Manado is the largest city in North Sulawesi. A total of more than 500,000 people live in this vibrant city. It is a busy, modern city. Most residents are Christian, so you will see many churches. In Manado itself you will find few sights. Shopping and eating are excellent here, but other than that it is mainly a very nice base to explore the rest of North Sulawesi.
In this article
- To do
- Travel time
- Practical information
- The nicest accommodations
- How do I get there?
- Our opinion
What to do in Manado
Manado itself does not have very many attractions or activities besides large shopping malls and lots of karoake bars. But then again, in the Manado area there is an awful lot to do. We’ve collected the best to do’s for you. Also read 10x the best things to do in Manado.
- Diving: the boat takes you to Bunaken National Park in no time. Therefore, in Manado you will also find many diving schools for diving in Bunaken, as well as in the area around Manado itself. In Manado, for example, we even saw an Indian manatee swimming by. We dived with Celebes Divers. 1 of the best diving schools in the area and definitely recommended.
- Snorkeling: not only diving, but snorkeling is also breathtaking in this area.
- Island hopping: white beaches and crystal clear waters, who wouldn’t want that
- Dolphin spotting: from Manado, you can also book a dolphin trip. We have heard stories of thousands of dolphins at the same time
- Tomohon: prefer to go hiking, then Tomhohon is wonderful to visit.
- Tangkoko National Park: visit the jungle of North Sulawesi and spot the cute ghost animal
- Head downtown: go shopping, eat well, watch a movie at the cinema or go wild at the karaoke bar. Manado has a vibrant city life and is definitely worth a visit.
Hotspots & food in Manado
If you want to eat something a little different or eat out, we definitely have some tips for you!
Dining at Cabal
If you want some Western food for once, Cabal is a very nice place to sit. Besides Western food, you will also find traditional dishes. However, we chose, very badly, a pizza and it was really surprisingly good. The prices are a bit on the high side, but as still recommended. The cocktails were also atrocious.
Clapboard cake at Christine’s
The best clapboard pie, according to many, is eaten at Christine’s. This, of course, I had to try. KLappert cake is from Manado so an absolute must try. The recipe originated in the 19th century and was inspired by Dutch pie recipes. The Clapper Cake is a kind of coconut cake and really incredibly delicious. At Christine’s you’ll find several variations.
In Manado, you will also find many trendy Food Trucks along the harbor. An especially coffee shops are totally hot here. A visit to the port is a must anyway.
Best time to travel to Manado
The best travel time to visit Manado is during the dry season between May and October. The chance of rain is a lot less during these months. That means you are more likely to spot those clear blue skies as you walk around.
Transportation in Manado
In Manado, you have Grab and it’s so nice. Grab is a kind of Uber. Incredibly inexpensive and very convenient to use. Tip! Buy an Indonesian SIM card in advance for 5 euros and you will have Internet everywhere for a month. Trips can be arranged from your resort or simply visited on your own. Renting a scooter is not as easy as in other places in Indonesia, but Grab is then a very fine solution.
Which budget do i need in Manado?
What does a visit to Manado cost? Of course, that depends a bit on your own desires and travel style. To give you an idea, here is a rough cost breakdown:
- Budget hostels: €10 – €25 per night
- Mid-range hotels: €30 – €60 per night
- Luxury hotels: €70 – €150+ per night
- Local transportation (bus, minibus, cab): €1 – €10 per ride
- Scooter rental: €5 – €15 per day
- Domestic flights (depending on location): €30 – €100+
- Budget meals at local eateries: €3 – €8 per meal
- Mid-range restaurants: €10 – €20 per meal
- Luxury dining: €30 – €50+ per meal
Sights and activities:
- Sightseeing entrance fees: €2 – €10 per person
- Diving and snorkeling trips: €30 – €100+ depending on package and location
- Nature excursions and tours: €20 – €50+ per person
Practical information about Manado
- Download transportation apps such as Grab for easy travel.
- Bring cash and a credit card (we really like VISA and it is accepted almost everywhere) for larger expenses.
- Wear modest clothing in town, at religious sites and meetings with locals.
- Drink plenty of water and protect yourself from the sun.
- Before leaving, don’t check your vaccinations
- Follow responsible tourism guidelines and respect the environment.
- Learn some basic words in Bahasa Indonesia, people really like it!
- Should you go diving, don’t forget to bring your dive logbook and your padi number
What are nice places to stay in Manado?
A few minutes from the center of Manado, you’ll find a peace of oasis at the Mapia Resort. A beautifully landscaped garden, lovely pool, communal dining every evening and right by the sea. This is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city and the ideal base for trips in the region. For divers, snorkelers and adventurers or just to spend a few days relaxing. Learn more about the Mapia Resort.
How to get to Manado?
From Jakarta, Makassar, Gorontalo, Denpasar there are direct flights to Manado every day. Prices range from 30 – 60 euros.
Buses or private cars also go from Gorontalo to Manado (they take about 12 hours).