West Sumatra with children
Replies: 27 - Last Post: Jul 23, 2013 6:24 PM Last Post By: thelawnet
Jun 28, 2013 9:34 AM
West Sumatra with childrenHi, so this year we are definitely not staying 2 months only in Bukit Lawang but have committed to also visit West Sumatra.
We will fly Medan-Padang-Medan and have enough time for whatever.
We have two children, and the youngest is 5 (will be six in a couple of weeks). She is very sensitive to heat, and would prefer cooler (i.e. mountainous) areas.
We have already planned a stay in Cubadak. We may also stay here http://www.airmanis.com/page3/page3.html
I wonder if anyone can advise about suitable destinations. We were thinking Sawahlunto might be nice - I think it is at some altitude? Also if we stayed at Air Manis for a few days (PAdang Selatan), what destinations are in easy reach for a day?
We find the travel in Sumatra very gruelling and we would not want to do any eight hour bus journeys on broken roads.
Can anyone suggest where we should go?
Jun 28, 2013 11:26 AM
1Kersik Tua - the tea plantations at the foot of Mt. Kerinci are amazing! And it's pleasantly cool up there.
Jun 28, 2013 2:25 PM
2Bukittinggi is 2hr drive from Padang and has cool climate you can combine a day trip there with Lake Maninjau. Sawahlunto also has cool climate. How many days will you spend in West Sumatra? If you have time you can also visit the Twin Lakes (Danau Diatas and Danau Dibawah) and the tea plantation nearby. Kersik Tua is 7hr drive from Padang I think it can be too exhausting for your kids.
Jun 28, 2013 4:22 PM
I would seriously consider Kerinci as it is a lovely area and much cooler.
Maybe get a driver and car to take you all up there.
Luke Makin who posts on this forum lives in the area with young family.
I will ask him to come and post here for you and give you an insight into the area and whether it would be suitable.
Jun 28, 2013 4:31 PM
The following is my trip report of Kerinci, which I have posted before. The mountain trek is not suitable for the children, of course, but have a look at the Maranatha Homestay. The staff are very friendly and can arrange for a comfortable car with a driver (belonging to the hotel actually) that can take you to Kersik Tua - Kayu Aro. I recommend the hotel. You may find some useful info in this report and a few pics to give you an idea of what the area is like. My kids were 17 and 15 when we were there.
The absolute highlight of my trip to Sumatra was Kerinci.
Take a bus/flight to Padang.
We stayed at the Maranatha Homestay, which is not as expensive as it looks like. They also offer a bed in a dormitory for very little money. The place is run by a very nice and helpful Chinese family.
Then take a bus to Kersik Tua - Kayu Aro (7 hours). I suggest you stay at the Homestay Binardus Darmin. It is basic but clean. The family are very nice too and the food is delicious.
The area is fantastic - tea plantations and the majestic cone of Kerinci. My daugter took this photo right in front of the homestay:
Climbing the summit is a 2-day trek. To the trailhead it is 5km by ojek. Then it is 6.5 hours to the high camp at about 3300 m, and another 1.5 hours to the top early the next morning. Make sure to be at the summit at 05.30.
Dinner at the high camp : )
Our guide was Endatno Een. I really recommend him. Everything was perfect!
Endatno offers rain forest hikes too.
Get your guide to show you a specimen of Bunga Bangkai (Amorphophallus titanum):
Jun 28, 2013 6:34 PM
Jun 28, 2013 8:05 PM
6Hmm, I’m not sure if Kerinci would be the best fit for you actually. If you’re looking for adventure, definitely. But if you just want a relaxing, comfortable time with your family, maybe not. I mean, I live here with my wife and three kids (all three years old and under!) and love it, but I know it's not for everyone, and you are limited in what you can do with young kids. There’s the 8 hour drive to get here, which you explicitly stated you want to avoid. I suppose you could break it up with a few stops, and make it much more comfortable by renting a car and driver – I think the price is around 730,000 IDR now with the increased price of fuel – but sounds like that’s not really an option for you. There also aren’t great accommodations that have hot showers in the Kayu Aro area. Family Homestay used to, but it seemed they weren’t working last time I sent some folks there. Sungai Penuh does have hotels with rooms with hot showers. Most of those rooms seem to start around 250,000 IDR.
And we’re just off the beaten path in general, while it seems like most families want to visit areas that are more accessible.
For what it’s worth, here’s a Google map I’ve made of some of the things to do in Kerinci: http://goo.gl/maps/cqd2j
Anyway, in case you do consider it, you’d probably want to come straight here from Cubadak instead of going back to Padang, since that would just add to your travel time. I think the road is much straighter and in better repair following the coast down from Cubadak and cutting in to the mountains, rather than cutting in to the mountains at Padang and coming down through the valleys formed by the Great Sumatran Fault. Although, once you reach the mountains from the coast (coming through Tapan), the roads really deteriorate as it cuts right through the national park. The plus side is that you go slowly, and there are lots of chances to see wildlife, like our orange leaf-monkeys (Presbytis Melalophos Melalophos), short-tailed macaques, birds, etc (a deer jumped in front of our car once). Of course, better to reach this area before nightfall (unless you have some good torches to try to spot eye-shine).
Sungaipenuh is about 830 meters in elevation, so relatively cool compared to the coast (pretty much 16 – 27 C all year round, give or take a degree or two. But the sun can be intense at times since we’re near the equator). By far the best place to stay is Mahkota hotel, about a mile or so outside of town. Prices are cheaper, and accommodations include WIFI in the lobby, a swimming pool (including kiddie pools), badminton, tennis courts. But if you don’t have transport into town, and are afraid to use ojeks (motorcycle taxis) with the little one, you might prefer to stay at Jaya Wisata hotel (also has WIFI, but no pool – but has a connected café with lots of drinks available, and the only espresso machine in town), right in the center of town. Sometimes it’s possible to find a bendi (horse drawn carriage) passing in front of Mahkota, but you’d probably have to wait a little while (people would probably stop and offer you a lift in their cars as well if you looked like you wanted it – they’re so friendly here).
With young kids and without a car, with Sungai Penuh as a base, you could:
• visit the Pasar,
• see the old mosque Mesjid Agung
• visit a batik workshop or two
• go swimming, either at Mahkota or at the little water park near the Kantor Walikota
• walk through the ricefields surrounding the town
• hike up some of the hills behind Sungai Penuh (behind the walikota's office, or up to the cell phone transmitter)
• eat grilled corn up and look at the view up on Bukit Sentiong,
• take an angkot to the town of Semurup about 15 minutes away to see the hot springs (FYI, hot spring site 2 is much more interesting than site 1, but locals are more proud of site 1 and visit that much more often).
• have your photo taken a lot and probably be invited into people's homes.
With a rental car (about 350,000 IDR for 24 hrs to rent with a driver, without gas – although you probably could negotiate to hire an angkot for the day for cheaper in the pasar), you could:
• Visit probably the first two levels (of 13) of the Sungai Medang waterfalls (the path starts on the left hand side of the Sungai Medang hot springs).
• Watch life unfold around Lake Kerinci to the south
• Head south of the lake to Danau Lingkat near the village of Lempur. There’s a forested path that goes around the eastern side of the lake to a little pondok. It’s also good for swimming or riding on the available bamboo rafts.
• Head up to the Bukit Tapan road at night with some strong flashlights to try and spot wildlife from the car (I’ve seen slow loris, a few varieties of civets, giant flying squirrels, flying fox fruit bats, glimpse of a binturong and even a tiger).
To go up to the village of Kersik Tuo, it’s about an hour angkot ride (the white one without red stripes, picked up from near the terminal in the Pasar), and costs about 10,000 IDR/person (could be slightly more with the fuel increases). In Kersik Tuo, if there’s no hot water at Family homestay, I’d stay at Pak Subandi’s homestay. The Kayu Aro area, where the village sits, has lovely, cool, fresh air – such an escape from the lowlands and feels like springtime all year round. It’s at about 1500 meters.
Some idea of things to do in Kayu Aro with young kids:
• In December me and some friends (with a 7-year-old) camped for a night in the forests at the base of Mt. Kerinci. I’m pretty sure my three-year old could have handled the two hour hike, but he’s pretty tough. We had a really great time, and saw a bunch of wildlife. Some photos here (it starts about halfway through the album).
• Not sure how comfortable you feel about taking your kids up a river, but it's possible to ride on two wooden dugout canoes that are nailed together for stability as they go through the Rawa Bento wetlands, looking for birds, monkeys, and other wildlife.
• Take a 10 minute angkot ride south to the Aroma Pecco park for a stroll and picnic. A nice pathway dotted with benches surrounds a small pond covered in trees, all in the middle of the largest tea plantation in the world.
• You can tour the tea factory in the village of Bedeng Delapan (VIII).
• Take an angkot about 40 minutes north to the village of Letter W to see their waterfall (Telun Berasap).
On the map , there are markings and pictures of all of these places. Good luck with your planning wherever you decide to go!
On a side note. Klemencja, I'm also not sure why you feel the need to post the exact same thing in every thread whenever Kerinci is mentioned. I feel like linking to older posts would be sufficient. I'm so happy whenever someone recommends that people visit Kerinci, don't get me wrong. I obviously think it's a great place. But after a while, it feels a little spammy when you copy-and-paste the same info verbatim ever time. I'm a little worried people are going to think that Kerinci is filled with touts, when the reality is that there isn't any of that here. It just makes no sense to post a trip report about climbing Gunung Kerinci when the OP is talking about bringing a 5-year-old....
Jun 29, 2013 4:29 PM
Jun 29, 2013 5:13 PM
Jun 30, 2013 1:02 AM
9Mahkota Hotel would be ideal for a young family if OP decided to venture as far as Sungai Penuh - it would require transport to get into town with a young family. I was lucky enough that one of Luke's friends allowed me to rent his scooter for the weeks that i was there as a solo traveller.
The Mahkota is friendly and has a great pool. Breakfast poolside every morning with the views of the hills behind was always a good start to the day.
Sungai Penuh and surrounding area is a wonderful place to visit; day trips further down the valley and time spent with the local people at night was one of the best times during my extended visit to Indonesia last year..... and I can't thank Luke enough for his time and knowledge of things to do and places to see..... the tourist office is a great place to visit for local guide books.
Sungai Penuh itself is one of the very few places that I came across, that had no touting - everyone was honest and just wanted to help the foreign guy.
A remarkable town with good food, friendly people and wonderful countryside.
Jul 14, 2013 10:47 PM
10So we are in cubadak now and leaving tomorrow.
If we head south along the coast towards kerinci, where do reach first?
If we wish to stay in mahkota in sungaipenuh, is that much further, or should we proceed directly there?
Currently I am thinking we will do a loop down to kerinci, stay some time, then back via singkarang lake to bukittinggi area then from there back to padang for flight to medan.
I looked at Lukes map but the internet here is a bit weak so it didn't load very well.
Is there any ATM in sungaipenuh? Supermarket? Mall?
Thanks for further feedback.
Jul 15, 2013 8:01 AM
Jul 15, 2013 9:45 AM
12Sorry, just seeing this now. Seems kinda pricey for the transport! It's a bus or an Innova? Usually if I go the coastal road from here all the way to Padang, the price would be around 850,000 IDR for an Avanza/Innova type, but that was before the gas price increase. I imagine maybe at the very max, with the fuel increase now, price would be 1 million...
Anyway, the road from the coast comes right into the middle of Sungai Penuh, so you can go straight to Mahkota hotel easily. There are BNI and BRI ATM machines around. No mall or supermarket, but a large daily pasar (wet and dry) and a number of mini markets. Good luck! Hope to see you around! I'm the bule with the bright blue motorcycle and sidecar :) Although, when you arrive I'll be in the middle of climbing the Mt. Kunyit volcano a little over an hour south of Sungai Penuh.
Jul 15, 2013 9:44 PM
Jul 15, 2013 11:42 PM
14yes, ac transport is easily found - many transport companies around.
Just for your info, there wasn't an ATM local to Mahkota when I was there last year. Your incoming transport will no doubt take you straight to Mahkota on request, with maybe a stop at a bank in town. As Luke says, you'll be driving through town as you head out to Mahkota.
Enjoy Sungai Penuh and surrounds.
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