Arts + Culture

Asia Undercover

by Christopher R. Cox, Deborah Dunn, and Colin Hinshelwood

Tana Toraja, Indonesia

A verdurous valley ringed by purple peaks on the island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja rivals Bali in natural beauty and cultural traditions. But isolation—the nearest airport is an eight-hour drive away—and decades-long civil strife in central Sulawesi have kept it off the jet set's radar. Those who do come find distinctive indigenous architecture and thousands of cliffside and cave graves. Many travelers time their visit to the oddly sociable funeral season, which typically falls in late summer (Torajans wait to bury their dead until after the busy rice harvest). Funerals, elaborate productions that last for several days, are often open to outsiders. If you attend one, be sure to bring a gift—a sacrificial pig or buffalo or a pack of cigarettes will do.

Where to stay: The Toraja Heritage Hotel has a large pool and comfortable rooms.

When to go: July and August.

How to go: Diane Embree of Southeast Asia Tours will arrange for a guide and driver to pick you up in Makassar, one of Sulawesi's main cities.

Toraja Heritage Hotel
Tel: 62 423 21 192
Doubles, $105–$175

Next: An untouched fishing village in Thailand >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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