Looking for a relaxing destination in West Sumatra? Bukittingi is a popular destination for paddy field landscapes. You can spend a few days in this valley surrounded by the paddy fields.
West Sumatra is known for its nature, food, and culture. Bukittingi is the third-largest city in West Sumatra, transportation by road to the city is well-connected. The closest airports are in Padang and Pekanbaru. I’d recommend fly to Padang then take a 2 hours minibus to Bukittingi. Built on the highlands, it overseas the striking Sianok Canyon. Enveloped in the canyon, spring water is not in shortage and is suitable for growing rice.
During the 19th century, the Dutch established a small fortification on the hill of Bukittingi. Colonial buildings are still seen around the town.
Outskirt of the town is great to spend 2 to 3 days in Bukittingi. The bustling town center is crowded with traffic.
3 Day Bukittingi Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive in Perkanbaru
Day 2 Bukittingi
Day 3 Bukittingi
Day 4 Bus to Padang
How to get to Bukittingi
Option 1: Fly to Padang and take minivans to Bukittingi (2 hours).
Option 2: Fly to Pekanbaru and take a night bus to Bukittingi (7 hours). Bus company Vircansa.com
Tip: Get a sim card at the airport!
Ecolodge in Bukittingi
We had stayed in two different ranges of ecolodges during our two-times visit. These two have similar characters. They both built-in one to two storey rumah gadangs with thatched roofs, and open-air toilets. The main attraction is they are outside of the town, secluded in serene paddy fields and mountains. The downside is you need transportation to commute around.
Padi Ecolodge Cafe n Resto $30
Padi Ecolodge is about 20 minutes drive from town, in the middle of a downslope to the bridge. It has two main rumah gadangs with three storeys in a well-maintained condition. Circuit by the Jalan Binuang, on the basin of Sinox Canyon, a paved concrete road amid cereal color paddy fields. You will have to balance your scooter driving on this narrow path. We arrived at 2 am. The management made sure the receptionist was awake to open the door for us.
The breakfast area is in the garden Pancakes, fried rice, and a few other choices for breakfast are decently served with coffee and tea. The room is large with mosquito nets. If you stay above the kitchen, keep your door open at night and listen to the flowing stream. The shower is half-open to nature.
Many restaurants are around Padi Ecolodge within walking distance. My favorite is Batang Aia Lesehan’s Bebek Penyet (Fried duck chili) after the bridge. Walk to Itiak Lado Mudo Ngarai for lunch as they close at 7 pm.
Tip: Padi Ecolodge offers scooter rental
Sumatra Ecoresort is 8 km from Bukittingi town on the way to Lake Maninjau. What makes this ecolodge stand out is the large garden, a lily pond, stream, and a lonely hill. This area is not much paddy field farming rather a popular destination for locals. The ecolodge also operates a cafe, not far on the same road, another cafe built like a ship.
While having breakfast in the common area, a rooster cockerels for morning calls and male ducks quack from day to night as the females are incubating in the garden. You can order a cup of specialty coffee 🙂 and walk around the stream.
It’s very quiet at night. The cafe closes at 6 pm, so you have to eat in nearby restaurants. A few convenient stores in 10 minutes walk. They do not have wifi but offered to setup mobile hotspot and phone signals are quite weak.
Explore Bukittingi’s Surrounding
Day 2 Lake Maninjau
The ride to Lake Maninjau takes you through towns, villages, and farms. We rented scooter for this ride. The town’s livelihoods are based on fishing and farming around the lake, given fish farming in the lake, ponds villagers’ gardens, and paddy fields converted to fish farms are common to find.
Accommodations are available in town. It’d be nice to stay for one or two nights.
Tip: ATM does not accept Visa card and not anywhere around :). Only banks in Bukittingi accept visa cards. Carry cash.
Before descending the hill, take a tea or coffee at the roadside restaurant for a panorama view of the lake. The 8.4 km z-shape road takes you to the town built on the bank of the lake. As you are in the intersection in town, take the right turn. You will see the paddy fields in about 20 minutes drive.
Activities around the lake
Outdoor activities around the lake: cycle around the lake (50 km) and trek from ViewPoint Puncak Lawang down to the lake. If you are interested in a 2-day trek, engage with a tour guide.
Driving back from Maninjau, stalls sold durians on the roadside. It was very sweet and creamy. Give it try :). I finished all by myself.
The rain started soon in that afternoon. The view from the ecolodge is magical.
After the rain, a short hike to the great wall to see the Sinox Canyon.
Day 3 Villages around Mt Merapi
Drove on Jalan Haji Agus Salim on the ridge of Padi Ecolodge, it takes you to several small villages and connects to Jalan Bukittingi-Maninjau. We ended up in a village on Jalan Pandai Sikeik. Houses own ponds in the front garden for laundry, dishwasher, and fish farming altogether.
If you keep driving around this area, you will find hills of vegetable farms and some paddy fields. The road is smooth, just some up and downslopes.
The stunning colorful motifs in this rumah gadang is Rumah Tenun Pusako, a weaving house now. The size and the two barns guarded the houses are the symbols of statues. The woven fabrics in this house are luxirous and represents the traditions of Minang.
Then drive to Bukittingi town. Two of the main attractions are the Limpapeh Bridge, which takes you from Fort de Kock to the Bukittinggi Zoo, and the clock tower, Jam Gadang. From the clock tower square, it overlooks at the Sianok Valley.
On the weekend, the town fills with local tourists. Shops set up near the clock tower and many snacks :). Around 6 pm, street vendors set up tents and tables on Jalan Ahmed Karim.
We never had dinner in town since staying outskirt. Restaurants near the river are popular among young people. It’s the dating spot.