The city of Padang is situated on the coast of West Sumatra and is the biggest city of the western part of the island. A centre of trade and an ex-Dutch colony, the place is a mixture of different cultures, with the architecture reflecting Dutch Colonial and Chinese as well as traditional Sumatran style buildings. However, the latter one is definitely the most exciting and the reason why a lot of tourists are attracted to the city.
The origin of the "rumah gadang" or spired roof houses is still unclear -- some say the first settlers to the area used their boats to put on the tops of their houses as roofs, while others believe they symbolize the horns of the buffalo, an animal that is considered extremely powerful and that is of core importance to the survival of the people living on this territory.
Nevertheless, these houses with their roofs pointing towards the sky at their two ends have proved to be a fascination for people from near and far and have given rise to the many ethnographic museums. One of them is the Adityawarman Museum that has a very impressive rumah gadang with a small exhibition on local ethnography inside including a wedding podium.
Just adjacent to the museum is the other main site of the area, the Bukittingi Zoo, which is a rather depressing place; with orangutans chewing on plastic bags and animals pacing around in their tiny cages, this place is not really worth the money or time. Instead, you should opt for a day trip to the nearby canons and waterfalls at Ngarai Sianok, which are simply breathtaking. Although Padang is located on the coast, this place is not ideal for a beach holiday. However, some of the most amazing surf spots are only a boat ride away from here, on Batu Island and Mentawai Island. You should not have a problem securing a Padang hostel for your stay.
Hi, I'm JudyM,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Padang hostels. Welcome.