Palembang: Culturally rich river city


WELCOME to Palembang, the land of Sriwijaya where culture and river meet in harmony of life. There are many attraction and events that will bring you to a new way of traveling around Indonesia.

All eyes of sport fans throughout Asia and the world will turn to Indonesia when the largest and most prestigious sporting event in Asia, the 18th Asian Games 2018 will be held from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2. For the first time ever, Asian Games will be hosted in two Indonesian cities: in Jakarta, the country's capital city, and Palembang, capital of South Sumatra Province.

Jakabaring Sport City – Palembang

For the past 2 years, Palembang has completed to build many infrastructures and revitalization for Asian Games 2018. The government of Palembang has already prepared everything to make this international event success. And all of Palembang citizen will get the best impact and experience from this Asian Games 2018 event.

This city has already existed for 1335 years, and there aren’t many cities in the world could reach this age if they aren’t one of the best cities in the world. With more than thousands of arts and cultures spread into lot of ethnics such as Malay, Arab, Chinese and India united into one identity as Charming Palembang. The wonderful Musi River tells us about the historical city especially the Sriwijaya Empire that rules all over Southeast Asia since 7th to 12th century.

Ampera Bridge – Musi River

Palembang Attractions: Most of the attractions found in Palembang are tied into the city's rich history. The Buddhist Sriwijaya Empire may been long gone but the town has preserved its ties to the past through two museums: Museum of Sumatera Selatan and Museum of Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II.

Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Museum

Museum Sumatera Selatan is a recommended stop for all visitors. Located about five km from the town center, this place provides the perfect introduction to Palembang's history. The museum houses many items from the Sriwijayan epoch; it is also home to megalithic pieces from the Pasemah Highlands. Behind the museum, visitors will find an impressive rumah limas, or traditional house.

Pasemah Highlands - Pagar Alam

Museum Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II has some exhibits worth seeing, but the place is better appreciated for its structure; this museum is an architectural wonder, a fine example of the fusion of Malay and colonial styles. It was built by the Dutch in 1823 on the site of what used to be the Sultan's Palace. Other city attractions to see are the Agung Mosque, Ampera Bridge and Kemaro island.

The Holy Giant Quran Al-Akbar

One of most favorite tourist destination is The Holy Giant Qur’an Al-Akbar, Al-Qur’an named Al-Akbar is touted as the largest wood-carving and the first in the world in the form of 30 juz Al-Qur’an. This giant Al-Qur’an made from Tembesu wood, carved with special Palembang wood-carving style.

This Al-Qur’an with unique carvings, consisting of 2 meters height of wood-sheets with about 1.5 meters width. It has brown wood base color with an Arab arising yellow. Each sheet is carved with flower motif on the edge. The color is also yellow. The manufacturing process itself takes a relatively long time, about seven years.

Palembang Restaurants & Dining

Dining is sure to be an interesting experience in Palembang. Most of the dishes here are served with various accompaniments. The most common of which is tempoyak, a mixture of fermented durian, terasi or shrimp paste, lime juice and chilli; it is stirred with the fingers and added to the rice.

The most famous dishes in Palembang involve seafood, which is no surprise since it is a riverine city. The renowned dishes are ikan brengkes (fish served with sauce that features spicy durian), pindang (spicy fish soup) and pempek (a combination of fish, sago and seasoning formed into balls and grilled or deep fried).

Pempek Palembang

Those who want a taste of Palembang cuisine go to restaurants such as Rumah Makan Mahkota indah and Rumah Makan Sri Melayu. The Floating Restaurant, which is located across the Sungai Musi, is also a good place to try local dishes. Tourists who want to interact with the locals can go to Pondok Selera near the Songket Village; it is an open-air establishment frequented by government workers.

Palembang Shopping

Avid shoppers will not be disappointed with the selections available in Palembang. However, while there are modern shopping places such as Palembang Indah Mall and Palembang Square Mall, the best places to shop in the city are those that sell local handicrafts.

The best souvenir to get from Palembang is the songket (a fabric included in the brocade family of textiles), and the best place to get it is Tanggo Buntung. Located two km from the town center, this is the village the local songket industry calls home. The storerooms feature sarongs used in special occasions and purposes, alongside more functional pieces such as scarves. The workshops are directly above the storerooms.

Songket Palembang

Another great place to buy songket and other textiles is the Pasar 16 Ilir. This was a floating market that has developed a full-blown bazaar. Here, visitors can buy batik and other textiles from Sumatra and Java. House ware goods are sold here too, but it is essentially a clothes market. The place is open from 10:00-17:00. Bargaining is not only allowed here; it is encouraged.

Palembang Activities

Aside from sightseeing and eating, there is not much to do in Palembang. Going to the cinemas is a good option, though. In Palembang, the movie theaters provide budget-friendly entertainment for tourists who do not know what to do or where to go. The ticket prices are relatively cheap but people should avoid the cinemas on Mondays; there is a discount given that day, but the theatres would be full of students and teenagers. Those who want to stay active can also go to a fitness center. Major hotels usually have their fitness centers, and guests can use the facilities free of charge.

Bidar Boat Race

However, if there is one must-do activity on the traveler's list, it would be to witness the Bidar Boat Race in Sungai Musi. This annual event is held in celebration of the country's Independence Day (Aug. 17). The bidar (canoe) is a colorful boat that is 24 meters in length and 0.75 meters in width. It is raced down the river by as many as 50 men donning interesting costumes. This event should not be missed.

During the moment of Asian Games 2018, The government of Palembang has already launched at least 13 best events to serve and give the best hospitality for all visitors.

Palembang can be reached by plane. The Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport, which is located about 12km north of town, carries flights by Scoot Air and jetstar from Singapore. Air Asia also has international flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Airlines such as Garuda, Batik Air, Wings Air, Lion Air Citilink Air and Sriwijaya fly to domestic destinations such as Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya.

Getting around the city is made easy thanks to several transportation options. Light Rail Transit become the first choice if you start from arrival in Airport just 45 minute to last station of Jakabaring Sport City and this Palembang LRT become the first in Indonesia. For shorter trips, the becak (cycle rickshaw) is the best choice, while buses and the Angkot (modified vans turned into a mini buses) are more suitable for longer distances.

Hot tropical weather can be experienced in Palembang all year round, though the wet season comes in October and lasts until April. The city can be visited at any time; however, traveling to less developed areas during the wet months can be a challenge.