Trip to Tana Toraja ~ Tierra de Los Muertos

PROLOGUE: Hii.. This time i’m writting a blog in English. The reason is because I hope that my experiences in Tana Toraja can be useful for international tourist. But if you find my writing especially my grammar to be incomprehensible feel free to contact my by leaving a comment in this post or send email to timur.girindra at


Last week, I have an opportunity to go to Makassar to give a presentation about the value of information and technology at International Office. I don’t think I have to tell you about the meeting so lets go to the trip.

How to go to Toraja from Makassar

After the meeting is over around 4PM, I’m checking out from Santika hotel and head directly to Litha Office. Litha &Co is the oldest and still the best Makassar – Toraja bus operators. You can find many bus operators such as Metro or BMC at Daya Regional Bus Station (located in northern Makasssar). But if you want to use Litha you don’t have to go to Bus Station, Litha have their own Bus Pool nearby Makassar Town Square (15 minutes from Losari beach). You can ask the Taxi driver to take you there by saying “Perwakilan Bus Litha” which mean Litha representative office. If you the sign below, you are on the right place (unless they change the sign).

The bus Toraja usually depart around 8am – 9am, 1pm, and 8pm – 9.30pm. They have 3 bus classes, cheapest one is the non-air conditioner (60.000 IDR), then VIP with Air Conditioner (80.000 IDR) and Super Executive with air conditioner and better seat (100.000 IDR). Since the distance between Toraja and Makassar is almost the same with Yogyakarta to Jakarta, it will takes almost 10 hours. Toraja regency actually is quite big, but if you are there for tourism then you go to Rantepao, North Toraja. The bus will stop many times at a place called Makale (Southern Toraja) but you can stay at the bus until you get to Rantepao. You can ask the bus crew to stop at Rantepao market, from my experience Litha’s bus crew have a quite good English.

First thing to do

I arrived at Rantepao around 6am, so most of the store is still closed, and I’m quite hungry. First thing to do for me is to find a restaurant. You can find some restaurant is open at Ahmad Yani street (the main street at Rantepao), if you are moslem there are also a lot of Padang Restaurant or simply find the restaurant with Bismilahirahmanirahim sign at their door. I have a breakfast at restaurant named Pangkep in Ahmad Yani street, it was the only halal food that is open at that early morning.

You may also want to go to Bathroom, you may use the toilet at the restaurant but if you want to take a bath you have to find your hotel. There are many hotels from any range at Rantepao. You can find many cheap hostel (around 100.000 IDR per night) at Sam Ratulangi street. Novotel used to have a hotel at Rantepao, but now the name of the hotel is Toraja Heritage Hotel, there is also Toraja Misliana hotel. Both of those hotels are located in south Rantepao (Pong Street).If you didn’t plan to stay at Rantepao like me, you can take a bath at the tourist site. If you go to Kete Kesu at the morning, then you may have a chance to take a bath.

Getting Around Toraja

After your stomach is full and you are ready for everything, then lets get to trip started. First of all, you have to determine what kind of transportation for traveling around Toraja. There is no taxi in Rantepao, but you can find Becak Motor (motorized pedicab), ojek (motorcycle taxi), or you may want to rent a car or motorcycle for a whole day. If you only have one day at Toraja and you are alone like me, then you may ask for ojek. If you stop at Litha office at Rantepao the ojek are the peoples outside the office that will happy to take you around Toraja tourist site for the whole, of course for a money. If you just go to tourist site located nearby Toraja such as Kete Kesu, Londa, or Lemo, you can ask for around 80.000 – 100.000 rupiahs for the whole trip. FYI, They will also act as a guide so you can ask many things about life in Toraja. But if you go quite far such as to Bori or Batutumonga then you may ask for 100.000 – 130.000 rupiahs for the whole trip.

Because I didn’t have much time at Toraja, so I only go to:

  • Kete Kesu, a small-original Torajan village. Located 6km in south of Rantepao. In this village you can see original Torajan traditional house called Tongkonan. You can also see a small stone grave complex behind the village. You can also go to the Museum and have a workshop to make a Torajan handicraft from bamboo.
  • Lemo, maybe the most famous tourist site at Toraja. A stone grave complex with many Tau-Tau (human effigies) standing on the cliff. The view at this place is quite breathtaking. You can also find three big tongkonan at the entrance.
  • Londa, the oldest stone grave around Rantepao. Londa is a very tall cliffside with 3 levels of stone grave. Toraja high rank noble family are buried on the top of Londa cliffside. You can also go inside a cave where you can see many skulls from Torajan are stored based on their family.
  • Bori, another grave, but unlike Londa or Lemo, Bori grave is much similar to Megalithic grave. People are buried on the ground the then their family put a tall stone above their grave. If the family is come from noble rank, they have to sacrifice more water buffaloes and put a higher stone.
  • Batutumonga, the highest place on North Toraja region. You will find many stone grave (again?) on the way to the top of Batutumonga. The main reason why people go to Batutumonga is not the place, but more on the trip with a breathtaking views of paddyfield, Toraja mountain range, stunning cliffside, and many views of Toraja land from above.

I still have a lot of story about trip to Toraja, but this is for now.  Let see if I can update it s0meday. Meanwhile, you can enjoy my pictures (it tell a thousand words but it take a thousand kilobytes).


Kete Kesu

View from Batutumonga

Megalithic Grave at Bori


3 thoughts on “Trip to Tana Toraja ~ Tierra de Los Muertos

  1. sofia kuntjoro says:

    I’m going to go travelling solo next week to tana toraja and considering taking ojek to drive me around. Do they already hang out early in the morning when the bus arrive or should i wait? and the price they ask will include the gasoline as well? is it okay to invite the driver for lunch (I think it’s just utterly rude to have my own lunch)? I’ll depart for Makassar on june 15 and spend one (full) day in toraja…I’m planning to dive after my trip to toraja…but haven’t found any dive center near makassar which offer a one day trip only….do you have any suggestion for this case? thanks,

    • HI, sori for the belated reply. Let me answer it one by one

      1. They already hang out in the morning, it is close to the market so there is a lot of tukang ojek
      2. The price is all in except for parking and entrance fee (if you want a company)
      3. It is very nice t invite the driver for lunch, but you should ask them to pick a cheap or their daily lunch place not a restaurant or cafe.
      4. For a diving place, instead of returning to Makassar why don’t you take a bus from Toraja to Palopo. It is located on the two hours from Toraja. They have Palopo StarFish Diving Club. I haven’t try it yet but Kota Palopo itself is worth of short visit anyway.

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