Minahasa regency was the former stronghold of the Minahasa people in the highlands of northern Sulawesi. The area is still culturally important for the Minahasa people, and though their traditional way of life is no longer, the culture is still evident in small ways and respected locally.
The principal town of the area is Tomhon, famous for the wonderful flowers grown locally in gardens, hotels and in production for the rest of Indonesia. The skilled local gardeners are assisted greatly by the rich volcanic soil and temperate climate of the region. Another reason to visit is the infamous market, which is a fun, friendly and laid back Asian general market. Fun that is, until you get to the butchery section. The extremely wide range of animals (both mammals and reptiles) killed for food locally will fascinate curious travellers, though will be too much for some. That section of the market is easily avoided, though.
The magnificent volcano looming over the town is Mount Mahawu, which benefits from a road close to the summit and a path around the rim with fantastic 360 views. Best seen at sunrise, it is a pleasant walk at any time. Close by, Lake Linow is a volcanic lake with several hydrothermal vents which spew forth gasses. The constantly changing colours and the spectacular backdrop with plumes of gas make it a dramatic place for a lakeside walk or drink.
All in all, the pleasant climate, beautiful surroundings and interesting, distinct culture make the Minahasan Highlands well worth a place on any itinerary covering North Sulawesi.
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