North Sulawesi is composed of rugged mountains in its interior and sandy white beaches along its shores. Some of the best and most unique scuba diving and snorkeling spots in the world are found here. The people that inhabit this province are called Minahasa which refers to a confederation of tribes most which are Christians. They were very close with the Dutch and tried to establish an independent state in 1957, resulting in the bombing of Manado, the region’s most important town, and an Indonesian army invasion. You can still find old people that can speak Dutch and respect the Netherlands. Some Bajo sea nomads still inhabit the southern coast.

North Sulawesi is regarded as the most developed and cosmopolitan part of Sulawesi. The people here have a long history of trade with the Philippines and other parts of Asia. The Sangir-Taluad island serve as stepping stones between northen Sulawesi and the Philippine island of Mindanao. Coconuts are major product. Cloves, nutmeg, vanilla and coffee are also produced. There is a large,dirty gold mine in Buyat Bay owned by the Newmont Mining Company.

North Sulawesi Province covers 13,851.64 square kilometers. Its population rose from 2,270,596 in 2010 to 2,382,941 in 2014. Its population density is 172.0 people per square kilometer. Kingdoms that existed in existed in the past include the Manado, Tabukan, Siau, Kolongan, Tahuna, Kendahe and Manganitu. The Portuguese first arrived in 16th century, followed by Spain and then the Dutch in the middle of 17th century. Minahasans and Sangirese are the predominate ethnic groups. Members of smaller minorities as well as members of Indonesia’s large ethnic group can also be found throughout this region. There are several active volcanoes in North Sulawesi. Mount Karangetang erupted on the island of Siau in 1997. People were evacuated and four people were killed.

North Sulawesi food is spicy and unique. Rica-rica is a name of condiment or sauce that virtually can be applied into many things — chicken, fish, pork, even dog (called r.w. or air weh). Bubur tinotuan or bubur Manado, made of rice, corn, veggies are best eaten with a special chili sauce. Bats are also eaten here. The market were dogs are sold as food has got some negative attention in the West. Saguer (fermented sago wine) is worth a try. Cap Tikus (or Rat Brand) is a name of distilled saguer, sold with numbers attached denoting strength, no. 1 being the strongest. It's often diluted and mixed with fruit juices to create some kind of cocktail.

Tourism Office: Jalan Diponegoro 111, Manado 95112, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Tel. +62 431 851723, 851835, fax: +62 431 852730, North Sulawesi Tourism Board site:; North Sulawesi Tourism Organization PO Box 236, Manado 95124, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Tel. +62 431 824445, fax: +62 431 823 444, Website:


Sulawesi is a huge crab-, orchid- or K- shaped island east of Borneo and Kalimantan, south of the Philippines, west of the Moluccas and north of Flores. Formerly known as Celebes, it is about the size of Nebraska and consists of four large peninsulas fringed by coral reefs and covered by large wildernesses areas with marshy coastal plains and jungle covered mountains in the interior. There are also smoking volcanos and large agricultural areas. Off the coast in some places are distinctive Sulawesi fishing platforms.

Sulawesi covers 202,000 square kilometers. It accounts for 10 percent of Indonesia's area and 7 percent of its population. Sulawesi has lost 90 percent of its rich lowland forests to logging and agriculture. Many of the highland forests are still in good condition. Most people tend to live on or near the coast. The interior is generally sparsely habited. The major ethnic grous in the south are the Bugis and the Makassarese. The Toradja occupy the southern highlands. A mosaic of other groups are scattered acr

The ancient Chinese made it do Sulawesi. Some people today make their living today by digging up the graves of Chinese mariners and unearthing porcelain from the 11th century Song and Ming dynasties worth thousands of dollars. The mariners were often interned together and grave robbers have found 11th century vases using steel rods to probe the soft mud where they were buried.

Two of the most famous products from Celebes were Makassar poison, which, according to 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys, was given by Englishmen to dogs in their gentlemen's clubs to watch them die, and Makassar oil, which men used to grease back their hair. It was once described as the greasiest of the "greasy kids stuff." ♢[Source: "Ring of Fire" by Lawrence and Lorne Blair, Bantam Books, New York]

Indonesian independence brought name changes: Celebes became Sulawesi and the capital Makassare became Ujung Pandang. There was a Sulawesi independence movement that has since died out. In the chaos after independence, Islamic fundamentalist groups on Celebes held a foreign medical team hostage for 18 months. There were only two survivors. People in Sulawesi have demanded the return of land taken away by a Suharto family company.

Provinces of Sulawesi: Area in square kilometers, Population in 2010, Population in 2014, Density per square kilometers
South Sulawesi: 46,717.48, 8,034,776, 8,395,747, 179.7
West Sulawesi: 16,787.18, 1,158,651, 1,284,620, 76.5
Central Sulawesi: 61,841.29, 2,635,009, 2,839,290, 45.9
Southeast Sulawesi: 38,067.70, 2,232,586, 2,417,962, 63.5
Gorontalo, 11,257.07, 1,040,164, 1,134,498, 92.9
North Sulawesi: 13,851.64, 2,270,596, 2,382,941, 172.0
Total Sulawesi: 188,522.36, 17,371,782, 18,455,058, 97.4


Manado is the capital, port and gateway to North Sulawesi. Situated at the foot of a volcano and leveled by an earthquake in 1844, it is a busy city with streets full of blue mikolets and home to about 430,000 people. Manado isn’t a nice place to stay for very long but it does work as a base for some of Sulwesi most impressive sights. If you stay in the city for any length of time the fish market by the port is worth a visit. There are also some colonial buildings and a museum with some traditional costumes.

The people of Manado and in northwest Sulawesi in generally are regarded as a seafaring and fun-loving bunch. The city’s slogan is “Torang Samua Basudara”, meaning:” we are all one family”. There are some good restaurants and food stalls but make sure no one slips you any dog, which some people in the area eat.

Located on a long promontory, Manado is backed by a number of active volcanoes and is the most-northerly city in Indonesia. It is well known for its breathtaking underwater life. The famous diving island, Bunaken, directly faces this city. Wide Pierre Tendean Boulevard bordering the water’s edge is lined with top class hotels and restaurants serving typical Manado cuisine. Having hosted the World Ocean Conference, Manado is trying establish itself as a venue for international meetings and conventions.

Most people in Manado are Christians, with large number of Catholics. Churches are all over the place. Christmas is a particular good time to visit when the city and the surrounding hills come alive with Christmas lights and decorations. A huge statue of Jesus Christ rises above the city, blessing its inhabitants. There is also a sizable Chinese population. Chinese New Year and Cap Goh Meh are big celebrations, especially in and around Chinatown and the Ban Hin Kiong Temple. For detailed information on Manado and North Sulawesi, contact the North Sulawesi Tourist Organization at P.O. Box 1253, Manado, Tel. 620431-857637,

Sights and Activities in Manado

Most visitors to Manado head straight to Bunaken and the National Park there for fantastic diving in pristine waters. Bunaken is famous for its steep drop offs. The island of Bunaken is a short 40-minutes trip by boat from the Boulevard. Those who do not dive can still enjoy the colorful underwater life from glass-bottom boats. There are homestay facilities and cheap diving resorts on the islands for those wishing to stay overnight.

Walking around the town of Manado you will find churches almost around every corner. This area is predominantly Christian . The first protestant church built here by the Dutch is the Gereja Centrum, once known as the Oude Kerk, or the Old Church . In front of the Chruch is a World War II monument. Asia’s largest statue of Jesus is located at the Citraland residential estate and can be seen from most parts of Manado. Poised a 20-meter-high pedestal base, the 31-meter-tall white stone statue in shows Jesus Christ rising off the pedestal at a 20 degrees angle, stretching out his arms to bless the city. This is the second largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world after the one in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Manado is a melting pot of many different ethnic groups and religions. Wander around the popular China town and admire the Ban Hin Kiong temple, built some 335 years ago during the Qing dynasty. Every February colorful Toa Peh Kong ceremonies are held here as are Chinese New Year celebrations. As you head towards the countryside, you will find rows of traditional Minahasa houses which are raised from the ground, and are made of wood. To enter the house there is a short staircase to its front or on both sides of the house. Neat flower plots surround the houses. Today, custom-made wooden houses of this sort can be ordered at the village of Woloan, not far from the Manado, and shipped to any location in the world.

Manado underwent frantic development in preparation of the World Ocean Conference the Sail Bunaken event in 2009. Five star hotels, a brand new convention hall with attached 18 hole golf course, and mega malls were built before the conference which hosted more than 7,000 delegates and included a number of heads of state. The road from the airport to the city was been considerably widened, and the Boulevard by the water was spruced up. Today Manado is a thriving city with shopping like the Mega Mall, the Manado Town Square and the Boulevard, all along the Piere Tendean Boulevard. Good places to shop for souvenirs is at the shops around the Merciful Building and Market 45.

Accommodation in Manado

Manado offers a variety of hotels, cottages and bungalows at different rates. Among the hotels on Pierre Tendean are the Hotel Formosa and Hotel Quality. Top-end places include the five star Novotel Manado Golf Resort and Convention Centre, the Sintesa Peninsula Hotel and the Ritzy Manado. The Travello Hotel, Puri Manado is nice. Standard and budget hotels are also available.

There are some hotels and inns around the Museum of North Sulawesi Province downtown in the Tinutuan area of the city. Room rates of hotels here are varied depending on your preference. Many hotels, from three-star hotels to smaller accommodation, are located around Ban Hin Kiong temple, which is Manado’s city center, about 15 to 20 minutes from any part of Manado.

On Bunaken island (a 30 minute boat ride from Manado) there are a number of homestays and cheap hotels oriented towards divers. Homestay rates start at Rp40,000 for one person a day, including full board. Some of the dive operators on Bunaken are offering more upmarket accommodation that has running water.

Restaurants in Manado

Manado’s cuisine is tasty. Try the rice porridge, called Bubur Manado, and the fresh seafood served with cut green tomatoes and special chili sauce. Many of Manado’s basic dishes are cooked in bamboo tubes, then baked over an open fire, giving it particular flavor. Do not miss “klappertaart”, a special cake filled with large slivers of fresh young coconut. Some dishes are very spicy. Many of the ingredients come fresh from the sea or from the mountains.

Favourite places to eat are along the Piere Tendean Boulevard, or at Tino’or where dishes are served at a long table — not unlike the way Padang food is served — and you pay only for what you pick to eat. Some dishes, once chosen, must be paid for the whole plate, though. Barbequed fish with all kinds of sauces are a perennial favourite.

The watercress or kangkung is fresh and crunchy and is harvested from the river banks and is the basis for Bubur Manado, or Tinu’tuan, rice porridge, mixed with fresh kangkung or spinach and maize. Eaten with salted fish and hot, Manado-style tomato sauce, it is delicious and will provide energy for the whole day. Manado’s favourite desert is Klappertaart, or coconut cake, a heritage from the Dutch. This is a soft, creamy sweet cake, filled with large slices of freshly cut coconut meat.

Many Manado dishes — made from bith meat and rice — are cooked in bamboo tubes. Try the nasi jaha, sticky rice in coconut sauce cooked in bamboo tubes over an open fire. Don’t eat too much of this as the rice will weigh heavy on the stomach. Other dishes, similarly cooked, are made with beef, chicken and pork. Since Muslims are the minority here pork is relatively easy to get.

Getting to and Around Manado

There are taxis available, which are best taken from the hotels. The “mikrolet” mini buses are your best bet. They have fixed routes and are not as crowded and are better organized compared to those in Jakarta.

Sam Ratulangi International Airport of Manado is able to receive wide-bodied aircrafts. Silk Air was the first international airline to flay between Singapore and Manado directly. The airline now serves Singapore- Manado four times weekly. Domestically, there are daily flights to Manado from Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, Makassar, Papua and Balikpapan. Airlines flying to Manado include Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Batavia Air, Mandala and Merpati Airlines. Lion Air has runs flights between Manado and Gorontalo and Makassar. Sriwijaya Air also offers flights to Makassar.

North Sulawesi is also reachable by boats and ships. Two ports, namely Talumolo for Togeans and Leato for Pagimana and Pelni ferries are located about four kilometers away from Gorontalo. North Sulawesi is accessible by bus from Palu and Poso, where you can catch buses to southern Sulawesi. The journey from Manado to Palu takes about 18 hours. The scenery is interesting but the ride can be uncomfortable.

Boulevard Area of Manado

Boulevard Area of Manado refers to part Pierre Tendean Boulevard, a coastal road, where cafes, tent food stalls are set up along the beach and waterfront and locals like to gather in the evening to eat, socialize and watch the sun go down.

Pierre Tendean Boulevard is 4.1 kilometers long and one of the widest streets in Indonesia. You can walk or drive to enjoy the activities at the Pierre Tendean Street and along the waterfront. If you want to watch the beautiful sunset, make sure to be at the Boulevard before 5.00pm, especially on Saturdays since all seats are usually taken by visitors who come here from all districts outside Manado

In the evenings, the Boulevard Area is a center of activity and where you find Manado’s best food. It was originally an area where small vendors and street restaurants congregated and sold various types of dishes and snacks. Food was sold from carts that used to line along the beach front. Things are different now as the area now been modernized and has a couple of malls and shopping centers and many people get their snacks and meals from food courts.

At present, there are four malls here, among these are the Manado Town Square (Mantos), the Boulevard Mall, the Bahu Mall and Mega Mall. Behind the Bahu Mall and Mega Mall you will find cafés, restaurants and food stalls serving various appetizing Manado dishes as well as other Indonesian fare such as gado-gado, bakso (meatballs), fried rice, seafood, famous grilled pig ribs and coto makasar. . Museum of North Sulawesi Province

The Museum of North Sulawesi Province was built to document everything related with local culture, history and arts in North Sulawesi Province. The museum is divided into ten categories: geology, biology, ethnography, archeology, history, numismatics, philology, ceramology, arts and technology.

Visitors can see 1) sakapeti, a Portuguese war hat from Minahasa; 2) kabela, a betel leaf boxfrom Bolaang Mongondow; 3) a clarinet-like traditional music instrument played in groups from Minahasa; 4) a bride’s bed and clothings used during a traditional wedding ceremony; 5) paper money from Japanese occupationl 6) Dutch and Portuguese cannons; 7) Chinese ceramics; and 8) sero gantung traditional fish nets.

This state-own museum was officially opened in 1991 and now has collection of 2,810 artifacts. About 500 of these, from Manado, Minahasa, Sangihe Talaud, Bolaang Mongondow and Gorontalo,. are displayed in the Exhibition Hall. The building’s structure and design is based on traditional Minahasa home architecture.

The museum has a big yard with shady trees where family’s sometimes have picnics. There are replicas of a waruga or Minahasa coffin and watu pinawetengan (megalithic stone). The museum has English guides and is open from Monday through Thursday from 8.30am to 4.00pm, Friday at 08.30-11.30am, and Saturday 9.00am - 2:00pm. It is closed during Sundays and national holidays.

Getting There: This museum is centrally located on W.R. Supratman street no. 72 in Manado, North Sulawesi, phone. 0431-862685. If you take a public transportation, you can get off in front of SMP Negeri 1 Manado.. It will cost you only Rp. 2.000 (about 20 US cents) for each trip by mikrolet (minibus), more by taxi. There is only a small canteen serves food and drinks in the museum.

Ban Hin Kiong Temple

Ban Hin Kiong Temple (in the heart of Manado’s Chinatown) is said to be over 340 years old and is one of oldest Chinese temples in Indonesia. Built here during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it has traditionally been used by the Chinese community in Manado The name Ban Hin Kiong consists of three words, Ban meaning “plenty”, Hin meaning “abundant favors” and Kiong meaning “palace”. Therefore, Ban Hin Kiong means a holy palace that exudes much happiness.

The elegant red temple is decorated all sides with ornaments and symbols that depict the holy message about the creation of the sky, the earth and human beings. Together they represent the image of God in all his virtues in one integrated, harmonized and complete totality. At the rear wall you will find carved paintings. The central panel shows a child who is trying to pick a fruit with an old man standing beside him. This symbol means that anyone who plants will enjoy its fruits. There are many other meaningful symbols that remind us about God's powers.

Visitors are allowed to enter the praying area in this three-story building, but must take off their shoes at the front entrance. You can follow the praying process but not until the third floor. There are 16 types of ritual ceremonies for different purposes. It is best to visit the temple in February during Chinese New Year, Cap Go Meh and the Toa Peh Kong.

The Toa Peh Kong is a Chinese tradition brought here by Chinese ancestors. During these celebrations, the temple is crowded and comes alive with many Chinese cultural attractions such as the Barongsai (the Lion Dance), the ince pia (an invulnerability show), Pikulan (decorated carriages containing religious symbols) and the Kuda Lo Cia. Groups of Chinese dancers, traditional Manado Kabasaran dances and traditional bamboo music complete the colorful procession.

Getting There: The Ban Hin Kiong Temple is located at D.I. Panjaitan Street in Manado, which is the center of the city’s China Town where are found many shrines and temples, homes and interesting markets run by Chinese. The temple is easily reached by public transport, by mikrolet or taxis. Visitors can also rent a car or motorcycle to tour China Town. Since the temple is located within the China Town, you can find many Chinese restaurants and stalls around here. Try the loba, which is sliced pork dipped in tapioca sauces. It is sweet and costs only around Rp 10 thousand per portion.

Near Manado

From the Boulevard of Mando you can see the perfectly cone-shaped mountain of Manado Tua, which, together with the islands of Bunaken, Mantehage, Siladen and Nain form the Bunaken-Manado Tua National Park, world famous among divers for its steep walls and fantastic underwater life. A deep trench separates this National Park from the city, to some degree preventing pollution from the city from disturbing the park. Regular ferries and boats take visitors to Bunaken.

Behind Manado are a number of active volcanoes — Lokon, Soputan, and Dua Saudara — whose lush green tropical terrain are ideal for trekking, eco-tours, bird watching and white water rafting. The Tangkoko National Park is habitat to the world’s smallest primates, tarsiers, cute little animals with saucer-large eyes. And all around the Manado hinterlands you will see coconut trees and plantations. The region of Minahasa is also known as the land of the waving coconut trees or” Nyiur melambai”.

Going up the highlands, make a stop at the at the village Sawangan to see the Waruga megalithic sarcophagi heritage park, where you can see 144 ancient stone graves dating to the 16th century. Then continue to visit Tomohon, the city of flowers and site of the annual Tomohon Flower Festival. Tomohon is a cool mountain resort, where a number of religious institutions have their seminaries. Nearby is the Bukit Kasih, the Hill of Love, a place of worship and meditation for Catholics and all Christian denominations. A mosque and Hindu temple are located here. When in Tomohon, take time to visit the market, where all kinds of meats are sold, from chicken, beef, venison and pork, to other local delicacies, like bats, field mice, dogs and monkeys. Animal rights have condemned this market.

Further up the mountain, passing clove and vanilla plantations lies Lake Tondano situated at 600 meters above sea level. This is a beautiful, large crater lake where visitors can watch fishermen at work, or waterski at Remboken. The lake is 32 kilometers from Manado is Lake Tonado and is near glove plantations and picturesque villages. Nearby is the village of Pulutan where you can buy pottery and ceramics, and visit traditional houses at Paleloan.

If you wish to see the tarsiers in their habitat, then trekking through the Tangkoko-Batuangus National Park is the answer. The Park is situated north of the harbor of Bitung. Located at the foot of the “Dua Saudara” — or Two brothers — volcano, the area offers impressive views of hills and valleys. Here you will see a number of tarsiers- the world’s smallest monkeys, that are as small as a fistful. These are shy animals. Tangkoko is also home to the black macaques, maleo birds and hornbills. Tangkoko is also ideal for birdwatching. The road to the Park is now well paved so that travel is easy by car or van. There are cottages and small restaurants near the Park.

If you are into mountain climbing, the climb the active Mt. Mahawu . The climb to this beautiful crater takes an easy one hour walk where you will have a spectacular panoramic view on the Bay of Manado, Mount Klabat, the Lokon and Soputan volcanoes and the Maluku Sea. Climbing the active Lokon volcano takes two hours. The trail is more difficult as it requires walking over slippery rocks of a river bed before reaching the crater. On the return journey, enjoy a relaxing hot thermal bath at Ranopaso.

The Minahasa highlands also offer exciting, white water rafting. A number of Adventure operators offer rafting along different rivers. Nearest to Manado is the Sawangan river, starting at the village of Timbular, some 27 kilometers. from Manado, pass the flower city of Tomohon. Other rivers to raft are the Nimanga river and the Ranoyapo. Manado Adventure ( operates 2 hours rafting on the Nimanga river along a 9 kilometers stretch over 35 rapids, starting at the Tangkuney village. Alternatively, raft the longer 35 kilometers. Ranoyapo over 60 rapids during a 9 hours’ journey.

Tasik Ria Southwest of Manado 20 kilometers there is a nice beach at with a four star resort hotel. Fifteen miles further southwest you come to the center of Minahasan culture where the Tara Tara dances can be witnessed. Take time to visit Lake Linow at the village of Lahendong near Tomohon. The lake changes colors from red to green or blue, best seen around 3.00 pm when the sun shines directly on the lake. This is a place for relaxing and taking in the beauty of nature.

Lake Tondano

Lake Tondano (30 kilometers from Manado) is a famous tourist destination in the province of North Sulawesi. It is located 600 meters above sea level and covers an area of 4,278 hectares (or about 10,571 acres). This lake is situated by the village of Remboken, some three kilometers from Tomohon From Manado to Lake Tondano is aboutakes a one hour’s drive through winding roads. Use your own car or take public transportation from Manado or Tomohon.

Lake Tondano is surrounded by 700-meter-high mountains, which includes the Lembena, the Kaweng, the Tampusu and Masarang. The lake covers three sub-districts, these are Eris, Kakas and Remboken. From the lake side, you can see clearly Mount Kaweng. Since 2003 the area has been managed by the private sector. At present, this attraction is called Sumaru Endo and has various facilities such as bungalows, swimming pool and restaurants. In addition, you can also find car rental services, rent boats to take you around the lake. Hiking near the lake is also fun in this cool climate.

Visitors can take boat around the lake for only Rp 50.000 (about 5 US Dollar) but the boat usually waits till it has 10 passengers. In the middle of the lake is a small island called Pulau Likri. Unfortunately, you cannot stop at the island because the boat follows a different route. In addition, you can also see the local community catch Nike fish using nets that resemble a spoon held by bamboo sticks on either side. Several bamboo constructions stretching out into the lake are suitable for relaxing while enjoying the lake’s waters. Local inhabitants usually sell the small Nike fish to make fish balls, or waku-waku bolanga,- grilled fish. You can enjoy Nike dishes in restaurants or food stalls around the lake.

Watu Pinabetengan

Watu Pinabetengan (60 kilometers from Manado) is the site of megalithic stone of the ancestors of the Minahasa ethnic group. The stones are covered with crude, mysterious drawings and scripts which have never been deciphered. According to Minahasa history the site is where their land was divided up among nine major clans.

Surrounded by mountains, rice paddies and fields with cows and horses, Watu Pinawetengan is located in Tompaso sub-district, at the foot of Mount Soputan, Minahasa, or some 60 kilometers from Manado. The stone that describes the land division is four meters long and two meters tall. Some say it looks like a bent persons; other say it looks like Minahasa island. Carvings in stone show human, human genitals, and lines without any clear meaning.

Watu Pinawetengan means 'The Stone of discussion about the division.' When you enter the site you must take off your footwear, because it is believed that this place has spiritual meaning. Locals and some tourists to pray and perform certain rituals while asking for a blessing such as recovery from sickness or they perform rituals to thank God for what they have. The scenery at the site in nice and wooden benches have been set up to look at the mountains ans megaliths.

This megalithic stone is located in Pinabetengan village, Minahasa district, which is accessible by private cars and public transportations. You can take a bus from Karombasan bus station. If you use a rented car, you can take Tomohon way toward the south i.e. to Kawangkoan. From Kawangkoan, you can take a motor taxi to take you to the location, which is located about two kilometers away on a narrow, windy road that can be tricky to drive.

If you like to enjoy cool weather in the mountain side, you may stay overnight in people's home on the slopes of Mount Soputan. If you want to stay in a small hotel, there are inns in Kawangkoan or Tomohon, 30 minutes away. Kawangkoan specialties include crispy Kawangkoan peanuts, ragey (fried pork) and žpaniki (fried bat with chilli).

Waruga Park: Stone Sarcophagi Sites Near Manado

The Waruga park (40 kilometers from Manado) is located in the village of Sawangan, Airmadidi sub-district. Waruga are stone sarcophagi used by the Minahasa tribes to place their dead in a squatting position. These graves are made of carved stone that are shaped like a house, a tradition kept since 1600 The graves vary, depending on the profession or social status of the person buried. The waruga sarcophagi are not dug into the ground but stand above ground and are one meter wide and one to two meters tall. The bodies in the sarcophagi are in a squatting position and are covered by stone roofs that resemble house roofs.

There are 144 “dotu” or clans gathered together at the waruga park in Sawangan, whose original locations were previously spread out throughout several villages in the Minahasa district, but these have now been gathered in the waruga compound at Sawangan and nearby Airmadidi. Since this heritage which originates from the megalitic era is notable, several heads of state have come to view them, among others Queen Jualiana and Prince Bernard, as well as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and many more.

Some of the 144 Sacophagi are shaped from unique square stones and have prism shaped lids. The decorative motifs on the lids include images of clouds, animals and traditional geometric shapes At the entrance to the park at the right and left walls there are reliefs that that show how waruga were made. At the Waruga Museum located right beside the entrance to the site you will find artifacts found in the graves. The Museum has shelves displaying gold, silver and copper bracelets, necklaces, ear rings plates and pots.

To reach the site location, you can take a private car or taxi from Manado for a driver that takes less than one hour. No hotel is available near this location. If you like to stay overnight, you can stay at Tondano, which is about 30 minutes drive from Sawangan. Alternatively, it will take only about one hour to return to Manado from Airmadidi. If you are not familiar with this place, it is best to ask people around. Since the park is in fact a cemetery, you can walk around to explore every corner of this tourist site. A cemetery for the local community is situated near the main entrance. The gate is always locked by the Waruga guard who lives near the location. It is best to visit this site between 8.00am and 6.00pm .

Bukit Kasih: Hill of Religious Love

Bukit Kasih(55 kilometers from Manado) or the Hill of Love is located in the village of Kanonang at Kawangkoan. Built in 2002, it is called the Hill of Love because it is where people from different religions can gather and worship side by side as a symbol of religious and peaceful harmony. Five houses of worship are here, a Catholic Church, a Christian church, a temple, a mosque and Hindu temple built on the second peak. On the first peak is a 53 meter tall white cross which can be seen even from the Boulevard beach in Manado. In addition, this place is believed to be the original place where the original ancestors of the Minahasa tribe, Toar and Lumimuut, lived. Their faces are carved on the hillside beneath the second peak.

Visitors can enjoy cool weather and get some exercise by climbing the stairs toward the first and second peaks. To reach the Bukit Kasih peak, you have to walk up 2,435 steep steps or use a safer access to the right side of the monument. When climbing the stairs, you can see beautiful scenery and sulfuric cauldrons with hot water used by the local community to cook corn, beans, bananas and eggs. It is possible to walk around the compound from the second peak to the first peak but is an arduous hike.

Bukit Kasih is a two hour drive from Manado via Tomohon. The roads along the Soputan mountain are steep and winding. In Tondano and Tomohon, about 30 minutes drive from Bukit Kasih, hotels, bungalows and guest houses are available. There are restaurants in these towns too. Don’t forget to try hot corn, bananas and yams boiled in the cauldron.

Tomohon: Flower Town

Tomohon (40 minutes from Manado) is a reasonably nice town situated below Mt. Lokon volcano. There is an interesting market here and access to places in the Tomohon area. Popular hiking destinations include the 1580-meter-high Mt. Lokon volcano, which has smoking vents inside its crater; Tondano Lake, a popular weekend retreat Manado residents that have cars; and hot springs.

Tomohon is a hill resort located some 22 kilometers east of Manado. Embracing 35 villages in five sub-districts: West, East, Central, South and North Tomohon, it is known for its cool weather and fertile soil and is famous for flowers. When its flower gardens are in bloom, the town beautiful but often swamped with local tourists. The Tomohon Flower Festival is held annually in June and July. During this event, there is a flower floats parade and flower tournament at Inspiration Hill, with participants from 94 cities in Indonesia.

Flower gardens are located at the foot of Mount Lokon and at people’s homes. During blossom season, in December, January or April, these flowers look very beautiful with Mount Lokon in background. A number flower gardens allowing you to pick and choose your favorite flowers. In the town flower shops lien both sides of the street

There are several hotels and inns in Tomohon. The most sought after guest houses are those located in residential areas where the flower gardens are. Here are some of them: 1) Tambulinas, Tinoor II, Tel. 0431 - 315300; 2) Makatembo, Tinoor II, Tel. 0431 - 3309220: 3) Indraloka, Kinilow, Tel. 0431 - 351505; 4) Lokon Resting Resort, Kakaskasen, Tel. 0431 - 351203, 352533; 5) Volcano Resort, Kakaskasen, Tel. 0431 - 352988; 6) Tomohon Guest House, Tolete, Tel. 0431 - 353005; 7) Onong Palace, Kinilow, Tel. 0431 - 3157090, 3159446; 8) Puri Mandey, Kolongan, Tel. 0431 - 352858,

Tomohon is easily reached from Manado within an hour’s drive. Tomohon has a mountainous and hilly topography stretching from North to South. There are four volcanoes in Tomohon and two of them are still active, these are Mount Lokon and Mount Mahawu. Mount Lokon is 1,580 meters high and is the highest mountain in Tomohon. It is suggested that you take a rented car if you like to see the flower gardens at the mountain slopes since many are located away from the main road, while the road here is steep and winding. Best time to visit is during blossom season. During blossom season, you can see flowers along the road as many shops and gardens by along the mountain sides sell flowers. If you are into exotic food, come to the Tomohon traditional market before Christmas. Here you will have a unique experience trying various types of meats such as pork, bat (paniki), dog (RW), monkey (yaki), wild boar, snake, forest rats and many others.

Woloan Village: Home of Knock Down Traditional Minahasa Houses

Woloan (three kilometers west of Tomohon, 28 kilometers from Manado) is the village known for it traditional knock-down houses, which that can be transported and re-assembled anywhere in the world. These are not dolls houses or souvenirs, these are actual houses to live in.

Orders have arrived from as far away as Argentina, Norway, Poland, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and the United States, and domestically from Jakarta and Bali. The village is a favorite stop on tour in the Tomohon area, and a number of orders have actually come from tourists.

Woloan, located in the district of Minahasa, is a pretty village surrounded by Mt. Mahawu, Mt. Masarang and the very active Lokon volcano. The weather is cool and can become pretty cold at night. Along the main street of Woloan is a display of various houses that visitors can enter and admire and even order on the spot. The houses are built by skilled local carpenters using traditional methods and hard wood, so that houses are sturdy and well built, but can still be easily knocked down for reinstalment elsewhere. They are a wonderful asset to have in a large garden offering that rural feeling. They have been used as chalets, gazebos or bungalows in beach resorts.

The traditional Minahasa house is built on pillars and stands three meters above the ground. There is typically a pair of stairs in front and at the back of the house, one on the left and the other on the right leading to the main door. Interested buyers can either take the one chosen from those displayed, but houses can be customized according to the buyer’s wishes. A typical 112-type house has a terrace, a living room and three bedrooms, each 3.5 by 4 meters. Unlike other parts of Indonesia, the Minahasans do not believe in putting tiles on the roof, based on the belief that since tiles are made of soil and soil reminds one of death, they do not belong on the roof. Roofs are therefore normally made of corrugated iron or natural fiber.

A typical house has no kitchen nor bathroom but these can be added and made to order. The house has 19 glass windows and six doors. Construction of a house normally takes two months for eight men to complete. The supporting beams are said to be made of iron wood, the walls are made from cempaka wood and the ceiling is nantu wood. While the roof is supported by iron shafts. All woods are imported from neighbouring Gorontalo and Central Sulawesi regions.

The cost includes fees to transport and re-assemble the house in another city or overseas includes the costs for transportation and customs fees as well as travel costs of carpenters to build the house at the house site. When the house is built within Indonesia, about five men are needed to build it, but for overseas orders the company usually sends its master carpenter and a senior carpenter.

As Woloan is located not too far from Manado, the village is on the itinerary of many Minahasa country tours. You can also hire your own car or if you are more adventurous, hire a motorbike. You can stay either in Tomohon or in Manado.

Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve

Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve (on far northeastern tip of Sulawesi, about two hours from Manado) is one of the most accessible parks in Indonesia and one of the best for spotting unique wildlife. Located on the slopes of Mount Dua Saudara, it is rich in rain forest wild life. Found among the green hills and valleys are black crested macaques, maleo birds, snakes, wild pigs, cuscus, flying lizards, rusa deer and the spectacular red-knobbed hornbill. There are paved roads about most of the way from Manado. The last bit is on a paved road with some rough sections. There are cottages and small restaurants near the park. For more information, please visit:

The Tangkoko Nature Reserve is a flora and fauna conservation area on Mount Tangkoko in the district of Bitung. It covers a total area of 3,196 hectares. The Batuangus Nature Reserve covers 635 hectares and located between the Tangkoko Nature Reserve and Pinangunian village. The Duasaudara Nature Reserve covers 4,299 hectares and includes Mount Duasaudara and its surrounding areas.

Most tourists to the park stop or stay in visit Batuputih as is the closes place in the park to Manado. Bitung is 45 minutes further on a winding asphalt roads. If you do not wish to stay overnight, it is best to bring along your own food and drinks, especially if you want to walk around the forests in the Tangkoko National Park.

In this conservation area you may travel by car from Post I to Post II. Before reaching Post II, you will find a secondary tropical forest where are trees and pioneer plants such as forest betels, flower wood and binunga. At Post II, you can park your car and walk to explore the forest and see groups of black macaques (Macaca Nigra). Going deeper into the forest you may see other animals and birds such as the rangon and kingfishers. Visitors who explore Batuputih or the Tangkoko National Park must be accompanied by a park guide.

Wild Life in Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve

Wildlife is pretty easy to spot. In the later afternoon, about 4:30pm visitors can walk about four kilometers from the park entrance to a tree to see a family of a dozen or so tarsiers. The tarsiers sleep during the day and emerge from the tree around dusk to begin their hunt for insects. Visitors can approach as close to a meter away. Around dawn the search begins for the black-crested macaques. One large group is used to humans and often approach close to the park entrance. Visitors can walk among them for hours and watch their behavior at very close range. The hornbills are little harder to spot. Sometimes they gather in large number at fruiting fig tree but often seeing them is about 50-50 proposition.

Tarsiers are the smallest primates in the world — only the size of a fist size. They are found only in Sulawesi and a few places in the Philippines. There are several species of tarsier. The ones found in Tangkoko — tarsius spectrum — look particularly cute because of their big saucer eyes. Locals know them as: tangkasi . Since these are nocturnal animals they can be observed only at night.

The crested black macaques (macaca nigra), endemic to Sulawesi, usually live in large social groups, and can be seen playing, fighting or grooming themselves. They have amsuing human-like facial expressions. The cuscus, a pouched animal or marsupial like kangaroos, they climb along tree branches. If you see one you are particularly lucky.

Trekking in Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve

Situated north of the harbor of Bitung, the park is located at the foot of “Dua Saudara” — or Two brothers — volcano. he Park is now well paved so that travel is easy by car or van. If you are into volcano climbing, climb active Mt. Mahawu. It only takes about an hour. At the top you can see the crater have a spectacular panoramic view of the Bay of Manado, Mount Klabat, the Lokon and Soputan volcanoes and the Maluku Sea. Climbing the active Lokon volcano takes two hours. The trail is more difficult as it requires walking over slippery rocks of a river bed before reaching the crater. On the return journey, enjoy a relaxing hot thermal bath at Ranopaso.

At Batuputih are inns and guest houses managed by local inhabitants for rent to visitors. Their rates vary depending on facilities. You can also do treks that involve camping in the forest or along a beach. Upon entering Batuputih, you will see tall trees, particularly at Post I or at its entrance gate. On the left, you can see beautiful beaches and rest areas. Entrance fee to Batuputih and the Tangkoko Nature Reserve, including guide fee is a minimum Rp70.000. At the second post, you will find accommodations for researchers, who are mostly foreigners. observing animal behavior of animals such as black crested macaques, tarsiers and various bird species.

Tips: 1) Dress appropriately. Wear light, breathable clothing that dries quickly. Drab colors are preferable; avoid whites and reds. Although it is hot, long sleeves and pants prevent scratches and insect bites. Use insect repellent and tuck your pants into your socks to minimize insect, leech and mite bites. 2) Carry good binoculars; without them even the most spectacular birds will be no more than a shiny dot in the canopy. Carry a waterproof bag big enough for binoculars and cameras in case of a downpour. 3) Go slowly, quietly and in small groups (no more than 5) so animals will be less likely to be disturbed by your presence.

4) Seek out fruiting trees, especially figs, or pools and streams. These are profitable places to sit and wait for wildlife, particularly birds. 5) Sit often and for long periods and search for the things that tend to go unnoticed like glossy beetles, graceful butterflies, velvety ants, and exquisite but minute flowers. 6) Be aware of sounds - the buzzing of insects, calls of birds, rustling in the underbrush. Quite often these cues are the first indication that something is about to happen.

7) Go early. Most birds and many mammals are active in the morning with their movements dropping off by midday. The afternoon peak is never as energetic as the morning but these are good times to visit streams and water sources. 8) When viewing monkeys, let them approach you on their own terms. If you stoop down and avoid looking directly in their eyes they will be less inhibited. Do not chase or pursue monkeys and never feed them. No matter how innocent they may look, wild monkeys bite and carry dangerous diseases. 9) When viewing tarsiers at night don't forget your flashlight. However be considerate of their extremely sensitive eyes.

Mt. Awu is a 1,320-meter-high volcano in with a history of fatal eruptions. A major eruption in 1966 killed 39 people. It erupted again in 1992. When it erupted in May and June 2004 it produced fountains of lava and huge plumes of smoke and steam. In May 2004, hundreds of villagers fled their homes when Mt. Awu began spewing out smoke and ash and became increasingly active.

Whitewater Rafting Minahasa’s Ranoyapo and Nimanga Rivers

Ranoyapo and the Nimanga Rivers (accessible from Tomohon, an hour from Manado) offers challenging level III and level V rapids that should only be tried by people with some rafting experience. The Ranoyapo is the largest and longest river in North Sulawesi. Passing through the district of Minahasa, it is a swift and clear river, 35 kilometers of which runs through impressive tropical forests and coconut plantations, offering both mild currents and steep rapids with 10 to 20 meter gradients where oarsmen must navigate past small and large river boulders.

Ranoyapo means “God’s large waters.” The river has a total of 60 challenging rapids that can be covered in two days and one night by advanced groups. However, a shorter version for intermediate groups is available that can be taken in 3 hours. This is a grade 3 to 5+ river. Rafting starts from the Lompat Lama village near the town of Tomohon. For groups taking the long journey, overnight facilities are at a village by the river, then early the next morning groups proceed down river to finally finish at the Ranoyapo bridge in Amurang. The shorter trip covers eight kilometers and takes a half day rafting.

The Nimanga river rafting starts from the village of Timbukar near Tomohon. This is a medium challenge river with 25 rapids. En route you will enjoy the wonderful view, watch the wildlife, such kingfishers, monitor lizards, wild pigeons, jungle cocks and wild pigs wandering along the edge of the water.

The forests are also habitat of the Sulawesi black macaques and the tiny tarsiers. This is a grade 3 to grade 5 river. The short journey takes between 2 to 3 hours. Although there are many rapids, the Nimanga has plenty of flat stretech where you can relax and catch your breath. Another opportunity for rafting is on the Sawangan river, which takes between one to two hours to vover three to five kilometers with rapid passing small and big boulders. The river is near the ancient cemetery with Minahasa’s waruga sarcophagi.

There are a number of operators with professional instructors who can assist your adventure. For more information and operators with websites, here are a few sites that you may want to browse:,,,, You may also contact: Waraney Adventure & W.W. Rafting Ph: (62) (431) 850363, fax: (62) (431) 850363, E mail: Please make sure that your operator is a proressional member of the Indonesian White Water Federation, called Federasi Arung Jeram Indonesia (FAJI), which is member of the International Rafting Federation (IRF).

Tomohon is the nearest town to both the Ranoyapo and the Nimanga rivers. A number of hotels in Tomohon are: 1) Lokon Boutique Resort, Kakaskasen,, Tomohon Utara 95362; 2) Onongs Palace, Jalan Kimerengkali, Desa Knilow Dusun IV, Tomohon, North Sulawesi., Phone and Fax: +62 431 3157090, E mail:, Website:; 3) Highland Resort and Spa, Kinilow Jaga VI, Tomohon Minahasa, North Sulawesi, Tel. +62 431 353333, 353888, fax: +62 431 353777, Website:

Alternatively, you can also stay in Manado. You can take a taxi to Tomohon, which is around 45 kilometers from the airport or Manado. If you have already made arrangements with a rafting operators, they will meet you at the airport and make all the necessary arrangements for accommodation and transportation.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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