Makassar city, also known as Ujung Padang, is the capital of South Sulawesi and serve as an important hub its airport serving international and domestic flights. Here is a guide to this city, which serves as a springboard to southern Sulawesi and beyond. Mostly travelers come here for shopping and eating before heading off to remote places in Sulawesi like Tana Toraja or to various beautiful diving sites like Wakatobi National Park.
Where is it
Makassar is located at South Sulawesi. It is the largest city in Sulawesi and serves as capital in the south.
What to see
Fort Rotterdam – old Dutch fortress from colonial days with 10,00 Rp mandatory donation.
Paotere Harbor – come here to see the old tradition still alive and bustling in an old fishing harbour. In the morning, you can see fishermen returning with their day’s catch.
Makassar Great Mosque – touted as the floating mosque, this new and well-maintained worship place is undoubtedly a sight worthy of a visit. It is located nearby Losari Beach.
What to do
Stroll and relax at Losari Beach – no exactly a beach but a nice waterfront in the middle of the city for. Best to come here for a sunset view. Travel tips: Beware of pickpockets!
Shop at Trans Studio Makassar – a huge mall with many shops, restaurants, and cafes. Here is also the hangout place of the local, so it would be fun to mingle and do some people watching.
Malino tea plantations – if you have the time and would like some fresh cooling air, take 60-90 minutes to drive out of Makassar to this beautiful highland with tea and strawberry fields. Fees (as of 2016) to enter this place is 50K IDR per person.
Where to stay
There are plenty of places to stay, from high end hotels to guesthouses. Most travellers stay in the city center due to choices and also easy access to the rest of the tourist attractions and transportation to the other parts of Sulawesi. In smaller cities in Indonesia, I normally recommend to stay in mid-range hotels as they are reliable and affordable, such as Melia Makassar * or Pesonna Makassar *.
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How to get there
FlightsMakassar airport is the Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport, located 20km away from town and has domestic flights from various points in Indonesia – Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Banjarmasin, Balikpapan, Kendari, Palu, Manado, Gorontalo, Ambon, Ternate, Manokwari, Sorong and Jayapura. It also have international flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore. From the airport, a taxi to the city is about 70,000 Rp if you get your own while an official airport taxi would be 100,000 Rp. For cheaper alternatives, you may take a bemo (minibus) into town for 4,000 Rp and would stop at Makassar Mall.
Update as of 2016: most carriers now include departure tax in the air tickets, so please check with your carriers, as it would mean you do not need to pay the departure tax at the airport anymore.
Take note of domestic departures which require 40,000 Rp tax while international departures are 100, 000 Rp tax.
Makassar is also a major port for Pelni boat, it can be an alternatives to flights via the sea and if you are keen to try out for experience purposes as it is not that much cheaper and the hours are long. For example, a boat ride to Makassar takes 16 hours from Balikpapan, 24 hours from Surabaya, and 30 hours from Tanjung Priok.
Where to go nearby
From here you can get to the famous Tana Toraja by bus which is 300 km away with at least 8-10 hours drive. It would cost 80,000 Rp for an air-conditioned bus from Makassar to Rantepao, with a choice of morning or overnight bus. To get to the bus terminal, you may hop on the frequent bemo (minibus) and would take about 40 minutes.
If just nearby, you can try the Pulau Khayangan, a small island 20 minutes away by boat or Pulau Samalona, about 30-45 minutes away, with a white sandy beach and good enough for diving.