Amazed by all the newfound variety on the menus at restaurants in Bukittinggi, I eagerly ordered the 'taco' and waited in anticipation of a meal that did not involve fried rice OR fried noodles. I was quite surprised to see that what came out of the kitchen beared no resemblance to the Mexican variety of a taco, but it wasn't nasi goreng so I didn't complain. In fact, it was delicious, and I started keeping an eye out for it on menus after that. It did pop up a few more times in some of the touristed areas like Lake Toba.
I've no idea why they call it a taco, but it's a square fried thing with batter on the outside and various fillings within, sometimes with a sauce poured over it. The closest thing I can compare it to is a knish, and if you've never had one of those, well then just try the taco and surprise yourself.
There is really no ned to book your hotel in advance. There are enough hotel in this town from the very expensive to the most budgeted ones.
A few way to choose your accommation:
1. Check other VTers page, Hotel Asia is strongly recommended by seasoned traveller Sha and Faz;
2. Ask your driver to show you around the city, and pick one that impress you most;
3. Ask your local restaurant owner; basically, they have some information about do's and dont's.
There is really no need to pay more price if it's not peak season, I surmise even in peak season, there will still be some places left.
Climbing the Mount Merapi (2891 m) is a wonderful experience. The volcano is still active and the landscapes up there are stunning.
More in "must-see activities" section.
PS: This is NOT the famous Mount Merapi volcano in Java.
Almost everywhere from Bukittinggi you can see the towering Gunung Merapi, an active volcano. If you like hiking and climbing I'm sure you can not stand the challenge. Like me.
We (a fellow traveller and a local guide) started climbing at 12 at night. It's quite a sensation to climb in the dark with torches. At least you cannot see how far you still have to go! It was not too easy, since it's pretty steep.
It took us around 4 hours to the "basecamp" not far from the summit, where our guide prepared some food on a little fire.
An hour before the expected beautiful sunrise we departed for the final hour to the top, over rocky surface with loose stone.
But the sunrise didn't come. On the summit we were in the middle of thick, thick fast moving clouds (visability 1 meter). We had to hide behind a piece of rock to prevent the strong wind blowing us away. It was too dangerous and too cold. We had to go down.
We made it, we've been on the Merapi, not a decent view, but another once-in-a lifetime-experience (I hope) that I will not easily forget.
Hopefully you are more lucky because the sunrise and view should be fantastic....
This gorgeous craterlake is just 2 hours away by bus from Bukittinggi. Compared to Lake Toba, this Lake is much smaller, less busy and less touristic.
Some nice places ot stay have decent beach-style bungalows available close to the water that you can reach only crossing ricefields, so you keep a sense of isolation.
I stayed at Rizal Beach, that has a private piece of beach.
Not much happens at the lake. Sometimes a canoe comes by. Sometimes some fishermen around. But that's it!
One time I woke up early, just around sunrise, took a tube and floated on the water that looked like a mirror, a hundred meters off-coast. From here I realised that I was actually floating in a crater of an ancient volcano! I was completely surrounded by the mountains, the craterwalls. Nothing moved except fo the sun rising from behind the mountains. Just a brilliant, almost meditative experience!
You can do some good hiking here as well!
if you're fond of colonial building, you should come to bukittinggi.
here, you can find many colonial houses, back from dutch era, most of them still in its original shape and well maintenance.
Favorite thing: Bukittinggi lies about 15 kms south of the Equator. Driving north on the main road to Sibolga / Like Toba the Equator crossing is clearly marked.
Favorite thing: Because of the two volcanos close by, the area around Bukittinggi is very fertile and there are many scenic terraced cultivations, mainly rice and cane.