Padang is the gateway to the Minang highlands. With the largest port on Sumatra’s West Coast, this is a merchant town attracting ships trading in goods such as rubber, cinnamon, coffee, tee, cement and coal. If you take a stroll down to the old colonial waterfront you’ll see century old warehouses stocked with fragrant cinnamon and other spices waiting to be shipped to Jakarta and Singapore.
Air Manis is Padang’s most popular beach, located about one hours walk along the coast, or a quick trip in a minibus. The legend of the beach says that once a young man named Malin Kundang went out to sea to become a rich merchant. Famous throughout Indonesia for its distinctive cuisine, Padang is the place to go to sample the famous spicy nasi padang food that has spread throughout the country and the world, includes such delicacies as the spicy coconut curry rendang and soto padang. Experience the unique way Padang food is served. Watch how waiters expertly carry more than ten plates with all kinds of delicacies on both arms. These dishes will then be spread out on the table for diners to pick and choose.
Padang is half-way up Sumatra’s west coast and is served by a good network of land, air and sea routes. Padang’s new airport is the Bandara Internasional Minangkabau, 20 km north of the centre of town. Domestic flights go daily between Padang and Jakarta, Medan and Palembang. Airlines operating flights to Padang include Garuda, AirAsia and Lion Air. Padang’s Bengkuang bus terminal is located 12 km from town.
Most attractions in Padang are within walking distance but if you need a break, there are metered taxis available. Although slower, a more romantic option is to take a bendi – a horse drawn cart. The city is also serviced by mini buses and buses.