Sardines At the Tomohon Market Indonesia

Tomohon Market, Indonesia – An Extreme Meat Market Not For The Fainthearted

Warning: this article on the Tomohon Market contains images of dead animals and may not be for the fainthearted. Continue reading at your own leisure. 


The Tomohon Market in the mountains of North Sulawesi, Indonesia is a traditional market known for selling entirely different types of meat than what we are used to. Some find it disturbing, some find it sickening, and some will happily try it.

We first heard about this traditional market from a Canadian couple we met on the Kinabatangan River. Actually, it was also the first time that we heard about Sulawesi itself, its rich culture, and paradise islands.

Speaking so highly of Sulawesi, they soon mentioned the Tomohon Market, showing us pictures of a variety of lifeless animals laid out across counters

We have always heard of these types of markets or have seen them in documentaries, but never once came across one. So in a way, we were quite keen to visit the Tomohon Market and to see the local delicacy with our own eyes.


Fruit At The Tomohon Market Indonesia

The Tomohon Market

After renting a bike at our hotel in Manado, we made the hour long journey towards the Tomohon Market. Arriving at the market, it seemed to look like any other market that we've been to before in Southeast Asia. Stalls were full of local veg, tropical fruit, fresh fish, and the biggest papayas we have ever seen.

Although that was all great, it wasn't what we were looking for. We were more interested in getting a glimpse of the rare meat market.


Large Papayas Tomohon Market Indonesia
How big are these papayas?


Nine Tuna Tomohon Market Indonesia
Yellowfin tuna

At first, we thought we were at the wrong market until we made our way towards a cage full of live chickens. Met by the smell of torched hair and a stench of fresh and stale blood, we knew we were in the right area. You could literally smell death in the air.

Inside a rooftop market, we could see the heads and other body parts of pigs spread out. Other vendors were selling sliced up pythons and amputated bats. The wings and feet from the bats were divided up and sold separately as snacks next to their lifeless bodies.


Pigs Head and Body Parts Tomohon Market Indonesia
Chopped up pig


Bats and Bat Wings Tomohon Market Indonesia
Bats and bat wings


Sliced Up Python Tomohon Market Indonesia
Sliced python


Bats Feet Tomohon Market Indonesia
Bats feet, a local treat

Further down through the hall was an area where pet lovers might start feeling a little bit emotional. Stalls here had what seemed to be freshly killed cats and butchered and burned dogs. Blood from their stiff bodies continued to drip onto the floor.


Cats Before Being Torched Tomohon Market Indonesia
Cats before being torched


A Tourched Dog Tomohon Market Indonesia
A torched dog


Butchered Up Dog Tomohon Market Indonesia
Butchered up dog

Outside, men were at work torching the hair off the bodies from the freshly killed animals.


Man Torching A Dog Tomohon Market Indonesia
Torching a dead dog

The saddest thing for us wasn't the already dead animals, but the dogs still alive in cages waiting to be killed. You could see in their desperate eyes they knew what was happening around them while awaiting their fate. We were fortunate enough not to have witnessed the beating and torching of the animals while still alive.


Dogs in cages Tomohon Market Indonesia
Poor dogs awaiting their fate

When To Visit The Tomohon Market

We visited the Tomohon Market during the week, while it was not in full swing. Saturdays are the busiest, as locals from all around the region come to sell their freshly caught bush meat.


What are your thoughts on the Tomohon Market? Would you consider visiting one of these markets or have you been to one before? Share with us in the comments below 🙂 

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Cooked Bats Tomohon Market Indonesia

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13 thoughts on “Tomohon Market, Indonesia – An Extreme Meat Market Not For The Fainthearted”

  1. Thank you for your insight into the experience. I would never be able to go to such a place. Seeing the dogs, especially the ones still alive in cages would traumatize me to no end. I respect that that is their way of life and can understand the meats they eat (even if we Westerners find it odd). But the killing and torching of animals while still alive (as you described it) is unfathomable. Why? There are ways to kill animals humanely.

    1. Hi Chris, sorry for the late reply. We have been away from the blogging world for a while but we are back with a new vision and direction for it. To answer your question, we feel they do it this way as it’s cost-effective for them. We don’t see any other way in why they would do it this way otherwise.

  2. I don’t think you should be posting about this and encouraging it, there should at least be links to charities stopping the trade or petitions to stop the beating and torturing of animals, I understand you went to learn about culture, but by visiting the market you encourage the locals further as they believe it is a “tourist attarctions” these animals are tortured and brutally treated and I simply believe that your post didn’t highlight the cruelty that happens.

    1. Hi Sarah, we understand where you are coming from and we also think the way the livestock in cages are treated is unnecessary. To clear one or two things up tho, this is not a tourist attraction as we were the only “tourists” there at a really busy market. And there is no encouragement for the locals to continue this practice for the sake of tourism money since there is no exchange of money from tourist to locals to enter or take photos of the market. This is simply a way of life for the people here. We are not defending their practices, we are just highlighting the reality of it.

  3. I’ve visited Thailand, Laos and Myanmar and understand that dog and cat meat is a currency. Just as I love horses, I can rationalize the sale of horse meat. Though not my preference I can rationilze it. What I cannot fathom is the cruel end these animals meet. Bludgeoning and torching animals while still alive is simply put, an act of extreme cruelty. That it’s relayed as an expository of regional traditions does not discount that fact. Just saying. Whether two, four or no legged, all creatures deserve a certain level of kindness.

  4. What pleasure of any kind could a traveler get from touring this market? Not only is the cruelty shocking, the “bush meat” comes from endangered species. Get your kicks some other way sickos!

    1. Ahhhhh Meg, we didn’t walk around here for pleasure. This is a market for locals and not for tourists pleasure. For the people of Northern Sulawesi, this is a way of life where they eat a different kind of meat to the western world. Visiting here as a traveller was so that we could get an insight and to learn about how people in different parts of the world live.

  5. No amount of money and I mean no amount would get me to visit this market . I am totally against all this horrific treatment of animals

    1. That is perfectly understandable Wendy, the market is quite extreme and hard for some people to take. This market is not a tourist attraction in any way or form but rather a way of life for the people of this region in Indonesia.

    1. We have only been to the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, and we must say it is incredible. Each region through the island offers something unique, from traditional funerals in Rantepao to its secluded islands. Unlike Bali it is less traveled and we would definitely recommend visiting here.

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