Refreshing Lake Maninjau

The splendid Lake Maninjau in West Sumatra, is one of the calmest places in Indonesia. Come to this ancient lake, set within a volcanic crater, to escape from the crowds and hustle and bustle of the rest of the country. Perched in the mountain highlands, around 461 meters above sea level, Lake Maninjau is a splendid sight. At 100 m2, this lake is an impressive natural wonder and a place to come when you’re after a peaceful and relaxing place to unwind and absorb a sleepy pace of life.

To get to the lake, visitors must take the steeply descending road from Bukittinggi. This journey will have you on the edge of your seat as the road has sharp hairpin bends and unforgettable twists and turns. The 44 bends in this road give it its name, Kelok 44. The drive down to the lake will amaze you with its remarkable views over the shimmering blue lake and surrounding hills.

The lake is more than just a beautiful landmark though, it’s also a part of the cultural heritage of the local people. The legend of “Bujang Sembilan” (roughly translates as “Nine Young Men”) is based around this lake. According to local folklore, one of the men in the story died by plunging himself into the crater. The crater then expanded, forming a lake.

Maninjau Lake, West Sumatra
Maninjau Lake, West Sumatra (Source :

With inspiring scenery and peaceful surrounds, a visit to Lake Maninjau will leave you relaxed and rejuvenated. If you’re looking for fantastic views, the Maninjau resort is perched at the top of a hill and offers some of the best views of the lake.

Maninjau Village is located near the lake and a number of famous Indonesians call this place home. Buya HAMKA, one of the most notable novelists in Indonesia, was born here. HAMKA wrote the phenomenal Tenggelamnya Kapal Van der Wijk. Another famous person who was born here is Rangkayo Rasuna Said, one of Indonesia’s national heroes. Her name has been immortalized as one of the protocol roads in Jakarta.


Cuisine from West Sumatra, also called Padang food, is famous for its spice. Try some of the local delicacies such as rendang – beef in coconut milk.

You can buy traditional Minang handicrafts in this area or in Bukittinggi. Various silver and gold thread songket (hand-woven cloth), slippers, shoes, bags, money pouches made of songket, and other unique items are also available. You can also buy traditional West Sumatran snacks such as cassava chips coated with chili sauce.

There are a number of guest houses offering basic accommodation close to the lake.  The most luxurious option is the Maninjau Resort, which has panoramic views of the lake. There is a wide range of accommodation available in Bukittinggi also.

This is a place to relax and slow down. You won’t be bothered by the hustle and bustle of city life here. Instead, sit back, relax and enjoy the basic elements of land, sky and water.

Rejuvenate with an early morning swim. Spend a quiet afternoon watching the clouds float over the peaks and slowly descend down the crater walls. Or if you’d prefer something a little more active, hire a canoe and take a leisurely paddle around the lake.


Depending on where you stay, you can use a private car or public transport to make your way around.

Or explore the beautiful terrain with a ride on a mountain bike. If you’re a thrill seeker, experience the adrenaline rush of speeding through the tropical surrounds on the back of a motorbike.

For a slower paced adventure, venture out onto the lake with a trip on a canoe.


Located only 35 kilometers away from Bukittinggi, the easiest way to get to the Lake is by car. As the road twists and turns you’ll get some breathtaking views of the pristine blue lake and surrounding hillside. On the drive be prepared to see wild monkeys too which will be waiting for scraps of food to be thrown from passing cars.

Regular buses run daily between Maninjau and Bukittinggi.


  • Respect the locals, dress casually but not revealingly. People, especially women in skimpy clothing may warrant unwanted attention.
  • Not everybody can speak English, so you might want to learn simple Indonesian phrases to make it easier to communicate.
  • Generally the further away you travel from town, the cleaner the water in the lake.
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