Maninjau - small trip report
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Feb 3, 2013 5:13 PM Last Post By: old_india_hand
Jan 26, 2012 6:30 PM
Maninjau - small trip reportI arrived at Lake Maninjau last week. The last time I was here was 5 years ago, and, sadly for the locals, tourist numbers are WAY down now. So, if you’re looking for somewhere quiet, beautiful, and not very touristy – come here!!
Over the past 5 years I think I’ve spent about 2 years travelling to different places in Indonesia and SE Asia – and I think Maninjau is my favorite place. It is beautiful, the locals are friendly and have a fascinating culture and the guesthouses are quiet and well-run. I think it’s a hidden gem on the SE Asian backpacker trail.
I flew into Padang from KL, on Air Asia which is just a 1 hour flight, and then got a taxi to Maninjau. A little tip if you are arriving at Padang airport on an international flight – this is one airport where it is worthwhile trying to get off the plane quickly because the immigration queue was long and took absolutely ages, and I already had a visa. (If you wanted a VOA you had to get one at a separate window and then join the end of the queue at immigration).
The taxi cost 300,000 from the airport and took about 2.5 hours. My taxi driver was named ‘David’ and I only mention him because he was a complete letch (tried to show me p@rn on his mobile!) so, all the ladies out there might like to avoid David.
There is now an ATM in Maninjau (previously I think the closest ATM was in Bukittingi, 1.5 hours away). The internet in Maninaju is a lot, lot better than it was 5 years ago. It was pretty much unusable then, but now it’s quite fast (almost the same as I have in Australia). And, it’s really cheap because the internet is mainly for the locals – it costs 3000 for an hour. There’s a café about 100metres south of the main Maninjau intersection and also a café in Bayua.
I have looked at a few different guesthouses so here’s a little review of them.
Lovely quiet place, quite a walk in (maybe 500 metres?) through the rice-fields but it’s a beautiful walk. There is a café there and I had breakfast with a few other tourists and the food seemed pretty good – just standard stuff. I didn’t stay the night but I looked at the rooms and they were large and clean, they cost 150,000 per night.
The travellers I spoke to said they had a good night’s sleep, except that at about 5am some animals, which they thought were monkeys, (but the people working at the café said were River Cats ??) jumped on their roof and they said it was quite loud, but only lasted 10 mins or so.
The only other drawback they said was there was no door to the bathroom, it was just around a corner in the room, so didn’t offer a lot of privacy.
The bungalows here don’t face onto the lake, so there are no direct views of the lake from the front of the bungalows. The beachfront I thought was OK – I didn’t think it had a such a great aspect on the lake, I liked Lillies and Bayua Beach’s location more.
I stayed here a night. The bungalows here (only 2 of them, I think) have a lovely location, they face straight out onto the water. The bungalows are simple, but at the front they have a little balcony with a desk and a day bed, which I really like. It was great to just spend the afternoon on the daybed watching the lake in front of me. The drawback to these bungalows is that they have no bathroom; you have to walk about 15 meters to get to the very simple bathrooms.
The food here is standard, but it was well made and nicely presented, I really liked the food I had. The rooms here are 50,000 a night. Lillie’s is very peaceful during the day. During the night I got a bit of motorbike noise, although it quieted down pretty early. Lillie’s is not too far from the mosques, so the sound of them woke me up – but I am an extremely light sleeper, so I don’t think it would be a problem for most people.
One thing that a couple of locals told me about Lillie’s was that sometimes things get stolen from the bungalows. (I guess because they face right onto the beach people can easily see what travellers have (i.e. a laptop) and when they go out.) So, good to be careful with your belongings at Lillies.
Bayua Beach Inn
For some reason this place is still not mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide, it’s my favorite place to stay. They have changed it a little over the past few years. The owner closed down the café attached to the inn and opened up a café 300 metres away along the main road (called ‘No Name Café’). There’s still a kitchen here though, so it’s possible to buy food and cook it here. There are also 2 makan Padang restaurants about 100 metres walk away.
There are three bungalows here, all simple but nice, with bathrooms. They cost around 70,000 a night (I’m not sure of the exact nightly price because I’m staying here a few months so I have a long-term price). The bungalows look out onto the lake, but there are trees in the way so you get more a view of the garden than the lake. This place is fairly quiet, although it gets a bit of traffic noise. It’s further from the mosque than Liilie’s so that noise didn’t bother me at all.
I love the location of the inn, it’s on a little rocky headland and you get lovely views of the lake. There’s a small beach, but it’s fairly rocky. The swimming here is good. There’s also a canoe so you can practice canoeing on a rudder-less canoe – very difficult! (Those fishermen make it look so easy!)
I have to give Bayua Beach Inn top marks for customer service. The guys that run it couldn’t be more helpful . A few days ago one of the other tourists staying here wanted to go to see a waterfall that is a 3 hour round drive from here. Aris, the manager, was going to take her but wasn’t sure the roads were OK, so in the morning he did the whole drive by himself to make sure, then took the tourist in the afternoon. This is just one example, but they really go out of their way here to make sure guests are happy.
If you come to Maninjau by bus from Bukittingi you can get an Ojek to any of these gueshouses. The Ojek drivers know them, so they will drop you off at the start of the paths that lead to the guesthouses. Coming from Maninjau, Lillie’s is first, then Bayua Beach Inn, then Arlin. (There is a guesthouse in Maninjau called 'Beach Guesthouse' but this is not the same as Bayua Beach Inn. The Beach Inn is about 3 kms further on along the same road).
I have been told by a couple of travellers that Bukitinggi is really, really noisy now, and that they got hardly any sleep. The mosques have always been a bit of a problem in Bukitinggi, but now there are lots of young men with loud motorbike who race each other in loops around the streets, (particularly the street where the Orchard and Kartini hotel are, as well as a few other hotels). The travellers I spoke to said, if they were lucky, the town would quieten down between 1.30am and 5am!
I hope this info is helpful. Please just let me know if you have any questions. If you want to see this report with some photos please go to my blog, below.
Jan 26, 2012 7:27 PM
Jan 27, 2012 2:10 AM
You finally made it. Oh am I jelaous in a big way!!
Those beautiful photos on your blog of Danau Maninjau certainly brought back some great memories.
Thank you so much for your report.
So sad to know that back packer tourism is so slow.
I guess you have not caught up with Hendri - he seems to be doing very well these days with Malaysian tourists.
Enjoy! enjoy! you lucky woman.
Jan 28, 2012 2:55 AM
3Thanks Emma. I reckon Maninjou is my favourite Sumatran spot. Gotta get back there!
Jan 29, 2012 9:26 AM
4Nice report, thanks a lot!
When we were there in August 2000 we stayed in Ernel's, maybe 500 meters north of Lillies. Do you know if it is still there?
Already then there were very few tourists.
I remember the villagers as not so friendly. It was difficult to get food sometimes. There was only 1 decent place and since we were usually the only foreigners there we felt a bit "overlooked", the waiters seemed to favor local clients over us bule. Quite different from the other places on Sumatra we've been to on that trip (Bukit Lawang, Berastagi, Tuk Tuk, Bukittinggi and P. Weh). It wasn't a real problem though.
Feb 6, 2012 6:17 PM
5Pamela - glad you liked those photos.. Don't be jealous - I'm sure you'll be back in Indo soon!! I have seen Hendri a couple of time and yes, he's really quite busy with Malaysian tour groups which is great for him.
Wus - I haven't heard of Ernel's or seen any signposts to it, so I'm thinking it's closed. I haven't found any problems getting food here - I think there are more cafes and places to eat now than there were when you came.
Mar 30, 2012 2:24 AM
6Just as a little addition to my original posting - the Bayua Beach Inn now has a new website. Here's the link: http://bayuabeach.weebly.com/
Mar 30, 2012 5:16 AM
Jan 21, 2013 1:21 PM
8Thanks so much for your very detailed report. It is rare to read something so nicely written on here.
You didn't mention anything about diving though. I would love to find a place like this in either Indo, and/or perhaps Cambodia, that has good support for scuba diving too. Any suggestions?
Jan 25, 2013 10:40 PM
Feb 3, 2013 3:15 PM
Feb 3, 2013 5:13 PM
11Maninjau, yes a lovely place, nice village / people / climate and a ‘jungle’ forest walk down from Lawang, some leaches, move quick be careful where you stop.
However, at the popular guest house with huts was a young Canadian who had developed a skin problem on the arms, looked like an eczema or such, I gave him some Hydrocortisone cream.
Some days later I also had a similar skin problem and I did not swim in the lake.
The shower water was pumped from the lake not far from some aquaculture.
No evidence just an idea.
Solution, perhaps the water could be pumped from further out from mid-lake.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$111.53 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$195.21 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$254.07 per night