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[GUIDE] What to do in Tana Toraja (with culinary Makassar)

[GUIDE] What to do in Tana Toraja (with culinary Makassar)

This article contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. This article was first published on Nov 27, 2016 and updated in March 2018.

Funerals, sacrifice, and… buffaloes — in the tribal land of Tana Toraja, life revolves around death. Hidden beyond the lofty mountains and rugged cliffs of the South Sulawesi highlands, Tana Toraja was only “discovered” by the Western world at the turn of the century. Today, they still adhere to their age-old beliefs and rituals.

For much of its history, the Toraja tribe held a strong animist belief called Aluk To Dolo, which roughly translates to “way of the ancestors” in English. With sophisticated rituals for the deceased and characteristic boat-shaped Toraja houses called tongkonan set in a lush evergreen landscape, the highland of Toraja offers an authentic Toraja culture experiences rarely found elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Tongkonan Traditional Houses in Tana Toraja

Tongkonan Traditional Houses in Tana Toraja. Photo cred: sheing tjioe

As the largest city in Sulawesi with around 1.9 million residents, Makassar is your gateway to Tana Toraja. At face value, Makassar may not seem like a typical tourist city, but it does hide behind an abundance of unique cuisine not found anywhere else in Indonesia.

A visit to Toraja and Makassar will surely be a feast for all your senses!




About the Toraja tribe and Aluk To Dolo

Tongkonan (traditional Torajan house

Tongkonan (traditional Torajan house). Photo by Jayapura

Toraja are a mountainous ethnic group indigenous to South Sulawesi. The word Toraja, a Dutch variation of the Buginese term “riaja” means “people of the uplands”. The Toraja make up one of the four main ethnic groups of South Sulawesi, the others being Bugis, Makassarese and Mandarese.

They practice a religion called Aluk To Dolo. “Aluk” means “the way” and “To Dolo” translates to “people bygone” or “ancestors”, so “the way of the ancestors”.

They are most well-known for their elaborate funeral rite ceremonies and intricate burial sites. If you visit Tana Toraja during one of the funeral rites, you will witness a very important social event with hundreds of people singing and dancing.

History of the Toraja

The Toraja were left to themselves far after the Dutch established political control of Sulawesi as access was quite difficult. But when Islam started to spread through Sulawesi, the Dutch saw the Toraja ethnic group as potential Christians and started missionary work in the highlands.

Toraja elders wearing traditional dress

Toraja elders wearing traditional dress. Photo by Lord Mountbatten

While conversions were originally low, being about 10% by 1950, after a Muslim lowlander attack, many converted to Christianity to align themselves with the Dutch. After the Indonesian government only officially recognized 5 official legal, with aluk not being one of them, the Toraja people voiced their oppositions to the law. Aluk To Dolo was then made a legal religion in 1969 as a sect of Hinduism.

Family and society of the Toraja

Throughout the Tana Toraja region, each village has a tongkonan (traditional Torajan house) that the village is named after. Family is at the forefront of Toraja culture, where extended family members help each other farm and pay off debts. One interesting fact about the Toraja culture is that they use a bilateral family line, the only one in Indonesia, which means that descent and inheritance is passed down from both the father and mother.

In early Toraja society there were three different classes: nobles, commoners and slaves. The nobles were believed to be direct descendants of heavenly beings. Marrying below one’s status was therefore taboo. Slavery was abolished by the Dutch in 1909.

The Aluk To Dolo religion

Aluk or “the way” is not only an animistic religion, it also combines law in its belief system. While each village may have their own specific laws and practices, the common law is that death and life rituals must be separated. Due to the Dutch not allowing the performance of life rituals, they have lessened in today’s practices.

The funeral rituals are one of the most important parts of Toraja society. The more powerful the individuals, the more expensive the funeral, where only nobles are allowed an extensive death feast. The death of a noble can therefore bring thousands of people and last for several days.

Burial Site

Burial Site. Photo by GFDL

Funerals are usually not held directly after the death of the individual and can even be held years later. This is because the family needs to save up funds in order to cover funeral expenses. Between death and the funeral, bodies of the deceased are buried under the tongkonan. It is said that their souls wander the village until the ceremony is complete and they can finally start their journey to the afterlife (Puya).

During the ceremony sacrifices of water buffalo, pigs and chickens take place. It is believed that these animals can help the deceased to arrive at his or her final destination much quicker. The more important the individual, the more animals are sacrificed.

There is also a lot of singing and dancing, which is a form of both grief and jubilation, where the dancers cheer on the deceased for their journey onward. Poetry is also read and chanted.

Burials are also unique as the coffin is either laid in a cave, placed into a carved area in stone or hung from a cliff. Each year in August the bodies are exhumed, washed, groomed, dressed in new cloths and walked around the villages.

Day 1 in Makassar, Indonesia

12pm: Lunch at Coto Nusantara

Upon your arrival at Sultan Hasanuddin Makassar Airport at around 11am, you can take a 30min taxi ride to Coto Nusantara. Coto is a traditional Makassar soup made from beef, which is cooked in a crock with firewood. A bowl typically costs around IDR 12,000.

Jalan Nusantara, Pattunuang, Wajo, Kota Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia
Open 7am-6pm daily

2pm: Fort Rotterdam

Fort Rotterdam in Makassar

Fort Rotterdam in Makassar. Photo cred: Sanko

After lunch, burn off some calories with about a 10 minute walk to Fort Rotterdam. Dating as far back as the 17th century, this Dutch fort was built on top of an existing fort from the Sultanate of Gowa – a Bugis-led kingdom.

An incredibly well-preserved monument, Fort Rotterdam initially took its shape from typical Portuguese architecture before Governor General Speelman from Netherlands rebuilt the structure and made it the centre of the spice trade and a port. One of Indonesia’s national heroes, Prince Diponegoro, who led the pivotal Java War, was exiled and imprisoned here for 26 years until his death.

A small donation of IDR 10,000 is required at the entrance. An additional ticket fare of IDR 7,500 is required for entrance to the museum area (opens Tue-Wed 8am-12.30pm).

Jl. Ujung Pandang, Bulo Gading, Ujung Pandang, Kota Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan 90171, Indonesia
Open 8am-6pm daily

4pm: Losari Beach

Losari Beach sunset

Losari Beach sunset. Photo cred: Ikhvan

Take an afternoon stroll while enjoying the breeze at Losari, the locals’ favorite beach to chill out at and one of the most relaxing things to do in Makassar. Along the waterfront, you will have the opportunity to binge on pisang gepe, a delicious grilled banana mixed with a sauce made from sugar and durian extract!

Losari Beach, Losari, Ujung Pandang, Makassar City, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

5pm: Masjid Amirul Mukminin

Masjid Amirul Mukminin

Masjid Amirul Mukminin. Photo cred: Marwan Mohamad

At the southern end of the beach, you will find a distinctive mosque called Masjid Amirul Mukminin, which is also known as masjid terapung or “floating mosque” due to its unique coast-side location. A relatively new addition, the mosque was built in 2009 but has since become an iconic Makassar landmark.

Spend your time visiting the mosque (it’s open to non-Muslims as well) and appreciate its twin-domed structure before watching a breathtaking sunset at 6pm with the mosque as a backdrop.

Jalan Penghibur No.289, Losari, Ujung Pandang, Kota Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan 90112, Indonesia

6.30pm: Dinner at Sop Konro Karebosi

Authentic Makassar-based Bugis delicacies don’t get much better than Sop Konro (IDR 35,000), a soup-based meal made from beef ribs with a very rich spice concoction that is sure to titillate the tongue! Also popular is their Konro bakar or roasted beef (IDR 38,000).

Important: Make sure you go to the toilet during this restaurant break as you will have a long overnight journey to Tanah Toraja afterwards (there are no toilets on-board and drivers usually don’t stop at night).

8.30pm: Travel to Tana Toraja

If you’re wondering how to get to Tana Toraja, you can take a taxi to Terminal Regional Daya Makassar at around 8pm. There will be an entrance fee of IDR 500 per person to the terminal, where you can catch Bus Litha, the most reliable operator departing to Tana Toraja. Tickets to Toraja costs around IDR 110,000-220,000, depending on seasonality and whether or not the bus is air-conditioned. Your bus will depart at approximately 9pm.

Do take care of your belongings and lock your bags when travelling overnight as there have been reported cases of theft while passengers were sleeping, so make sure your trip to Tana Toraja is safe.

It is advisable to make a reservation at least one day before your departure date by calling +62-411-442263. Try to request for a return ticket as well.

Jl. Kapasa Raya, Daya, Biring Kanaya, Kota Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan 90241, Indonesia

Day 2 in Tana Toraja, Indonesia

There are many ways to get around in Tana Toraja (see the “Make it happen” section for more details). However, a guide is highly recommended (IDR 250,000-300,000 daily) as the area can be quite remote, availability of information is scarce and the language barrier can be quite a problem. A guide will also help you better understand the Toraja burial customs and culture. You can request a guide from your hotel.

6am: Arrival and breakfast at Rantepao

Rantepao Panorama Batutumonga

Rantepao Panorama Batutumonga. Photo cred: Jussi Rintanen

Your bus may arrive anytime between 6-8am. Upon arrival at Rantepao, head to your accommodation to drop your luggage and quickly freshen up before departing on full-day Toraja adventure. If you have not purchased the return ticket yet, make sure you do it once you arrive at Rantepao before it’s fully booked.

For breakfast, you will find many food vendors on the city centre with signs saying Bakso Babi (pork meatballs, often served with lime, soya sauce and sambal). Although buffaloes are the highest-valued animals here due to its sacrificial value, pork is the most popular type of cuisine among Rantepao residents (a rarity when it comes to Indonesia as Christianity is more widely-adopted in Rantepao than Islam). A typical bowl costs IDR 10,000 and the most popular vendor is Bakso Babi Manalagi at Diponegoro street.

9.30am: Explore the ancient burial sites

Burial in Tana Toraja

Burial in Tana Toraja. Photo cred: Sergey

Londa

Start your personal Toraja tour at Londa, which is the best-known specimen of an ancient burial cave. This is most probably the reason why you decided to visit Tana Toraja. The cave has been there for hundreds of years and as you step down the stairs, you can observe the skeletons. Entrance to Londa costs IDR 25,000 per person.

Outside the cave, you can also find hanging coffins buried inside the cliff walls. Toraja people believed that the dead will carry their wealth to the afterlife. Thus, their coffins are buried high up to help protect the wealth of the dead. It is also believed that burying them high up will help to shorten the journey time needed for the deceased to reach heaven.

Lemo

Tana Toraja Lemo

Tana Toraja Lemo. Arian Zwegers

Existing since the 16th century, Lemo is an impressive stone grave perched on a high-cliff balcony inside the lush green valley. It is said that only top noblemen and the tribal chief of Toraja were buried here. As many as 70 ancient stone pits can be found here, with characteristic tao-tao (wooden dolls) in each pit.

Notice how the right hand of the doll faces up while the left hand faces down, which symbolizes how the energy of the Toraja land, the life and death of its people, are sustained. Those who have passed away will be assisted by their children to reach heaven through traditional rituals. In return, the dead will bless and guard their descendants. Entrance fee to Lemo is IDR 20,000 per person.

Kambira

Toraja people traditionally buried their babies in trees. Kambira is the biggest of such graves, hosting as many as 20 infants, and it is set in a unique surrounding of a bamboo forest. Entrance to Kambira costs IDR 20,000.

Suaya

Suaya has a unique distinction of being the tombs of the Sangalla royal family, which headed the Toraja land as early as the 17th century. The tombs can be observed high up on a rectangular rock wall, inside which you can find rows of statues representing those who have died, also found is the deceased’s clothes.

12.30pm: Lunch at Bambu Restaurant

Located just opposite the only mosque at Sangalla street, this restaurant is designed with lots of bamboo and natural roofing which provides a relaxing lunch stop. The must-try dishes are kangkung (water spinach), black rice, buffalo satay, traditional chicken steamed in bamboo and their tasty tamarillo juice. Food ranges from IDR 10,000-60,000 and the juice costs IDR 12,000.

Jl. Sangalla, Kampung Lampio, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia

2.30pm: Strolling through Tongkonan villages

Sulawesi locals in traditional clothing

Young Torajan girls welcoming guests to a wedding. Photo cred: veton

Kete Kesu

Kete Kesu village

Kete Kesu village. Photo cred: Sanjay P. K.

Kete Kesu is where the classic postcard shots of Toraja are usually taken, with long rows of wooden Tongkonan houses stretching across the cultural Toraja village.

Tongkonan is an ancestral house in the shape of boat with a saddleback roof, which can take up to four months to build. Tongkonan houses are built facing the North as the locals believe that the spirits of their ancestors live in the North. Toraja people view these ancestral houses with high regard, as the homes are the focus of their family identity which can be traced back to their founding ancestors and distant relatives.

If you’re fortunate, you can watch traditional ceremonies in Kete Kesu, usually held between June to December to coincide with the agricultural harvest time. Some of the most elaborate ceremonies can reach up to seven consecutive days!

Buntu Pune

Traditional house in Buntu Pune

Traditional house in Buntu Pune. Photo cred: Visit Toraja

Slightly less than a 10-minute drive away from Kete Kesu, this village is famous for its two large Tongkonan houses and six rice barns. The Tongkonan houses here were built for the noble Pong Maramba family that lived and headed the district back in the 1800s. The village is surrounded by a picturesque countryside and provides a good opportunity for an afternoon leisurely stroll.

6pm: Dinner at Cafe Aras

Head back to Rantepao for dinner at Cafe Aras, a great Toraja cafe. Must-try traditional dishes are pantollo (meat stewed in rawon spice) and pa’piong (where the meat and spices are wrapped in Miana leaves and inserted into a piece of bamboo that is then cooked on an open fire). Both dishes can usually be made with either buffalo, pork, chicken, freshwater fish or eel. Expect to pay around IDR 35,000-100,000.

Jl. Andi Mappanyukki No. 64, Kel. Malango, Kec. Rantepao, Kabupaten Toraja Utara, Sulawesi Selatan 91833, Indonesia
Open Mon-Sat 10am-10pm and Sun 3-10pm


Day 3 in Tana Toraja, Indonesia

9am: Pasar Bolu

If the day you visit falls on a Tuesday or Saturday, it’ll be worthwhile visiting this traditional livestock market where buffaloes and pigs are sold for burial ceremonies.

Hundreds of traders from around the region gather here to exhibit as many as 500-800 buffaloes, which makes it the world’s biggest buffalo market. A buffalo can be sold for a price as high as a small car! Other than buffaloes, you can also find the famous Torajan coffee, betel nut, fruits and vegetables. Entrance fee of IDR 10,000 per person applies.

Tana Toraja Pasar Bolu Market

Tana Toraja Pasar Bolu Market. Arian Zwegers

While the market opens as early as 7am, the activities get especially vibrant after 9am. So it’ll be good to spend the early morning eating breakfast at your hotel or another pleasant feast of Bakso Babi at Rantepao city centre before heading to the market. Alternatively, you can also look for Warung Sa’dan inside Pasar Bolu (or get a local to show you the way), which serves traditional bites that are popular among locals.

Jl. Poros Rantepao – Palopo, North Toraja Regency, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Open 7am-6pm daily (livestock market is open on Tuesday or Saturday morning only)

10.30am: Bori Parinding

This group of more than a hundred menhir (stone megaliths) are ceremonial and burial grounds used for rituals of the deceased and thanksgiving. Each megalith represents a feast of merit performed in the past by a high-status ancestor. Entrance fee is IDR 20,000.

11.30am: Pallawa

Traditional Toraja House

Traditional Toraja House. Photo cred: 22Kartika

Another famous, photogenic compound of 11 Tongkonan houses and 15 granaries. Pallawa is the oldest of the Tongkonan villages in Tana Toraja, and having been there for hundreds of years, some of the rooftops are now overridden with wild vegetation.

You will notice that some of the home fronts are decorated with buffalo and pig horns, which is a symbol that the owner of the house has already participated in the rambu solok ceremony, where the spirits of the deceased are sent off much like a funeral and involves hundreds of animal sacrifices. The rambu solok ceremony can cost hundreds of millions of rupiahs and is easily the most expensive ceremony of its kind in Indonesia.

1.30pm: Batutumonga scenic view and lunch

what to do in Tana Toraja, visit the Rice terraces at Batutumonga

Rice terraces at Batutumonga. Photo cred: Romain Pontida

Batutumonga is a scenic ridge on the slope of Mount Sesean with a panoramic view of the green Sa’dan Valley and paddy fields down below.

This is a quintessential Toraja highland experience, and while the journey towards Batutumonga can be long and bumpy, it is a rewarding visit with an amazing lunch viewpoint from Mentirotiku Restaurant. The dishes are not exactly phenomenal, but it’s the killer view that makes this place worth the ride!

After the lunch, don’t forget to finish off with a nice Torajan coffee while enjoying the cool mountain weather before departing to your next destination. Expect the meal to cost around IDR 40,000-100,000.

3pm: Lo’ko’ Mata

Lo'ko' Mata in Toraja

Lo’ko’ Mata in Toraja. Photo cred: Visit Toraja

Lo’ko’ Mata is a very unique burial site with 20-30 burial chambers (each decorated with photos of the deceased) cut out of one giant rock—easily the biggest stone burial in the highland. The higher the burial chamber, the more important the person was. It is an impressive feat, as the higher chambers can only be reached on flimsy bamboo ladders.

4pm: Trek through Pana to Tikala

From Lo’ko’ Mata, go back around 3km before taking a right turn to a small village called Pana (the trail is unmarked and it’s best to get a guide). Pana is known mostly for its ancient rock tombs, hanging graves and Toraja baby tree graves. What makes it unique, however, is that they are mostly not very well-maintained with bones and skulls spilling out of the tombs onto the valley floor. Entrance fee is IDR 20,000.

From Pana, you can take a small trek through the paddy fields and small villages, watching farmers pounding rice and scrubbing buffaloes, before finally ending at Tikala. Estimated trekking time is about 30-90 minutes, depending on how fit you are and how much time you’d like to spend enjoying the scenery!

Please note that it is not possible to do this trek if you arrive with your own car, as the road is too steep for a car and you will exit at a separate village (leaving your vehicle behind). If you’d like to do the trek, it is recommended that you hire a private driver and arrange to be picked up at Tikala. Alternatively, you can simply enjoy the magnificent views of Batutumonga longer and drive back to Rantepao afterwards.

6pm: Dinner at Riman Restaurant

Located not far away from Cafe Aras and just next to Rimiko Restaurant, you will find Riman Restaurant. Compared to other dining establishments in Rantepao, Riman Restaurant serves comparatively authentic Toraja cuisine! Try their classic pork prasmanan. Expect to pay around IDR 35,000.

Jl. Andi Mappanyukki No. 13, North Toraja Regency, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Open 6am-10pm daily

9pm: Depart to Makassar City

Remember to go to the toilet again before boarding your bus as you will have a long overnight journey.

Day 4 in Makassar, Indonesia

6am: Arrival at Makassar

Your bus may arrive anytime between 6-8am. Upon arrival, transfer about 1 hour to Pallubasa Serigala where you’ll have a tasty breakfast!

9am: Breakfast at Pallubasa Serigala

@Pallu Basa Serigala

A post shared by Anto (@anto_cupidlove) on

Pallubasa is a traditional Makassar food boiled from the offal of cattle or buffalo. In Pallubasa Serigala, they add a tasty egg yolk into the soup and it’s so popular that it has become the city’s culinary icon, visited by Indonesians from around the country.

Jl. Serigala No. 54, Kec. Makassar, Kota Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan 90132, Indonesia
Open 9am-9pm daily

10.30am: Trans Studio Theme Park

As the world’s third largest indoor theme park, Trans Studio offers very unique attractions, mostly inspired by TransTV and Trans7 shows (one of Indonesia’s top TV channels), such as “Dunia Lain” (haunted houses with Indonesian ghosts) and the space simulation program.

There are plenty of things you can do in the theme park. Tired of the games? Then head to the shopping malls, restaurants or simply walk around the marina area of Trans Studio. Too tired from the overnight bus ride? They have a hotel that you can use for a quick rest as well!

Jl. Metro Tj. Bunga No.28, Maccini Sombala, Tamalate, Kota Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan 90224, Indonesia
Open 10am-10pm daily

6pm: Catch your flight back to Singapore

At around 2.30pm, depart to the airport to catch your flight back to Singapore. Arrive in Singapore around 9pm.




Places to stay in Tana Toraja Indonesia

Here are our top picks of places to stay in Tana Toraja.

HotelType of accomRating on TripadvisorPrice per nightMore Photos & Availability
Rosalina HomestayBudget4,5S$20
Hill House GarudaBudget5S$30
Toraja Misiliana HotelMid3,5S$63

Luta Resort TorajaMid3,5S$78

Tongkonan Layuk LionHigh4,5S$91

Toraja Heritage HotelHigh3,5S$105

Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room on the main gateway town of Rantepao.

Affordable

Rosalina Homestay

Rosalina Homestay

Rosalina Homestay is a guesthouse strategically located in Rantepao’s city centre with rooms overlooking rice paddies from its shared balcony. Free wifi, a hot shower, complimentary tea and coffee are included. Booking can be done via WhatsApp or mobile on +62-852-5572-5432.

Price range: SGD 16-26

Address: Jl. Pongitiku karassik Toraja Utara, Rantepao, Indonesia

Mid-range

Luta Resort Toraja

Luta Resort Toraja

Luta Resort Toraja offers basic, comfortable rooms with amenities such as luggage storage, a car park and wifi in public areas. Recreational facilities such as an outdoor pool, spa and massage can also be enjoyed here.

Price range: SGD 78-101

Address: Dr Ratulangi Street no. 26, North Toraja, Rantepao 91854, Indonesia

High-end

Toraja Heritage Hotel

Toraja Heritage Hotel

Toraja Heritage Hotel is the first 4-star international Tana Toraja hotel. The rustic hotel design is based on indigenous local architecture with colonial-style rooms, marble bathrooms and paddy-view balconies. Additional amenities include outdoor pools, a zip line ride, spa and bar with live music.

Price range: SGD 115-252

Address: Jl. Ke’te’ Kesu’ PO Box 80 Rantepao, Toraja Utara, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia

Getting to Tana Toraja, Indonesia

The main gateway to attractions in Tana Toraja is the small town of Rantepao.

Currently, the only way to get to Rantepao is via Makassar. There are many buses that operate between the two cities daily from 9am-7pm and from 9pm-6am, the most reliable of which are Bus Litha (+62-411-442663 for Makassar office, +62-423-21142 for Rantepao office) and Bus Bintang Prima (+62-411-4772888 for Makassar office, +62-423-21142 for Rantepao office). In case there is no availability, you can also look for Bus Manggala Trans, Bus Metro Permai, Bus Charisma Transport, Bus Liman, and Bus Bintang Timur. Ticket prices range from IDR 110,000-220,000.

It is also possible to get to Rantepao by air. Susi Air (+62 811 2127 146) runs domestic flights between Makassar and Tana Toraja every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Please note that sometimes flights may be cancelled last minute if there are insufficient passengers.

Getting around Tana Toraja, Indonesia

There are a variety of rides available.

The most common ride is the pete-petes (minivans), which start from Bolu market. Price ranges from IDR 2,000-30,000 per person depending on the distance. Key destinations that can be reached with pete-petes are Rantepao, Batutumonga, Palawa, Kete Kesu, Parinding and Tikala. Do note that pete-petes will only leave when they are full, which can take more than an hour sometimes.

You can also take sitors (3-wheeled motorcycle taxis) which charge from IDR 4,000 upward. Though not as common as sitors, you can also find ojeks (motorcycle taxis) that are useful for longer rides and prices start from IDR 5,000.

Local rides known as bemos/kijangs (microbuses) run between villages from around IDR 2,000-10,000. Common destinations reachable include Kete Kesu, Batutumonga, Pangala, Tikala and Sangalla.

You can also rent motorbikes (from IDR 60,000 daily) and mountain bikes (from IDR 40,000 daily) through the hotels. Keep in mind that roads in Tana Toraja can be quite steep and narrow, thus this is not recommended for novice motorcyclists.

Finally, you may consider renting a private car, either directly in Tana Toraja through services such as Bonga Toraja (IDR 350,000 daily with a driver; contact +62 821 88 084 848 or info@bongatoraja.com) or from Sultan Hasanuddin Airport at Makassar (see the “Getting around Makassar, Indonesia” section below).

If you’re planning to self-bike or self-drive, please note that key attractions are not easily found on Google Maps. Instead, you may want to make use of the following Tana Toraja map.

Getting to Makassar, Indonesia

Currently, SilkAir is the only operator running flights between Singapore and Makassar. A two-way flight costs around SGD 350.

Flights depart to Makassar every Monday, 7.55-10.55am; Thursday, 7.55-10.55am; Friday, 3.05-6.10pm and Sunday, 2.05-5.10pm.

Return flights to Singapore run every Monday, 11.40am-2.30pm; Thursday, 11.40am-2.30pm; Friday, 6.55-9.40pm and Sunday, 6-9pm.

Getting around Makassar, Indonesia

Taxi is the best way to get around Makassar, as they offer fares based on the meter. The most reliable taxi operator is Blue Bird, which can be contacted at +62-411-441234. From the airport, fares start from IDR 130,000. Within the city centre, fares start from IDR 6,000-100,000. An Indonesian variant of Uber called Go-Car is also an option.

A cheaper alternative is to board trishaw (or known locally as becak), which would cost around IDR 3,000-10,000 within the city centre.

A few taxi counters at the airport also provide car rental services. You may consider Indoglobal Adventure (+62-411-9280999, +62-813-4361999), Herson Rent Car (+62-411-5052245, +62-813-5568-8608, +62-813-5515-8777) or Mariki Wisata (+62-411-3651446, +62-411-351447, +62-411-2595951).

Other important notes

Time difference

Both Tana Toraja and the gateway city Makassar are GMT+8, hence there is no time difference with Singapore. However, if you are combining this visit to other places in Indonesia, please note that Tana Toraja and Makassar are 1 hour ahead of Jakarta.

Best months to visit

Funeral are held all-year round. However, if you’d like to witness some of the biggest and most elaborate Tana Toraja funerals, the best time to visit is around the periods of July and August. Dry season is June to September, which makes for a pleasant visit but also a higher influx of visitors.

Things to pack

 • Modest and comfortable clothes

 • A long-sleeve jacket as weather can get chilly in the highland area sometimes

 • Insect repellent

 • First-aid kit

 • Non-slip footwear if you want to do some hiking

 • Umbrella in case of rainy weather

Helplines

 • Ambulance: 118

 • Police stations:

 • Rantepao: +62-423-21255

 • Makale: +62-423-22100

"botanic, gardens, Singapore"

Image Credits:

All images by Andrew Darwitan unless otherwise stated.

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