Indonesia • Sumatra • from Toba lake to Minangkabau land

Immerse yourself in the mystical beauty of Sumatra with our immersive 14 minute video. Discover the Sipoholon Hot Springs, geothermal wonders created by underlying volcanic forces. Admire the enchanting spectacle of the Minangkabau dance, a treasured cultural expression of this unique matrilineal people. Stroll in Balige, where daily life unfolds in a ballet of colors, sounds and scents. Marvel at the Minangkabau architecture, as colorful as it is detailed, and learn more about their fascinating history through our explanations provided on the page. Let yourself be seduced by the richness of the Minangkabau country and the wild beauty of Sumatra.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Indonesia • Sumatra, Java and Bali (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Sumatra in Indonesia. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.

00:43 • Balige market

01:57 • the thermal springs of Sipoholon

03:36 • some rice fields

04:52 • A village ... (Angkola Timur)

05:37 • Minangkabau country

07:20 • a Minangkabau dance performance

13:01 • a waterfall


Lake Toba, which occupies the caldera of a supervolcano in the north of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, is one of the largest volcanic lakes in the world.


Balige is a town located near the lake. It is a must if you want to go south, towards Minangkabau country from Lake Toba.

One of the most fascinating things for a Westerner on a trip to Asia is visiting a local market. Balige's is no exception to the rule.

the thermal springs of Sipoholon

Sumatra like the rest of Indonesia is a volcanic island and hot springs are one of the phenomena associated with volcanic activity.

While most geothermal springs in Indonesia are mere hot water outlets, Sipoholon Springs are a collection of geysers, sulfur-colored ponds, and small smoldering streams forming small cascades of hot water.

These sources are of major tourist interest, even if the local authorities are not aware of it or if they have chosen between short-term economic interest to the detriment of the development of tourism allowing both to save nature and to ensure income for the inhabitants. The sources of Sipoholon are overexploited for the manufacture of fertilizers or transformed into public swimming pools. Pity...

Indonesia, like most Asian countries, is a major consumer of rice. Magnificent shimmering green rice fields cover large areas on the island of Sumatra.

A village.

But it's not just fields and volcanoes in Sumatra. As is the case in many countries, the main attraction of these idyllic places remains the smile of the local populations. Nothing like a small walk in a village to realize it. The one we visited is called Angkola Timur.

the Minangkabau

The Minangkabau people are just one ethnic group in Indonesia. What makes them original, apart from their very colorful and meticulously detailed architecture, is the family structure of this people. It is the largest matrilineal society in the world. Contrary to what happens in the vast majority of cases, here it is the women who transmit the heritage and who give their name to their daughters. Boys have no right to anything in this society. Men do not even have the responsibility for their own children, it reverting to the maternal uncle.

The art of dancing is also very important to the Minangkabau. A minangkabau dance performance is featured in this film.


Spoken comments in the film: 

To go from Lake Toba, land of the Batak to that of the Minangkabau, you pass through towns and villages where you meet friendly people, even if these places have few tourist attractions. Rice fields also attract attention and a little wonder a little hidden away from the road, the hot springs of Sipoholon.



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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of indonesian traditional music in "Indonesia • Sumatra • from Toba lake to  Minangkabau land", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.

What's the weather like in Balige?

About the places in this film


On the road between Lake Toba and Minangkabau country in West Sumatra, Belige is a small town like so many others, with its market and friendly inhabitants.

The hot springs of Sipoholon are magnificent. A collection of geysers, small colorful ponds and steaming streams which is quite rare in Indonesia. And unfortunately the exploitation of hot water for public swimming pools and sulfur to make fertilizer will soon get the better of this remarkable place which risks disappearing in the short term.

Angkola Timur is a small village like so many others in Sumatra. A short walk in the streets of the village and we become the object of all attentions.

Bukittinggi is a city of 125,000 inhabitants which makes it the third largest city in West Java. The city was the capital of Indonesia during the Emergency Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PDRI) in response to the capture of the temporary capital of Yogyakarta during the War of Independence.

Minangkabau mansion, Balige, Sumatra • Indonesia
Balige market, Balige • Indonesia • Sumatra

Balige market

the hot springs of Sipoholon, Balige • Indonesia • Sumatra

the hot springs of Sipoholon

a rice field, Balige • Indonesia • Sumatra

a rice field

traditional Minangkabau house, Balige • Indonesia • Sumatra

traditional Minangkabau house

Between Lake Toba and Minangkabau land • Sumatra - Indonesia

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