Breathtaking crater lakes, volcanoes, canyons, infinity pools atop a waterfalls, white sandy beaches on tropical islets, stunning seascapes, and genuine local food. Experience all these and more in a perfect long weekend trip to Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia, by flying with AirAsia!
To quickly put these in perspective, here are pictures that show what Padang has to offer:
My Slovakian friend Jakub and I took our life adventures another notch higher in an unexpected trip to Padang on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Thanks to AirAsia for picking us as among the winners of their Facebook contest, we were among the few lucky people who got onboard their inaugural flight to this culturally rich city in West Sumatra.
Padang is among the few cities that I’ve been eyeing to visit for quite some time, given its close proximity to Singapore. So I’ve had pretty much a good idea on how I wanted my trip to be once I get there. Looking at the map, a flight to Padang from Singapore appears so much closer than a flight to Penang, Malaysia. This means that we could easily repeat the experience we would have in this city when there’s a long weekend in Singapore.
Upon landing at Minangkabau International Airport, all arriving passengers were welcomed with garlands by the airport staff. This got us so excited that we quickly started our adventure by hopping on board a public van bound to the mountain town of Bukittinggi, located two hours away to the north from Padang.
The ride was scenic: from rice fields, waterfalls, to the welcoming views of the magnificent Mount Merapi and Mount Singgalang volcanoes, we’ve had our grand dose of the beauty of nature in Padang and idea of the lifestyle of people in this Indonesian regency.
We arrived midday at Bukittinggi and immediately checked in at Hotel Asia, located in the center of the town, and right away had our first Padang meal. A genuine nasi goreng (fried rice) for 8.000 IDR / 0.80 SGD. Extremely affordable!
We then hired a driver who showed us around Bukittinggi for 300.000 IDR / 30 SGD in the entire afternoon.
WHAT TO DO IN PADANG
1. See the Grand Canyon of Asia in Bukittinggi.
Our main goal in Bukittinggi was to see the overlook view of Danau Maninjau (Lake Maninjau) at its rim from Puncak Lawang. Danau Maninjau is massive volcanic caldera lake. So this was naturally attractive to me and my Slovakian friend, as we’re both fond of landscapes.
Before we got there, our driver took us to Janjang Koto Gajang, dubbed as the ‘Great Canyon of Asia.’ The landscape was fantastic, especially being the first canyon I’ve seen by far. They also built a copy of the Great Wall there so that was something we’ve also explored.
2. Take your breath away with the views of a massive caldera lake at Puncak Lawang.
A heavy downpour happened on our way to Puncak Lawang, which quickly brought the visibility of the surroundings to near-zero as the mist blanketed the whole area and lowered the temperature. This remained so when we arrived at the crater rim.
After an hour, the sunshine but through the clouds and the thick mist slowly disappeared, dramatically revealing the caldera lake before our eyes. This got us mystified and ecstatic, especially with a cup of hot coffee in our hand!
3. Enjoy the genuine local food and ice cream.
Our first day ended with a taste of a locally made ice cream made from pumpkins, then another glorious nasi goreng dinner.
4. Explore the tropical islets south of Padang.
We left Bukittinggi early with a public van back to Padang, where we took an Über bound for Bungus Beach. This is where one can take a boat ride to one of Padang’s hidden gems – – the small islands laced with white sandy beaches and clear, blue waters. We were told that one pays about 300.000 IDR / 30 SGD to join a whole day group trip to Padang’s top three islands, inclusive of everything, including food, island entry fees, and water sports equipment! A steal.
Unfortunately, we missed the boat timing so we stayed at Bungus beach where we spent an adventure-filled day and slept at Losmen Carlos Homestay.
5. Swim at a natural infinity pool on top of Air Terjun Lubuk Hitam waterfalls.
Instead of exploring the islands, the guys at Losmen told us about the nearby waterfalls of Air Terjun Lubuk Hitam, where we discovered an infinity pool atop a waterfalls with a fantastic view of Indian Ocean! This involved a strenuous, steep hike, albeit a very rewarding one. We were greeted by the locals as we walked into a small village leading to the base of the waterfalls.
6. Witness a magnificent sunset over the Indian Ocean.
If you’re lucky, you could see a beautiful sunset on the horizon from a scenic coast at Padang. Our idea was to go to Puncak Mandeh, located further south, but we were quickly stopped by the adverse weather. Instead, we chilled at one of the hippie bars at Bungus Beach and enjoyed our avocado milkshakes for 17.000 IDR / 1.7 SGD each, as Bob Marley’s popular songs played in the air. There was barely a tourist so it felt like we owned the place. My friend and I could easily imagine coming back to Padang to experience this again!
WHERE TO STAY IN PADANG
If you’re looking for cheap stay, I’d recommend Hotel Asia at Bukittinggi and Losmen Carlos at Bungus Beach.
The people at these places would be happy to help you discover the gems in Padang. Alternatively, you could also look for more elaborate accommodation on Booking.com if require more comfort.
If you’re coming to Bukittinggi, it’s best if you visit on a weekday. We’ve been told that hoards of local tourists flock this mountain town over the weekend for its cooler temperatures.
From Padang, you can also save money by taking Über rides to surrounding towns. Just make sure to be mindful and respectful to the local culture and I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Padang.
We can’t wait to be back there for our next attempt to explore the islets and the popular surfing islands of Mentawai! Follow Bored Expat on Facebook to reach me out if you’ve got any questions about Padang.
Looking for another destination in Sumatra? Check out my blog post on Palembang in South Sumatra and read about Pagar Alam, a town known for its pre-historic megaliths and a thousand waterfalls.