Manado is a well known port city for a transit before going to dive at Bunaken and surrounding islands.


Arriving in the Sam Ratulangi Airport, I opt to take the Damri bus to the central city (Rp. 25.000). Visitors just need to tell the driver where to go and mostly he will oblige to take us to major hotels, streets/area and well known hostels.

I stay in a nice Istanaku Guesthouse.

North Sulawesi is a home for the ethnic tribe called Minahasa, in their language it means “becoming one united”.  On the 16th century, Spain established coffee plantation in North Sulawesi, then they relinquished their claim and released Manado to Portuguese for a sum of money.

After that,  Dutch East India Company or Verenigde Oost Indische Compagnie (VOC) took over and bring Christianity with the churches and trade. Manado is predominately a Christian city much like most of the cities in North Sulawesi. Instead of mosques like so many places in west Indonesia, Manado has churches at least one in every 2 or 3 km.

After settling in and walk around the area, I have lunch at Raja Oci, fresh fish, rice, vegetables and two types of chilli. The fresh slices of raw red chilli and the green chilli sambal dabu-dabu. Minahasa tribe in Manado is well known for their spices and spicy food.

At night time I went back to the hostel and for dinner I try the Manado Nasi Kuning (yellow rice) with shredded fish and sambal rica, another type of chilli.

My Couchsurfing friend, Arin, took me to Jarod, or Jalan Roda (Wheel Street) to experience a food market and local delicacies. The street already exists since before the Dutch colonial era. Before, the main transportation is a horse/cows drawn carriage, pedati, or roda (wheeled) carriage and the people sell their farm/sea produce at the local market. One of the markets street is Jalan Roda.

The meeting point for traders and merchants taking a break with coffee still going on from all tribes, religions and people in this street. They enjoy the snacks and coffee and sometimes talk about politics and listen to local musicians in various time of day.

Ordering snack and coffee is quite different. Here they order local black coffee with condense milk by saying “kopi stengah neh” or “half coffee, please”.

The coffee is kept on a kettle over charcoal grill in low heat. First the madame pour condense milk into a warm-washed glass, then she pours the black coffee. Snack consists on coffee, crispy thin slices of banana and sambal, again, they sure like their spicy food.

Bubur Manado (Manado porridge) with corn, pumpkin, vegetables and fried onions. And chilli of course. We spend some time at Jarod and just talk while waiting for Arin to pick up her children from school.

The next night I stay with Arin. We got a couple of hours blackout at night and people in Manado loves to party, eat and hangout. A bit rowdy in her housing block even in the dark with only minimal lights but they sure have fun!

The next day, I take a local bus to Tomohon, taking the bus from Karombasan terminal to Pasar Beriman Tomohon (Tomohon Traditional Market). One way is Rp. 5.600.

Tomohon is a small city between two mountains, Mt. Mahawu and Mt. Lokon. Arriving at the Tomohon market, I see a lot of farm produce and questionable culinary delicacies (Minahasa people likes to eat anything, and I do mean anything) such as dogs, rats, snakes, bats(?!) and other (?!?) meat (sorry no photo, because ugh. Just no.).

A sub Minahasa ethnic group called Tombulu populated Tomohon area from west and south to Manado. The name Tomohon is from local dialect Tou mu’ungThe city is called flower city as they also produce plants and flowers. To boost the tourists visit, every year the local government held a Tomohon Flower Festival.

One of flowers farm near the hotel

I stay at Jhoanie hotel, a bit farther from the downtown area for my liking. The view from the window is breathtaking though.

Mount Lokon

There are several options going around Tomohon, from rented car, microlet (small mini bus), bendi (local horse drawn carriage) or ojek (motorcycle taxi). Since I’m going to several places a bit far from my hotel, I charter an ojek instead. Check out my other post for Minahasa culture: House on stilts in Woloan, Tomohon and Minahasa Traditional Weaving: Bentenan.

View of Lake Linow. Lake Linow derived its name from Lilinowan in Minahasa. It means the gathering place of water.

Entry fee is Rp. 25.000 including free coffee/tea from the cafe and enjoy the lake view from the deck.

The lake is known for its colours from various blue, tosca to green and amber because of the sulphur consistency from mount Mahawu eruption hundred years ago and refraction and reclection of sunlight. That’s why it’s called the 3 colours lake.

Across the lake, several fumarole, or the steam and gases from geothermal energy thermal springs underneath, come out from holes surrounding the lake because mountains such as mount Mahawu and mount Lokon are still active.

From Tomohon is easy to go to Tondano for a day trip before going back to Manado. Once again, I charter an ojek to go there and back to Tomohon . Tondano is the capital of the Minahasa Regency. From the Minahasa language, it’s called toulour or water people.

Lake Tondano is one of the largest lake in North Sulawesi, 4.278ha/42,78km, between mountain range Lembean, mount Kaweng, mount Tampusu and mount Masarang.

Visitors of the lake can enjoy the view and the cool weather while eating fried fish and sambal rica-rica in one of the restaurants around the lake. The people’s main commodity are freshwater fishes, crabs and shrimps.

There are a couple of Dutch architecture houses with the Tondano lake view from the other side of the restaurants.

There are old and new wooden houses with chimney (I don’t think there’s a fireplace but you never know inside the houses). Should be interesting if one of them made into a guesthouse or a bed and breakfast.

From Tondano, I go back to Tomohon terminal near the market with the same bus to Manado.

North Sulawesi trip: