Serving as the capital of West Sumatra, Padang is a historic Dutch harbour town that played an important role in the trade of pepper and gold. Today, it is a launching point for surfers heading to the Mentawai Islands and nature enthusiasts visiting the UNESCO-listed rainforests of Kerinci Seblat National Park.
Things to do in Padang
Occupying a striking Minangkabau building is the Adityawarman Museum, which houses an impressive collection of ethnographic artefacts from across West Sumatra. The museum is flanked by two rangkiangs, traditional granaries that have long been used to store rice by the Minangkabau people. Exhibits not to miss include the statues and inscriptions from the 11th-century Malay-Buddhist kingdom of Dharmasraya.
Stretching along the coast is Pantai Padang, a lively beach and popular spot to watch the sunset across the Indian Ocean. Dotted with colourful fishing boats, it also hosts the annual Siti Nurbaya Festival, which features boat rides, music performances and traditional Minangkabau cuisine. Further south is Pantai Air Manis, which is renowned for its statue linked to the legend of Malin Kundang.
A short drive inland from Padang is Lubuk Paraku, an idyllic swimming hole that boasts crystal clear waters. It lies on the edge of the Taman Hutan Raya Bung Hatta nature reserve and at the start of a winding road that leads to the Sitinjau Lauik lookout. From here, there are magnificent views across the city of Padang and its forested surroundings.
Getting around Padang
Minangkabau International Airport is around 45 minutes’ drive from Padang and has flights to destinations across Asia. Buses and minibuses are available for getting around Padang, although renting a car and driver is a more convenient way of exploring the area. The centre of Padang is compact enough to explore on foot.