Makassar is the largest city in Eastern Indonesia and one of the four main central cities of Indonesia alongside Jakarta, Surabaya, and Medan. It is known as the gateway to Eastern Indonesia and the capital of the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi. In 1971 to 1999, the city was named after one of its district, Ujung Pandang. Located in the center of Indonesia, it is an important port and a busy air hub connecting Sumatra, Java, Bali Kalimantan, the Moluccas, and Papua. The city is also a lively cosmopolitan and home to a diverse ethnic group, historical sites, culinary treats, architectural landmarks, and boardwalk waterfront.
Makassar’s economy depends on the service sector, including restaurant, hotel, transportation, communication, trading, and finance. Industrial activity is also an important sector of the city’s economy. The city is also one of the fastest growing cities in Indonesia, the agriculture, manufacturing, and hospitality sectors are expanding rapidly. More and more modern building and shopping malls are being built all over the city. Although an expat is still a rare sight, the economic growth opens up more opportunities for foreigners who want to work in Makassar. Many expats in the city teach English, but there are various other jobs that would employ foreigners.
Popular Areas in Makassar
There are many popular areas in Makassar, but expats usually live close to their workplace. The area near Losari Beach is particularly famous among locals and tourists since it is the main icon of the city. The beach offers an astonishing and dramatic sunset view with a large public area for kids and families. Instead of the sand, the most popular place to hang out is on the promenade. The area is full of food markets and is surrounded by hotels and guesthouses.
Makassar is known for its delightful food with people describing the city as the culinary paradise of Indonesia. One of the most famous places to try local cuisines is Coto Ranggong, Sop Konro Karebosi, MAMA Toko Kue and Eskrim, Pisang Epe Pantai Losari, Pallubasa Onta, RM Bravo, and Jalangkote & Lumpia Lasinrang.
Makassar has many malls, but there are three large ones where expats love to hang out in. The most popular one is Trans Studio Mall, located on the coast south of the main waterfront of Losari beach. It’s home to one of the world’s biggest indoor theme parks, a supermarket, a wide range of restaurants, as well as international clothing brands such as Quicksilver. The biggest and newest mall in Makassar is Nipah Mall. It is a family mall where you will find a cinema, arcade, restaurants, coffee shops, and clothing stores such as UNIQLO. Makassar’s first mall is MARI, located a few kilometers from Trans Studio Mall. It offers great restaurants serving Indonesian cuisine and affordable clothing stalls.
Although the nightlife scene in Makassar is not as big as other big cities in the country, there are numerous great places to enjoy the night in the city. One of the more popular spots is the Gravity Sky Lounge, a rooftop bar on the 20th floor of the Swiss-Belhotel. People regularly come here to enjoy the 180° view over the harbor and the city, especially around sunset time. The place also has live music which usually starts after 9.00pm. Another famous spot is Kafe Kareba that serves good beers and as a music stage and the bar looks just like a regular local seafood restaurant.
Weather and Climate in Makassar
Makassar enjoys a tropical monsoon climate which means it is humid and warm throughout the year. The temperature is consistent with an annual average of around 27 °C. The rainy season starts in November and ends in April. You can expect rain showers almost every day during this season, especially in the month of December to February. January can have twenty-seven rainy days. The dry season runs from May to October with August as the driest and the coolest month.
Getting Around in Makassar
The main airport in Makassar is the Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport, located 20 kilometers northeast of the city center. It is the main gateway for flights to the eastern part of the country. The airport serves domestic flights to almost every major city in Indonesia as well as international flights to Singapore and Malaysia. It also serves seasonal flights to Jeddah and Medina. To travel around the country, budget airlines such as Citilink, Lion Air, and Wings Air are the most affordable option. To reach the city from the sea, Port of Soekarno-Hatta is the main seaport.
There are several transportation modes to get around the city. Becak (bicycle rickshaw) will take you on short distance trips. The base fare usually starts at Rp10.000. Another affordable option is Petepete, a public minibus with various routes. It is easily available around the city and the fare is around Rp4.500 to Rp5.000. You can also find air-conditioned and metered taxis, and the most reliable one is Blue Bird. You can order a taxi by phone or the Blue Bird App. Online hailing apps such as Go-Jek and Grab are also available. These apps allow you to order a motorbike taxi (known as ‘ojek’) and private cars.
Work Visas in Makassar
A foreigner who wants to work in Makassar should obtain a work visa and a work permit. Sponsorship from an Indonesian company is needed in order to get a work visa. Therefore, make sure you have prearranged a job before coming to the city. The limited stay visa is known as VITAS with a validity that will adjust to the maximum duration of stay granted for your position. After you have a VITAS, you should apply for a work permit known as ITAS KERJA. It allows you to work in the city for as long as your employment contract, with a maximum of two years.