Photo: Time to eat.

Introduction

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Padang is an old port town located on the west coast of Sumatra and a destination visited primarily as a jumping off point to places further afield. From the 17th century onwards, Dutch colonialists traded via the port in coffee and spices extracted from the fertile hinterland. Today, Padang relies on its status as the capital of West Sumatra and being the largest metropolis within 500 kilometres to generate its wealth and has in the past 20 years or so become like many other big Indonesian cities.



Visitors to Padang usually don’t find much of anything to do in the city and therefore try and get out of there as quickly as possible. In fact, there really isn’t much in the city at all for tourists, aside from a few old Dutch warehouses down by the river which are completely missable. That said, many people are trapped here for at least one night while waiting for a boat to the Mentawais or a flight to somewhere else. If that’s the case, the best thing to do would be to find a decent guesthouse and set out on a quest to explore some of the nearby food offerings.

Although the city itself is rather large, most foreign visitors choose to stay in the Chinese area of town where there are tree-lined streets, little traffic noise and good food. The rest of the city is positively bustling to the point where we cannot recommend visiting it as a traveller aside from as a place to catch a bus out of there.

The main commercial area of Chinatown lies along Jalan Pondok and Jalan Tepi Pasang, with guesthouses usually a few streets behind. It’s this short walking distance along quiet streets that makes staying in this area much more pleasant.

Transport in and out of Padang by land is painful, with no central bus station in operation. Instead, bus companies and private share taxis all compete for business from their own individual offices spread throughout town. This makes organising onward travel excruciating -- you will more than likely have to ask your hotel to call the company of your choice to determine current schedules, prices and departure points. We recommend doing this as soon as you arrive in town as the process can be long and drawn out when buses become full.

Padang is famous for its food, with Padang restaurants found in even the smallest of towns right throughout Indonesia. But Padang is the place where you’ll find the best of this spicy food and there is no better place to try some of these delicacies than at Rumah Makan Pagi Sore. Simply walk in, take a seat and one of the staff will fill your table with a selection of dishes. You only pay for what you eat, so take what you want and leave what you don’t. The rendang is superb.



Because of the city’s provincial status, internet throughout town is quite fast on 3G and even fast over WiFi connections in hotels. The hospital on Jalan Perinitis Kemerdekaan called Rumah Sakit Umum Pusat Dr. M. Djamil (T: (0751) 32371) is your best bet for medical care.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Padang.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Padang.
 Read up on how to get to Padang.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Padang? Please read this.





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