Did you hear of Sulawesi? No? It doesn’t surprise me. Even though the island has the size of Gemany, not many people know it. Java, Bali… these are the places most tourists visit.

But Sulawesi is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Not just that there are not that many tourists, also the people are even more friendly and warm hearted then in the rest of Asia. There was just one place, which was completely different from the rest of the island: Makassar. But because it is the biggest city of the island, somehow the capital, it is likely that you will have to stay there for a night or two.

Statue in Makassar


  • Fort Rotterdam
  • Gold Shopping
  • Luxury Shopping at Trans Studio Mall
  • Makassar Central Market for fabrics
  • HIGHLIGHT: Samalona Island with white sand and relaxation

When we arrived in Makassar it has already been dark and our hotel, which was not to recommend, was located in a not-that-nice area. One of the first things we saw was a rotten cat in an open sewer. Ugh. We left the next morning. But in the end of our journey we had to come back, because our flight was leaving from Makassar to Kuala Lumpur. And when you are in Sulawesi (or on? It feels more like a country and less like an island) you can’t be sure to be on time, so we arrived two days before the flight in Makassar, just to be sure.

Okay, enough about the whys and what’s. We had to do something. I won’t give you any hotel recommendation, because it was too long ago, and I know in Asia a Hotel can be brand new the one year and a shithole the other. But there are a few places I am pretty sure, they are almost the same.

Fort Rotterdam

The only “true” tourist attraction in Makassar. We were excited to see it! But when we arrived – surprise – it looked like every other damn Fort in Europe. Like the name already tells: it was built by the Dutch. But if you are not from middle or northern Europe, you may be really excited about Fort Rotterdam. There have been a lot of Asian tourist groups and they all been pretty amazed about the place. So maybe give it a try.

Fort Rotterdam in Makassar in Sulawesi


With over a million inhabitants there are a lot of opportunities to go shopping. On the one hand Makassar is a paradise for shopping gold. There are like millions of shops and you can get it to a lower price then somewhere else (think it is because they just weigh the product not depending on how it is processed. So, you can get richly ornamented jewelry for a small price because you just pay the gold weigh).

Dorie laughing in a gold store in Makassar in Sulawesi

See this crazy look in my eyes?

Makassar also has some shopping malls. We went to the Trans Studio Mall, which is located at the outskirts. Well, we didn’t stay for long because the only store we could afford was a book store. But for everybody who is into luxury shopping, I can recommend this Mall. A smaller and cheaper one is the New Makassar Mall. Next to it is the Makassar Central Market. It is built around the original market, because the first one burned down and instead of rebuilding it, they just surrounded it (Tell me, if you know something else, it’s been a while). Inside you can find a lot of beautiful fabrics and it is also simply interesting to see.

My personal Highlight at Makassar Sulawesi: Samalona Island

After weeks of pure nature, islands and loneliness (kind of) it was hard for us to be trapped in such a noisy and dirty city. We just wanted to run away and so we did.

On the first day we walked to the harbor and looked for some small fisher boats. You know when you got the right spot, because some man will start to say to you “Samalona Island”? We always said no and walked further into the harbor. The first ones are most of the time the expensive ones. When you can’t find somebody, just asked. There will be someone somewhere. Never take the first price they tell you! Like everywhere any time in Asia you have to negotiate. Hard! A good trick is to just walk away, when you notice, that the price isn’t dropping. It will drop the faster the further you’re going.

We payed around 10$ for the transfer (I think one way), but prices may be risen since then. The next morning, we met again at the meeting point and then we walked through dirty harbor-water to the small boat. After a while you can see like a cut in the ocean and the pollution stops and the black water turns into blue. Maybe don’t think too hard about this, because it will make you sad.

Samalona Island near Makassar

We fixed a pick-up time and jumped into the white sand of Samalona Island. In the distance we could see the cargo ships and the harbor and we just laid down in the warm sand and enjoyed the sun. The island is that small, that you can walk around it in under 5 minutes. But it is quiet and you can relax. For lunch we bought some bad tasting instant-noodle soup at the small shop, but it was fine by us. We went snorkeling and the underwater world was just wow. Never seen that many clown fishes in one place. Of course, you can’t compare it to the other areas of Sulawesi. But due to the fact, that there is a huge port just a few kilometers away, it was amazing.

View from Samalona Island to the Port of Makassar, Sulawesi

WHite beach at Samalona Island in Sulawesi

Well, now I wrote so much – again. But maybe it will help you, if you have to spend a day or two in Makassar.

Have you ever been to Sulawesi or Makassar? Let me know in the comments!

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Love ♥ Dorie