Getty Images/iStockphoto

Makassar

The gritty but energetic metropolis of Makassar is one of Indonesia's primary ports. It's a seething maelstrom of commerce and shipping, with a polyglot population of Makassarese, Bugis and Chinese residents. But as the city has few sights, and the tropical heat and pollution are unremitting, travelers rarely stay long before moving on to regional destinations.

Makassar was the gateway to eastern Indonesia for centuries, and it was from here that the Dutch colonizers controlled much of the trade that passed between the West and the East. You can investigate the city's historical core around Fort Rotterdam, which includes the remains of an ancient Gowanese fort and some Dutch buildings.

Note that the one-time name for Makassar, Ujung Pandang, is still in common use. Look for both names when arranging flights and other transport.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Makassar.