Tana Toraja is a must-visit tourist spot in South Sulawesi. It’s about an 8-hour drive from Makassar and is known for its unique tribes and traditions.

The special customs and rituals of the Toraja people are famous worldwide.

People from different places, both locals and foreigners, come to Tana Toraja to see its unique ceremonies and burial sites.

If a trip to Tana Toraja is on your agenda, make sure to explore this article for insights on transportation, accommodations, and must-visit attractions.

A brief about Torajans Culture

The etymology of the term “Toraja” finds its roots in the Bugis language, where it translates to “to riaja,” signifying “dwellers of the uplands”.

Residing amidst the highlands, this tribe’s existence was deeply intertwined with agrarian pursuits, cultivating crops that sustained their way of life.

In bygone eras, the Toraja community subscribed to an animistic faith known as “Aluk Tolodo”, a doctrine encapsulating the ancestral guidelines for existence.

Not until the 1900s did Christianity make its entrance, carried by Dutch missionaries, gradually transforming the religious landscape.

While the majority of Tana Toraja’s populace now aligns with Christianity, the echoes of their age-old traditions continue to reverberate through their daily activities.

As of today, a time-honored ritual known as the Rambu Solo remains an integral part of their cultural fabric, a testament to their enduring connection with ancestral legacies.

Rambu Solo is a funeral ceremony which aims to honor and deliver the spirits of people who have died to the realm of the spirits, or to return them to the afterlife with their ancestors at a resting place.

Getting to Tana Toraja

Numerous buses operate daily from Makassar to Tana Toraja, with multiple departures from 9 AM to 9 PM.

The journey spans approximately 8 hours, and the bus fare ranges from Rp 100,000 to Rp 150,000.

The buses offer comfortable seating and air conditioning.

You can catch a bus from either the Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan station or the Daya Station.

Some bus companies that serve the route from Makasssar to Tana Toraja are:

  • Bus Metro Permai, telephone number: 0411-582734 / 0411-584015
  • Bus Charisma Transport, telephone number:  0411-580808
  • Bus Bintang Prima, telephone number: 0411-4772888

Where to stay in Tana Toraja

Serving as the capital of North Toraja Regency, Rantepao stands as the pivotal starting point for both travelers and tourists.

In Rantepao, you’ll find affordable lodgings, options for motorbike and car rentals, diverse culinary offerings, and access to essential tourist information.

Commonly, buses from Makassar will also make a stop in Rantepao.

For your stay in Tana Toraja, consider exploring these accommodation choices:


from makassar to tana toraja
Beautiful view along the way

Embarking on my journey to Tana Toraja

My adventure began in Makassar, accompanied by a friend. Somewhere around 2 a.m, a car picked us up, and off we went to Enrekang.

By 7 a.m, we reached Enrekang. Taking a brief respite, we took the scooter and continued our voyage toward Rantepao.

It took us about three hours to travel from Enrekang to Rantepao.

Along the route, we took pauses to appreciate the captivating view of Buttu Kabobong, affectionately known as Gunung Nona, which carried an astonishing, albeit whimsical, resemblance to certain human anatomy.

Locals humorously likened this mountain to a “vagina.” It was amusing how people could perceive things that way, but honestly, it was quite accurate!

There were numerous food stalls en route, and we found solace at Bambapuang Villa by the roadside.

It was the perfect spot to rejuvenate, sip coffee, and feel the wind tousling my hair.

The journey to Tana Toraja was a delight, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.

The lush green hills seemed to proudly beckon, whispering “look at me.”

I couldn’t tear my eyes away; the beauty was simply overwhelming.

After another half-hour of riding, the gateway to Tana Toraja came into view, bearing a distinctive Tongkonan shape—a nod to the traditional houses of the Torajan people, characterized by their saddleback roofs.

We passed through Makale, the southern part of Tana Toraja, and spotted an imposing statue in the center of a pond—the Pongtiku Statue.

Pongtiku was an Indonesian hero who played a pivotal role in resisting Dutch colonialism in the past.

Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on our side. Heavy rain greeted us upon reaching Makale, and it persisted on our journey to Rantepao.

In my stubbornness, I believed the rain would abate soon, and we opted not to buy raincoats.

As a result, we were thoroughly soaked as we made our way to Rantepao.

Pongtiko Statue Makale
Pongtiko Statue

Things to Do in Tana Toraja

Here are 9 things you can do during your visit to Tana Toraja

 1. Kete Kesu

It’s time to delve into the wonders of Tana Toraja. Navigating to the renowned sites was a breeze, thanks to clear signage.

Our initial destination was Kete Kesu, a highly popular spot in Tana Toraja.

The meticulously maintained traditional houses truly embodied the essence of Torajan culture.

Adorning the walls were buffalo horns elegantly framing a central buffalo head within the Tongkonan.

The number of horns present indicated the individual’s social standing or status—the more horns, the higher the class.

Among the Tongkonans, a museum could be found, adding to the cultural insight.

Beyond that, in the backyard, suspended graves graced the scene—a feature unique to Tana Toraja.

These graves were intricately carved into the walls or substantial stones.

Skulls and bones seemed to be strewn about, mingling with coffins and various belongings within caves, alongside dolls that emulated ancestors—a blend of oddity and uniqueness.

Entrance fee for local/domestic : Rp 10,000; Entrance fee for international/foreigners Rp 20,000

kete kesu things to do in tana toraja
Kete Kesu

2. Sa’dan Village

Sa’dan Village is renowned as the hub of Toraja woven textiles.

Here, you can discover the intricate process of crafting woven fabrics, where traditional tools and natural materials are still utilized.

The array of woven fabrics is diverse, with some reserved for the Rambu Solo ceremony and others designed for different rituals.

Adding to the charm, there’s an ancient tongkonan, standing for over 300 years.

My curiosity about the captivating Toraja culture and traditions keeps growing.

Entrance fee for local/domestic : Rp 10,000; Entrance fee for international/foreigners Rp 20,000

Tongkonan in Sadan
Tongkonan in Sadan

3. Batutumonga

The path we traversed grew more winding and uphill as we approached the Batutumonga area.

This tourist spot in Tana Toraja is situated approximately 24 km from Rantepao.

The expanse of lush green rice terraces on the mountain slopes is a refreshing sight for anyone who gazes upon it.

At an elevation of 1,225 meters above sea level, you can pause for a moment at the Tinimbayo coffee shop to capture this view with photographs.

Batutumonga Toraja
Rice field view in Batutumonga

4. Loko Mata

Continuing within the Batutumonga region, we encounter a distinctive Toraja burial site called Loko Mata, distinguished by its rock-carved nature.

The rock wall features variously sized holes and caves.

Within each of these caves rest several preserved bodies with familial connections.

Inside the cave, you’ll find several figurines and small tongkonan structures as well.

Lokomata things to do in tana toraja

5. Bori Parinding

Finally the cold night had passed. Another beautiful shiny day to explore Tana Toraja.

We drove our motorbike to some unexplored sites.

First destination was Bori Parinding, a burial and ceremony site.

Hundreds of megalith stone stand representing a feast of merit performed in the past by a person with high status.

Bori Megalith Tana Toraja
Bori Parinding

Two grandmothers were looking after the place.

They were humble and nice. Talk to them and you can get information about this place. There are some Tongkongans, burial site at the back, and also baby grave.

The unique thing about baby grave is the body was buried inside the tree.

A popular site for baby grave is in Kambira.

Pete-pete (public transportation) passes this area, so you can get here by taking pete-pete to Bori and ask the driver to stop you here.

Beautiful view of rice field and Mount Sesean won’t make your journey boring.

Entrence fee is Rp 10,000 for domestic and Rp 20,000 for international tourists.

Bori Parinding
Bori Parinding

6. Londa

Londa, a famous burial site located 5 km south from Rantepao.

The imposing rock face serves as the burial site, with distinctive chambers carved into the wall for individuals of the highest stature.

Meanwhile, the caverns house coffins of the common folk.

The presence of skulls and bones creates an eerie atmosphere.

Stepping into the dimly lit cave, surrounded by coffins and skulls, was an unforgettable experience.

I couldn’t help but imagine what if one of those coffins were to shift, and a vampire decided to give chase, haha!

Entrance fee again Rp 10,000 for domestic Rp 20,000 for international visitors.

Make sure you bring your lights or consider to get the a guide with a lamp to navigate the cave’s pathways.

Cave in Londa
Inside the cave of Londa

7. Lemo

Our last destination was Lemo.

Like Londa, it’s a site of cliff burials, but with a twist: the coffins are not stored within the caves.

I found this place quite appealing, tts uniqueness sets it apart.

It’s fascinating how cultures can be so markedly diverse from one another, even within the same country – Indonesia.

Entrence fee is Rp 10,000 for domestic and Rp 20,000 for international tourists.

Lemo rave things to do in tana toraja

8. Pasar Bolu

At first glance, Bolu Market appears to be your average market.

Ordinary on weekdays, but it transforms on Sundays when the vibrant buffalo trading activity takes place.

In Tana Toraja, buffalo hold immense significance.

It’s believed that these creatures guide the departed spirit to Puya, the realm of the spirits.

The greater the number of buffalo, the swifter the spirit’s journey to Puya.

During the Rambu Solo ceremony, buffalo are sacrificed with a single, ceremonial swing of the Golok, a traditional razor.

Buffalo prices vary based on factors like age and breed. Striped buffalo command a higher price compared to black or brown ones.

A small black buffalo might cost around $500, while a larger one could be priced at $1500.

The renowned striped variety, known as Tedong Bonga, ranges from $2000 to $5000.

As for the rare albino buffalo, its value equals that of a car.

Pasar Bolu Toraja
The buffalo in Pasar Bolu

9. Rambu Solo’

One of the eagerly anticipated traditions for visitors in Toraja is the Rambu Solo. Torajans pay profound respect to the departed during this event.

The cost of these funerals is notably high, leading to a practice where the body is preserved for months or even years until enough funds are gathered and all family members can partake in the ceremony.

The peak period for Rambu Solo falls between July and August. However, you can encounter Rambu Solo on regular days as well, as it’s a somewhat common occurrence in Toraja.

To learn more about Rambu Solo, feel free to ask the locals and gather information from them.

Tips to visit Tana Toraja

  • For a more fulfilling exploration of Tana Toraja’s attractions, consider renting a car or a motorcycle. Renting a car with a driver typically costs around IDR 500,000 per day. If you opt for a motorbike, the rental price is about IDR 70,000 per day, while renting a motorcycle taxi falls within the range of IDR 120,000.
  • Beforehand, inquire with a local or guide about any ongoing Rambu Solo ceremonies to fully experience this unique tradition.
  • Take care of your belongings when taking the night bus from Makassar to Tana Toraja.
  • If a visit to Makassar is also on your itinerary, be sure to check out my guide to visit Makassar. Additionally, consider exploring Bira Beach, nestled in the southern part of Makassar City.

That concludes my tale of exploring Tana Toraja’s attractions and immersing myself in the Toraja people’s distinctive customs.

If you’re around, why not visit Togean Islands as well?

tana toraja pinterest
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