Travelling north from Padang, capital of West Sumatra, towards Bukittinggi, one will pass a breezy little town that stands over 700 meters above sea level, called Padang Panjang. Protected by three towering mountains on the north namely: Mount Marapi, Mount Singgalang, and Mount Tandikek, this town offers picturesque scenery to complement its refreshing ambience.
Padang Panjang is divided into 4 administrative areas called resorts, they are: Gunung (Mountain) Resort, Lareh Nan Panjang Resort, Pasar (Market) Resort, and Surungan Hill Resort.
The town is also known for its Islamic ambience and, as it is one of the centers to study Islam in Sumatra since the 20th century. Padang Panjang is the home of Sumatra Thawalib, a reputable Islamic learning center which has been renowned for years. There are at least 5 other Islamic Schools (Pesantren) in Padang Panjang which are: Serambi Mekkah, Thawalib Putri, Diniyah Putri, and Kauman Muhammadiyah, and here are no less than 54 Al-Qur’an Education Center.
Padang Panjang was once part of the Tuan Gadang’s territory of Batipuh area. During the Padri War against Dutch colonization which occurred in most parts of West Sumatra, the little town came to be occupied by the Dutch and was used as a defense post as well as a staging point to conquer the Padri Guerillas who controlled the area of Luthak Agam.
The town also became the seat of the West Sumatra government during the Dutch Military Aggression in 1947.
Padang Panjang is also popular as the central market for neighboring towns of Batipuh, Panyalaian, Koto Baru, Kayu Tanam, Sicincin, and others.
The hilly little known is also known for its farming, especially rice farming. Approximately 57 percent of Padang Panjang area is used for farming, plantations, public forests, and fresh water fisheries. With a high level of rainfall and fertile volcanic soil, Padang Panjang is considered the perfect place to develop farming and horticulture.