Sawahlunto, The Coal Town

Sawahlunto.. Yes, this town maybe still heard unfamiliar to travelers, especially if you’re not from West Sumatera. It’s a small town in Province of West Sumatera, approximately 2 hour away from the capital city, Padang. Well, as a Minangnese, I’ll reveal what this town has for you.

Coal Miners Statue

Maybe, some of you know that this town is famous for its coals mining. Yeap, one of the largest coals mining in Indonesia is here, at Sawahlunto. The good thing is, this town still has many coals buried down under.

Okay, what about the tourism? This town doesn’t has beautiful scenery like Bukittinggi. It’s only a small town in a round valley. The entire town is surrounded by hills. I’d like to call it “Hollywood of West Sumatera”. Why? The picture below will explain it well to you. Lol.

Holliwood of West Sumatra

But this is a very historical place. The coal mining made Holland Army used to care a lot about it. No wonder, it’s easy to find old building with european style here. Thanks to local government for taking care of them until now.

Heritage Trail of Sawahlunto

Among the buildings are Office of Bukit Asam Company, Ombilin hotel, Agung Mosque, Silo, Cooperation Building, Cultural Center Building, Pek Sin Kek House, St. Barbara Church & St. Lucia School, Goedang Ransoem Museum, Train Museum, and Info Box Gallery & Mbah Suro Mining Tunnel.

Cultural Center Building

Office of Bukit Asam Company

Info Box Gallery

Lately, the last one becomes the most popular among all the buidings. Have you been into Japanese’s Tunnel at Bukittinggi? Kinda similar with this one. Interestingly, this tunnel has just been discovered about five years ago, already buried for many years. Actually, people, especially the elders, already know about this buried mining tunnel from long ago. In 2007, the government decided to explore it. The first time this buried tunnel finally opened, contained full of water. Some say, that was the reason why the mining was closed many years ago. Our guide, Mr. Win, said that they had to dried the tunnel for days, using water pump.

Sign Board of Mbah Suro Mining Tunnel

This is where you can get the ticket ( 8000 IDR )

U gotta wear these and helmet to enter the tunnel

Honestly, this tunnel is scarier than Japanese’s Tunnel at Bukittinggi. Many parts of this large tunnel, according to Mr. Win, has yet to be locked, for mystical reason, of course. Recently, some researcher like to visit this tunnel, not only from natonal TV networks, but also from world famous tv network, National Geographic. They study a lot about this tunnel, for it’s history and of course for its mystical things. We found out that it’s so easy to find coals here. Just a few meters under the ground, you’ll see them on the walls of the tunnel.

Mbah Suro Tunnel

Many coals along the tunnel wall

Can you read it?

Forbidden part of the tunnel

For those who want to try the unique train of Sawahlunto, please come on Sunday to Train Museum, because it’s not available of any other days. Your historical tour won’t be complete without this. πŸ™‚


So, is that all? No. The local government build a small zoo with family playground at Kandi, about 5 miles away from the town. Many people visit this place everyday. Right before the zoo, we found a small lake, which is actually formed on a stone mining. Beware of crocs! This lake is close enough to a crocodile reservation. We saw a small one, but far away at the center of the lake.

Kandi Lake

Kandi Lake

Well, that’s all about Sawahlunto, the Hollywood of West Sumatera.. πŸ˜€


2 thoughts on “Sawahlunto, The Coal Town

  1. Thank you for sharing this information to us. Frankly speaking, Sawahlunto is my home town. It is called “cultural mining city”. You can pretend you were a miner inside the mining πŸ™‚ The big coal mining ompany -PTBA had stopped its operation since 2004 when i was on my duty as PTT doctor in Sawahlunto Hospital -the old hospital established by Russian. Now I am taking a research to explore informal miners’ health due to coal dust exposure in Sawahlunto. It seems that you still did not explore other beautiful view landscapes in Sawahlunto such as Puncak Cemara and Mata Aie, or Microwave Hill where u will notice why we call Sawahlunto as small Highland πŸ™‚ please do not be hesitate to visit Sawahlunto, knowing better our well-known old coal mining city -Oembilin. I really appreciate your good blog on introducing domestic tourism. Keep it on,Herry !

    • Wowwww.. so glad to have my lecturer visit this blog. You’re right, doc. Never been to Puncak Cemara or Mata Aie :(. Actually I often visit this town. My dad’s village is only 20 mins away from this at Koto Panjang Tj. Ampalu. On this trip, we almost went to Puncak Cemara, but it started to get dark. Where the Microwave Hill is, Doc??

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