Bengkulu Tourism: Panjang Beach

Oct 18th, 2010, in Featured, IM Posts, Travel, by

Panjang Beach

Bengkulu Governor Agustrin Najamudin hopes that legions of foreign tourists will be drawn to the province, with Panjang Beach being the main drawcard, and coastal areas in general. Panjang Beach is a 7km long white sandy beach just 3km to the west of Bengkulu city, not to be confused with Pasir Panjang Beach in Malaysia.

Accommodation options along Pantai Panjang had long been limited, he admitted, but the government had already built hundreds of 'homestays' in anticipation of an influx of foreign sun-seekers, which were to be managed directly by the local people:

Foreign tourists who come to Bengkulu are expected to stay at locals' houses located near the beach

But he added that foreign tourists preferred to stay in the homes of local people anyway, rather than in hotels.


Bengkulu is on the map

However the plan to increase tourism would only work if local people got on board:

All people in the province have to be ready and open to welcome foreign tourists who will come because Panjang beach will be turned into an international tourism destination.

Panjang Beach

Fostering tourism was vital to increase economic welfare in the relatively backward province, and Agustrin pointed to the example of Bali, where the people were prosperous because the Island of the Gods had such a dynamic tourism industry that drew people from all corners of the world.

The people of Bengkulu had to be welcoming to tourists, he went on, and ensure that security and order were maintained. [1]


9 Comments on “Bengkulu Tourism: Panjang Beach”

  1. avatar timdog says:
    October 18th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I’m planning on going there in January. I shall report back…

    I don’t have a great deal of hope for these efforts though. Tourism is almost always an organic thing (guidebooks and budget airlines are probably the only artificial fertilisers that have any real effect). Tourism of the “homestay” variety is always organic. You simply cannot force it. All over the region, from Kuta to Goa, from Vang Vieng to Pulau Perhentian, you have places that started as a little mushrooming of hippies/surfers/backpackers, and that grew naturally from that into great steaming honeypots. I don’t think such a place has ever successfully been force cultivated…

    It’s been said before; it’ll be said again but the two biggest things that the Indonesian authorities could do to develop tourism would be to
    a) recognize that there is no get-rich-quick on a national level; it’s a long game (Bali, Thailand, Goa – these places took decades to develop), and
    b) to introduce a free 90-day entry stamp for tourist visitors. It would at least level the playing field with regards the near neighbours.

  2. avatar Oigal says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Foreign tourists who come to Bengkulu are expected to stay at locals’ houses located near the beach

    But he added that foreign tourists preferred to stay in the homes of local people anyway, rather than in hotels.

    This of course is coming from his years of intimate knowledge of the tourist industry and not just another iced tea induced lunatic raving?

    Personally, blow it! I have done my years of homestay and cockroach rumbling, its not provided I ain’t a coming. Nothing wrong with the backpacker market but its fickle and does not really lead to much in the way of development (of course development can be ugly…witness Bali).

  3. avatar Winmar says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 9:12 am

    b) to introduce a free 90-day entry stamp for tourist visitors. It would at least level the playing field with regards the near neighbours.

    This would be the best way of getting people to spend money in Indonesia. The country’s just too big to be explored in 30 or 60 days, and having to make visa runs is a real turn-off.

  4. avatar Chris says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 10:01 am

    In my opinion, the biggest problem would seem to be the few options getting there in the first place:

    - Looking at the Bengkulu Airport page on Wikipedia, the few flights are all from Jakarta. Still, if you want to visit Bengkulu you can book a flight here: http://flights.indonesiamatters.com/

    - I know there are also buses to Bengkulu in Jakarta (Kalideres and Pulo Gadung bus terminals) but the road conditions means it’s not a very nice way to travel. Maybe it’s also possible by bus from Padang (West Sumatra) or Palembang (South Sumatra).

    - Maybe another option would be by boat (i.e. Pelni). Confusingly, Jakarta is not in the online timetable, only it’s port: Tanjung Priok.

    Timdog, how are you getting there?

  5. avatar Sebastian Müller says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Well you can take the Bus from Jakarta, Padang or Palembang or the travel which there are plenty.

    Traveling by bus from Jakarta takes around 25 hours.

    There are busses leaving from Terminal Panorma or Pasar Panorma to places around Sumatra and a couple of „Travel“. Travel is a unique Indonesian way of traveling by road. Essentially its a small bus or van with a driver, some of them are quite comfortable, though more expensive then the bus. But usually you get good money for your trip.

    BHW Travel is one of them, going to Bengkulu, Lubuk Linggau, Palembang, Manna, Lampung, Muara Aman, Muko Muko and Padang. They are in the Jalan Bali / HP 0813 6772 1 777.

    To Curup you can take the bus by „CV.ans Travel“ which leaves Bengkulu at 6:00, 8:00 and 13:00 in the Jl. Jawa No. 22. Hp: 0813 7393 0036

    CV. P.O. Top Travel & Express at the Jl Parman No 58, which offers travels to Curup, Lubuk Linggau, Jambi, Palembang, Pekanbaru, Duami, Padang, Bukittingi and other places: tel. 0752 8022488

    for that see my articles on Bengkulu Tourism:
    http://sbamueller.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/bengkulu%C2%A0tourism/
    http://sbamueller.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/practical-tips-for-bengkulu-tourism/
    or about Curup:
    http://sbamueller.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/curup-tourism/

  6. avatar timdog says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Timdog, how are you getting there?
    You trying to sell me a ticket Mister Chris? ;-)

    I’ll be going in my usual style Which I imagine will go something like this: bus from Jakarta across to Bandarlampung, then a train from there to Palembang. I think I might get a boat down the river to Pulau Bangka then. After that back to Palembang and on the train again, getting down to have a look at the Pasemah Highlands (if it’s not raining too much), and then on to Bengkulu by bus.
    From there I guess I may fly back to Jakarta, though I’d certainly be up for a Pelni ship if the schedule fits…
    I was going to go next month to see the Ashura celebrations (Bengkulu and Pariaman are, I believe, the only places in Indonesia where the Shia Muslim festival is celebrated – by Sunni Muslims in very strange form clearly owing something to east-coast Indian Hindu ceremonies)… Would’ve been fun, but I’m going to be in Yogya instead…

  7. avatar timdog says:
    January 16th, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Well, I did say I’d come back and let you know. I had a poke around Pantai Panjang today, and actually, it’s quite nice.
    It is, as the name suggests, rather long. It actually starts right from the tip of the little Bengkulu peninsula and runs a very long way south. The sand is not quite white, but it is yellow and powdery. Locals will tell you that it’s unsafe to swim, but it’s no less safe than Kuta Beach – that is it picks up a lot of swell, but on small days confident swimmers should have no worries going for a splash…

    It’s clean(ish) by Indonesian standards, and backed by ranks of cassuarinas (a kind of pine tree).
    I can entirely see why the local authorities think they’ve got the next Kuta on their hands because, well, it is certainly as decent a beach as Kuta. Problem is, Kuta ain’t that great a beach to start with. Tourism there developed organically (I know I go on about “organic” tourism development a lot, but really, that is the best, most reliable way for it to grow; it’s VERY hard to force it)…

    I didn’t see much sign of the “homestays” but there are a good few dozen hotels strung along the road that backs the beach. A couple a rather upmarket; I stopped in at a couple of the more modest ones – Rp250,00 for a clean but uninspiring room; sort of falls between the cracks of the backpacker and mid-top end foreign markets, but just the job for the average Indonesian-on-holiday…
    Lots of little stalls selling grilled corn and kelapa muda under the cassuarainas. If you head south along a bumbp track where the metalled road goes inland there are some totally deserted stretches.
    In general, as a Sunday outing spot for local Indonesians, it’s one of the most bearable I’ve seen – no blaring dangdut, not too much litter, not too many cracked concrete benches and broken kids’ climbing frames.
    There are a good few “karaoke” places in between the hotels, suggesting a slightly sleazy edge, but to be honest it doesn’t look like it ever gets busy. Eeven on the weekend.

    Don’t think you’d want to fly all the way to Bengkulu just to go to this beach, but if you happened to be passing through the area it’s worth a look. There’s said to be decent snorkelling off a tiny island (Pulau Tikus) about 5 kms offshore. Bengkulu itself wouldn’t impress most tourists (though a huge cruise ship did drop by yesterday), but it’s pleasantly sleepy, and the people are, on the whole, extremely friendly to the occassional wierd bule who comes wandering through…

  8. avatar ET says:
    January 17th, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Kuta ain’t that great a beach to start with. Tourism there developed organically (I know I go on about “organic” tourism development a lot, but really, that is the best, most reliable way for it to grow; it’s VERY hard to force it)…

    Cancer also develops organically.

  9. avatar Steve Flynn says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 6:47 am

    There is a thriving tourist scene about 350km south east of Bengkulu down the coast at Krui. Krui town and surrounding regions are blessed with about half dozen world class waves breaking. It’s been on surfers radars for over 20 years that i know of. Last I was there was about 12 years ago and there was always about 2 dozen foreigners in the region and some expats living there. No doubt times that by 10 or even 20 these days. I hear it gets pretty crowded in the line up : I expect the Gubenor of Bengkulu knows about that. I don’t think they understand the subtleties of what makes a great surfing wave, or that region is/ was pristine. Really a lot of the tourist development that has happened in Indonesia is due to surfers and divers. The backpackers follow once the path has been smoothed by adventurous types.usually many years later :) I’m going to vist Bengkulu next year and have good look around.



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