Bengkulu City

viewer: 16680 | love: 0


Bengkulu, capital and largest city of Bengkulu Province, is not only the center of the provincial administration and facilities but it is also a city steeped in history. Traces of the great bygone era decorate major parts of the city and radiate a distinct classic ambience.


With a total area of 245.67 km², the city of Bengkulu is situated on the south-west coast of Sumatra directly facing the Indian Ocean. The city was once named ” Bencoolen” by the British and “Benkoelen” by the Dutch. It is said that the name “Bencoolen” was derived from the English word “Bent Coal land” since the area was blessed with an abundance of coal. However, another version suggests that It is derived from the local language Bangkahulu or Bangkahuluan from the Javanese language, where “Bang” translated means coast,  and “Kulon” means  west.


Following  the rule by the Kingdom of Banten  on Java and the Minagkabau of West Sumatra over the area , Bengkulu fell to  the British in the 17th century. At the time when the Dutch established the Verenigde Oost Indië Compagnie or VOC, the British founded the East India Company (EIC) and the two would engage in an endless battle for control over the spice trade in the area around the Malacca Strait, especially in the trade of pepper. To protect their interest here, in 1714 the British built Fort Marlborough. The Fort is known as the second largest fortress built by the British's EIC in Asia and has been well preserved until today. However, Bencoolen was never financially viable, because of its remoteness and difficulty in procuring pepper. Despite these drawbacks, the British persisted, maintaining their presence there for 150 years.


The British colonization of Bengkulu was faced with many conflicts and resistance from the local population.  In 1719, the British were driven out of Bengkulu, although they managed to return.  In 1807, the British Resident or Governor Thomas Parr was assassinated by a local of Bengkulu and was later replaced by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. To commemorate his services, in 1808 the British ruler erected the Thomas Parr Monument about 100 meters from Fort Marlborough, which can still be seen today.


Immortalized in thename of the gigantic flower Rafflesia Arnoldi , which has become the icon of Bengkulu Province, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles was the last British Governor before the British finally ceded the territory to Dutch in exchange for the island of Singapore. During his reign in Bengkulu, the British governor occupied a residential house which was also used for government activities. Nowadays, the building of the British Governor’s House still stands in its original architecture and is used as residence for the present Bengkulu Provincial Governor.


The British eventually ceded Bengkulu to the Dutch colonial as part of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 to focus their attention on Malacca. Like the rest of present-day Indonesia, Bengkulu remained a Dutch colony until after World War II, when Indonesia declared her Independence in 1945.


Probably, the most notable of all the British traces in Bengkulu is the British Christian Cemetery which became the final resting place for British troops in colonial times. The cemetery is also acknowledged as the biggest Christian cemetery in South East Asia.


During the imprisonment of Soekarno by the Dutch in the 1930s, the future first president of Indonesia lived in exile briefly in Bengkulu City. Here he met his wife, Fatmawati, who gave him several children, the most famous being Indonesia’s first female President Megawati Sukarnoputri. The  house of exile of Soekarno remains well preserved along with some of the most historical items that once were used by the country’s first President.


To Eat, To Stay, To Do

As capital of Bengkulu province, and staging point to explore the rest of the province, there are a number of star-rated hotels and inns available in Bengkulu City. Here are some of the accommodation options available in the city:


Grage HorizonJl. Pantai Nala 142, Anggut Bawah, PO BOX 44Phone:  +62  736 21722Fax: +62 736 22072Email: gragehorizon@gmail.comWebsite:

Bidadari Beach HotelJl. Pariwisata Pantai Panjang No. 14Phone: +62 736 700810, 345449Website:

Dena HotelJl. Fatmawati No. 30Phone: +62 736 341171Fax: +62 736 21066

Splash HotelJl. Sudirman No. 48Phone: +62 736 23333Fax: +62 736 28099Email: Website:

MADELIN HotelJl. Bakti Husada No. 88Phone: +62 736 52777

Hotel Bumi EndahJl. Fatmawati No. 29Phone: +62 736 21665Fax: +62 736 346442

Hotel Samudera DwinkaJl. Jend. Sudirman No. 246Phone: +62 736 21604 / 23128Fax : +62 736 23128

Hotel RIOJl. Veteran No. 63Phone: +62 736 345000 / 21952 / 25769Fax: +62 736 25728

Getting There and Around

Get There

There are no direct international flights to Bengkulu. You will have to take a flight to Jakarta and then take a connecting flight to Bengkulu. There are daily direct flights (6 times a day) from Jakarta served by Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, Citilink, and Garuda Indonesia.


Alternately, you can also catch regular buses from Medan, Padang or Jakarta. If you want to go there by bus from Jakarta, there are two common routes :

  • The West Route (Lintas Barat) takes you from Jakarta to Bandar Lampung and then through dense tropical jungle of Liwa, Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, and Krui. It takes around 22 hours with magnificent ocean view along the way, but the road condition is not very good and considered unsafe.
  • The East Route (Lintas Timur) goes from Jakarta to Bandar Lampung and then enters Bengkulu via South Sumatra. It's a longer trip (about 25 hours) but safer.

There are also several van travel that ply the route between Padang and Bukit Tinggi to Bengkulu City and the journey take around 19 or 20 hrs(IDR220,000). Many drivers tend to use the long journey via Muara Bungo and Sarolangun rather than use the coast road (Muko-Muko and Painan)  which has an 'absolutely with better view and scenery'.