One of the most amazing, random trips I had in my life was my trip to the city of Palembang, on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. I was pulled deeper into the fascination of the ancient world, following my visit to the alleged world’s oldest pyramids which I have seen in another region in Indonesia.

It wasn’t exactly the city that made it a top-notch destination but finding a gem hidden away in the mountains of southern Sumatra — the ancient city of Pagar Alam. Have you heard about it? Chances are, you haven’t.

The iconic bridge in the City of Palembang, Indonesia. Palembang is nicknamed as the “Venice of the East” because of the many tributaries and streams that cut through the city.

In a nutshell, here’s what to expect from a trip to Pagar Alam:

A photo taken in the middle of a massive, mountainside tea plantation in Pagar Alam, Sumatra, Indonesia.
Pagar Alam is primarily known for its stunning waterfalls. There are thousands of them waiting to be explored.
This three-way waterfalls in Pagar Alam, Indonesia, weis among the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen in my life.
The three-way waterfalls in Pagar Alam, mirroring on the water surface.
I also visited another small waterfalls in Pagar Alam, Sumatra, Indonesia.
Located on the foot of Mount Dempo, you can drive up to 1800 metres above sea level to enjoy a stunning panorama of Pagar Alam, and the surrounding mountains.
Pagar Alam’s Mount Dempo rises up to 3,173 metres above sea level, the highest in South Sumatra. A hike up this glorious mountain is definitely a must in my next visit.
A scenic highway in the middle of a tea plantation encircling Pagar Alam’s Mount Dempo.
Experience the refreshing temperature as the fog sweeps across the massive tea plantation at Pagar Alam.
Thousands of years ago, ancient humans lived in this stone house in Pagar Alam, Sumatra, Indonesia.
An ancient prehistoric stone house hidden away in the rice fields of Pagar Alam, Indonesia.
Pagar Alam is also known for its pre-historic megaliths which date back 2000 – 3000 years. These ancient monuments truly stood the test of time and now being actively preserved.
Stone carvings done by the ancients of Sumatra, Indonesia.
A sign which informs visitors how old the monoliths in Pagar Alam are.
The prehistoric monoliths at Pagar Alam are scattered throughout the city, with some seemingly randomly located in the middle of rice fields.

The Context

This trip would not have happened if I didn’t accidentally spot a promo from Scoot Airline for its new route from Singapore.

They were selling a one-way flight to Palembang for only $15 SGD / 9.15 EUR, so cheap that I impulsively booked it without knowing what to expect there.

Nobody could tell me about Palembang, except a friend who said that the founder of Singapore originated there. I find this surprising given that this city appears to be nearer to Singapore than Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.

A few days before the trip, I discovered an interest in visiting the islands of Belitung, located 3-hours away by a ferry from Palembang, and is supposedly laced with beautiful sandy beaches.

However, after a bit more research, I read something about the land of a thousand waterfalls and megaliths.

This led my decision to explore the prehistoric features of the City of Pagar Alam, despite it being located 300 KMs away from Palembang.

How to fly cheap from Singapore to Palembang?

Here’s how I travelled to Palembang from Singapore:

  • From Singapore Central Business District (CBD), I went to Harbourfront MRT station and took a ferry to Batam Island, in Indonesia. I spent a night in a cheap but decent hotel there.
  • I flew with Citilink Airline to Palembang from Hang Nadim Airport in Batam on early Friday morning.
  • From Palembang’s Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Airport, I took a taxi to the city to catch the train to the town of Lahat, located halfway between Palembang and Pagar Alam, but I missed it and ended up riding a bus instead.
  • I took a bus from Palembang to Pagar Alam. I left around 10:00 AM and reached Pagar Alam around 5:00 PM. That’s a staggering 7 hours of travel, but all worth it.

Where to Stay in Pagar Alam

There are not many choices in terms of accommodation in Pagar Alam. But I was lucky to find Safira Homestay on I can’t overstate how amazing and comfortable my stay there was, thanks to the incredible hospitality of its owners.

I have been welcomed warmly in this homestay in Pagar Alam, Sumatra, Indonesia. I can’t overstate how thankful I was!
The owner of the homestay where I spent my nights in Pagar Alam , gladly showed me around Pagar Alam and introduced me to his friends.

They were attentive to my needs and ensured that I would experience the best of Pagar Alam during my trip and that I’d come back to Palembang safe and sound.

Have you been to this city? Let me know in the comments below!

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