Padang, the capital of the province of West Sumatra, is mostly used by tourists as an access point to Bungus Bay, the surfing sites of the Mentawai Islands, the inland hills of Bukittinggi, and the Kerinci Seblat National Park.
Padang was a Dutch historical harbour town, one of the main harbour in Dutch East Indies. The main attraction of the city is the colourful Dutch old town and old harbour in Muaro river, and also its old Chinatown. The city is also the home of the delicious Padang food and the town is stuffed with restaurants and street stalls.
Ladies are advised to wear long pants and at least a t-shirt with sleeves as you are entering a conservative city. Be aware that the men can get overly forward and cheeky. It rains often in Padang. The roads flood quite easily as the city is still in the process of repairing the damage from the massive earthquake of recent years. Bring along a pair of slippers. These are useful in floods as well as for the beach.
You will experience minor tremors. Do not be alarmed.
► Old Town of Padang.
This historical town of Padang with many old buildings and a colouful harbour with Dutch architecture is Padang's main attraction. It's located beside the Muaro River. Walk along the beautiful pedestrian at the river bank with a row of old Dutch buildings. On the river there is a historical harbour of Padang built by Dutch. Now the harbour and the river is full of colourful little boats. There's also a beautiful bridge on the river, Sitti Nurbaya Bridge with colourful lights on night. Still in the old town, there's an old Chinatown with many old shophouses. There's a beautiful old Chinese temple, See Hien Kiong Temple and a beautiful old mosque, Muhammadan Mosque.
► Adityawarman Museum.
Jl. Diponegoro (Lapangan Tugu), +62 752 31523, 39587, Tu-Sa 08:00-16:00. A museum about culture and heritage of Minangkabau culture in West Sumatra.
► The Great Mosque of Gantiang.
Located in Gantiang, it's an old beautiful mosque with Minangkabau and Middle Eastern architecture.
► The Great Mosque of West Sumatra.
Located in Padang, it's the one of the great mosque in Sumatra Island that bring that contemporary architect fuse with traditional home of Minangkabau Culture (the great house of Minangkabau).
► Air Manis Beach.
It is most famed for Batu Malin Kundang (Stone of Malin Kundang), a stone shaped like a prostrating man. According to local legend, this stone is Malin Kundang , the ungrateful son who disowned his poor mother after coming home as a rich man from his travels. His mother cursed him into stone, as well as the remains of his ship, which can also be seen near his stone. There is a tidal island from the beach here, with nice clean (by Indonesian standards) water and sand.
► Padang Beach.
You can ride the bendi (a horse-drawn carriage) along the beach, and stop by the rows of shops to eat some rujak as you watch the waves. It is recommended that you get a glass of naga (dragon fruit) juice from one of the stalls that line the beach and drink it as you enjoy a leisurely stroll down the shore. You go down the south of Teluk Bayur Harbour, up and through steep hills (don't try and take a bus, there is an [Angkot] that goes all the way).
► Koto Gadang.
It's a quiet and pleasant farmer village near the Sianok Canyon. Most of houses there are built with Dutch architecture. Dutchs built those houses as their resting villas. After most of dutchs back to the Netherlands after the independent of Indonesia, people occupied those beautiful villas as their homes. The village is very quiet and pleasant because most of the residents have migrated to many cities in Indonesia and Malaysia. The village is famous for its silverworks hadicrafts. One of the most famous handicraft centre there is Handicraft Institution of Amai Setia, built by Rohana Kudus, one of the most important female emancipation historical figure in Indonesia.
► Jam Gadang.
Means, The Great Clock. This is the main landmark of Bukittinggi. It's an old high clock tower built by Dutch with Bagonjong roof (Minangkabau traditional roof) on the top of the tower. Jam Gadang is stand proudly at the center of the town square. Jam Gadang bustles with little stalls selling food and souvenirs throughout the day. Lots of tourists gather there. Food stalls unfold with variety and aroma towards nightfall. The atmosphere is festive with colourful lights at night and it can get quite crowded. While Bukittinggi is considered safer than most other parts of Indonesia, it would still be a good idea to keep your bags close in this crowded area. There are horse carriages waiting around the Jam Gadang square. Please be cautioned that the rides are very costly, therefore please ask for their rates first. Across the square is a 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. On the other side of the Jam Gadang Square is The Palace of Bung Hatta. It's a historical building, originally as the palace of Indonesia's first vice president, Muhammad Hatta. Beside the palace is The Hills Hotel, a five star hotel in a historical building with rich European and Middle Eastern architecture. On the other side of Jam Gadang Square is a mall called, Bukittinggi Plaza.
► The Birth House of Bung Hatta.
Muhammad Hatta (Bung Hatta) is the first vice president of Republic of Indonesia. The house is a reminiscent of traditional Minangkabau rural house and custom. The house also has the collection of Hatta and Hatta's family stuffs.
► Rumah Gadang Baanjuang.
A rumah gadang (Minangkabau traditional house) used as a museum of Minangkabau culture and history. There's also a collection of strange animals. It's located inside the Bukittingi Zoo.
► Bukittinggi Zoo.
The town's zoo, located on the top of a hill, opposite to the hill of Fort de Kock. It's so not a world class-zoo. Some people may not be comfortable visiting this zoo due to the very bad maintenance and the very stressful conditions under which the animals are kept. Two elephants have their tusks shortened and one front leg and one hind leg locked in taut chains so that their movement is limited to but one pace back and forth all the time. A Sumatran tiger seems to have had one paw freshly amputated as of Feb 2013. Two pelicans are kept in an enclosure with a very low-hanging wire ceiling, which prevents them from flying at all. A herd of deer sniff around for food on grounds composed largely of their own filth. A family of porcupines share extremely cramped quarters and an alpha male orang utan sits alone in its cage with deadened eyes.
► Limpapeh Bridge.
A pedestrian overpass connects the Fort de Kock on one hill to Bukittinggi Zoo on another hill. It's a beautiful bridge with Minangkabau architecture.
► Japanese Caves.
A network of underground bunkers and tunnels built by local people under the Japanese's army order during World War II. The entrance of the tunnel is located in Panorama Park
► Fort de Kock.
A fort built by the Dutch (actually, it's just a little outpost tower). It's located in a nice park with several species of bird in cages. It is arguable whether some of these birds should be kept in such conditions. For instance, a Sea Eagle is kept in a cage with inadequate space for its size and habits. The park is located on the top of a hill, so you can see the panoramic view of the town from the park.
► Sianok Canyon.
A green, long and steep canyon. One of the most beautiful natural scenery in West Sumatra. You can enjoy the beautiness from Panorama Park. There is a two-storey observation tower that overlooks the Sianok Canyon at the park. The monkeys there are friendly but they can be quite aggressive, especially if they know you have food. During dusk you can observe megabats flying from the gorges to the forest in order to feed from the fruits on the trees. Another way to enjoy the canyon is by walk down the canyon through the The Great Wall of Koto Gadang. Along the walk, you'll see rice fields, forest, and a little river, and of course, the beautiful canyons as the backgound. There's a little clear river on the valley floor. One of the most iconic canyon is Tabiang Takuruang (means, isolated gorge). It's a single isolated slim gorge surrounded by the canyons. You can't see the gorge from neither Panorama Park nor The Great Wall of Koto Gadang. To get to Tabiang Takuruang, you should go down the canyon and trace the street through the village.
► Mount Marapi and Mount Singgalang.
Bukitting is located between two majestic volcanoes, Mount Marapi and Mount Singgalang. You can do mountain climbing and trekking there.