City guide Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia – activities and food

Have you heard about Palembang? It is a great city in Sumatra, Indonesia, where you can do plenty of things and eat delicious local food. It is a city on the island of Sumatra that is not yet discovered by mass-tourism. Palembang is the capital of the South Sumatra province and is definitely worth a visit. When I was living in Bali, I visited a friend in Palembang and we did some sightseeing together. This city guide will describe more about Palembang, what to do and where to eat.

General information about Palembang

Palembang is not only a capital, but also the second largest city on the island of Sumatra. It is located next to the Musi River and has a lot of local food specialities. The city is especially known for the Ampera bridge and the many cultural things you can do.

Palembang. City guide Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia – activities and food.jpg

How to get to Palembang?

By plane
Palembang has it’s own airport; Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport. Different airlines are flying to the airport like; SilkAir, Jetstar and AirAsia.

By bus
You can also travel by bus to Palembang. There is a bus connection with the other main cities of Sumatra like; Jambi, Padang, Pekanbaru, Medan and Lampung. There is also a bus connection from Jakarta to Palembang (via ferry).

What to do in Palembang?

There are plenty of nice things to do in Palembang. I have listed 13 things you can do in Palembang:

1. Ampera Bridge
This bridge is the symbol of Palembang and was built in 1962. It is the famous landmark of Palembang. In the night, this bridge is illuminated with bright lights and looks truly amazing!

Ampera Bridge. City guide Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia – activities and food.jpg
2. Great Mosque of Palembang
The Great Mosque of Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin is the biggest mosque in Palembang. It is one of the most popular mosques in the Indonesia and has a great architecture. You can find two markets outside the mosque that sell a variety of souvenirs, fabrics, and food.

3. Benteng Kuto Besak (fort)
Kuto Besak is a palace/fort that was built in the 18th century and was invaded by the Dutch colonial army. Nowadays, it has become a tourist attraction.

4. Bukit Siguntang.
This place is highest point of Palembang. It is a small hill, 25-30 metres above sea level. It is more of the special and unknown places and is mostly visited by locals. There is a nice garden area and there are some tombs of Srivijayan royalties and heroes.

Bukit Siguntang. City guide Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia – activities and food

5. Monpera Monument
Across Benteng Kuto Besak (fort), you will find the Monpera Monument. This monument is established to commemorate the ‘Five Days Battle’ of Palembang. You can go inside and climb up. On top you will have a beautiful view of the Musi River and the Ampera Bridge.

6. Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Museum.
This museum is a former palace from the 18th century. Nowadays, it is only known as a museum that is the perfect place to explore everything about Palembang’s history. The museum has a nice weapon collection and shows many things of the Dutch colonial era and the Japanese occupation until the beginning of the independence of Indonesia.

7. Musi River
The Musi River is the longest river in Sumatra with a length of 750 kilometres. The river divides Palembang in two parts. It nice to walk across the river and to see the floating restaurants, boats, and the Ampera Bridge.


Musi River. City guide Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia – activities and food.jpg
8. Island Kemaro
This little island is located in the Musi River. On the island, you can find a monastery (Kemaro), that is often visited by Buddhists and pilgrimages. There is also a ‘love-tree’ and a tomb of a princess Palembang. There are several boats going to this island during the day.

9. Pasar Cinde
I love wandering around on local markets. Pasar Cinde is a local market where you can buy lot of fresh ingredients like rice, fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits.

10. Masjid Cheng Ho Mosque
This mosque serves as a prayer abode for the Muslim Chinese community. The mosque itself also has the feeling of a Chinese culture. The colours of the mosque look truly beautiful.

11. Palembang Square Mall
Shopping! Square mall is a great shopping mall in Palembang where you can shop, watch movies, do karaoke, or eat in one of the restaurants. Other famous shopping halls of Palembang are; Palembang Icon, Palembang Trade Centre, and Palembang Indah Mall.

12. Museum Negeri Sumatera Selatan
This is another museum in Palembang. It shows many cultural aspects of South Sumatra like traditional houses, miniatures and animals from various regions in South-Sumatra.

13. Forest Park Punti Kayu
Close to Palembang, you can find Forest Park Punti Kayu. This park is well-known by the locals and consist of amusement parks, natural forest, a little zoo, and picnic places.


Palembang has very nice traditional food you should try:

1. Try the famous Pempek from Palembang
Pempek is the most famous dish of Palembang. It is a savoury fishcake. You can see it as ‘grind fish mixed with flour’ or as ‘a dumpling with fish inside’. It is usually served with rich sweet and sour sauce (cuka). It is delicious!! Pempek is also served with other things inside, for instance eggs .

2. Visit the local (night) market
You will find the most delicious food of Palambang on the local markets. One nice local market is closely located to the main Jalan Sudirman street. Here you can find many food stalls with delicious things. You should try the delicious Mie Celor Palembang. This is a noodle dish with coconut milk and shrimp-based broth.

3. Smell and taste Durian
You will love or hate durian!! I am more a hater…  The fruit has a pungent odour and is therefore, often banned from places. Some people even think it is too smelly to eat. You can find plenty of food stalls across the streets where you can buy and taste durian.

4. Cool down with Es Kacang
This is a popular dessert from Palembang. It is shaved ice with red beans, coconut juice, and sweetened condensed milk on top. It tastes great! You can find several food stalls on the street selling this sweet dessert.

4. Eat Bebek Goreng (fried duck)
In Palembang I tried Bebek goreng (fried duck) for the first time. The duck is usually deep fried until crispy, and served with rice, an assortment of vegetables or raw herbs and sambal. I am normally not really a meat lover, but every single bite was delicious and I can definitely recommend you to taste one. Bebek Goreng is part of the menu in many restaurants across Palembang.

Fried chicken. City guide Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia – activities and food.jpg

Have you visited Palembang? Do you have any other recommendations? Let me know! =)

Author: Daphne

This article is part of the GPSmyCity iOS app. You can download it, read this article offline and obtain travel directions (by foot, car or bicycle) to the places mentioned in this article. Click here to download it.

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  • MP Maz

    Thank you Fares and also Girlswandelust for the invaluable info on Palembang. I will be travelling solo from 17-20 Feb. and I hope I’ll be able to visit as many of the stated places of interest as possible.

  • Fares Chandra

    Greetings everyone. I am Fares Chandra, a traveler/ tourist guide for my hometown Palembang. I would like to share an information which might be useful for anyone considering to visit Palembang in the near future (within the next 8 months).

    Our city will be co-hosting (with Jakarta) the upcoming Asian Games 2018 in August (opening ceremony scheduled on 08-18-2018; lovely timing is it not:-). And some time before that we will have the season of fasting in the Islamic month of Ramadhan from mid-May to mid-June (when most restaurants will not operate in daytime, museums will close earlier; congestion of main streets and public recreation areas are to be expected in afternoons and weekends).

    Having informed of these events, should you plan on visiting the city before September (2018), I kindly suggest and highly recommend securing your bookings (hotel; private car) from now on, since our city has never hosted an event of this scale (despite having organized the 2011 Southeast Asian Games and the 2013 Islamic Solidarity Games as full host) where a lot of variables are still indeterminable (traffic; hotel occupation; tourism-related mobility).

    So, happy preparing for your Palembang trip, and have a wonderful stay in the capital of South Sumatera:-).

    • Girlswanderlust

      Hi Fares Chandra,

      Thank you so much for sharing this information! The Asian Games 2018 sounds like a huge event and good to know about certain things you have to keep in mind as a tourist! Thanks!

  • Sarah Kim

    I love traveling for food so this looks like the perfect spot. It’s interesting that it’s the capital but the second largest city. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • wyldfamilytravel

    Sounds like a great off the beaten track place to visit. The fried duck sounds like its certainly worth trying. There seem to be enough attractions to keep you busy around here. How long would you recommend a stay for and would it be good for a family with kids?

    • Girlswanderlust

      A stay of 4-5 days, so you have more than enough time to visit all the important things. I would not so much recommend to visit with kids. Even though Palembang is the capital of the South Sumatra province, it is still not that much developed. Palembang can be a nice stop-over between Singapore/Maleisia and Jakarta/Bali e.g, but I wouldn’t recommend it as first choice destination to visit with kids.

  • Chantell

    I have only been to Kuta and Ubud in Bali, as well as Gili Trawangan, and would love to travel back to Indonesia to visit some of the less tourist-y places. It was many years ago that I was there but I still remember the strong smell of Durian! It amazes how people can eat it. Pretty impressive ha ha.

    • Girlswanderlust

      Oh Bali and Gili Trawangan are beautiful islands, but still very touristic. I can definitely recommend you to travel back to Indonesia and explore other parts of this beautiful country AND to try Durian haha! =p

  • thetravelpockets

    I had no idea Durian was in Indonesia too! I used to live in Singapore and it was also banned in several places like on public transportations. The smell is so awkward and I was super tempted to try it, but after my friend said the taste was in her mouth for days I decided not to 🙂 I would love to visit Pasar Cinde. I’m a huge fan of local markets 🙂

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