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Bukittinggi Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Bukittinggi vacation


AndreaLJC
Bukitingi Market 3 stars
There is a big market in Bukitingi, its in the town centre and seemed to be open most days. The market sells all sorts of goods including clothing, food and house hold good amongst other stuff, some of it quite random. There is a really cool hat stall that you have to see, it must have every type of hat ever made, and more, I must of tried all of them on! There are some great deals to be had and you can probably find most of the things you are looking for. In the food section they have loads of food that you have no idea what it is, so its good if you are feeling brave, I wasn’t, some of it looked pretty weird!

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explorerlfk
Bukittinggi – Odd Vibrations 2 stars
There is something slightly unnerving about arriving in a town before sunrise, to find a fair proportion of the population out jogging. Such feelings are enhanced when you arrive in the main square to find it full of people performing callisthenic exercises in almost perfect unison. My initial impression of Bukittinggi, in West Sumatra, was that the town was an experiment in social engineering gone slightly mad. Such feelings never really left me, despite the fact that it is an intriguing and picturesque little town.

Bukittinggi, in the shadow of the mighty mountains of Singgalang and Merapi, is part of the Minangkabau heartland, and a handy base for organising tours of Minangkabau life and culture. If you are not so inclined, a handy and concise illustration of this matriarchal society is provided by Bukittinggi’s museum, built according to traditional Minangkabau architecture. Examples of such architecture are dotted all around the town. In fact, just wandering around Bukittinggi provides all sorts of experiences, from the multitude of pony carts, to the stairs that convey you to the different levels of the town, to arguably Bukittinggi’s most prominent landmark, the Jam Gadang in the town’s main square. And for war history enthusiasts, the Military Museum gives an insight into Indonesia’s little known, but broad and diverse, military history.

Alas it’s not all roses. The ‘government’ tourist information centre is more of a front for a private tourist company. And as seems to be the norm in Indonesia, the bus terminal is a fair distance from the town centre. For this reason, I succumbed and took a chartered minibus arranged through the tourist information centre to my next destination, only to discover that I could have paid considerably less if I had arranged it myself. In the end though, it was probably a small price to pay for slightly fewer hassles.

Generally, I left Bukittinggi with mixed feelings. The town is definitely culturally and scenically rich, and the place has a definite positive vibe about it. I still can’t help feeling though that it’s all a little staged, and just a little bit unreal. It’s almost as though there is an experiment in social engineering going on….


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AndreaLJC
Lost in the Jungle 2 stars
I was in Buketingy with my sister and I had read in my guide book about a gorge near by that I thought would be nice to see, so we set off with our map to try and find it but when we got near it we couldn't find the turn-off so ended walking back and forth a few times. A local man asked us if we needed help and we said that we were looking for the gorge and he said to follow him, so we did. He took us in to the jungle, ok, I know when I'm writing this that it sounds really stupid, two young girls following a strange man into the jungle and no one knows where you are! There was a path but he didn't take us that way, instead he parted some trees and we followed him through and he led us through dense jungle over the skinniest bridge ever which as almost as wide as my foot, over water too! Then along the edge of a cliff. I was so scared of falling off the cliff I was grabbing onto all the trees and trying to not scream. After about 20 minutes of this he said “if you want me to take you the rest of the way you have to pay me” this really annoyed me as he had obviously taken us that way on purpose so I said “No thanks”. So now we were left in the jungle on the edge of a cliff with a broken Indiana Jones style bridge across a huge gorge with a massive drop! Half the planks were missing but it seemed the only option, there was nothing to hold onto either! I was screaming as we made our way across and pieces of the bridge kept falling off as we walked across, we were gripping onto each other for dear life! We got to the other side and eventually found civilization and were so glad as we didn't even have any water on us! Finally we found a bus to take us back to out hotel.

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AndreaLJC
Getting a tattoo in Bukittinggi 4 stars
I had wanted another tattoo for ages but was traveling for a year so was on a budget and everywhere we asked in the Asian countries that we had been to were fairly expensive but when we arrived in Bukittinggi we soon got chatting to some of the locals and they were asking us about our tattoos and showed us a video of one of their friends tattooing. His artwork was pretty good so we went to his house to see him and find out what designs he had and prices for the tattoos we wanted. His prices were great, what would have cost me at least $400 cost a mere $60! Bargain, so we jumped at the chance! His English was great and we asked questions about the needles and stuff and all sounded cool so we booked a time. When we went to get our tattoo's half the town was there to watch, it was a small town so generally only criminals have tattoos. So for two young girls to get them was a bit of a shock to a lot of people and I guess they needed to see it with their own eyes! The tattoos turned out great, both of which we designed ourselves and it was done with a gun, not bamboo and we were really happy with them, so if you are thinking of getting a tattoo its a great place to go!

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AndreaLJC
Climbing the volcano in Bukittinggi 4 stars
I have always wanted to climb a volcano and when we arrived in Bukittinggi I found out that I could! I wasn't really prepared for it, or thought it through at all. I'm a very unfit person and find it hard just running for the bus so I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea for me to do a 6 hour trek up almost vertical slopes when I am scared of heights, just to see what was at the top, but I did it anyway. We began the climb through forests, it stared off pretty easily, although I was still out of breath, but then the slope proceeded to get steeper and steeper until I was grabbing on to anything I could, including the tour guides hand! I had to stop for break every 60 seconds because I was so out of breath! After hours of this we got out of the woods and the climb was more scary as it was all rock with loads of small rocks that move beneath your feet as you try and scramble up but as it was pretty dark it didn't seem that high. We started climbing at 12am and got to the top at 5.30am and the top was really cool with black smoke coming out and craters and loads of rock form lava, beautiful views and an amazing sunrise, so I was glad I did it. However, as we descended I realised that going up was the easy part! It was now daylight so I could see how high up it was and through the rocky part there was nothing to hold on to, except the tour guide, so I made full use of him! I also had previous knee injuries on both knees so ended up limping on both knees all the way down so it actually took me longer to get down than it did to get up and its was soooooo painful I was on the verge of tears and the decent seemed to go on forever. I was so pleased to reach the bottom! I am glad I did it though but I just wish that I had thought about what was involved a bit more before!

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AndreaLJC
Visiting Bukittinggi 5 stars
We came across Bukittinggi totally by accident after getting the boat to Indonesia from Malaysia, we arrived fairly late and realiseed how long it would take to get to Jakarta and a local man we got talking to suggested we go to Bukittinggi, a good suggestion it was too! Its a fairly small town but spread out quite far, but there is still a lot to see and do. There is a volcano which you can climb if you are up for it, its about 4000 metres high. There is also a gorge with an Indiana Jones type bridge across, there are loads of nice eating places and a market with some fab stuff that will keep you occupied for a bit. Plus if your looking to get a tattoo there is one guy that does a good job and is really cheap too (I got one and so did my sister!) If you are interested just ask at the bars in the town. By night there are a few bars that you can go to, one with dancing to that actually played some really good music (as do most of the taxi drivers – I actually had to ask what was playing to see if I could try and download it!) There aren't many travelers in the town but the locals are so friendly that there is never a shortage of people to talk to.

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