Indonesia Travel Guides

Sorong: Travel Guide

Welcome to the complete Sorong Travel Guide: Indonesia’s largest city on the Birds Head Province of West Papua. Serving as a portal to the remote archipelago of Raja Ampat, the number of people travelling through the city is small but growing fast. Known for not much more than a thriving gas and oil industry, most stop here for no more than a day. However its melting pot of cultures, historical relevance and friendly people offer up another side to Sorong which is well under the radar and worth taking time to see.

We’ve often heard visitors refer to Sorong as ‘so wrong’ but take some time to scratch beneath the surface and discover that there is more to this city than just a hop skip and a jump to Raja Ampat. Our simple Sorong Travel Guide will help you to find hidden gems and interesting things to do, recommended places to stay, where to eat, how to get around and money saving tips.

The best things to do in Sorong

  1. Palau Doom

    Visit Pulau Doom, the original Sorong – From the public port take the small local ferry across to Doom Island (pronounced ‘Dom’) As the population outgrew this tiny island, the city of Sorong was relocated to the mainland in 1965. Steeped in Dutch history and remnants of WWII the friendly locals welcome you gladly and will take you on a wonderful tour of their colourful home by ‘becak’ bikes which we highly recommend.

  2. Sorong Berlin Wall

    Get some street food at the Berlin Wall and watch the world go by – Nobody really knows where this 2km long wall got its nickname from, but it does a great job of protecting the land from the waves which crash against it at high tide. At dusk this is a great place relax, eat street food or drink a tasty Papuan coconut. Come here to people-watch, mingle with the locals and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

  3. Sapta Ratna Pagoda

    Visit the Sapta Ratna Pagoda – Who knew that there was a Buddhist temple in Sorong? The Sapta Ratna Pagoda is a great place to visit from around 4pm when the sun starts to go down. As this beautiful Pagoda is located on the top of a hill, you can enjoy spectacular views of the city and the seas beyond!

Other things to do in Sorong

  • Take a bemo to Pasar Boswesen – Enjoy an amusing journey through the streets of Sorong in the back of a noisy yellow bemo, the public minibuses. Ask to be dropped at Rufei and stop at the market Pasar Boswesen by the seafront. Not only is this a great place to buy fresh fruit etc, but it is also a really amazing cultural experience.
  • Attend to your visa – Did you know that Sorong has an immigration office just behind the big Masjid Raya Al-Akbar on Jl. Ahmed Yani? We extended our Indonesian Tourist Visa here and are happy to report that the service was quick, friendly and painless!
  • Stock up on supplies – You’ll no doubt be transiting through Sorong to and from Raja Ampat. As all amenities are inaccessible in the islands, Sorong is a great place to stock up on essential items such as toiletries and snacks. The Ramayana Mall is inexpensive, convenient and also quite fun to wander around.
  • Head to the beach – It’s certainly no Raja Ampat, but if you are in need of some Vitamin Sea, the beach at Pantai Saoka is a quiet place to come for some sun sea and sand. The picturesque trees and mangroves at low-time make for some nice photo opportunities.

Where to stay in Sorong

There is a fairly good range of accommodation to choose from in Sorong, although speaking from experience, rates aren’t all that backpacker friendly. Overall most places have very average reviews so our advice is, don’t go with huge expectations and you won’t be disappointed (you won’t get much for your money). Our hotel of choice in Sorong has been the ‘You & Me’ since we travel on a strict budget.

Hotels we recommend

You & Me Hotel, Jl. Ahmed Yani – Budget

We can’t promise anything spectacular by staying here, except that if you’ve spent time roughing it in Raja Ampat the You & Me will feel like luxury in comparison!

The rooms are spacious and (somewhat) clean, with good AC and ok WiFi. The rate includes a buffet breakfast which can be a bit hit and miss. They offer a free shuttle service to the harbour and the airport which are within a 5 minute drive of the hotel. It is also in walking distance of the Immigration Office, Ramayana Mall, pharmacies, bakery, ATM and the Telkomsel shop. As long as you don’t mind being woken by the call of prayer at 4.30am we highly recommend the You & Me for a budget place to stay in Sorong. Prices start at 420,000 IDR per night.

Favhotel Sorong, Jl Basuki Rahmat – Mid-range

The Favhotel is a firm favourite (hence the name!) for most people passing through Sorong. For us it’s a little on the pricey side, but we have met plenty of people who have been very happy with their stay here. This relatively new hotel is modern and close to the airport. There are many amenities nearby including local Warungs, the Mega Market and even a KFC.

Rates include AC, WiFi and breakfast. We’ve heard that the airport shuttle is expensive and unreliable so you’re probably better off on foot or taking a bemo. Prices start at 740,000 IDR per night.

Swiss – Belhotel, Jl. Jendral Sudirman – Top-end

From what we’ve heard, the Swiss Belhotel is the most luxurious place to stay in Sorong and it certainly looks like it from the outside. This 4 star hotel offers a bar, swimming pool, modern decor and sea views and is located conveniently between the airport and the harbour. Prices start at 770,000 IDR per night.

Where to eat in Sorong

Rumah Makan Goyang Lidah – Jl. Mesjid Raya

Goyang Lidah or ‘dancing tongue’ translated into English offers a delicious lunchtime ‘all you can eat’ buffet service. Enjoy a huge portion of rice with your choice of traditional Papuan and Indonesian dishes. There is an excellent range available for both vegetarians and meat lovers alike. Try the coconut fish curry and tempe with chillies. Yum! 50,000 IDR per bowl.

Warung Makan Aloha – Jl. Ahmed Yani

Warung Aloha set up their grills every evening just along the road from the big Masjid on Jl. Ahmed Yani. This family-run food stall serves generous portions at excellent prices! Their Ayam Bakar and spicy sambal was some of the best we tasted in the whole of Indonesia. You can also pick up amazing freshly grilled fish, Nasi Goreng with chicken, amongst other classic dishes. Sit al-fresco and enjoy the sights and sounds of Sorong, sipping on a fresh lemon tea. We love it! Prices from 15,000 IDR.

Solaria, Ramayana Mall – Jl. Ahmed Yani

This is an Indonesia fast-food chain situated in the Ramayana Mall. If you are back from Raja Ampat and in need of something naughty, grab a burger, fries and a shake at Solaria. With comfy seating and a convenient location its not a bad place to indulge in some Western food…as long as you can tolerate the lady on the loud microphone in the Mall that is! Prices from 30,000 IDR.

Kitong Papua Resto – Jl. Ahmed Yani

If you are looking for a seafood restaurant in Sorong, don’t miss out on Kitong Papua. For sure it isn’t the cheapest place to eat but the food is exceptionally good. Expect prawns, crabs, grilled fish and curries to die for. We have heard that they also provide free transport to and from your hotel. How amazing is that?! Prices from 50,000 IDR.

Amenities in Sorong

Sorong Transport Roads

Getting around

The best way to get around in Sorong is by using local public transport, the yellow public minibuses or ‘bemos’

Top tip – Catching a yellow public bemo shouldn’t cost you more than 5,000 IDR to anywhere in Sorong. Jump in and enjoy the ride! As long as you don’t mind loud music 😉

Internet & Mobile

Most hotels offer WiFi connectivity in Sorong so you shouldn’t have problems getting online. But if you need to buy a local SIM card – especially before travelling to Raja Ampat, head to the Telkmosel kiosk in Remu Utara on Jl. Ahmed Yani opposite the Hawaiian Bakery and BRI bank.

ATMs

There are ATMs and banks all over Sorong, so withdrawing cash is not an issue.

Shopping

As the city doesn’t exactly cater towards tourists, shopping here is actually pretty cheap and there are a number of small malls to choose from. But don’t expect anything too fancy, Sorong is quite a few years behind so electronics and clothes are out-dated. There is also the odd souvenir shop dotted around if you’re looking to take a little piece of Papua home.

Top tip – It can be hard to stock up on alcohol before entering Raja Ampat, but try the SAGA Mall as most places in Sorong don’t sell any.

Dive Equipment

There is a ‘PADI’ shop in Sorong where it is possible to pick up a basic snorkel mask set but do not expect branded gear or a great selection to choose from. The shop is located in Kompleks Pelabuhan, Usaha Mina. We highly recommend buying snorkel and dive equipment prior to arriving in Papua.

Pharmacies

You won’t find it difficult locating a pharmacy in Sorong, they are everywhere! Most pharmacies provide antibiotics over the counter in Indonesia and Sorong is no exception. We recommend the Apotek Kimia Farma (Mesjid Raya) just next door to the You & Me hotel on Jl. Ahmed Yani – from our experience the staff are very helpful and speak good English.

Hospitals & GP

There are two hospitals in Sorong and a number of GPs. If you need to see an ENT Doctor we recommend Dr Titus in Rufei who speaks good English and specialises in ‘telinga’ (ears). Ear infections are a common snorkel and diving ailment in Raja Ampat, so this could be helpful to know.

Sorong Harbour

There aren’t any amenities at Sorong Harbour except for a few small food stalls to buy snacks and drinks. Be prepared to pay for your ferry ticket with cash and ask about the cheapest ferry options available, as there is more than one that will take you to Waisai and beyond. There are always taxis and ojeks ready and waiting.

Top tip – Taxi drivers at the harbour use the same yellow minibuses as the public bemos. These are a private mode of transport, but you shouldn’t pay more than 50,000 IDR. Drivers will try to charge you 100,000 IDR so haggle hard and walk away if you have to.

Getting to Sorong

There are regular flights to Sorong Domine Eduard Osok Airport – SOQ
with a number of major Indonesian Airlines, but there are no direct international flights.

Sorong can be reached from Jakarta, flying via Manado (MDC), Ambon (AMQ) or Makassar (UPG). If you are coming from Bali, you will fly via Manado (MDC) or Makassar (UPG).

We recommend booking tickets via Nusatrip.com

It is also possible to take a Pelni Ship to Sorong from either the port of Makassar or Ambon. For schedule information click here: pelni.co.id

Sorong Airport

Arriving into Sorong airport, you will be bombarded by taxi drivers wanting your business. The general asking price for a taxi to the harbour is IDR 100,000 but this can be negotiated down to IDR 50,000 if you have the patience.

If you don’t have a lot of luggage, get a lift on the back of an Ojek (motorbike) for 20,000 IDR. Or if you are on a strict budget, walk a couple of hundred meters outside to the main road and catch a yellow public minibus (bemo) for 5,000 IDR.

Best time to visit Sorong

The best time of year to visit is from October to April, though the months with the best temperatures and fewest rains are from October to December. It might rain briefly but intensely at any time, but the significant windy and rainy season comes from June to September. During this time it is likely to experience problematic boat journeys.

Money Saving Tips

  1. Airport Transfer – Rather than taking a taxi from the harbour or the airport, walk 300m to the main road and catch a yellow public minibus instead for 5,000 IDR.
  2. Use the minibuses to get around Sorong – They are cheap, fun and offer a great insight into the local community and surrounding areas.
  3. Stay in a budget hotel – If you’ve been roughing it in Raja Ampat, a simple clean bed, AC and WiFi will feel like luxury!
  4. Hotel extras – Opt for a hotel that includes breakfast and a free shuttle service.
  5. Eat at local roadside Warungs – They are half the price of restaurants.
  6. Opt for the least expensive ferry from Sorong to Waisai – There is no need to take the Bahari Express if one of the other ferries is departing at the same time.
  7. Stock up – Alcohol is much cheaper to buy in Sorong than in Waisai, so stock up here before heading to Raja Ampat if you’re partial to a Bintang on the beach!

Need a guide?
If you are interested in taking a guided tour of the city we can put you in touch with a wonderful guide. Please drop us a comment or an email for further information.

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Sorong House

Thank you for reading our Sorong Travel Guide. If you like our guides and find them useful, or if there is any more you think we could do, please let us know in the comments below. We love hearing your thoughts!

Need help preparing for your trip to Raja Ampat? Read our essential Travel Guide here.

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