Pulau Samalona

Travel Guide: A leisurely 3 days in Makassar

Makassar, the fifth largest city in Indonesia has long been a trading center that when Portuguese sailors landed in 1511, it was already a thriving entrepot where Chinese, Arabs, Siamese, Malays and Indians traded with manufactured goods, textiles, camphor, pearls and spices. The Dutch arrival in the 17th century marked colonial rule when the city was captured and Fort Rotterdam was built on the base of the sultanate’s fort. Today, its a thriving provincial capital of South Sulawesi and the biggest city in the island.

It’s not so much of a tourist destination, well, for most, Pinoys and foreigners, Bali is Indonesia but what I like about Makassar is its leisurely vibe, its strong heritage and culture cultivated through centuries of trade and exchange, a rich culinary tradition and a great base to explore nature, be it the sea or roughing it up with a little adventure. It’s also a good introduction to Sulawesi, that weird looking island east of Borneo and just south of the Philippines, which, I think has more to offer for the intrepid explorer especially up central and north of the island.

This travel guide is based on what we did in the three days that we were in Makassar. One thing that I like about it, and kudos to the team of Indonesia.Travel, is that it is not hectic, gives you the best of both the sea and adventure yet visitor friendly enough for all ages, a good introduction to Indonesian regional cuisine as well as affords you time to explore the city on your own.

What to do

Day 1

View of Bantimurung Waterfall and river. The banks are popular picnic areas for visitors

View of Bantimurung Waterfall and river. The banks are popular picnic areas for visitors

Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park

You can spend a full day exploring this interesting national park, considered the second biggest karst area in the world. Water tube down from the base of Bantimurung Falls, walk the forest trails to Gua Batu and just marvel at the butterfly collection, wild butterflies and insects and other wildlife. Or have a picnic at the banks.

READ MORE: Come and pour out your sorrows in Bantimurung

Day 2

The white sand bar that is Pulau Kodingareng Keke with some structures

The white sand bar that is Pulau Kodingareng Keke with some structures

A day at the beach: Kodingareng Keke and Samalona Islands

Nothing beats swimming in pristine emerald waters or snorkeling to observe marine life and the two islands of Kodingareng Keke and Samalona perfectly fit the bill. Just around an hour from the Bangkoa Port, visitors usually arrange to swimm at the former and have a lazy lunch in the latter, all for an affordable budget.

READ MORE: Enjoying a pristine sandbar off the waters of Makassar

Pantai Losari is a popular hang out spot for locals to catch the sunset. Explore the area including the floating mosque or have pisang epe (pressed bananas) at one of the open air dining areas adjacent to the park

Pantai Losari is a popular hang out spot for locals to catch the sunset. Explore the area including the floating mosque or have pisang epe (pressed bananas) at one of the open air dining areas adjacent to the park

Sunset at Pantai Losari

Mingle with locals, and especially on weekends and Sundays, catching the sunset is a popular activity in Pantai Losari. It’s a seaside park/seawall near Fort Rotterdam that includes the floating mosque, a modern architecture. Locals also enjoy eating pisang epe at the open air dining beside the street.

Jl. Penghibur, Ujung Pandang
Kota Makassar

Day 3

Get to know the colonial history of Makassar and Sulawesi as well as get acquainted with a UNESCO Memory of the World inscribed manuscript, the La Galigo

Get to know the colonial history of Makassar and Sulawesi as well as get acquainted with a UNESCO Memory of the World inscribed manuscript, the La Galigo

Fort Rotterdam, La Galigo manuscript inscribed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World

Historic Fort Rotterdam is the 17th century fortress built by the colonizing Dutch on top of the captured fort Jum Pandan of the Gowa Kindgom. It has five bastions and is also nicknamed the sea turtle fort, Benteng Penyu, because of its shape. It was fully restored in the 1970s is now a museum and houses some offices. One of the most interesting buildings is dedicated to La Galigo, one of two Indonesian manuscripts that have been inscribed under UNESCO’s Memory of the World. It is based on oral traditions and written down between the 18th and 20th century. Although the existing document is already 6,000 pages long, there is no still complete versions. While it is interesting, the exhibit is all in Bahasa Indonesia.

Jl. Ujung Pandang
Bulogading, Kota Makassar

Shopping for traditional crafts, local products and especially good Toraja coffee in the many oleh-olehs in Makassar

Shopping for traditional crafts, local products and especially good Toraja coffee in the many oleh-olehs in Makassar

Shopping for oleh-oleh

There are lots of places to shop in Makassar. From typical malls to the central market (Pasar Sentra), choices abound. But specifically for souvenirs, called locally as oleh-oleh, head to the area in Jalan Somba Opu, Jalan Pattimura and Jalan Wahab Taru which are just close to each other and close to both Fort Rotterdam and Pantai Losari. Goods include delicacies, Toraja coffee, textiles, crafts like Toraja house replicas, carved trays and sarongs.

Clockwise from top left: Popular food at Rumah Makan Muda Mudi includes the colorful Es pisang ijo, jalangkote, nasi champur. Lower right, our group adding to the already crowded restaurant

Clockwise from top left: Popular food at Rumah Makan Muda Mudi includes the colorful es pisang ijo, jalangkote, nasi champur. Lower right, our group adding to the already crowded restaurant

Where to eat

Head to Rumah Makan Muda Mudi for some traditional Makassarese food. Other than the nasi campur which is really very delicious, a play of textures and flavors, this restaurant is known for jalankote, think of this as a cross between our empanada (pastry shell stuffed with vegetables and meat) and the pastil found in Bongao in Tawi-Tawi which is similar to the empanada but filled with glass noodles and swimming in a spicy sweet sauce (the pastil in Cotabato-Gensan is another different food). The second is a dessert called es pisang ijo, iced green banana, literally. Very colorful, sweet, and a delicious cool treat. Golden banana variety (our version of senorita), wrapped in a green sticky flour batter swimming in shaved ice, condensed milk and rose syrup. Yum!

Rumah Makan Muda Mudi
Jl. Rusa No.45 A, Maricaya
Kec. Makassar, Kota Makassar
+62 411 871945
8AM–10PM

Traditional Makassarese food

Just a few of some Makassarese food from Rumah Makan Bahari

Other traditional Makassarese and Indonesian food can be had at Rumah Makan Bahari (JL. Monginsidi, No. 60, Kec. Makassar) where we first had dinner. Lots of seafood, curry fish and spicy dishes. Sulawesi is also known for its take on the ayama goreng, fried chicken being marinated in soy for 24 hours and special spices. Not shown here but you can head out to Ayam Goreng Sulawasi Baru (Jl. Ince Nurdin No.2, Sawerigading, Kec. Makassar, Kota Makassar).

Aston Makassar Hotel & Convention Center is a good choice when in the city

Aston Makassar Hotel & Convention Center is a good choice when in the city

Where to stay

Aston Makassar Hotel & Convention Center

is an upscale hotel around 14 minutes walk from Pantai Losari. It has comfortable and luxurious rooms, a descent breakfast buffet and, compared to hotels in the Philippines and like most of Indonesia, generally cheaper for its four star rating. I just love the comfortable bed and pillows, which is quiet important for me especially if you come back from a day’s activities and just want to rest and sleep.

10 Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin
Makassar, Kota Makassar
Sulawesi Selatan
Indonesia 90111
+62 411 3623222
https://www.aston-international.com/eng/hotel-detail/105/aston-makassar-hotel-convention-center

The beautiful terminal of Hasanuddin Airport. Inset, local pedicab called becak

The beautiful terminal of Hasanuddin Airport. Inset, local pedicab called becak

Getting there and around

Makassar is served by Hasanuddin Airport which has domestic and international flights. From the capital, Jakarta, Makassar is around two hours away. We rode Garuda Indonesia for all our trips, except from and to Manila and the airline has one of the best airline services I’ve experienced. From the airport, and going around the city, one can ride a pete-pete, a small van which is called angkot in Jakarta. Although there are specific routes for these vans, I just don’t know the routes but it is supposedly designated with letters. A more localized transport for short distances is the becak which is a pedicab. I would have loved to try this one but there was just no time for one.

This trip made possible through the Wonderful Indonesia program of the Ministry of Tourism. Check out the official website, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But don’t forget to Like my Langyaw Media Facebook page for updates.

For stories during my WONDERFUL INDONESIA trip, click on the TRIP OF WONDERS tag.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

One Comment

  1. @hostalworld
    August 22, 2016 @ 13:24

    Travel Guide: A leisurely 3 days in Makassar – https://t.co/oLs1kGkFCH

Leave a Reply