Bukittinggi is a town in West Sumatera Province, about 2 hour drive to the north east direction from Padang or about 100 kilometers. Bukittinggi is situated in a high ground. In the old days, the town’s size was only about 25 square kilometers and it used to be a leisure destination for the Dutch because of its cooler temperature, around 18° to 22° Celsius. In the region of Bukittinggi, visitors will see many tea plantations and pine trees march along the side of the roads. There are a lot of places worth seeing in Bukittinggi, which then make it a favourite destination in West Sumatra for a short holiday trip.

How to get there : take a small bus from Padang to Bukittinggi. Ask local people where to take the bus to Bukittinggi, as currently there is no official bus terminal in Padang. It takes approximately 2 hours to reach Bukittinggi. Expect to pay Rp. 20,000. Alternatively, take Tranex Mandiri shuttle car, which usually passes the main streets of Padang heading to Bukittinggi. Expect to pay Rp. 30,000.

Japanese Caves and Ngarai Sianok Panorama Park

This is one of the must a visit destination in West Sumatera. Most people visit the Japanese Caves and Ngarai Sianok Panorama Park on weekends or public holidays. The entrance to the caves is located in the same area as Ngarai Sianok Panorama Park. These Japanese caves have 21 chambers and are considered as the biggest and the longest caves that the Japanese ever built in Indonesia during their occupation. To build these caves, the Japanese brought thousands of forced labors from the islands of Java and Sulawesi. The reason behind getting workers from other islands is because the Japanese believed that the workers were unfamiliar with the territory, hence it was less likely for them to run away, and even when they did escape, they usually fell into the Sianok canyon, since a lot of these Japanese caves exits head towards the Sianok canyon, which are about 53 meters high. Thousands of these unfortunate forced labors died because they had to work without food and the Japanese let them starve to death.

On top of the Japanese Caves there is the Panorama Park. The Panorama Park offers visitors a scenic view to Sianok Canyon (about 100 to 150 meters deep) with two magnificent mountains at the background, Mount Singgalang and Merapi. There is a sightseeing tower in this park for visitors to climb up and have a better view of the canyon. There are also wild monkeys around the park, but according to the locals, they haven’t attacked any visitor so far. Local paintings of Ngarai Sianok Canyon, souvenir shops are also available on your way to the park. Paintings cost around Rp. 75,000 (small), Rp. 100,000 (medium size), Rp. 600,000 (big).

Location : Jl. Panorama, Ngarai Sianok, Bukittinggi about 2 kilometers from the Clock Tower of Bukittinggi
Entrance fee : Rp. 3,000 /person Special entrance fee to Japanese cave: Rp. 5,000/person (Monday-Saturday), Rp. 6,000/person (Sunday and holiday). Special entrance fee to Ngarai Sianok Panorama park: Rp. 3,000/person. Guide fee: Rp. 20,000 (exclude personal guide fee)
Operating hours : daily, 7:30 – 18:30
Facilities : souvenir shops, food shops, English, Dutch, Malaysian and Indonesian speaking guides, toilets (Rp. 1,000/person), Muslim’s praying room (mushalla), canteens, a sightseeing tower
Remarks : the general conditions of the place are well maintained but sometimes only one toilet is available.

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