Bukit Kasih is a peculiar shrine and monument in the Minahasa highlands of Manado, Sulawesi.
Two epic stone faces, dedicated to local Indonesian heroes from a long time ago, are carved into the hills and stare out at you, like some kind of creepy tribal Mount Rushmore.
It’s also a geothermal area, so there are boiling hot springs, crumbling rock foundations, and the ground around your feet is smoking.
Sounds crazy, huh? I’ve seen and done some things in my travels, but this is probably one of the most bizarre and surreal places I have ever been. I love it!
What Is Bukit Kasih?
What is this place? Good question.
I’ve visited Bukit Kasih several times, but it’s still completely bizarre to me. It’s like a mix of Indiana Jones, Yellowstone National Park, and a tacky old theme park.
When you first step out of your vehicle, you’ll be surrounded by friendly local touts trying to put owls on you (yes — owls) for photo ops, and asking if they can sell you foot massages in the hot springs (a polite ‘no thanks’ will do).
The natural sights at Bukit Kasih are amazing and extreme. There are boiling gases and bubbling geothermal pots, and creepy old stone faces in the hills that look like something right out of an adventure/horror movie.
The history and myth behind some of these monuments is fascinating and goes back to the origins of the Minahasa tribes, ancestors of the people that still live in this area of Sulawesi today.
All in all, this place is one of the trippiest travel experiences you will ever have. Guaranteed.
• Geothermal Pots
Bukit Kasih is a highly active geothermal area and it sits on the slopes of the Mount Soputan volcano, which had a massive eruption in late 2018.
There are boiling hot springs here, along with the nasty sulfur smell, but some of them have a tame enough temperature to dip your feet in. The locals will offer to let you soak your feet in the warm water for a small fee if you’re exhausted after hiking.
It’s a cool place to explore, but be careful if you decide to roam around and walk on the sulfuric ground. It’s unstable and there are heat vents in some places that could be dangerous.
This is rural Indonesia, so don’t count on any safety measures. I made the mistake of wearing sandals, and I could feel the heat from the ground on my feet. Just stay away from any smoking spots!
• Giant Stone Faces – Toar & Lumimuut
Bukit Kasih has two huge stone faces dedicated to Toar and Lumimuut, a mythical couple from the ancient Minahasa folktales.
According to the legend of Toar and Lumimuut, Toar was a strong and agile warrior who was undefeated by any foe or animal in the jungle.
Toar met Lumimuut one night under a full moon and they became a couple. They’re credited with being the root of the Minahasa people who live in northern Sulawesi to this day.
Big stone faces for these two characters were carved into the hills at Bukit Kasih, with a toupee of grass on top for their hair. It’s an awesome look. Supposedly a Balinese artist was hired to carve these faces in 2003.
You can walk right up to the statues if you want, but just be careful on the sulfur rocks. The statues are about 50 yards apart, and Toar’s is the easiest to reach up close.
The scale is impressive, isn’t it? A person or two could fit up those nostrils…
(P.S. — These giant stone faces are not religious objects, so the locals don’t mind you taking photos with them at all)
I really think this is one of the strangest landscapes I’ve ever seen.
• Hill Of Love
If you climb to the top of the hill at Bukit Kasih, there’s an interfaith shrine where all different religions are supposed to be able to worship.
Since 2002, there’s a Catholic church, Protestant church, Muslim mosque, Buddhist temple, and Hindu temple at the top. The idea behind this was to try to unite the religions and promote peace, since the demographics of northern Sulawesi are very split.
The people of Manado identify as Christians (67%) and Muslims (31%), followed by other religions. Bukit Kasih is Bahasa Indonesian for Hill of Love, by the way.
The climb to the top is exhausting and has more than 2,000 steps. Bring water if you decide to go take a look up there!
- Parking: 10k IDR (less than one US Dollar)
- Entry: 10k IDR
How To Get There
Bukit Kasih is located in Kanonang village in north Sulawesi, Indonesia.
The nearest airport is Sam Ratulangi International Airport (MDC) in Manado. Citilink has connecting flights to this airport from Singapore, and there are now direct flights from Bali (DPS) and Makassar (UPG). You can shop for flights to Manado at Skyscanner.
From Manado city, it’s a 1.5 hour drive to Bukit Kasih. The best way to visit this is as part of a day trip with a driver from Manado (more details below).
Our Manado Driver
We did this trip with driver Roy Paoki from Manado.
He's a super experienced tour guide and his price for driving is around 700k Rupiah ($50 USD) for a full day trip (12 hours) in the Manado area.
I've done several trips with Roy over the years, and he's an awesome guy. He's probably my favorite guide I've had anywhere in Indonesia.
You can contact him via WhatsApp at ☎ +62 823-9351-6786 or on his Facebook page.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Istanaku Guesthouse 2 in Manado city and paid $20 USD for a double room with cold A/C and a hot shower.
I've stayed here several times over the years, and always had a great experience. The staff here is very friendly, the rooms are clean, and the location is great.
It’s a 5 minute walk from a KFC restaurant, and a short drive to the Manado waterfront if you plan to visit Bunaken Marine Park for snorkeling.
Prices may fluctuate from time to time, so just keep an eye out for a good deal.
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