Tomohon, center of Minahasa

Tomohon is the third biggest city in Northern Sulawesi after the capital city of Manado and the port city of Bitung. It has about 100,000 inhabitants, most of whom are Christians.

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The city is a well known tourist stop for those that are exploring the beautiful mountainous countryside of Northern Sulawesi. The city lies 800 meters above sea level, and temperatures range between 17 and 25 degrees during the day. To the people of Manado it is the perfect place to escape the heat.

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The Tomohon Day Market is known for selling exotic species, including bats, birds, monkeys and snakes. The selling (and explicitly killing) of dogs and cats is pretty standard here. Do not check out the cages with dogs unless you are not easily grossed out. The sight of a dog being clubbed to death and then burned is not for those with weak stomachs. It is however part of daily life and a cultural aspect for hundreds of years.

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Nearby attractions

Within the city you can visit churches, temples and the traditional markets. Outside of the city the following places are definitely worth a visit: Lake Tondano, Lake Linow, Bukit Kasi, Mt. Lokon, Mt. Mahawu, Woloan, Mt. Masarang, Tumimperas & Tinoor Waterfall. It is also possible to do white water rafting at Ranoyapo or Nimanga river (grade 3-5).

Tomohon’s biggest attraction is the stunning scenery as it lies near two volcanoes; Mt. Mahawu and Mt. Lokon. You can visit the rim of Mahawu volcano to enjoy the views. The surroundings of the city are perfect for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts.

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A little bit further away you have Lake Tondano, a beautiful lake that you can explore by motorbike. It’s a 30 minute ride from Tomohon. Along the lake are numerous fish restaurants. Locals offer short boat rides at the lake.

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Another amazing lake is Linow. Lake Linow changes color daily, because of the sulfur that mixes with the clear water. It is great to see the lake change color, going from clear green to milky light blue. There is a small restaurant that serves great pisang goreng (do check it out, it’s delicious) and also drinks; a good place to relax and wait until the lake changes color.

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Also worth visiting is the very active Mt. Soputan. This is perhaps the most active volcano in Indonesia. It lies southwest of Tomohon, and it takes over 2 hours by car to get there. As the volcano is quite unreliable, it is best to hire a proper guide to visit this mountain. In the same direction of Soputan is Bukit Kasi; which is a nice geothermal area and also a religious site along the slopes of Mt. Soputan.

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Near Tomohon lies the village of Woloan. This village is known for its great carpenters. Almost all the traditional wooden houses were built in Woloan. Even resorts at Bunaken Island and Lembeh Island order their villas from this village.

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Some hotels and resorts in and around Tomohon

How to get there

Getting from Manado to Tomohon is easy, just grab a taxi (preferably BlueBird) and you will arrive in Tomohon in little over an hour. There are also frequent buses between numerous cities within Northern Sulawesi. Buses arrive at the Beriman Terminal in Tomohon. Besides buses and taxis you could also consider renting a car. Though you can rent a car without a driver, we would strongly advice to rent one including a driver unless you know your way around Northern Sulawesi.

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Manado International Airport is the nearest airport. Here numerous flights arrive on a daily basis, including a few international flights.

Map of Tomohon

Manado, capital of Nothern Sulawesi

Travelers that visit North-Sulawesi often arrive at Manado, the second biggest city on the island with over 450.000 inhabitants. Manado is located very close to the equator, which explains the very hot temperatures throughout the year. Manado is especially popular among diving enthusiasts that visit the nearby Bunaken Marine Park.

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Nearby attractions

Manado is a very popular destination because of its proximity to Bunaken Marine Park. Bunaken Island attractions thousands of diving enthusiasts each year due to its great corals. Other popular attractions nearby Manado are: Tomohon, The Minahasa Highlands, Mount Lokon, Kali Waterfall, Lake Tondano, Mount Klabat Climb, Tangkoko National Park and Lembeh Street (for awesome muck diving conditions).

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The city itself also has a few sights worth seeing. There are some very nice churches along Sam Ratulangi Street. The Ban Hin Kiong Temple is also very nice, especially during Chinese New Year. Another must see (especially if you are religious) is the Christ Blessing Statue, in the Citraland suburd of Manado.

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Shopping in Manado

There are a few malls that might be worth checking out if you are interested in buying clothing, souvenirs and other stuff. Most of them are located along Jalan Piere Tendean. Most popular malls are Manado Town Square, Mega Mall, It Center, Lion Plaza (previously known as Boulevard Mall) and soon also Star Square Manado (opening in 2013).

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Great hotels and resorts in and around Manado

How to get there

Most travelers arrive at the international airport of Manado. There are numerous daily flights from Jakarta and a bunch of other cities in Indonesia to Manado. There are also a few international flights, like the Silk Air flight straight from Singapore.

Another option to get to Manado is overland. Those that come from the south of Sulawesi often travel through the stunning Togian Islands, and get a boat to Gorontalo from there. In this small city transport can be arranged to Manado. Although it’s only about 300km, it still takes well over 8/10 hours to get to Manado (there are several bus operators on this route). Alternatively you can take a short one hour flight from Gorontalo to Manado airport.

International Airport

Sam Ratulangi International Airport is located about 13 kilometers northeast of Manado. It takes 30 minutes by taxi to get from the airport to the city center of Manado. The airport is small, but quite modern. Currently the only two international carriers that fly directly to Manado are Silk Air (Singapore) and Wings Air (Philippines). Departure tax from Manado is Rp 100.000 for international flights and Rp 30,000 for domestic flights.

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Map of Manado