West Sumatra boasts a vibrant cultural heritage and is home to many unspoiled natural wonders. However, the region is often overlooked by travelers, Indonesians and foreigners alike. For those willing to get off the beaten path, you do not need to look any further. The beautiful Lake Maninjau, the many volcanoes and hills, the traditional Minang houses, palaces and villages, the delicious Minangkabau cuisine and the endless rice fields, are good reasons to visit the area. Lake Maninjau Set in a volcanic crater 461 meters above sea level, Lake Maninjau is a must-see feature of the region. To get there, you need to negotiate 44 hairpin turns while descending the steep road from Bukittinggi. The bends and twists might make the drive down to Maninjau quite eventful, but the view over the splendid blue lake and the hills surrounding it is simply breathtaking. Once you get to the lake, you will get to experience one of the most serene and quiet places in Indonesia, far away from the crowds and the hectic life of the cities. The pace of life is very slow, and the context is ideal to take time to relax, reconnect with yourself and the nature around you and restore your inner peace. All around the lake you can find beautiful rice fields, see farmers at work and try some of the mouth-watering local delicacies. Make sure you try the local fish called ‘rinuak’, and ask for ‘pensi’. And do not be surprised if you buy one portion, but end up with two or three. Locals are just very friendly and welcoming and will do their best to make you feel at ease and enjoy their cuisine. You will also see many fish farms. Just ask local fishermen to take you around and they will happily take you to feed the fish. The natural scenery is so inspiring and peaceful that you will not want to leave. But when the time comes and you have to say goodbye, you will leave rejuvenated and relaxed. To get to Lake Maninjau, you can use public transportation by taking a bus from Bukittinggi. The journey takes about 1.5 hours. Or you can rent a car with a driver for around Rp 600,000 (US$49.42) a day. This option allows you to stop on the way down to capture some of the most breathtaking views on camera and explore the surrounding villages. Another option is to rent a motorbike at the lake. Traditional Minang village Another must-see feature of the region is the traditional Minang village called Tigo Suku in Canduang. Not many people know about it, which means that it is no tourist attraction, as such, and everything is still very authentic. Villagers there, mostly farmers, live in traditional communal Minang houses, called ‘rumah gadang’, which were built more than a century ago and passed down from mother to daughter over generations. These houses are famous for the shape of their roofs, which mimic buffalo horns, according to Minangkabau tradition. Villagers do not often receive guests, but are very open to welcoming travelers. As long as the guest is respectful of their culture, their doors remain open. For those wishing to stay overnight, local residents will accommodate you in their modest living areas, offering you a place to sleep in their living rooms, or in a bedroom when they have a spare one. If you are a couple traveling together, they might be more reticent about hosting you, but they will still welcome you in their houses during the day. To get there, you can take a bus from Bukittinggi, getting off at the ‘Simpang Canduang’. You can then continue by ojek or on foot. If you took the option of renting a car, you can simply ask your driver to take you there. As traveling is all about passing through someone else’s reality, there is nothing better than immersing yourself in local culture and experiencing new places the way the locals do.