Topics include Transportation, Things to Do, Dining Scene, Indonesia: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Makassar, formerly known as Ujung Pandang, is Indonesia’s fifth largest city (1.3 million people in 2010) and the capital of South Sulawesi. For many travellers, Makassar is simply a transit stop on their way to Sulawesi's biggest attraction, Tana Toraja, but the city and surrounding districts certainly have something to offer.
The city itself is a major port in eastern Indonesia, and the port still dominates the northern end of the town. Although it is undergoing a building boom, Makassar manages to retain some small town charm – becaks (bicycle cabs) still ply the streets, teenage minstrels serenade the families at Pantai Losari, and street food vendors pop up on every corner. The people of Makassar are very friendly and tourists from Western countries are still a novelty.
In terms of historic places of interest, the main contenders are Benteng Fort Rotterdam (a fort used by the Dutch colonialists), Port Paotere (the smaller port where you can see traditional wooden sailing ships loading up to go to the islands) and Fort Somba Opu (an old fort south of the town that was part of the Gowa empire).
Makassar has a huge number of places to eat, from roadside warungs to up-market restaurants. The local specialty is fresh fish grilled on a barbecue outside the restaurant (ikan bakar), with optional sambal (chili sauce) topping. Other favourites include Coto Makassar and Pallu Basa (variations of hearty beef soup with kidney and liver) and Sop Ubi (cassava soup with bean shoots and noodles). Beyond the local cuisine there is an increasing number of restaurants offering Western and Japanese food. Beer is available in many restaurants and hotels. Wine is only available in higher-end hotels and is very expensive.