INDONESIA has been among the most visited destinations in Asia. However, it appears that most tourists only know of a few places there, such as Bali and Jakarta.
Do you know that apart from these popular vacation hideaways, there are also other must-visit destinations in this Southeast Asian country?
Taking advantage of the direct flight from Davao City to Manado, I recently had the opportunity to visit the Sulawesi region. I was able to tour some spots in the cities of Manado (North Sulawesi and Makassar (South Sulawesi).
Tips before flying
Since it was my first time to fly to Indonesia, you can surely imagine how giddy I was when I learned about the trip. In short, I had to experience a few “misfortunes” which I do not want you to have. Here are two major tips you may consider:
• Bring US dollars. The biggest mistake I did was to have my Philippine peso converted to Rupiah (Indonesia’s currency) before flying. It could have been better if I brought US dollars instead. Honestly, I felt like I was robbed P2,000 because the conversion rate in Indonesia is a lot higher compared here.
• Bring enough extra clothes. Indonesia is a tropical country and it is surrounded by beaches. You must bring, therefore, enough extra clothes (comfortable ones!) considering the scorching heat in this part of Asia.
Places to go, things to try
I stayed in Manado for two days. Since my schedule was full, I really did not have time to tour around the area. But, I was happy to know that more or less 80 percent of the city’s people are Christians. And that explains the presence of many churches.
I stayed in Aryaduta Hotel right at the heart of Manado. It is a budget hotel so I only spent less than P2,000 a night, especially that I was sharing the room with a friend. I definitely recommend the hotel since its rooms and services are comparable to the four-star hotels here.
Aryaduta is facing the beach, too. Therefore, you can enjoy a brisk walk each morning and say a prayer inside the nearest cathedral before going to your business meetings or other appointments.
On my third day in Indonesia, I flew to Makassar. Its distance from Manado is just the same with the Davao-Manila route. I spent another two days there.
Despite having limited time to roam around the city, I still enjoyed my stay in Kota Makassar (City of Makassar). Here are some of the must-visit places:
• Nike factory outlet. If you love the brand, this store must be part of your itinerary then. It gives as much as 70 percent discount!
• Losari Beach area. Your Makassar visit would never be complete without enjoying this part of the port city. This is where you can view the most enchanting mosques and other interesting sights.
• Es Pisang Ijo. If you want to taste something that is uniquely Indonesian, you have to try this iconic dessert. This is made of banana wrapped in a pandan-flavored dough and served with some pink syrup, shaved ice, sticky purple rice, and sweetened condensed milk.
• Padang restaurant. Enjoying the local cuisine’s exceptional taste is one of the things we look forward to as travellers, right? In Makassar, visiting a Padang resto is a must since it is not only the food choices they serve that delight you but its system as well.
As soon as you take a seat, the establishment will immediately put on your table all of its delectable dishes. Yes, you do not have to order since everything is already served right in front of you – from beef rendang and curried tuna fish and beef liver to chili eggplant and dessert. Once done with your gastronomic adventure, you will be asked to pay only for those you have “touched” or tasted.
By the way, you should not say “sarap” no matter how sumptuous the food is. Or else, the Indonesians around would be laughing at you. In Bahasa, “sarap” means “crazy”.
Thanks to Bimp-Eaga for facilitating the entry of Garuda Indonesia to finally serve the Manado-Davao-Manado air route! I am going back for sure since there is still so much to visit and experience!
If you have special events and fashion tips to share, or just want to discuss about any fashion-related concerns with me, you are always free to reach me at email@example.com.