Sumatra --Sibolga, ferries, Benkulu and Tabot Fesival
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Oct 8, 2012 6:26 AM Last Post By: mike66jakarta
Sep 27, 2012 10:05 PM
Sumatra --Sibolga, ferries, Benkulu and Tabot FesivalWe're thinking of breaking up our over-land travel from Northern Sumatra down to Padang/Bukittinggi in some interesting way.
(We have time, we like the journey of over-land travel, but not night busses...)
We're thinking of heading from Medan towards Sibolga.
(We're at Danau Toba now, but will backtrack to Bukit Lawang before heading south... so we don't necessarily have to go thru Medan if there's a good route via Berastagi or something...)
Sibolga seems like it might be a neat place to see, even if we're not following the surfers to Nias. Any tips for someone there just to see the area?
Anyone know if there is still a ferry that runs from Sibolga to Padang? Seems there was one at some point.
If there is no ferry, does anyone have any recommendations on places to stop or things to see between Sibolga and Bukittinggi?
Also, we're thinking of going to Bengkulu later in November for the Tabot Festival. I've read a few good accounts around Thorntree about Bengkulu in general, but has anyone been there for the festival?
Sep 28, 2012 2:50 AM
1There is a ferry from Sibolga to Padang but only once a month. Next ferry will depart Sibolga at October 26 arrive Padang the next day. From Padang its a 2 hr drive to Bukittinggi.
If you can't wait that long for the ferry and decide to take overland journey I suggest to stop at Padang Sidempuan. About 3 hour drive from the city is an ancient (about a thousand yr old) Buddhist temple complex called Candi Bahal. They are not impressive and not well maintained but it's rare to find temples like these in Sumatra. Some pic of the temples:
If you don't like night buses you can spend the night at Padang Sidempuan and in the morning hire a car to continue your journey to Bukittinggi. You will cross the equator at Bonjol around noon and arrive at Bukittinggi before dusk. Good luck!
Sep 28, 2012 9:38 AM
2Sibolga has never been a popular place with travelers, despite some pretty coastline. It's a seedy port town with a reputation for scams and worse. Unless you're going to Nias, I wouldn't bother.
As has been mentioned, the middle-sized town of Padangsidempuan is well-placed for a stop, but it isn't tourist-oriented, so don't expect the accommodation to rise above functional. I'd personally fly from Medan to Padang, and forgo the area between Toba and Bukittinggi. West Sumatra and the Gunung Kerinci area south of Padang are far more rewarding.
Sep 29, 2012 2:19 AM
3I just rode my bike down that road. It is very scenic. A decent place for a one-night stop is Sipoholon, which is 7 km. north of Tarutung. There is a very interesting hot spring right behind the hotel -- kind of terraces of white minerals with beautiful pools. The hotel has a popular open air pool. The rooms at the hotel are 150,000 for 2 people (or 130,000 for one) and have a nice view of the hot springs. Sibolga appeared fairly pleasant, but I stayed another 10 km. further on at the Pantai Pandan beach. Nothing special there, but friendly enough. Padangsimpuan is a fairly large but ugly town. I stayed at Hotel Asri which has huge, huge suite rooms for 140,000. Not on the main road, you might have to call it Bumi Asih. There is kind of a sleazy scene there at night, but it is friendly and harmless and not noisy on the second floor. Lubuk Sikaping, 77 km. before Bukittinggi was a beautiful and very relaxed small town with fantastic scenery. I stayed at the Hotel Hamco for 100,000, which was quite nice, but there are loads of other hotels there.
Sep 29, 2012 4:01 AM
4All roads lead to Medan, and except for Nias not Sibolga.
Sep 29, 2012 8:16 AM
5yep, Gunung Kerinci area is great, but much better is Sengai Penuh area which is 60km's further south, far better than Gunung Kerinci area for things to do. I've been here for 9 nights now and have another 3 nights before I head for Padang Airport - I will be sorry to leave this area.
My days are spent traveling around the many waterfalls and lakes in this area - and having some of the best times of my 7 months traveling around all of Indonesia- it's truly a wonderful place.
Oct 1, 2012 1:42 PM
Oct 4, 2012 4:06 AM
7Hope he doesn't mind my jumping in, but he stayed in Mahkota hotel's cheapest rooms (70,000IDR/night). Mahkota is a bit on the edge of town, but has a swimming pool and free wifi in the lobby.
He rented a motorbike to get around (something usually not recommended unless you have a lot of experience with motorbikes on Indonesian roads--which he does).
Oct 4, 2012 9:18 AM
8as Luke says, Hotel Mahkota was slightly out on the edge of town, but at 70,000 with buffet breakfast (nasi/mee goreng etc). free wifi in the lobby area and a great swimming pool, it was by far the best choice in town - a recommendation from Luke which I'm glad I decided to act upon. The 70,000 rooms are within an annex and that annex has it's own communal area with TV.
I was there for over a week and all the locals (business and sales reps etc) who stayed there were great and friendly.
As Luke mentioned, I was fortunate to be able to hire a bike and feel safe anough to drive around all the areas surrounding Sungai Penuh. This was a great way to get around the area as well as poppinf into town to my favourite night time warung.
I'm in the process of writing a report on my time in the area, I'll do that and post as soon as possible.
There are other alternatives within the cty, just for your info, cheapest is 50,000 but it's a very basic room. Couple of places at 70,000 and then it rises. All of those places mentioned also have delux rooms which go up to over 200,000 and above - Mahkota was by far the best deal though.... poolside breakfast in the morning then a dip in the afternoon now and again after doing some sight seeing - an amazing area of Sumatra.
PM me if you need more info, unless you can wait for me to post the SP part of my report.
Oct 4, 2012 12:07 PM
9Thanks, guys. We haven't been back to West Sumatra for a few years, and the possibilities of going beyond Kerinci and into Jambi were always alluring. We won't be in Sumatra until April, so I'll keep an eye out for your post. Cheers.
Oct 5, 2012 12:48 AM
Oct 5, 2012 2:03 AM
I'm currently writing a report on Word before posting on this site. It's taking it's time which doesn't help with me moving on in my travels back towards Lombok tomorrow.
If you do need any info on the area (Kerinci) please don't hesitate in contacting me (I will be on line whenever possible over the next 2 days).
lukemackin is a gem of a guy who I'm sure would be very helpful in any questions put to him.
Oct 8, 2012 3:00 AM
Oct 8, 2012 6:26 AM
13Robert, do you write a blog about your journey somewhere in the internet? Would love to know what type of bike you are using and its specs, problems you had in Sumatra, etc. Planning to do similar journey next year. Thanks
(4 star Hotel)
From US$111.53 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$118.18 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$39.26 per night