Road Trip and Camping: Bukittinggi - Padang - Raja Ampat of Sumatra

Morning coffee at Echo Beach Camp

We spent New Year’s Eve in a stunning campground on Puncak Lawang, near Bukittinggi. I wish we would have had more time to explore the beautiful area around Bukittinggi but our holidays were slowly coming to an end and we had to head further back towards Jakarta.

Find our detailed route here

Route from Bukittinggi to Padang

We followed the West Sumatran Highway (Lintas Barat) to Padang. The public holidays lead to heavy traffic and other than the extremely busy Lambah Anai waterfall, which can be seen from the road and some old railway tracks, there was not much to see along this route.

Source: Seide

I highly recommend taking a different route via Batusankar to see Istano Basa Pagaruyung, the king’s palace. Then you can enjoy the rice fields at Puncak Kawa and go for a swim at Lake Singkrank before heading to Padang. There are many more great places to see between Bukittinggi and Padang for those of you who have time.

I recommend this alternative route to get from Bukittinggi to Padang

Also, don’t miss out on tasting some delicious Padang food. It’s famous all-around Indonesia and can be found in almost every restaurant in this area. It’s perfect for people who like to try many different types of dishes. When you sit down, the waiter will bring you a plate of white rice and many small bowls with different dishes. Just eat as much as you like. When you’re done, the waiter will check the bowls and you only need to pay for what you have eaten. The prices for each dish are usually quite low so try as many a possible.


In Padang, we had the option to use the fast by-pass road leading around the city. However, even though we knew that we won’t have a lot of time to explore Padang, we wanted to at least drive through the city and take a quick look at it.

We stopped at Masjid Raya Sumatera Barat, a huge, fascinating, and very unique mosque. Its main building differs from other Indonesian mosques as it is built in the traditional Minang (indigenous people of West Sumatra) style with a dramatic curved roof structure. This mosque is quite a sight, so make sure not to miss it. 

We also drove through Padang’s old town. It is filled with lots of ancient looking shop houses. Some parts are in dire need of renovation but it’s still a fascinating part of the city to explore. Driving through it, I imagined how in the past, the narrow lanes where bustling with sellers and markets goes bargaining over goods and prices. I especially liked the road called Jalan Batang Arau which runs along a river and is located next to Siti Nurbaya bridge. You can find many cool restaurants and coffeeshops along this road. It must be a fun place to hang out at, especially in the evening.

Kawasan Mandeh Indah, the Raja Ampat of Sumatra

Soon after leaving Padang, we took at little detour off Lintas Barat on a smaller road along the coast to spend the night at Echo Beach Camp. The road is quite new and in great condition but it has some extremely steep parts. Some of the steep turns are quite tricky to drive, especially in oncoming traffic. Thankfully there were some kids who helped regulate the heavy traffic for small donations. They made sure that the most dangerous parts are driven one-way only to prevent cars from getting stuck on the hills.

All this challenging driving does however get rewarded. There are many viewpoints offering a stunning panorama over the hills and countless tiny green islands giving this area the nickname “Raja Ampat of Sumatra”. In case you are not familiar with Raja Ampat, it’s a famous archipelago and dream destination for divers and nature lovers located in the east of Indonesia.

Even if you’re not planning on spending the night in this area, I highly recommend taking a day trip to Kawasan Mandeh Indah from Padang. You can take a boat trip with one of the local fishermen to the nearby islands, relax and swim at one of the beaches, or just drive and enjoy the views over the bays from one of the many viewpoints. You won’t have to drive back the same route to Padang either as this road connects to Lintas Barat, giving you the option for a faster ride back to the city.

Beautiful spot, but.... 

unfortunately it really looks like this

I have visited some of the nearby islands a few years ago with a Couchsurfing friend. There are many beautiful snorkeling spots and it is also possible to camp on some of them. Just talk to the local boatman as they can probably even help you find some lonely islands for your own Robinson Crusoe adventure. Don’t worry if you don’t have any camping gear. It is possible to rent tents and other gear in Padang.

Pulau Pasumpahan

Echo Beach Camp

This a beautiful campsite right on a beach. It’s located here, in a large and calm bay. The owners put a lot of effort into creating this place and make sure that everything is clean and well taken care off. It has a little restaurant selling simple Indonesian dishes and some facilities such as toilets and showers. The Gazebos and wooden long chairs on the beach add to the campsite’s chilled vibes. It’s the perfect place to hang out at for a few days and forget all of your worries and responsibilities. Just make sure to give them a call (08126613447) before you head to this campsite as it’s only open on a few days a week.   

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