Manado – Sulawesi’s forgotten diamond

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In a country like Indonesia, where territorial waters cover more than the entire land surface, Manado was necessarily a city facing the sea. Yet, very few of those who travel to discover Indonesian beauties decide to stop in this beautiful city.

Most travelers who come to the capital of North Sulawesi don’t pay Manado as much attention as it deserves. They usually just make a quick stop at its airport and depart for nearby islands. This is probably why Manado has been preserved as a non-tourist city. Although there are no significant tourist attractions, the friendliness of its inhabitants it’s not just a pose to please tourists and keep them in the city.

This city of Manado is also famous for its incredibly pleasant climate. Except for the months of December and January when heavy rains take hold of the place, the weather here is hot and wetideal for a delightful walk In short sleeves all year round.

Manado has some important religious characteristics which make it different from the rest of Indonesia. Islam here is residual, with 80% of Protestants he is alone 20% of Catholics. However, the people of Manado built the statue of Christ the Redeemera huge stone and metal figure located in a residential neighborhood of Citraland, and is the building they are most proud of, as it is the second tallest building of its kind in Asia.

Like many Asian cities, Manado is not easily explored on foot, as the sidewalks are often interrupted by elevation changes, low walls, rocks, etc. At some point, you may feel like you’re turning into Super Mario, but that’s not something that can’t be solved by wearing light, comfortable shoes. Or get any kind of transportation.

For example, there are air-conditioned taxi; but the best way to get around the city is the thousand blues microletsmall vans, which work on the basis of shared taxis, taking you wherever you want for around 2,000 rupees (about 20 cents).

The side door of the van is always open, making it easier for travelers to get in and out. This is a much easier way to get around the city, especially if you suddenly decide to jump out and visit the colorful mall or market nearby.

That’s right: if Manado is supposed to be anything, then it is a great place for shopping. Travelers here can find a wide variety of tech gadgetsbut also crafts AND traditional clothingand their prices are usually quite low. Particularly interesting places for shopping can be found in Merciful Buildingthat works non-stop.

It is very curious to find buildings of all sizes, colors and architectural styles. In the streets of Manado dotted with the most abundant greenery, your attention will surely be captured by numerous churches. Quirky, tiny or huge, with traces of Portuguese influences, they will make you want to visit them or at least take some interesting photos.

The Portuguese influence noted in Manado is by no means far fetched. Although their stay did not last long and was followed by centuries of Dutch and British colonial rule, the Portuguese managed to influence the history and appearance of the city. However, the city was founded by the Spanish people at the end of the 16th century. Today there are many Spaniards who visit it and you can find them literally everywhere, from the airport to the resorts of its islands.

Get in touch with its nature

North Sulawesi’s especially adored attractions are its dramatic seabed and towering coral reefs. Manado and the neighboring island of Bunaken are the most representative places where it is possible to enjoy observing reefs and marine species. On this remote island that sits on the border between the modern world and the world known in the past, a few kilometers north of the equator, near the Philippines, you will be able to see an intriguing animal species. With her huge eyes and interesting fingers, tarsierthe smallest primate in the world will catch your eye.

Varied food in nightlife

There is no better way to spend the night in Manado than to taste local fast food, visit nightclubs and karaoke bars (with free wi-fi!). Here you will also be able to see unique toy trains in the shape of a giraffe or a cowdoing tours along the coast.

Despite the plentiful supply of fast food, strong and spicy local flavors are worth seeking out. The most famous dish is a special porridge called Bur Bur, which consists of spinach, corn, rice and is often accompanied by spicy fish. For dessert, you should have a Clapper tart, a hollandaise-based dessert reminiscent of coconut, nuts, and raisins. Finally, order a good espresso to complete your meal.

When it comes to exploring the area surrounding the city of Manado, we highly recommend that you don’t be afraid to leave the city center, as you won’t be short of interesting places to visit. Some of the most impressive places that are definitely worth visiting are:

  • The Pinawetengan Museum and the Cloth Housewhere you can learn interesting facts about local traditions.
  • Pinawetengan Peoplethe bizarre set of megalithic stones, about 60 kilometers from the city, is very popular due to its interesting and unique shape.
  • Waruga Park, where the Minahasa tribe buried their dead in a squatting position. This park is located about 40 kilometers from Manado, in the village of Sawangan.
  • Linow Lake, which is two hours by road from the city centre. Observing this lake is an exciting experience due to its continuous color changes during the day, depending on the light. These color changes occur due to the high percentage of sulfur in the water.
  • Tangkoko Nature Reserve it is also a special place, as it is home to dozens of species of mammals, birds and reptiles and more than two hundred different plant species. The most spectacular inhabitants of this reserve are THE white-crested macaque AND the tarsier.
  • Bunaken Island and Lembeh Strait Marine National Park they should be the crown jewels of your visit to Manado. Lembeh Strait is one of the most popular diving destinations in Indonesia.

The capital of North Sulawesi is well connected with the rest of the country by efficient airlines: Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air AND Batavia air fly from Manado to many Indonesian cities. You will need about three hours by plane to Jakarta, the capital, where the clock must be delayed by one hour. It will take about four hours by plane to reach the famous beaches of Bali, via Makassar.

If you are a traveler genuinely interested in exploring various areas of Indonesia, Manado is not the place to be. It may not be as popular as other destinations in Indonesia as it is not a typical tourist city, but this place has a soul that will captivate you if you are willing to spend some time exploring its hidden beauties.

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