Breathtaking crater lakes, volcanoes, canyons, infinity pools atop a waterfall, white sandy beaches on tropical islets, stunning seascapes, and genuine local food. Experience all these and more in a perfect long weekend trip to Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia, by flying with AirAsia!

To quickly put these in perspective, here are pictures that show what Padang has to offer:

See the Grand Canyon of Asia at Bukittingi, just two hours away from Padang.
The massive caldera lake of Danau Maninjau near Bukittingi is seen from Puncak Lawang.
Have an uninterrupted holiday at Bungus Beach in Padang, a great place to chill. There are barely any tourists around.
Be amazed at the distinctive architecture all over Padang.
Get ready for some waterfalls adventure at Air Terjun Lubuk Hitam.
What’s more: you can enjoy a natural infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean.
The infinity pool at Air Terjun Lubuk Hitam in Bungus, Padang, Indonesia. Don’t go too near the edge. It’s very high!

The Context

My Slovakian friend Jakub and I took our life adventures another notch higher in an unexpected trip to Padang on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Thanks to AirAsia for picking us as among the winners of their Facebook contest, we were among the few lucky people who got onboard their inaugural flight to this culturally rich city in West Sumatra.

Padang is among the few cities that I’ve been eyeing to visit for quite some time, given its close proximity to Singapore. So I’ve had pretty much a good idea on how I wanted my trip to be once I got there. Looking at the map, a flight to Padang from Singapore appears much closer than a flight to Penang, Malaysia. This means that we could easily repeat the experience we would have in this city when there’s a long weekend in Singapore.

Upon landing at Minangkabau International Airport, all arriving passengers were welcomed with garlands by the airport staff. This got us so excited that we quickly started our adventure by hopping on board a public van bound for the mountain town of Bukittinggi, located two hours away to the north of Padang.

You will see a lot of rice fields in Padang.

The ride was scenic: from rice fields, and waterfalls, to the welcoming views of the magnificent Mount Merapi and Mount Singgalang volcanoes, we had our grand dose of the beauty of nature in Padang and the idea of the lifestyle of people in this Indonesian regency.

A glimpse of the slopes of Mount Merapi volcano near Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia.

We arrived midday at Bukittinggi and immediately checked in at Hotel Asia, located in the center of the town, and right away had our first Padang meal. A genuine nasi goreng (fried rice) for 8.000 IDR / 0.80 SGD. Extremely affordable!

We then hired a driver who showed us around Bukittinggi for 300.000 IDR / 30 SGD in the entire afternoon.

What to do in Padang, Indonesia?

1. See the Grand Canyon of Asia in Bukittinggi.

Our main goal in Bukittinggi was to see the overlook view of Danau Maninjau (Lake Maninjau) at its rim from Puncak Lawang. Danau Maninjau is a massive volcanic caldera lake. So this was naturally attractive to me and my Slovakian friend, as we’re both fond of landscapes.

Relish the view of the Great Canyon of Asia. It’s much prettier in person than how it looks in the picture!

Before we got there, our driver took us to Janjang Koto Gajang, dubbed the ‘Great Canyon of Asia.’ The landscape was fantastic, especially being the first canyon I’ve seen by far. They also built a copy of the Great Wall there so that was something we’ve also explored.

The Great Wall of Padang, Indonesia.

2. Take your breath away with the views of a massive caldera lake at Puncak Lawang.

A heavy downpour happened on our way to Puncak Lawang, which quickly brought the visibility of the surroundings to near zero as the mist blanketed the whole area and lowered the temperature. This remained so when we arrived at the crater rim.

Near zero visibility when we arrived at Puncak Lawang.

After an hour, the sunshine but through the clouds and the thick mist slowly disappeared, dramatically revealing the caldera lake before our eyes. This got us mystified and ecstatic, especially with a cup of hot coffee in our hands!

The Danau Maninjau caldera lake slowly appears.
Danau Maninjau caldera lake dramatically appears after being blanketed with thick mist.
My friend Jakub was overwhelmed by the magnificent view of Danau Maninjau from Puncak Lawang.

3. Enjoy genuine local food and ice cream.

Our first day ended with a taste of a locally made ice cream made from pumpkins, then another glorious nasi goreng dinner.

4. Explore the tropical islets south of Padang.

We left Bukittinggi early with a public van back to Padang, where we took an Über bound for Bungus Beach. This is where one can take a boat ride to one of Padang’s hidden gems – – the small islands laced with white sandy beaches and clear, blue waters. We were told that one pays about 300.000 IDR / 30 SGD to join a whole day group trip to Padang’s top three islands, inclusive of everything, including food, island entry fees, and water sports equipment! A steal.

A scene of fishermen at Bungus Beach in the early evening.

Unfortunately, we missed the boat timing so we stayed at Bungus Beach where we spent an adventure-filled day and slept at Losmen Carlos Homestay.

5. Swim at a natural infinity pool on top of Air Terjun Lubuk Hitam waterfalls.

Instead of exploring the islands, the guys at Losmen told us about the nearby waterfalls of Air Terjun Lubuk Hitam, where we discovered an infinity pool atop a waterfall with a fantastic view of the Indian Ocean! This involved a strenuous, steep hike, albeit a very rewarding one. We were greeted by the locals as we walked into a small village leading to the base of the waterfalls.

Done my trademark at a natural infinity pool in Padang, of course!

6. Witness a magnificent sunset over the Indian Ocean.

If you’re lucky, you could see a beautiful sunset on the horizon from a scenic coast at Padang. Our idea was to go to Puncak Mandeh, located further south, but we were quickly stopped by the adverse weather. Instead, we chilled at one of the hippie bars at Bungus Beach and enjoyed our avocado milkshakes for 17.000 IDR / 1.7 SGD each, as Bob Marley’s popular songs played in the air. There was barely a tourist so it felt like we owned the place. My friend and I could easily imagine coming back to Padang to experience this again!

The sunset view at Bungus Beach. Imagine if the weather was better!

Where to Stay in Padang, Indonesia?

If you’re looking for a cheap stay, I’d recommend Hotel Asia at Bukittinggi and Losmen Carlos at Bungus Beach.

The people at these places would be happy to help you discover the gems in Padang. Alternatively, you could also look for more elaborate accommodation on if require more comfort.

If you’re coming to Bukittinggi, it’s best if you visit on a weekday. We’ve been told that hoards of local tourists flock to this mountain town over the weekend for its cooler temperatures.

From Padang, you can also save money by taking Über rides to surrounding towns. Just make sure to be mindful and respectful of the local culture and I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Padang.

We can’t wait to be back there for our next attempt to explore the islets and the popular surfing islands of Mentawai!

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