Istana Pagaruyung West Sumatra

7 Things You Can Do in West Sumatra

Sumatra Island might not be as popular as Java or Bali. Still, for a bit of adventure, there’re actually quite a lot of things to do in Sumatra. One can start from West Sumatra up to North Sumatra then finish at Aceh.

Initially, I wanted to visit West Sumatra because I wanted to climb Mount Kerinci, the highest volcano in Indonesia. Once my mission was done, I made my way to West Sumatra and explored a bit, before going back to my hometown which happens to be in Riau, next to West Sumatra.

1. Bukit Tinggi

Two days were actually short to explore West Sumatra, but I managed to go to some destinations that I wanted. I spent more time in Bukit Tinggi, a town that is popular for its natural view of mountains surrounding the area, oh, and the fresh cool air.

Bukit Tinggi can be reached from Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra. There are many minibuses going to Bukit Tinggi with only 2 hours of journey. On the first day I could only visit Jam Gadang and Panaroma (place to see Ngarai Sianok).

On the second day, Lake Singkarak, Istana Pagaruyung, and Lembah Harau. Too bad we cancelled Lake Maninjau due to our time limitation. Thanks alot to Bang Kohar for accompanying me and treating me so well. He paid all my transportation costs even rent a car so we could explore more although I tried to refuse. What a Wonderful Indonesia.

2. Jam Gadang

Jam Gadang is the iconic attraction of Bukit Tinggi. This big clock tower was a gift from the Queen of Netherlands to the city controleur in 1926.

My friend said, if you’re in Bukit Tinggi but didn’t take photo on Jam Gadang, it means you’re not eligible to be counted as visitor of Bukit Tinggi.

Jam Gadang is like Big Ben in London. It is a landmark in Bukit Tinggi. The unique part is four is designed with IIII, not IV. The entrance fee is get inside, tourists have to pay. From the information I got, it cost around IDR 50,000.

Jam Gadang West Sumatra
Jam Gadang

3. Ngarai Sianok

Next, Ngarai Sianok, located not far from Jam Gadang. A beautiful canyon and green valleys. The place to see this amazing view is called Panorama Park. Visitors only pay IDR 5,000.

In this area there’s a cave called Goa Jepang or in english means Japan Cave has history on how gloom the past when Japanese colonized Indonesia. IDR 5,000 again to go inside. There are some monkeys playing around. Souvenir shops form a line selling some artistic painting and statue.

Ngarai Sianok West Sumatra
Ngarai Sianok

4. Lake Singkarak

In my West Sumatera Journey, I couldn’t separate from Padang food ! I love the eel, it’s yummy! Second day I went to Singkarak Lake. An hour from Bukit Tinggi It’s a huge lake.

We met Bang Kohar’s friend and he offered rent car because if I stick with my plan using public transportation, I couldn’t catch up everything in one day. I had to go back to Pekanbaru on that day. I didn’t want to rent car because it’s expensive but Bang Kohar said it’s oke and he would pay for me. I refused but he insisted so, big thanks for him.

Lake Singkarak
Lake Singkarak
Dried fish along the lake

5. Istana Pagaruyung

Next, Istana Pagaruyung in Batu Sangkar. Before, Pagaruyung was a kingdom. It has architecture of Rumah Gadang, traditional house in Minangkabau Land. It was a replica and used for tourism these days. Still, it is a culture and heritage that we need to maintain.

Things to Do West Sumatra
Istana Pagaruyung

Pagaruyung Palace West Sumatra

6. Ngalau Cave

Ngalau Cave is located about 4 km from Payakumbuh or 31 km from Bukit Tinggi. This cave is kindda like our stopover in between. Inside the cave there’re some stalactite and stalagmite.

Ngalau Cave
Ngalau Cave

7. Harau Valley

Last and most wanted place. Harau Valley. Located in Payahkumbuh, about 1 hour by car. First time looking at those scene, breathtaking. Green valley, green rice field, waterfalls, it’s just too WOW to be explained. I was planning to stay a night before but all hostels were full booked ! I just realized it’s almost new year. Wrong time, but I still enjoy the view. It’s very relaxing, refreshing, calm i could stay in this place for a long time.

Harau Valley
Green rice field in Harau Valley
Harau Valley West Sumatra
Harau Valley


If you wish to stay in this place check out this site Quiet affordable. The cheapest one is only IDR 90,000 for two persons. For reservation, send email to  There are some other nice homestays around such as Orau Inn or Roemah Abdoe.

Lembah Echo Homestay

Lembah Echo

West sumatra pinterest
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Enjoy =)

Traveled in 28-29 December 2012 

Special Thanks to Bang Kohar 


4 responses to “7 Things You Can Do in West Sumatra”

  1. Bama Avatar

    I'm planning to go to West Sumatra some time next year, and the main reason is to see rumah gadang and those Minangkabau palaces. I'm a big architecture enthusiast, and that vernacular architecture of Minang people is one of the best the country has to offer.

  2. Velysia Zhang Avatar

    Hi Bama, there are very unique. You should check them out!

  3. rendi rian Avatar

    Saya tertarik dengan tulisan anda mengenai Explore Indonesia.

  4. Bara Anggara Avatar
    Bara Anggara

    lemme know if you have a plan to visit west sumatera again.. maybe i can accompany you, vely..

    -Traveler Paruh Waktu

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