Bengkulu Travel Guide

Bengkulu is the capital and largest city of Bengkulu Province in southwest Sumatra. It was the site of a former British garrison and has retained much influence from the British including a laid-back vibe.

Bengkulu was founded by the British in 1685 as Bencoolen. Sir Stamford Raffles was the governor here and the one who discovered the world’s largest flower in the region - the rafflesia, which was subsequently named after him. There are many reminders of the British tenure including the 1762 Fort Marlborough. Mount Bukit Kaba gives good views of the area.

There are plenty of hotels and guest houses in Bengkulu as well as trendy and chilled caf├ęs and coffee houses. There are also many beaches nearby including Pantai Panjang, one of Sumatra’s nicest. Nearby Enggano Island is good for surfing, diving and trekking, while inland is Tabah Penanjung nature reserve where rafflesias grow.

Getting There & Away

Bengkulu is a 90-minute flight from Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta Airport) and about an hour from Bandarlampung Airport, the nearest major airport. There are three flights a day from the capital. Buses come in from Bandarlampung in south Sumatra as well as ferries from Jakarta and Bandarlampung. The bus ride from Bandarlampung is a good 10 hours along the trans-Sumatra highway.

Things to Do

Bengkulu Attractions

Fort Marlborough

This mid-18th century castle is well maintained and a major bengkulu attraction. it is best seen just before sunset.

Pantai Panjang Beach

With elephant riding and surfing, this seven-kilometer long beach near town is a popular draw.

Side trips from Bengkulu

Enggano Island

A popular daytrip from bengkulu, this island is covered by dense rainforest and has interesting natives.


Tabot Festival

Commemorates the death of mohammad’s grandchildren - hasan and hussein - with many fun contests.