- Padang - Indonesia's capital of spicy food
- Bukittinggi - A mild weather city, to run away from the heat
- Padang Panjang - A pleasant market down near Bukittinggi
- Pariaman - The Sunset Beach City
- Sawahlunto - Little Hollad of Sumatra
- Pasaman - The Wild Life Paradise at West Sumatra
- Solok and South Solok - Land of Thousand Lakes
- Batusangkar - The Heart of Minangkabau Culture and Spirit
- Payakumbuh- Land of Rocky Mountains
- Mentawai Islands - surf's up
- Sikuai Island - 45 minute boat ride from Bungus Bay harbor
- Cubadak Island - 75 minute boat ride from Padang
85% of the population are Minangkabau, notable in the annals of anthropology as the world's largest matriarchal society: children take their names from their mother's side and, on marriage, the husband moves into the wife's family. Culturally, the hallmarks of Minangkabau culture are their famously spicy food, served all around Indonesia in Padang restaurants (named after the capital), and the soaring-eaved rumah gadang house, shaped like a series of buffalo horns.
On the other hand, the tribal inhabitants of the Mentawai archipelago, a group of islands about 100 miles off the coast of west Sumatra, cling to a traditional agrarian lifestyle that is totally different from that of Minangkabau.
Most people in West Sumatra uses Minang language in their daily conversation. It's somewhat similar to Malay language, due to the fact that Melayu language is the origin root of both languages.
Minangkabau International Airport (Bandara Internasional Minangkabau - BIM) (PDG), located 23 km north-west of Padang, is the main gateway to West Sumatra, with frequent flights to destinations throughout Sumatra and Java, as well as Singapore (Tiger Airways, SilkAir) and Kuala Lumpur (AirAsia).
Note that if you are flying internationally out of Minangkabau Airport, you are subject to departure tax (75,000 Rupiah as at Feb '08) which you would need to pay for in Rupiah so save some bills for the trip out. The domestic tax is Rp. 30,000.
PADANG – BUKITTINGGI
1. Anai Valley
There is a special train to Anai Valley too, but it must a large group. Phone: 32200 & fax: 28046
2. Padang Panjang city
3. Singkarak Lake
15 Km from Padang Panjang city to the northeast. The largest lake in West Sumatera. The volcanic lake.
In West Sumatra its not easy to get off the tourist trail without language, the hotel performances are pretty contrived sometimes.
If you can, get down to Padang Panjang 10km downhill from Bukittinggi en route to Padang, the capital (Padang is a bit boring but has a huge market complex for last minute purchases before flying out).
West Sumatra is a great place for a lovely food, its cuisine is one of Indonesia's best. They have a lot of hot & spicy dishes, since chili is in the majority of their food. Curry is also a big part of their dishes, and quite a few use coconut milk. Some of the well-known dishes include: rendang, Babat, dendeng balado, gulai kakap, gulai ayam, gulai jariang, kalio, etc. All of the traditional food are Halal food, due to the Islamic root of the community.
Teh Talua is West Sumatra's provincial drink. If you've chosen a more set up cafe stall ask for a teh talua. Don't grimace - bitter black tea poured over whipped egg and sugar creates a custardy flavoured "cappuccino froth" on your tea. The best has a squeeze of lime. My recommendation for teh talua is Desy's cafe in Jl Pasar Baru I, in Central Padang behind the main market, but more specifically for navigating there, behind the Balai Kota (Town Hall) and Police Station ("Belakang Benteng" is a really clear instruction to a driver) The tiny cafe is where police staff eat and Desyeni the proprietor has a solid lineage of culinary expertise behind her. All food guaranteed clean and superb and absolutely local.
Safer than most other areas because of a Muslim ethic and intact social fabric. Keep safe by making friends. The Minang take great community responsibility. Talk to people and they will look out for you as one of their own. At the same time crime exists and normal precautions should be taken. Importantly, respect their values and, if female, try not to travel alone after dark--in company with other women is OK. The ethos - the community can't look after you if you don't look after yourself. Or if you go places where the honest eyes can't see. So being alone or the only female in male company at night is considered asking for it.
This page was last edited at 10:41, on 4 November 2008 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by bot sosani piliang, KLBloke, Meutia Chaerani and Michele Ann Jenkins, Wikitravel user(s) Morph, Tristram Shandy and Tequendamia, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.