have their own “Hari pakan”. In this market “hari pakan” is on every Wednesday and Saturday.
    Try to avoid visiting “hari pakan” because if you will shopping for your own need you will find a lot of signs “sorry not allowed to buy in pieces”.
  • “Pasar Bawah”. It’s a traditional market located under “Pasar Atas”.
    Here you can find vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and many fresh spices, ingredients for cooking. Just like many other traditional markets, when you entered the alleys of  “Pasar Bawah”, you will see the same condition, wet, very humid, smelly especially in the fish and meat section.
  • “Pasar Grosir Aur Kuning”. Jl Minangkabau 19 (located near to Aur Kuning terminal). Has a huge range of textiles from Sumba and Irian Jaya and king sticks from North Sumatra.
    This market lays on a 2.3 ha wide area with around 1470 shops and many more small shops.
    It was built in 1980 and used by people to trade earth resources (plants and spices), and now this market already became the biggest grocery trading on Sumatra island. The meaning of the market name “aur kuning” is “yellow small bamboo tree”. And it seems the development of the market was related to its name philosophy – “when it is small it used for one thing and when gets elder and elder the function changing as well”.
    The “hari pakan” (market day) is on Wednesday and Saturday.

As well you can find some shopping centers, malls, supermarkets.

Festivals in Bukittinggi
This city has many events like:
  • Muharram festival
    To celebrate the entry of Moslem New Year that is the date of 1 Muharam (first month in the Islamic calendar) hence by Office of Bukittinggi Tourism Bureau to performs various activities of like competition of Moslem cloth, singing and etc.
  • Traditional Dance in Medan Nan Balinduang
    Every night in Medan Nan Balinduang is performed by the traditional artistry of Minangkabau filled by galleries under the supervision of the Office of Bukittinggi Tourism Bureau.
  • Horse racing
    Executed 3 until 4 times in one year and performed in Lapangan Bukit Ambacang.
  • Birth commemoration of Bung Hatta
    This event executed every date of the 12th of  August and filled by a various events of artistries.
  • Khatam Al-Quran
    This event usually is executed every vacation of school, where pupils MDA (Islamic Informal Institution) has finalized the education in learning read Alquran, and all the MDA in Bukittinggi does cortege together.


Have you been to Bukittinggi city? What else you would recommend to see?