The provincial capital of South Sulawesi, Makassar is renowned for its thriving port and superb local delicacies. It also offers interesting historical sites and charming ocean vistas.
Although the urban conglomeration covers 2,473 square kilometers, you can get around the city in the space of one day.
Here are seven ways to occupy yourself from dawn till dusk – what order you see them in, though, we’ll leave up to you.
Soak up the history at Fort Rotterdam
One of the city’s most iconic landmarks, Fort Rotterdam boasts well-preserved Dutch architecture across its many buildings.
With historical traces dating to when the Kingdom of Gowa ruled Makassar in the 16th century to the Dutch colonial era, the fort has been a silent witness to innumerable episodes in the city’s long history.
Some of the buildings in the compound have been restored while other parts, like the crumbling fort wall, remain untouched. The fort once functioned as the headquarters of the Kingdom of Gowa’s frogmen and was later used by the Dutch as a central spice depot for the east of what were then the Dutch East Indies.
Aside from its engrossing history, Fort Rotterdam also serves as a great spot from which to view Makassar’s majestic sunset. Climb up to the top of the old fort’s ruins and drink in the breathtaking view as the eye of the day sets in the west.
Immerse yourself in local culture and history at La Galigo Museum
Initially established as the Celebes Museum in 1938, today La Galigo Museum occupies two buildings inside the Fort Rotterdam compound.
The museum’s diverse collection is the result of a series of pre-war excavations and includes ceramics, coins, gold, jewellery and more. The museum was further endowed with several types of ship, farming equipment, houseware, musical instruments and traditional weaponry during the Japanese occupation in World War II.
In 1970, the museum was officially reestablished and its name was changed to La Galigo Museum. The name La Galigo derives from the world’s longest epic poem turned globally performed musical-theatre piece, I La Galigo, written in the Buginese language.
Fascinated by South Sulawesi’s ethnic diversity? This is the place to delve deeper. The museum not only showcases an array of artifacts from the Bugis, Makassarese and Toraja peoples, it also features relics from the long-gone Sulawesi kingdoms of Sawito, Wajo, Mandar, Luwuk and Bone.
Admire the Phinisi ships at Paotere Harbor
Paotere Harbor is located in the north of the city and is where the traditional Buginese Phinisi sailing ships berth to load and unload their cargo. A few streets from the harbor is a busy fish market selling an extensive array of freshly-caught seafood.
Marvel at the lovingly crafted Phinisi sailing ships as they berth in the harbor with their tall sails and grand hulls. The bustle of workers shimmying to and fro with sacks of flour and buckets of seafood at the wharf is another enthralling sight, especially early in the morning.
Don’t forget to watch that no light-fingered wharf rat get his hands on your bag or belongings, lost as you are in the romance of the area.
Come here at dusk to watch the rapturous Makassar sunset, with rows of Phinisi ships silhouetted on a tangerine canvas.
Take a selfie at Pantai Losari
Losari Beach is one of the places to be in Makassar.
Stretching several kilometers along Jl. Penghibur, Losari Beach is always crowded, especially in the afternoon before night falls.
Don’t let the word beach mislead you though; there’re no expanses of white sand or dramatic rocky projections. Losari Beach’s coastal shore consists mostly of a breakwater embankment with little sand left to spread your towel out on.
Not to worry though, the views of the setting sun from Losari Beach are still magnificent to behold. Stroll along the promenade and take a selfie in front of the huge Pantai Losari sign. Enjoy a platter of fresh grilled seafood or traditional local street-food such as pallu butung (a dessert made from bananas, rice flour and coconut milk) or pisang epe (made from baked bananas covered in sugar cane and thick coconut sauce) from nearby street stalls while waiting for the daylight to fade.
On a clear day, you’ll be able to spot a few islands from the beach’s promenade, including Samalona, a part of the Spermonde archipelago.
Taste the heavenly ‘Konro Bakar Karebosi’
Konro karebosi is a dish consisting of chopped beef ribs served in a bowl of hearty soup.
The name karebosi derives from the name of Makassar’s main plaza, where Haji Hanafi—the owner of the restaurant—first opened his soup stall.
Rather than being served in soup, konro or ribs are sometimes served grilled and smeared with peanut sauce alongside a bowl of soup.
The secret to the sauce’s tastiness is the use of rich spices such as pepper, cloves and nutmeg. It’s a party in your mouth right from the first bite. Add some chili sauce to the soup to crank the music up a notch.
The original restaurant is located on Jl. Gunung Lompobattang and a portion of soupy or grilled konro will cost you around Rp 40,000 (US$3.1).
Rock your palate at Pallubasa Serigala
Pallubasa is another Makassarese culinary hero that you simply cannot miss. The dish is a soup made from the offal of cattle or buffalo. The offal is boiled and mixed with grated coconut to produce the broth before the meat is added later on. The soup is then served with a plate of plain rice.
To savor the best pallubasa in Makassar, go where the locals go: Pallubasa Serigala on Jl. Serigala. The restaurant is cozy, with enough space for 40 people to squeeze onto the wooden benches lining long tables; the place is always packed at lunch and dinner time.
You and your bowl of pallubasa may not experience love at first sight. But don’t judge a book by its cover, or, for that matter, a bowl of soup by its murky appearance.
The soup is thick and very savory and tastes better with a raw egg in it. Add some peanuts and emping (belinjo crackers) as condiments and, as ever, some chili for that extra kick.
Its food is rich but Pallubasa Serigala’s prices are low: a bowl of pallubasa cost Rp 18,000 per bowl.
Get around the city by ‘becak’ , ‘bentor’ and ‘pete-pete’
Why take taxis when Makassar has so many unique forms of public transportation?
The city’s becak (cycle rickshaw) look similar to those seen plying the streets of Yogyakarta, but a little smaller.
If you’re heading further, take a bentor (motorcycle rickshaw), which, obviously, goes a lot faster than a becak.
Alternatively, take a colorful public minibus or pete-pete to get around the city. Taking a pete-pete is cheaper than riding a bentor and has the advantage of providing an authentic local experience; the drivers are notorious for waiting endlessly for just one more passenger, and often decide to take a different route without any prior warning.
If that sounds like a bridge too far, rent a car: crossing the city from one side to the other won’t take more than 30 minutes.
This article is originally published on The Jakarta Post Travel