To understand Manado, you first have to get a sense of Sulawesi. In terms of overall area, the island is the small fry of the Greater Sunda Islands (even as the eleventh largest island on the planet), in stark contrast with colossal Sumatra and mammoth Borneo. And while bigger than Java, Sulawesi is no match for the world’s most populous island. Home to 16 million people - 122 million people less than Java - the island is a sparsely inhabited (for Indonesia) enclave between Borneo and the remote Malukus.
Though many people still think of Sulawesi as Celebes, it has been close to half a millennium since the Portuguese first landed on its shores and named it after its richest mineral deposit: iron ore. Today the island is prized as a relatively pristine haven for Asian and Australasian fauna and flora. Ecotourists salivate at the thought of unfettered exploration within four national parks and four national marine parks, a few of which are possible future UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Manado is as good a base in Sulawesi as any. Once praised as one of the prettiest towns in Southeast Asia by a late, eminent naturalist awestruck at how the Dutch had revived the capital of North Sulawesi province after a devastating earthquake, Manado has since lost some of its sheen. Blame urban overdevelopment, the pressures of industrialisation, deforestation and the like. Still, despite falling prey to many of the pitfalls that plague the archipelago nation of 237 million people, Manado has ample plusses. The city of half a million people is regarded as one of the most livable in Indonesia, the food is excellent and copious natural wonders unfurl close by.
Manado’s Top 10
10. Christ Blessing StatueThe most obvious sign that Manado, unlike the rest of Indonesia, is a largely Christian city.
5. Bogani Nani Wartabone National ParkTarsiers, dwarf buffalo and wild hogs enjoy the sanctuary of this remarkable national park.
9. Museum Negeri Propinsi Sulawesi Utara A first-rate museum with exhibits on traditional Sulawesi life.
4. Lore Lindu National Parkis home to bands of Tonkean macaques.
8. Kienteng Ban Hian KongThe oldest Buddhist temple in Indonesia west of Bali is well worth a look.
3. Tana TorajaArguably the most popular tourist target on the island of Sulawesi, the Tana Toraja Regency is a singular epicentre of indigenous culture in Indonesia.
7. Fort RotterdamSince Manado is short on landmarks of note, it behooves visitors to get out of the city. Fort Rotterdam is in Makassar, on the opposite side of the island.
2. Togean Islandshave beaches that make Bali blush with envy.
6. Makam Sultan Hasanuddinshowcases the vestiges of the ancient Gowa kingdom outside of Makassar.
1. Bunakenis the reason most visitors come to Manado in the first place. The city is the best gateway to this exquisite national marine park.
Manado is a base for world class divers who flock to the Sulawesi capital briefly before lengthy scuba excursions beckon. Numerous dive sites dot the coast in reasonable proximity to the city.
Manado Beach Festival attempts to encourage visitors to stick around in the month of July.
When To Go
Practically on the equator, Manado receives a ton of rain - 109 in (2,800 mm) on average, to be precise. Thankfully, the tropical rainforest climate confines the worst of it to a convenient wet season from November to March. There is no complete escape from the wet stuff, however, as the city gets minimum 4 to 5 in (100 to 125 mm) of rain per month.
The pinnacle of the dry season spans the months of August and September. Temperatures, predictably, waver little throughout the year and hold at a lovely 74°F (23°C) to 87°F (31°C).
Sam Ratulangi International Airport is modern and handles close to 1.5 million passengers a year. Most international visitors come in via Jakarta, Denpasar or Singapore.
Within Manado proper, the best mode of transport is your own private vehicle or a reliable taxi for hire. The city has a long-distance bus terminal for travel within Sulawesi.
Manado, the capital of the North Sulawesi province of Indonesia, is situated on the Bay of Manado. It is surrounded by large mountains, and hiking is popular. Manado is home to the Ambang National Park and is a popular destination for great scuba diving and snorkelling.
- Ban Hin Kiong Temple
- Lake Tondano
- Manado Town Square
- Enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling at the nearby Bunaken National Park
- Be amazed at Mount Klabat, the highest Sulawesi island
- Attend the Manado Boulevard Carnaval, a fashion carnival, in July
Manado enjoys a tropical rainforest climate, with an average of 2,850 mm (112 inches) of rain annually and most of it falling November through June. The average high temperature for the year is 30°C (85°F), while the average low is 24°C (75°F).
More Info On Getting Around
Manado’s nearest airport is Sam Ratulangi International Airport. Tourists can hire cars or take taxis to their destinations.
Manado can be explored with the aid of an ojek (motorcycle taxi), moped taxi or mikrolet (minibus). Mikrolets are Manado's cheapest method of transportation. Use of a hired car is popular with tourists and can be obtained from CV Sinar Berkat Rent a Car Manado.
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