Padang is an urban-Indonesian sprawl sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and the Minangkabau hills. It is to West Sumatra what Medan is to North Sumatra (but with better scenery) – a handy transport hub with air, boat and road connections to major regional attractions, including the Mentawai Islands, Bukittinggi, Danau Maninjau and the Kerinci Highlands. Due to the sheer volume of backpacker and surfer traffic passing through, it also has an above-average amount of good budget accommodation and an excellent dining scene, with its regional food the most globally famous of Indonesian culinary offerings.
Padang sits astride one of the planet’s most powerful seismic zones, centrally located on the tectonic hot spot where the Indo-Australian plate plunges under the Eurasian plate. Significant tremors occur on an almost annual basis.