Pontianak is the capital city of West Kalimantan. Pontianak has grown into a large trading port city. The city is much likely influenced by Chinese, following the two native inhabitants, Malay and Dayak. Being a trading port city doesn’t stop Pontianak to expose itself to attract tourists, mainly because the city is the entrance to the famous destination, Singkawang, the city of thousand temples which is popular for its Cap Go Meh Festival, moreover travelers were tempted to do border crossing to Kuching, East Malaysia. Before we’re getting to the list of things to do in Pontianak, let me tell you a bit of story.

Also Read: Photos of Equatorial Carnaval Indonesia

Legend about Pontianak

The name actually distracts me, believe or not, there’s a traditional myth about a pregnant woman who died and haunted men, women, even babies. She has a beautiful look, often illustrated wearing white long dress and lives in banana tree. If you ask any Indonesian about “Kuntilanak”, everyone will recognize that name.

Then why the city was named after that horrifying creature? Legend said, there was a man named Abdurrahman Alkadrie and his group sailed along the river to find a new home for them. Down to Kapuas River, country’s longest and largest river, they were disturbed by the ghost and haunted. Alkadrie asked his men to shoot the cannonball and the ghost vanished. Since then, he settled down, inhabited that place, and became the first Sultan/King of Pontianak, which he named it after. Well, that was a piece of story about the legend, or maybe history of the city.

Interesting Things to Do in Pontianak

1. The Equator Monument

The landmark of the city is Equator Monument, located 3 kms away from the downtown. The monument was built to mark the exact position of the equator line. The real monument was stored inside the museum. and the one you saw towering high outside was constructed again as a landmark. However, in 2005, they found a new location based on the latitude and longitude written on the monument which is 1.2 km away from the monument.

The phenomenon of solar culmination that occurs when the sun is exactly located over the equator during some days in March and September, as the result, no shadows on every standing objects on earth. The phenomenon is the major attraction of the city.
Certificate of Equator Crossing Things to do in Pontianak

I’ve been here!

2. Kadriah Palace

The architecture of Kadriah Palace blends three cultures altogether, Malay, Dutch, and Middle East. As you can see, the palace was all touched with yellow color. Further look inside, the legacy and ornaments unfold the life of Sultan Abdurrahman Alkadrie and his family.

istana kadriah things to do in pontianak

istana kadriah things to do in pontianak

3. Kapuas River Cruising

I’m not sure whether cruising is the right word to describe this activity. Cruising sounds too fancy, whereas, it’s such a down to earth experience, doing what locals do. For me this is the most interesting thing that I did in Pontianak. They called it boat cafe, it’s like sitting in a wooden boat, all you have to do is just order something, very cheap.
Then, the engine starts, slowly leaving the dock and sail along the river for about 45 minutes. I saw stilt houses on the both side of the river, I could see locals doing their normal activities, some canoes passing by, and when I took pictures of them, they would smile and waved their hands. It was a bit smokey, and the orange red-ish sun, I wish the sky stayed clear, so we could watch a nice sunset. The wind breeze, everything was so peaceful and relaxing. You may choose sitting on the first floor, or going up stair, open air area to enjoy everything.

cafe sungai kapuas things to do in pontianak

4. Cathedral of St. Joseph

This huge cathedral in the city center caught my attention. The cathedral was built over 100 years ago, precisely on 1909, one of the oldest cathedral in the city. undoubtedly it’s an important part of Catholic history in Pontianak. Surprisingly the cathedral was designed by local architect from West Kalimantan, adapting Gothic and Byzantium style interpolated with Dayak culture.
I did observe the classic look of the building. Outside, there is a tremendous statue of St. Joseph. On the other side of the building, two beautifully carved wooden poles with hornbill bird on top of it, as the symbol of Dayak and Kalimantan. The outstanding interior design and the complexity, this cathedral surely is the city’s pride.

st joseph cathedral things to do in pontianak

5. Radakng House

Another landmark of the city is Radakng House. It is a traditional long house for Dayak Tribe in West Kalimantan. The house spans with 138 meters for its length and 7 meters high, makes it the longest and biggest traditional long house in Indonesia The philosophy of long house comes from the habit and culture of Dayaknese who live in a big group, it’s about togetherness and tolerance.

Despite the creepy legend about the city, there are still some good sight-seeing objects around the city. I was here for the Equatorial Carnaval, and also, one of must thing to see in Pontianak, hopefully it will be held annually. For foodie, the city is famous for its Chinese food, seafood, and also aloevera which you should try. Places that I mentioned above are based on my on experience, where I visited.

Have you ever been to one of them? Or any suggested places to go again? Don’t hesitate to leave comments below.

Thank you Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia for inviting us to Equatorial Carnaval.

Traveled in 22-24 August 2015


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