Renato Domini, Asia World Managing Director, went on a recee trip to South Sulawesi and rediscover this fascinating region with its rich culture, myriad attractions and the unique lifestyle of the locals. He shares his experiences of his trip.
Asia World Indonesia is already selling Sulawesi, and my recent inspection trip to South Sulawesi was to check on new developments, hotels, as well as the quality of buses and guides. We also want to ensure the products we sell are still of good quality. As we are also promoting golf tourism to Indonesia, I also took the opportunity to see new products for golfing.
South Sulawesi has beautiful scenery, diverse culture, great food and a warm hospitable people. There is good, comfortable accommodation in the 3 and 4 star range. A destination definitely to visit on your next visit to Indonesia.
Here is the story of my journey.
In and around Makassar: There are many interesting attractions that will intrigue visitors, especially if you are in Makassar for the first time. Visit the mountain of Malino, about two hours’ drive (one way) from Makassar. Other recommended visits are the tea plantations, strawberry gardens, Taka Pala waterfall, Pasar Pagi (Chinatown), the fish market, and Fort Rotterdam.
Outside of Makassar, about an hour drive by car from the city, there is the stunning rock formation of Rammang Rammang. During the rainy season you can take a local boat at the Rammang Rammang village to cruise the rivers. Balla Lompoa, the former Royal Palace of Gowa, is also a place of interest, and the tomb of Sultan Hasanuddin (1629-1690) is worth visiting as well.
Golf: There are a few courses in Makassar. The 18-hole Padi Valley Golf Club is about 45 minutes by car from the town in the district of Gowa, with a club house and a golf pro shop. Its driving range offers an amazing view of the surrounding area. The18-hole Padang Golf Baddoka course has a simpler setup with a clubhouse.
Hotels: I stayed at Aryaduta and Best Western Makassar. Most of the hotels are in the 3 and 4 star categories, and include Aston Makassar and M Regency Hotel (former Mercure).
Restaurants: Food is one of the best reasons for visiting Makassar, as there is a large variety of restaurants that offer delicious seafood, as well as Indonesian and Chinese dishes. Some must-eat while in Makassar are Coto Daeng, Coco Nusantara (beef soup with coconut milk, egg, peanuts, spring onions) and Sup Kondro (beef ribs soup with curry), which are typical local food popular with both locals and visitors alike.
Sengkang – Danau Tempe
The car journey from Makassar to Sengkang, the town next to Danau Tempe, takes about three hours. Upon arrival in Sengkang we (with Ian, my English-speaking guide) took a 45-minute boat ride to visit the floating houses on Danau Tempe. The scenery is amazing, and we were surprised to find people living in these floating houses.
We stayed at the BBC Sengkang Hotel, a small hotel with 30 rooms that are quite modern.
The trip from Sengkang to Tana Toraja is quite long, so be prepared for this. Enroute we made a quick stop at the silk-weaving centre before heading to Palopo. We also stopped at a local market for a short break in the road journey. Lunch in Palopo was at La Bombo, a local restaurant owned by the former general manage of Misiliana Hotel. The restaurant has both fantastic food (recommended Ikan Bakar) and location, which is just next to the sea with great views.
In and around Tana Toraja: One of the must-visit site is Lemo village with its stone graves. The tombs/graves were built 300 years ago, with the family graves still being used up to this day. Really quite unique.
Another popular site in Toraja is the traditional village of Ke’Ketesu, famed for its hanging graves nearby. I find the visit a rather spooky experience as human skulls and bones are lying around the gravesite.
We also went up to Bantimurung. It was a scenic journey with stunning scenery and amazing rice terraces, similar to those in Jatiluwih in Bali, dotting the landscape. There is homestay here in if you wish to overnight. It gets cool especially at night when the temperature falls to around 14 degrees.
We also visited Bori village with the megalith structure in the middle of the village. The graves here dated back to the 17th century.
Hotels: Again don’t expect 5 star hotels here, but the accommodation is of good standard. We stayed at BBC Sengkang Hotel with only 30 rooms, which are quite small but modern. Other accommodation choices include the 36-room boutique Luta Hotel Rantepao, Toraja Heritage Hotel, and the 61-room Marante Hotel.
Restaurants: A favourite spot among international travellers is Cafe Aras in the heart of Rantepao. It offers good food with international choices for or breakfast lunch and dinner. Prices are reasonable and service is quick.
If you want typical Tana Toraja food such as pork with kluwak (Babi Pamarasan), Ayam Piong and black rice, then Celebes Restaurant is the place to be. It is basic but clean, and the food is tasty.
Another restaurant within downtown of Rantepao is the Rimiko Cafe Rantepao, similar to Café Aras, serving tasty Western food and local food. The eatery is clean and has fast service.
The journey down from Tana Toraja takes about six to seven hours depending on the traffic. We recommend a break at the Bukit Kenari Restaurant, which serves good local food, mostly seafood. It is clean and has a great location overlooking the bay of Pare Pare.
Last thoughts on the trip: When you travel in India, they say it will take two lifetimes to see the entire country. For South Sulawesi I would say the journey never ends, as there is so much to see, do and eat!