Palembang : The Venice of the East

Photo by Frans Delian/

Palembang : The Venice of the East

Palembang is a city located on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is the capital of South Sumatra Province and the second largest city on the island. Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Southeast Asia, and its existence can be traced back to the 7thCentury when it served as the capital of the highly influential Srivijayan Empire. The city lies on both banks of the Musi River connected by the iconic Ampera Bridge with many canals throughout the city earning it the moniker ‘Venice of the East’. The vibrant city is also among the top destinations in the archipelago thanks to its natural beauty and a host of tourist attractions.

table of contents

[x] close

Palembang : The Venice of the East

1. Punti Kayu Forest Park

Photo by baka_neko_baka

The Punti Kayu Forest Park is the only forest in the city of Palembang and also a government-protected area. The park was established in 1938, and it features several attractions making it an integral part of the city. The pine forest covers around 50 hectares with a mini amusement park, a mini-zoo, a flower garden, and a swimming pool located within the park. The mini amusement park is especially popular among visitors as a photo location featuring various replicas such as that of the Eiffel tower. You can also take a ride on an elephant or just relax in the swimming pool. The surrounding pine trees create a relaxing and calm atmosphere perfect for a family outing with plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy.

2. Palembang Bird Park

Photo by baka_neko_baka

For another immersive experience check out the Palembang Bird Park. The park is more of a zoo housing a variety of birds as well as other animals including reptiles, deer, horses, monkeys, and many more. Each enclosure has infographic material enabling you to learn more about these animals. Visitors are allowed to pet the birds provided they wash their hands to prevent the risk of infection as some of the birds are prone to disease. You can also feed the birds with snacks provided by the staff. The bird park is a favorite among locals and tourists as a photo location as one is allowed to take pictures with the birds.

3. Monumen Perjuangan Rakyat (Monpera Monument)

Photo by baka_neko_baka

The Monpera Monument was built in 1988 as a symbol of the people’s struggle for independence from Dutch colonial rule. It has a height of 17 meters, has eight levels, and 45 lanes representing the country’s independence date, 17 August 1945. Within the walls of the monument is the magnificent chest of Garuda Pancasila and other historical artifacts including old money, clothes, weapons, and photographs. The Monpera is the best place to learn about the history of the 5-day war with the Dutch, a significant period in the history of Palembang. The monument is shaped like a jasmine flower representing the purity of the soldiers’ hearts making it a unique landmark that is a must visit.

4. OPI Water Fun

Not far from the Palembang Bird Park lies the OPI Water Fun, an amusement park where visitors can enjoy the water slides and pools while playing various water games. It is a popular family destination with professional staff and tight security. There are several rides of different shapes and sizes like the boom blazer, boogie blash, and the rapid falls where you can race with a friend. The smash down ride provides the fastest launch making you want to try it over and over again due to the adrenaline rush one gets from the ride. Kids are not left out as there is a kiddie pool, a rainbow castle, and a dolphin pool where they can enjoy themselves.

5. Masjid Agung Palembang (Great Mosque of Palembang)

Photo by Sony Herdiana/

The Great Mosque of Palembang is an architectural treasure in the city with its Indonesian, Chinese, and European aesthetics. It is also the largest mosque in the city, and it can accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers. The mosque is also of historical significance having been built in the 18th Century by Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin I. The mosque has undergone significant restorations and additions creating a magnificent mosque that is not only a place of worship but also a popular tourist attraction. There is a tunnel that connects the mosque with the Kubo Besak Fort and the Monpera allowing tourists to view the landmarks in one go. There is a park near the mosque where you can relax after your tour while sampling wares sold by the merchants based there.

6. Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Museum

Photo by baka_neko_baka

The Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Museum is located at a walking distance from the Monpera monument near the Ampera Bridge. The museum stores numerous types of Palembang Sultanate items including archeological items, arts, weapons, and many more. Once a palace of the Palembang Darussalam Sultanate, it is now a favorite destination among locals and tourists who are eager to learn about the history and culture of Palembang. The building itself is stunning with many visitors praising its architecture with the entry twin spiral staircases at the center of the admiration. The low entry fee coupled with the museum’s location at the heart of the city make it a worthy entrant on any visitor’s itinerary.

7. Taman Peninggalan Kerajaan Sriwijaya

Photo by

Near the northern bank of the Musi River lies the remnants of an ancient civilization where visitors can catch a glimpse of this lost world. Formerly known as Karanganyar archaeological site, the area used to be a 7th-15th- century settlement and seat of Srivijayan political power. The first excavations began in the late 1980s, providing the world with a window into pre-colonial Indonesia. Nearby is the Bugit Seguntang Hill, a 30 meters hill that is not only a historical landmark, but also regarded as the highest point in the city.

8. Kuto Besak Fort

Bengten Kuto Besak is an 18th Century riverside fort and also one of the best places to sample the local delicacies. The complex was once the center of the Palembang Sultanate and has always been a significant landmark used for various purposes over the years. It currently houses a wide array of food stalls and dining establishments. From the fort, one has excellent views of the Ampera Bridge making it the best place to view the sunset with friends and family. The Old Fort is still used for some military purposes and is therefore closed to the public.

9. Kemaro Island

Photo by Sony Herdiana/

Kemaro Island is a mystical island located on a delta of the Musi River around 6 kilometers from the Ampera Bridge. The nine-level pagoda is visible from far off and is one of the most iconic landmarks on the island. According to local folktale, the graves of Prince Tan Bun An of China and Princess Siti Fatimah of Sriwijaya are located within the island. The two royals had a love story that is an inspiration to many locals despite their tragic end. Near the Buddhist temple stands a tree known as the ‘Tree of Love’ a symbol of true love between the couple. The island is a must visit especially during the Cap Go Meh Festival when you can mingle with locals and immerse yourself in their culture and religion.

10. Musi River/ Ampera Bridge

Photo by Frans Delian/

The Ampera Bridge is without a doubt the most iconic landmark in the city of Palembang. The vertical-lift bridge was built in 1962, and is the main link between the north and south banks. However, due to engineering mishaps, the bridge can no longer be lifted to allow ships to pass underneath. Despite this, it is an architectural beauty that you must see while in the city especially at night when the dancing neon lights come on making the view all the much prettier. You can also catch a boat at the port that can take you along the Musi River as you savor the magnificent sunset views. Along the river, there are a variety of shops, eateries, and hotels where the needs of any visitor are precisely met.

◎ Closing

Having been the center of the powerful Sriwijaya Kingdom that ruled over a huge chunk of Southeast Asia, Palembang has a rich history, and therefore it is the best place to learn about the history of the region. The city’s natural beauty and modern infrastructure continue to attract many tourists year in year out and with good reason. It is indeed a remarkable place with a host of attractions and lovely people who are eager to share the serenity of this city with visitors.