A seaside city of contrast, explore Makassar’s 21st-century shopping malls and 17th-century fortresses. Begin your island-hopping odysseys here.

One-time capital of pirate princes and gateway to Indonesia’s wild east, Makassar is a seaside city of colour and contrast. Part sleepy tropical backwater, part burgeoning modern metropolis, this is a place where you can explore crumbling 17th-century fortresses and glitzy 21st-century shopping malls, take a ride in a rattling pedicab en route for a pulsing nightclub, or simply kick back in the glow of a stupendous sunset.

Perched between the rugged green hills of South Sulawesi and the wide blue waters of the Flores Sea, Makassar has always been a city with its finger on the pulse. Originally a seat of powerful seagoing sultans, it has been a staging post for Portuguese spice traders, a stronghold for Dutch settlers, and a place of exile for rebellious Javanese princes. The past is still close to the surface here, and you’ll find plenty of living history in the backstreets and docksides. But this is also the biggest city in eastern Indonesia, with everything you’d expect in sophisticated shopping, nightlife and accommodation.

The ultimate Makassar pleasures could simply be enjoying a spread of fresh seafood in the company of cheery locals at a seafront café while watching the sun slips down over the far horizon. And when you’re done with the city, don’t forget that Makassar is the first stepping stone for all sorts of epic island-hopping odysseys.


When to go

Makassar is a great place to visit all year-round, however visitors may want to note December and January are usually the wettest months of the year.

Visa requirements

Singaporeans and citizens of other ASEAN member states can visit Indonesia for 30 days without a visa. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months and that you have a return or onward ticket. Visitors from many other countries can get a 30-day visa on arrival at Makassar for US$25.


Indonesian rupiah. There are ATMs and currency exchange counters at the airport. You'll find ATMs in Mataram, Senggigi and on Gili Trawangan. There are money changers on the other Gilis and at Kuta, but their exchange rates are not the best.


There are prepaid taxi booths at the airport, as well as regular air-conditioned buses operated by DAMRI to the city centre. Within the city there are plenty of metered taxis, though for a cheaper and more colourful ride hop into one of Makassar's many pete-pete (public minibuses) which run along a network of fixed routes from a hub at Makassar Mall. A ride in a becak (pedicab) is a fun way to explore the backstreets, but you'll have to bargain for a reasonable fare.

Health and safety tips

For a big city Makassar is remarkably safe, and the main danger is from the traffic - watch out for motorbikes approaching from every angle as you cross the street. There is some petty crime - keep an eye out for pickpockets in markets and while riding in pete-pete - but few threats to personal safety. As everywhere in Indonesia, don't drink the tap water. While there is very little danger of contracting malaria in South Sulawesi, there is a potential risk of dengue fever, particularly towards the end of the rainy season, so do your best to avoid mosquito bites.

Emergency details

The nearest Singapore consulate is in Jakarta (tel: (62) 21 2995 0400).

The main police station is on Jl. Ahmad Yani in the centre of the city. Tel: (62) 411 319277.

Basic greetings
English Indonesian
Hello Halo!
How are you? Apa kabar?
Fine, thanks Baik, terima kasih
Goodbye Selamat tinggal
Excuse-me! (to get attention) Permisi!
Thank you Terima kasih
Yes Ya
No Tidak
What's your name? Siapa nama anda?
My name is… Nama saya…
Nice to know you Senang berkenalan dengan anda
Are you on Facebook/Twitter? Anda ada di Facebook/Twitter?
Where’s an internet café? Warnet [warung internet] di mana?
Where can I get a taxi? Di mana saya bisa mendapatkan taksi?
Where is the bus/train station? Stasiun bis/kereta di mana?
A one-way/return ticket to… Tiket sekali jalan/pulang-pergi ke…
Do you have a room for one/two? Ada kamar untuk satu/dua orang?
When's check out? Kapan waktu check-out?
Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar? Bisakah anda menyarankan restoran/bar yang bagus?
A table for two, please Tolong meja untuk dua orang
A menu, please Tolong minta menunya
The bill, please Tolong minta bonnya
Where's the toilet? Kamar kecil di mana?
Help! Tolong!

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Fort Rotterdam

Jl. Ujung Pandang, No. 2

With thickset, red-roofed barracks and well-tended gardens, Fort Rotterdam is one of Indonesia’s best-kept colonial relics. Built by the Dutch in 1667, it has been a seat of government, a World War II prison camp, and is now a tourist attraction. There are a couple of museums within the complex, and behind the sturdy shutters and arched entranceways you’ll find evocative echoes of the past.

Paotere Harbour

Pelabuhan Paotere, Jl. Sabutung

Paotere Harbour is the place to catch a heady hint of Makassar’s history of trade, spice and piracy. The city was a major maritime hub in the age of sail, home to the mighty Bugis seafarers who ruled the waves of Southeast Asia. Today their descendants still sail from the wharves here aboard elegant pinisi schooners, carrying cargo across Indonesia. Paotere is a busy working harbour, so don’t expect a sanitized tourist trap. However, the boats are very photogenic, the crewmen are always happy to chat, and there’s some great seafood in nearby restaurants.

Pulau Samalona

30 minutes by boat from Makassar

Out beyond the oily waters of Makassar’s harbour lies Pulau Samalona, a tiny speck of sand and greenery a world apart from the city. You’ll need to charter a boat from the jetty opposite Fort Rotterdam to get here, but it’s worth the journey. The sand is soft and golden, and the waters are warm and clear with some decent snorkelling in the shallows. There’s a small community here, and the locals serve up fresh fish, soft drinks and coconuts to visitors. There are other quieter islands nearby too.

Trans Studio Makassar

Jl. H.M. Daeng Patompo, Metro Tanjung Bunga

Trans Studio Makassar on the south Makassar waterfront is Indonesia’s answer to Singapore’s Universal Studios. There are rides and slides aplenty, cinemas, live music and entertainment, all manner of eateries and a TV studio. It all amounts to some 12 hectares of air-conditioned fun for kids big and small.


Jl. Akses Maros

An hour beyond the city, on the edge of the toothy karst hills of the Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park, Bantimurung is a favoured spot for day-tripping locals at the weekend. There’s a waterfall, and the surrounding hills are studded with natural caves, but it's most famous for its butterflies. The naturalist Alfred Wallace came here to collect specimens in 1857, and the cool forest is still home to dozens of brightly coloured species.


Jalan Somba Opu

Jl. Somba Opu

There are dozens of shops on Jl. Somba Opu and around the corner on neighbouring Jl. Pattimura offering all sorts of special Makassar souvenirs. Here you’ll find fine South Sulawesi silks, traditional ikat cloth from the highlands of Tanah Toraja, and all manner of handicrafts, as well as cheap t-shirts and local snacks to take home.

Budget $

MTC Karebosi

Jl. Ahmad Yani, No. 49

MTC Karebosi is a long-established shopping centre spread over five floors. This brightly coloured building is home to outlets selling everything from clothing to household goods, but it’s a particularly good place to hunt out electrical items, with dozens of stores selling mobile phones and computers.

Budget $$

Panakkukang Mall

Jl. Boulevard, Panakukkang

Out in the east of the city, Panakkukang Mall is the archetypal upmarket Indonesian mall, with luxury goods aplenty and local fashionistas on parade. There are department stores, clothing outlets, and luxury boutiques, as well as cinemas, restaurants and salons. You could easily spend a day wandering and shopping here without seeing daylight.

Budget $$$

Ratu Indah Mall

Jl. Dr Sam Ratulangi, No. 35

Once the queen of Makassar’s shopping destinations, Ratu Indah Mall is still a good place for some air-conditioned browsing. There are department stores, fashion boutiques and a branch of the Gramedia bookstore, as well as a cinema and lots of fast food outlets and mid-range restaurants to choose from.

Budget $$

Trans Studio Mall

Jl. H.M. Daeng Patompo, Metro Tanjung Bunga

Attached to the Trans Studio Makassar theme park, Trans Studio Mall is shaping up to be the city’s must luxurious shopping destination, with electrical goods, jewellery and international beauty and fashion brands all on offer in a huge air-conditioned space. Armani, Hugo Boss and the Body Shop all get a showing here, amongst top-end domestic chains such as Batik Keris, and a plethora of upscale eateries.

Budget $$$


Lae Lae

Jl. Datu Musseng, No. 8

A Makassar institution that has been drawing the crowds for decades, Lae Lae is a no-frills dining hall famous for its fresh seafood. Select your fish or shellfish from the iceboxes, and staff will grill it over charcoal and bring it to your table along with a side order of spicy sambal sauce. The menu varies according to whatever the local fishermen have landed, but there’s usually squid, crayfish and prawns on offer, along with all manner of white fish.

Budget $

Rumah Makan Kayangan

Jl. Datu Musseng, No. 20

Ruman Makan Kayangan may be a little quieter and more sophisticated than its long-time rival, Lae Lae, but it's still a great place for reasonably priced seafood. As in all Makassar’s best fish restaurants, the offerings are kept on ice for you to take your pick, and there’s spicy sambal rica-rica to tickle your taste buds. The fish comes fried or barbecued with rice or vegetable side dishes, and there are soft drinks and cold beer to wash it down with.

Budget $

Rumah Makan Nelayan

Jl. Ali Malaka, No. 25

There’s great seafood on offer at this popular spot not far from the seafront. Rumah Makan Nelayan is a simple place, without flashy decor, but there’s a broad menu of fish and shellfish, and some tasty side dishes to boot. Fish can be fried or wok-cooked as well as barbecued, and there are fabulously flavoursome sambals to spice things up.

Budget $$


Jl. Penghibur, No. 2

Makassar’s best Japanese eatery, Shogun does decent sushi and sashimi, crispy tempura and much else besides. Upstairs on the fifth floor the same management runs another eatery specializing in Western dishes, with excellent steaks and salads, and there’s also an associated bakery for desert.

Budget $$$

Surya Super Crab

Jl. Nusakambangan, No. 16-18

A solidly traditional Chinese-Indonesian seafood eatery, Surya Super Crab does crab every which way. There’s shell-on crab with sweet-and-sour sauce, crispy fried crab, crab with black pepper sauce, and more besides. There’s also plenty of other seafood on offer, decent vegetable side dishes, and Makassar-style otak-otak (steamed fish cakes).

Budget $$


Hotel Aryaduta Makassar

Jl. Somba Opu, No. 297

Towering over the Makassar waterfront, the glitzy Hotel Aryaduta Makassarhas good facilities and bird’s eye views over city and sea from the upper floors. There’s a swimming pool, a gym and a beauty centre, and several bars and restaurants. The standard rooms are typical of any modern business hotel, with plush fittings and comfy king size beds. On the upper levels there are spacious suites with sweeping views.

Budget $$$

Hotel Pantai Gapura

Jl. Pasar Ikan, No. 10

When it comes to location, Hotel Pantai Gapura takes the crown. With cottages built out over the water like an upmarket Bugis fishing village, it’s got bags of atmosphere and fabulous sunset views. The grounds are very peaceful for a place so close to the city centre, and there’s good dining on the waterfront terrace. It’s not cheap, and there are more modern rooms elsewhere in town, but the setting is certainly memorable.

Budget $$$

Hotel Santika

Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin, No. 40

A modern high-rise hotel in striking distance of the seafront, the Santika is a great place to stay. The decor throughout is cool and minimalist, and the rooms are bright and airy with comfy beds and fine views out across the city. The bathrooms are small but sparkling, and some come with bathtubs. There’s a small gym on the top floor, and an excellent little restaurant which serves very good breakfasts.

Budget $$

Pondok Suada Indah

Jl. Hasanuddin, No. 12

In an airy, old-style house not far from the seafront, Pondok Suada Indah has a good deal more character than most budget options. The rooms are simple and a little careworn, but they’re kept clean and tidy, and there’s plenty of light. The staff are very friendly, and the place makes for a peaceful retreat from the busy streets outside.

Budget $

Yasmin Hotel

Jl. Jampea, No. 5

In the old Chinese quarter of Makassar, the Yasmin Hotel is a little different from the usual sparse style of Indonesia's mid-range establishments. There is flock wallpaper, heavy curtains and plush furnishings, all of which create an unusually lavish atmosphere. It’s well-run, with welcoming staff, and offers excellent value for money.

Budget $$

Yuli's Homestay


A stand-out spot amongst the many guesthouses in Kuta, Yuli's Homestay is a family-run place. Pretty little bungalows sit in a tidy garden with a pair of small swimming pools. The rooms are simple but spotless, with air-conditioning and plenty of natural light. Generous breakfasts are included in the price, and there’s a kitchen in case you want to rustle up something for yourself.

Budget $

Celebes International Dragon Boat Festival

Date varies in November

Over several days each November Makassar hosts dragon-boat teams from around the world for high-paced races in the waters off Pantai Losari.

Over several days each November Makassar hosts dragon-boat teams from around the world for high-paced races in the waters off Pantai Losari.
Over several days each November Makassar hosts dragon-boat teams from around the world for high-paced races in the waters off Pantai Losari.



Indonesia may be a Muslim-majority country, but it's home to plenty of Christians too, and Christmas is an important festival and a national holiday here.


Date varies in January, February

Public celebration of Imlek (Chinese New Year), was once banned in Indonesia, but it is now an official public holiday and has grown into a major national event over the years.

Independence Day


A nationwide celebration of Indonesia’s declaration of independence, with marches, sporting contests, music and red-and-white flags flying everywhere.

Makassar Anniversary


Makassar dates its founding to 9th November 1607, and celebrates that date each year with traditional dance performances, sports contests and live music.

Taka Bone Rate Festival

End of November

Held towards the end of November, this week-long festival brings action to the usually sleepy Taka Bone Rate National Park, an archipelago off the furthest tip of South Sulawesi. There are watersports contests, traditional entertainment and plenty of seafood.


Makassar has an Indonesia-wide reputation for its cuisine. Start your foodie journey in Chinatown with a portion of pangsit mie Makassar-style – the local version of wonton noodles with thinly sliced barbecued pork – from one of the many cafes on Jl. Lombok or Jl. Sulawesi.  Still in this neck of the woods, head to Warung Coto Nusantara on Jl. Nusantara to sample a bowl of coto Makassar. Not for the faint-hearted, this hearty, peanut-flavoured beef soup is made from all the nasty bits – heart, lungs, tripe, brain and more. Alternatively, skip a few blocks east to Jl. Irian to Warung Sop Saudara and enjoy a bowl of the eponymous 'brothers’ soup', another dark, meaty broth that’ll stick to your ribs.


If you’re in the mood for some of Makassar’s famous seafood, plot a course north to Paotere Harbour. Once you’ve taken in the sights and smells of this busy working port with its fleet of beautiful pinisi schooners, follow the scent of grilling fish to one of the simple seafood cafes on Jl. Sabutung, near the entrance to the port, and order a plate of barbecued seafood straight from the market.


Once the sun begins to set, join the locals for an evening promenade at Pantai Losari, the seafront stretch of Jl. Penghibur. You’ll find all sorts of snacks on sale here. Check out the local version of otak-otak, fish cakes steamed or grilled in banana leaves, or pisang epe, a flattened banana cooked over coals and served with a sticky, durian-flavoured syrup.


If you’re hitting the streets of Makassar with kids in tow, you’ll find plenty to keep them occupied. Start the day with a becak (pedicab) ride through the backstreets, or up to Paotere Harbour where children will enjoy examining the weird and wonderful fruits of the sea on sale in the local fish market.


Once the heat of the day begins to rise you could beat a retreat to the air-conditioned haven that is Trans Studio Makassar. This giant TV-inspired theme park on the waterfront was built with kids in mind. There are rides and activities which will occupy fun-lovers of all ages, and you could easily pass most of the day here.


There’s more to explore outside, however, so head back out and take a trip out to Bantimurung to see the waterfall and the butterflies. There are usually lots of local families escaping the city here, so your kids will likely find some new friends.


On the way back to Makassar stop to cool off at the Bugis Waterpark on Jl. Raya Baruga. There are some huge water slides here and pools for swimming. Finally, take the children for an evening stroll along the seafront at Pantai Losari and give them the chance to pick out their own fresh seafood dinner from one of the nearby fish restaurants.