province of Indonesia
Asia > Southeast Asia > Indonesia > Sumatra > Bengkulu (province)

Bengkulu is a province on the southwestern coast of Sumatra island in Indonesia.


Map of Bengkulu (province)

  • 1 Bengkulu
  • 2 Curup - capital of Rejang Lebong Regency
  • 3 Karang Tinggi - capital of Central Bengkulu Regency
  • 4 Kaur Selatan - capital of Kaur Regency
  • 5 Kepahiang   - capital of Kepahiang Regency
  • 6 Kota Arga Makmur   - capital of North Bengkulu Regency
  • 7 Kota Manna   - capital of South Bengkulu Regency
  • 8 Kota Muko Muko - capital of Muko Muko Regency
  • 9 Pasar Tais - capital of Seluma Regency
  • 10 Tubei - capital of Tubei Regency

Other destinations

  • 1 Enggano Island   — Home to Mount Nanu'ua. Also a good dive spot to see coral reefs and sunken warships.





The region was subject to the Buddhist Srivijaya empire in the 8th century. The Shailendra Kingdom and Singosari Kingdom succeeded the Srivijaya but it is unclear whether they spread their influence over Bengkulu. The Majapahit also had little influence over Bengkulu.

The first European visitors to the area were the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch in 1596. The British East India Company established a pepper-trading center and garrison at Bengkulu (Bencoolen) in 1685.

During the early 1930s, Sukarno, the future first president of Indonesia, was imprisoned by the Dutch and briefly resided in Bengkulu, where he met his wife, Fatmawati. The couple had several children, including Megawati Sukarnoputri, who later became Indonesia's first female President. After independence, Bengkulu was initially part of the South Sumatra Province, which also included Lampung, the Bangka-Belitung Islands, and what is now South Sumatra itself, as a Residency. In 1968, Bengkulu gained provincial status, becoming the 26th province of Indonesia, preceding East Timor.



Bengkulu's climate is classified as tropical. Bengkulu has a large amount of rainfall throughout the year, even in the driest month. The climate here is classified as Af by the Köppen-Geiger system. The annual average temperature is 26.8 °C. The average annual rainfall is 3360 mm.

Get in


By plane


The only airport with scheduled flights in the province is 1 Fatmawati Soekarno Airport near Bengkulu city.

Get around

Rafflesia can grow as big as one metre in diameter

Bengkulu province labels itself as the land of rafflesia, the world's largest flower. Thomas Stamford Raffles and a British botanist Joseph Arnold collected a specimen of this yet-to-be-named flower in southern Bengkulu in 1818. Two years later, the specimen was given a name in honour of its discoverers, Rafflesia arnoldii. The species falls under the parasitic plant category which can only live off a certain type of vine, as it lacks its own leaves, stems, and roots.

The flowers attract large insects such as beetles and flies to pollinate by emitting rotten flesh odour. The fruit produced will be eaten by tree shrew which in turn spreads rafflesia seeds around. Its lengthy process of reproduction and unusual nature makes this plant becoming rare. Despite that, as many as 10 flowers can be observed to bloom in one year, especially during the wet season.

You may check the local news first to know if there are any rafflesia blooming. The usual spots to see the flower are 1 Taba Penanjung Nature Reserve (30 km east of Bengkulu city) and Bukit Daun Nature Reserve (52 km east of the city).

Those who are familiar with Malay cuisine will be no stranger with Bengkulunese dishes. Most of them use coconut milk and arrays of ground spices which gives rich and intense flavour. The meal consists of steamed rice or coconut rice, accompanied by two or three dishes, steamed vegetables or soup, and hot sauce (sambal). Simpler meal is consumed for breakfast, such as lontong tunjang (rice cake with shin of beef curry), mie pangsit (wonton noodle), mie celor (noodle soup with thick gravy made of egg, chicken broth, and maize flour), or soto Padang (noodle soup with beef broth and beef chunks).

Fish and seafood are abundant, notable dishes including: sala (batter fried grounded fish), masak asam (hot and sour fish stew), gulai palak ikan (fish head curry), ikan pais/pendap (fish wrapped in spicy coconut shaving and taro leaves), and bagar hiu (shark cooked in fried coconut shaving and array of grounded spices), Pempek (savoury fishcake, either steamed or deep fried, served in sweet-sour sauce), which comes from the neighbouring province of South Sumatra, is also a favourite along its variations such as burgo (pempek with thick rice noodle in coconut milk soup), lenggang (pempek omelette), and tekwan (pempek soup with shrimp broth with rice vermicelli)

Other typical Indonesian dishes can easily be found as well, usually chicken or egg or beef dishes, such as roasted chicken, chicken curry, beef rendang, and dendeng (fried thinly sliced beef). Most vegetable dishes takes precedent from Javanese cuisine - locals cook them in coconut milk (at this point you might wonder if there's any light meal comes from Bengkulu or Malay-sphere). Such concoction includes rebung asam (sour bamboo shoot curry) and gulai remunggai (winged beans curry).



Most fruits you find in traditional markets comes from other cities or provinces, such as orange, papaya, sapodilla, avocado, and duku. However, fruits listed below hold certain regard in the city:

  • Calamondin
  • Durian is the favorite fruit of the local people in Bengkulu. It has a spiky skin on the outside but contains a sweet pulp. Some people think it smells nice but most foreigners usually think it smells bad! You can find fresh durian only from December to January, but durian jam (lempuk) is available year-round. Tempoyak is a traditional dish made with fermented durian. Usually people steam it with fish and eat with rice.
  • Melinjo
  • Kepayang



Stay safe


Go next

  • Nearby provinces: Jambi, Palembang, and Lampung.
  • Kerinci Seblat National Park — the largest national park of Sumatra, and the second-largest of the country, covering almost 14,000 km². It is one of the three parks listed as World Heritage as part of the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra. In the park, the critically endangered Rafflesia arnoldii grows, the largest flower in the world. The active Mount Kerinci is the highest volcano of Indonesia (3,805 m)
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