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Information about Padang

Airport

The Minangkabau International Airport is about a 45 minutes drive to the north of town. Taxis are available from the official taxi stand, just outside and to the left as you emerge from the terminal building. The fare to the center of town and the Kyriad Hotel Bumiminang is approximately Rps 120,000. (Note that the hotel is commonly known as the "Bumiminang"; the "Kyriad" is a recent addition, and some taxi drivers may not be familiar with it.) The official taxi stand will give you a coupon and charge a small booking fee; you then pay the driver at the end of the journey according to the meter.

Orientation


Padang City Centre

The Kyriad Hotel Bumiminang Hotel is right in the middle of town. (In the above map it is marked with a star.)

The central market (marked 1) on the map is just a few minutes'walk north of the hotel.

The beach, with a row of food and drink stalls, is at its nearest point (marked 2), just a 5-10 minute walk away. Exit the hotel to the left, and then at the roundabout (there's a park to your right) turn right, then immediately left, and the Indian Ocean is right ahead of you.

Another pleasant walk is to "Pondok", the local Chinatown. The four-way junction Simpang Kinol (marked 3) offers a choice of food stalls open until late at night. Further south (in the area marked 4) are some pretty Chinese temples and clan houses, and just past them is the riverfront, with a row of old dilapidated colonial-style buildings and lots of boats. You can cross the river on two bridges, the other side has a completely different, rural atmosphere.

Transportation

Metered taxis are safe and cheap, though sometimes a little hard to find, plus drivers may sometimes be reluctant to turn the meter on. Also, you should be aware that at night, many taxis come equiped with a female companion; if you're not interested, just make this clear and there should be no problem.

Other transportation options include "ojek", or motorcycle taxis; fares, to be negotiated with the driver, are from Rps 5,000 up. It's sometimes hard to distinguish an ojek from a regular taxi; just stare longingly at a motorcycle, and if it's an ojek he'll stop for you.

Finally, there are "angkot", or minibuses, which ply regular routes. Some of them are so small that many westerners can hardly fit inside even when they're empty. And they're usually not. The vehicle vibrates so hard from the techno music inside that you hardly notice the broken shock absorbers.

Money

Changing foreign money or travellers cheques locally is possible but inconvenient. By far the best method of accessing cash is through ATM machines, available everywhere, including on the grounds of the Kyriad Bumi Minang Hotel. Most ATM machines will recognize most of the cards you're likely to be holding, and will give you a better rate than money changers or banks. Major international credit cards are, in principle, acceptable at most major hotels and establishments; however, this is less than completely reliable, as the card-reding machines are often broken, and there is also a (small but non-negligible) threat of fraud.

Weather

Weather is tropical. If you're planning to go outdoors, be prepared for either hot sun or sudden downpours.

Health

Pharmacies are well-stocked, but medical care is abysmal; for anything serious, you should evacuate to Jakarta, or better still, Singapore.

Padang is in a malarial zone; however within the city the risk is relatively low.

Dress

Locals tend to dress somewhat more formally than people from many other countries, but there's no need to go overboard with this. Still, you'll feel more comfortable with your shoulders and knees covered. Although Padang is on the beach, it's not a beach resort; you shouldn't wear beach-style clothing around town. As for taking a dip, most westerners will find that anything they might feel comfortable swimming in will attract unwelcome attention: locals wishing to ogle white flesh go to Kuta beach in Bali.

Food

Fantastic. Nasi Padang ('Padang rice') is famous throughout Indonesia and beyond. Don't leave without trying at least one local restaurant. Just sit down and say makan ('eat') and a buffet will be laid out in front of you; just help yourself from as few or as many of the little dishes as you wish, and you will only be charged for what you touch.

Language

Some people speak some English, most people don't. Like almost everywhere in Indonesia, the everyday language is a local variety of colloquial Indonesian. The local language is Minangkabau, which is one of the larger regional languages of Indonesia, with a total of a few million speakers. In addition, there are migrants speaking various other languages, such as Malay, Acehnese, Batak, Nias, Mentawai, Javanese and many others.

Outside Links

Padang: Wikipedia

Padang: Wikitravel

Minangkabau people: Wikipedia

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Page last modified: 23 April 2017, Sydney