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[NATURE] Experience Mandeh Sumatra, a Bay of Paradise

[NATURE] Experience Mandeh Sumatra, a Bay of Paradise

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Everyone loves a good beach getaway. But after a dozen repeat trips to Bali, Lombok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Boracay, Tioman or Redang, it’s easy to run out of ideas.

Why not try Mandeh next time? There are plenty of islands to visit here, each with its own distinctive characteristics. Whether you’re looking to do some snorkelling, water sports, cliff jumping, mangrove forest exploring, a full-on resort experience or simple sun basking, this beautiful bay has a little bit of something for everyone!

Mandeh is relatively under-the-radar, even among Indonesians. You will still come across domestic tourists, but if you’re lucky, you could occasionally get almost an entire beach to yourself. Worry no more about your next island vacation, pack your bag and head to Mandeh! Read on to find out what to do in Mandeh including a 3 day Mandeh itinerary.


Day 0 in Batam, Indonesia

You will likely arrive in Batam a little late at night, so take a good rest to prepare yourself for tomorrow’s flight to Padang.

Day 1 in Mandeh, Indonesia

11.30am: Arrival at Minangkabau International Airport

Upon your arrival in Padang, transfer around 15 minutes for your first taste of Padang cuisine.

Jalan Mr. Sutan M. Rasyid, Padang Pariaman, Katapiang, Batang Anai, Kota Padang, Sumatera Barat 25586, Indonesia

12nn: Lunch at Lamun Ombak

Lamun Ombak is one of West Sumatra’s most famous food outlets, and when you try it you’ll know why! It serves quintessential Minangkabau fare rich in coconut milk and blended with varieties of spices, with key dishes such as gulai kapalo ikan balacuang (fish in yellow curry), rendang (stewed meat), palai bada (steamed anchovy fish cake with grated coconut), etc.

For the drink, don’t forget to try the unique teh talua, made from a mixture of tea, milk and egg yolk! Squeeze in a little bit of lime if you prefer your egg yolk not too strong. Expect to pay around IDR 40,000 per pax.

Jl. Padang – Bukit Tinggi Km. 24, Pasar Usang, Sungai Buluh, Batang Anai, Kabupaten Padang Pariaman, Sumatera Barat 74384, Indonesia
Open 4am-10pm daily

2pm: Museum Adityawarman

Rumah Gadang

Rumah Gadang. Photo cred: Fendry mappariza

You cannot claim to have visited West Sumatra if you don’t drop by at least one of its traditional houses, known as Rumah Gadang. The architecture for Rumah Gadang in Mandeh mimics layers of buffalo horns to commemorate the victory of Minangkabau people over their invaders through a buffalo fight.

In Adityawarman Museum in Mandeh, there’s a beautiful Rumah Gadang miniature worth a quick photo-stop. Spend maximum half an hour here, then drive 2 hours towards a beautiful viewpoint of the Mandeh bay.

But if you arrive earlier and have a little extra time, you can consider going inside. Their ethnographic collection ranges from weaponry, ceremonial tools (both religious and for weddings), houseware, traditional clothes and accessories unique to the Minangkabau people.

Jl. Diponegoro, Belakang Tangsi, Padang Bar., Kota Padang, Sumatera Barat, Indonesia
Open Tue-Sun 8am-6pm, closed on Mondays

4.30pm: Puncak Mandeh

Lush greenery of Mandeh

Lush greenery of Mandeh

In this lookout point, you can admire chunks after chunks of islands decorating the bay. Its beauty has been compared to the famous Raja Ampat at Indonesia’s Papua. Granted, Raja Ampat’s surreal beauty is on an entirely different level, but Mandeh puts up a good fight and it’s much more accessible from Singapore!

Ampang Pulai, Koto XI Tarusan, South Pesisir Regency, West Sumatra, Indonesia

6pm: Dinner at RM Uni Kito Mandeh

Choice of food in Mandeh is limited. If you chose to stay in Paradiso Village, it’s best to get the resort to arrange dinner for you beforehand. If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Mandeh, this is most probably it. 

Kepiting saus tiram

Kepiting saus tiram. Photo cred: Gunkarta

But if you had chosen to do it budget-style, then there’s a small seafood eatery when you come down from Puncak Mandeh. Their specialties are kepiting Mandeh saus tiram (crab with oyster sauce) and gulai ikan karang (reef fish curry). As they close early at 7pm, you may want to order beforehand by calling +62 822 8378 8880 or +62 822 8873 4737.

Jl. Wisata Mandeh, Ampang Pulai, Koto XI Tarusan, Ampang Pulai, Koto XI Tarusan, Kabupaten Pesisir Selatan, Sumatera Barat 25654, Indonesia
Open 7am-7pm daily

Day 2 in Mandeh, Indonesia

8.45am: Tarusan Pier

After breakfast at your resort or homestay, head to Tarusan Pier in Mandeh to kick-start a fun day of island-hopping.

Before your arrival in Indonesia or at least the night before, it’ll be good to get your resort or boat crew to pre-arrange a lunch pack, as food is not easy to come by once you’re out in the sea. The seafood in Mandeh, especially the prawns and crabs, taste really fresh and sweet.

9am: Pulau Cubadak

Entrance to Paradiso Village

Entrance to Paradiso Village

Make your first stop on the open water around Pulau Cubadak, the biggest of the islands surrounding Mandeh Bay. This is also where the Paradiso Village is built. It’s a beautiful resort opened by an Italian man 23 years ago. Now run by a French couple, the wooden bungalows on this resort has a toned-down, rustic Maldivian feel to it.

Non-guests are not allowed to disembark at the resort. However, the water around Pulau Cubadak is notably good for snorkelling, with beautiful coral reefs and plenty of fish. So after you take your requisite photo of the resort, jump down to the open water.

As you swim through the bay, you’ll realize just how peaceful the water is. The existence of many islands surrounding it help to block the turbulent waves from the Indian Ocean, and as such, snorkelling in Mandeh is relatively easy even for beginners.

10.30am: Pulau Sironjong Besar & Sironjong Kecil

Entrance to Paradiso Village

Entrance to Paradiso Village

Continue on to Sironjong Kecil. It’s a really small island, but one which is packed with adrenaline. If you’re an adventurous traveller, you MUST do the cliff-jumping at Sironjong Kecil—you can jump down from as high as 15 metres!

After channelling your inner daredevil, have some beach time at Sironjong Besar. Walk along the powdery white sand, wash your feet by the shores or just bask in the sun. The water is quite shallow here, so you can walk quite a distance away from the island. The snorkelling is not as impressive as the one near Pulau Cubadak, but there are occasional gems to be found here.

12.30nn: Pulau Setan

More white sand and tosca ocean goodness. Pulau Setan offers plenty of water sports such as banana boating, flying donut or jet ski for around IDR 25,000 per person. Feeling hungry after all the activities? Sit down by the beach to enjoy your seafood packed lunch. Yummy!

2.30pm: Kapo-Kapo Village

Mandeh is not just all blue and white. Splendidly relaxing, Kapo-Kapo is a mangrove heaven with lush tropical greenery. 30 families of around 100 people live here, so if you fancy yourself some interaction with villagers, you’ll love this place.

4.30pm: Mangroves & Waterfalls at Pantai Sungai Nyalo

Mangrove sea forest

Mangrove sea forest

Pass through a mangrove sea forest for about 5km. This mangrove forest has a very unique tropical charm to it, as if you’re in the Anaconda blockbuster movie. Please note: Though it looks shallow, it’s actually quite deep and full of mud, so do not swim here.

Once you disembark, walk a little bit inside and you’ll find a small waterfall by Sungai Gemuruh (Gemuruh River). The water is fresh and good for you to wash up after a day out in the sea. There are cubicles just a few metres from the waterfall where you can change into clean clothes.

5.30pm: Puncak Paku

Once done, you can go up to Puncak Paku, which offers an excellent viewpoint of Mandeh from a different perspective. It’s facing the West, making it a beautiful sunset spot as the sky turns purplish orange. Sunset is around 6.15-6.45pm depending on the time of the year.

There are also a few places selling food around the Sungai Nyalo area. Not exceptionally good, but best to take your dinner now since there are not many options in Mandeh and it’s very affordable here, e.g. the ever-so-popular Indonesian fried rice will only set you back IDR 10,000. If you’re looking for things to do in Mandeh after dark, it’s best to just relax and take in all the beautiful nature. 


Day 3 in Mandeh, Indonesia

8am: Depart to Minangkabau International Airport

The drive from Mandeh to the airport takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes. If time permits, you can do a quick stop over at Padang Beach on the way to the airport for a last look at the gorgeous West Sumatran beach.

Jalan Mr. Sutan M. Rasyid, Padang Pariaman, Katapiang, Batang Anai, Kota Padang, Sumatera Barat 25586, Indonesia

12.30am: Reach airport for your onward flight to Batam

Once you reach Batam, make your way to Batam Centre to catch your ferry back to Singapore.


Places to stay in Mandeh and Padang, Indonesia

Here are our top picks of places to stay in Mandeh and Padang.

AreaHotelType of accomRating on TripadvisorPrice per nightMore Photos & Availability
MandehRicky's Beach HouseMid4,5S$57
MandehParadiso VillageHigh5S$299
PadangYani HomestayBudget4,5S$15

PadangBrigitte's HouseBudget4,5S$22

PadangIbis PadangMid4S$50

PadangInna Muara HotelMid4S$55

PadangMercure Padang HotelHigh4S$93

PadangKyriad Bumiminang HotelHigh4S$191

Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

Places to stay in Mandeh Sumatra, Indonesia

Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

Mid range

Ricky's Beach House

Ricky’s Beach House

Ricky’s Beach House is located on a secluded stretch overlooking the Indian Ocean. It’s a 10 minute walk from Nagari Sungai Pinang, a small fishing village. While it is not situated in the Bay itself, boat trips and tours can be organised through Ricky’s. There’s not much accommodation choice around the area, so if you do not feel like breaking your budget by staying at the more famous Paradiso Village, you’ll be welcomed by the friendly staff at Ricky’s.

Price range: SGD 50-83

Address: Pinang River, Koto XI Tarusan, South Pesisir Regency, West Sumatra, Indonesia

High

Cubadak Paradiso Village

Cubadak Paradiso Village

Paradiso Village is a resort conveniently located right at the heart of the bay, in Cubadak Island. It has a sun terrace and a private beach area. There are 13 bungalows and 1 suite bungalow, with the latter built directly over the water. With maximum capacity of 35 guests, it gives you a good sense of intimacy and privacy.

Price range: SGD 273-277

Address: Koto XI, Pulau Cubadak, 25654 Tarusan, Indonesia

How to get to Mandeh, Indonesia

The gateway to Mandeh is Minangkabau International Airport, located at the city of Padang.

Flights used to run regularly between Singapore and Padang, but these services have been discontinued due to minimum demand. Nowadays, if you would like to visit West Sumatra, you have to transit via Batam, Medan or Kuala Lumpur, where direct flights are available daily.

Naturally, the fastest and cheapest way to get to Padang from Singapore is via Batam. Getting between Singapore and Batam is easy, with ferries running almost hourly by Sindo Ferry or Batam Fast between 6am-9pm.

Between Batam and Padang, there are plenty of daily flights served by Citilink and Lion Air. Occasional flight delays are not uncommon, though Citilink is slightly more reputable in keeping on schedule and is thus the more recommended option.

To maximize your time in Padang, take the earliest Citilink flight from Batam to Padang (10.10-11.20am). The last ferry from Batam to Singapore is at 8.40pm and you need to allow at least a 2 hour gap in case of flight delay, traffic jam between Batam airport to the harbour and/or long queues in ferry terminal. Thus, the advised flight schedule for return from Padang to Batam is Citilink’s 2.55-4pm.

Getting around Mandeh, Indonesia

If you stay in Paradiso Village, airport transfers and canoes can be arranged directly with the resort, so you don’t even have to worry that much!

But if you are doing it budget-style, do note that public transportation is not quite easy to navigate, so the best way to get around is to hire a car with driver or ride a motorbike. Road conditions in West Sumatra are surprisingly good, so if you are keen to self-explore, you can rent a car from Jacktour Padang Car Rental (+62 751 445 655), TotalCarRental (+62 811 21 8494), CV Budi Jaya (+62 751 841 939) or Padang Rent Car (+62 8 1166 8389). Expect to pay around IDR 275,000 daily inclusive of both car and driver.

You can also make use of Grab Taxi as well as Blue Bird Taxi (+62 751 442 123), although keep in mind taxis are easier to find when in Padang than when you are in Mandeh. So it’s still more advisable to rent your own vehicle.

Once you are in Mandeh, you can head to the Tarusan pier to hire a shared boat. Or you can rent it from Radi Wisata service beforehand by calling Mr Alamsyah at +62 853 6555 8868 or Amri Ady at +62 852 6457 1109. Price could differ depending on your routing, but here’s a guideline:

 • Pulau Setan: IDR 500,000/pax

 • Sironjong Gadang + Sirondong Ketek + Pulau Cubadak + Pulau Setan + Sungai Gemuruh: IDR 650,000/boat for max. 12 people

 • Sironjong Gadang + Sironjong Ketek + Pulau Cubadak + Kapo-kapo + Sungai Nyalo + Pulau Setan + Sungai Gemuruh: IDR 750,000/boat for max. 12 people

 • Pulau Pagang + Pamutusan/Marak/Swarnadwipa + Teluk Sikulo + Kawasan Wisata Mandeh Dalam, IDR 1,200,000/boat for max. 12 people + IDR 20,000 entrance fees

Other important notes

Time difference

Both Mandeh and gateway city Padang are GMT+7, which is 1 hour behind Singapore.

Best months to visit Mandeh

Like any beach holiday, weather can make or break your getaway. Hence, your best bet is to visit during the dry season between June to September. However, as accommodation choice is limited and this period coincides with the school holiday period, you’re advised to book early in advance.

Because you will likely pass through Batam, avoid visiting during public holidays as the queues in Batam will be horrendous. If possible, try to avoid returning to Singapore on Sunday, because there’ll be a lot of people crossing the border that day. For a three-day itinerary crossing over weekends, try to depart from Singapore on Friday night (Day 0) and return on Monday (Day 3).

Things to pack for Mandeh

 • Beach essentials: Swimwear, towels, goggles, flip flops

 • Hot day essentials: Sunglasses, sun cream, hat

 • Snorkelling equipment (available free of charge if you stay at Paradiso Village)

 • First-aid kit

 • Diarrhoea medicine if your stomach is not familiar to new food

Helplines

 • Police: 110 or 112 (or SMS 1717)

 • Ambulance and rescue: 118

 • Fire: 113

 • Medical emergencies: 119

"southern ridges, Singapore, nature, walk"

Image Credits:

All images by Andrew Darwitan unless otherwise stated.

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