Kumasi is the main city of Ashanti-Kwahu region of Ghana. Kumasi is considered the home of the Ashanti King, the current one being Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Kumasi is widely regarded as the cultural cradle of Ghana as the vibrancy of Ghana's culture is more evident here than any part of the country. The Asantehene still sits in state as Ashantis from all walks of life pay homage. He even presides over traditional courts and some residents use this instead of the judicial system. The traditional Asante buildings in the region are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Prior to the British colonisation, Kumasi was the capital of the Ashanti Empire, one of the great civilisations of Africa.
Kumasi was established by the King Osei Tutu I with guidance from the priest Okomfo Anokye. It is said he planted two Kuma trees at two locations. One died and that place was called Kumawu (thus the Kuma tree died) and the one at Kumasi flourised and was named Kumasi (Kuma tree has flourished). Once one of the most impressive pre-colonial cities in Africa, it was largely destroyed by the British in a series of wars towards the end of the 19th century, and little remains today of its former glory.
The population of about 2 million, the language is predominantly Akan Twi.
Kumasi is a cosmopolitan city with a good road network and one can travel on local buses which ply predetermined routes or charter/hire taxis to take one to his preferred destination.
Flights from Accra to Kumasi are about 45 minutes long, limited on luggage allowance. Excellent way to get to Kumasi, preferred by most. Small planes, yet short trip.
In 2019, the government signed an agreement to restore railway service to Kumasi from Accra in 2022, and also plans to restore service from Takoradi.
Car rental in Kumasi is available at the lowest cost of about US$75-100 per day.
To travel by road to Kumasi from Accra you will need to allow 6 hours travel time. The STC bus service does not seem to be running anymore, or very sporadically; however private bus companies like VIP Jeoun (a Korean company) have taken over this route. Price is 25 cedis for a very comfortable and luxury bus (every row contains three seats; two on one side and one on the other), or 16 cedis for regular touring bus (4 seats in each row).
The tro-tro station in the city centre offers the widest range of destinations. The disadvantage of this tro-tro station is that it is extremely chaotic and that it is right in the city centre: getting out of the city is often problematic due to a plethora of traffic jams. If you can't find your tro-tro, ask one of the tro-tro mates or one of the ticket sellers. The destinations are posted on signs above the bus station.
Another alternative is to catch a tro-tro from the ring road instead. This saves you the hassle of navigating through the Kumasi traffic jams.
- 1 Kumasi Zoological Garden, ☏ . 09:00–17:00. All of the animals from the former Accra Zoo were transferred here a couple years ago, so there is now more to see.
- 2 Kejetia Market, Kejetia Road, ☏ . Largest market in West Africa. If you like the shanty experience of mud-caked soiled paths and general chaos, this is for you, although thankfully most of the open makeshift market has gotten a facelift with a new enclosed market centre.
- 3 Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Stewart Ave, on grounds of Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, ☏ . 09:00–17:00. The legendary site of the foundation of the Ashanti Empire in Kumasi in 1701, where the 'immovable' sword driven into the ground by Okomfo Anokye remains.
- 4 St. Peter's Cathedral, Roman Hill, Kumasi, ☏ . A Kumasi landmark, next to the Kejetia Market, built in 1913.
- 5 Wesley Methodist Cathedral/Man Standing On A Lion Statue, 5 Denkyemenaso Road, Kumasi, Ghana (in the centre of Adum, 2 blocks S of Kejetia Market), ☏ . M–Sa 8:30–17:30. This cathedral has been a long-standing feature in Adum. It is said that the missionaries who came to plant the church were killed by lions, and that the statue of a man standing on a lion in front of the church is testament of victory over that or something like that.
- 6 Manhyia Palace Museum, ☏ . Daily 09:00–17:00. Built in 1925 by the British as the residence of King Asantehene Prempeh I, this museum is also a palace. Walking through the museum, you will learn about the function of each room when it was used by the kings, as well as seeing artwork and artefacts from the Asante kings.
- 7 Prempeh II Jubilee Museum, ☏ . M–F 09:00–17:00; Sa Su 10:00–16:00. Features artefacts and personal belongings of former Asante kings including a reproduction of the golden stool.
- 8 Ghana Armed Forces Museum/Kumasi Fort, 22 Steward Ave, ☏ . Tu–Sa 09:00–17:00. The museum buildings is housed in the Kumasi Fort, built by the British in 1896 after they destroyed the Asante Fort that originally stood here. The museum predominantly features information and artefacts related to the British-Asante War, but also includes many artefacts from World War I, World War II, and information about modern Ghanaian military history. Tour guides are friendly and very knowledgeable. Highly recommended.
- 9 Nurom Hat Museum. A collection of some 2,000 hats from around the world belonging to Chief Nana Kofi Gyemfi II at the top of the Nurom Hotel, but it may no longer be open.
- A tour of the Palace grounds explains the history of the Ashanti people and the significance of the Ashanti cultural history.
- 1 Lake Bosumtwi (take Lake Rd SW for about 35 km from Kumasi, may take about 1 hour). This is the only natural lake in Ghana and interestingly created by a meteor impact. It has very lush and green surroundings, being 8 km in diameter and 82 metres (270 ft) deep, although the water quality itself may not be that clean. It is a sacred lake, as Ashanti believe it is where departed souls come to bid farewell to goddess Asase Ya. It can be reached by tro-tro or private taxis. The private taxi price should be about 50 cedis (September 2013). Lodging available at Paradise Resort.
- 2 Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary (30-45 minutes NW of Kumasi: go west on Sunyani Rd, then NW on IPT Rd to Owabi), ☏ . M–F 08:00–16:00. Sanctuary with about 161 bird species, and butterflies, antelope, bushbuck, bushpig, and monkeys. The only inland Ramsar site in Ghana. Guided walks can be arranged at the visitor centre. The Bamboo Temple is very pretty and worthwhile. It can be reached by tro-tro to Esaase or Owabi tro-tro stops. From the Esasie tro-tro stop it is a walk of about 1–2 km, or else get a private taxi. May want to call to confirm price/location. GH₵6; guided walk available.
Adae Kese Festival
The Adae Kese Festival is a very important, albeit rare, celebration of the Ashanti's. It is held in a large open space in Kumasi. The festival is normally well attended and embraced by Ashanti's from all walks of life. The Adae Kese celebrations are magnified forms of Sunday Adae festivals, celebrated every six weeks in accordance with the Akan calendar which is based on a cycle of 42 days and nine months in a year. Invariably, the last Akwasidae festival is set aside for the celebration of Adae Kese.The public celebrations take the form of a colourful durbar of chiefs and queen mothers presided over by the Asantehene. It involves the display of cherished regalia and paraphernalia accompanied by traditional drumming and dancing as well as firing of musketry amidst pomp and pageantry.
The Adae festival is a continuous demonstration of faith in the vision and heritage of the Asante Kingdom, which has existed since the introduction of the Golden Stool in 1700. The festival is also to commemorate and re-enforce the independence of the Ashanti people and an occasion to re-affirm each state's loyalty to the confederacy instituted in the aftermath of the Ashanti war of independence fought against the Denkyeras between 1697–1699. It provides a platform for the King to meet and share his thoughts with his sub-chiefs and subjects and also reward deserving ones.
Kente fabric strips, glass beads, Ashanti sandals, batik – pretty much everything under the sun at the Kejetia Market.
- 1 Ntonso Adinkra Village, ☏ . M–Sa 06:00–17:00. This is a craft workshop where you can take tours but also especially buy authentic Ghanaian products like adrinka clothing and kente cloth.
The Noble House Hotel serves excellent Indian and Chinese food. Prices are higher than the average Ghanaian restaurant: expect to pay GH₵30–40 for a curry, some rice and a drink. Noble House has the same owners as the Heritage Restaurant in Osu, Accra. Other options with local cuisine include: African Pot and Grill and Mukyia Delight Cafe & Restaurant.
- 1 Friends Gardens. Tasty local African dishes.
- 2 Moti Mahal, Top Martins Complex, ☏ . Daily 12:00–15:00, 18:30–23:00. Indian cuisine.
- 3 Ike's Cafe and Grill, Ghana National Cultural Centre, ☏ . Local and intercontinental. Good but not cheap.
Vic Baboo's (Prempeh II Rd) is not the most atmospheric place in town, but it had an impressive cocktail menu. It is a place to meet backpackers, expats and volunteers. The menu features a variety of different Indian, Chinese, Continental, and fast food dishes. The lassi and milkshakes are especially good, staff are friendly and it has a homely atmosphere.
- 1 TUMI Hostel, Four junction, Kumasi. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. An atmospheric, well-furnished, hostel, where you can usually meet many other travellers. The price includes breakfast, and dinner is another $6. The hostel funds the TUMI Foundation for women's empowerment; clothes and accessories can be bought on location. $12.
- 2 Mikaddo City Inn, Mikaddo Plaza, Adum (on 4th Floor) (2 blocks S of Kejetia Market on Apimpua Rd), ☏ . Contemporary lodging with wifi, laundry, breakfast, a/c, parking in the craziness of Kumasi centre. ~US$37.
- 3 Vienna City Kumasi (Roses Guest House), No. 4 Harper Rd (S of downtown, near Rattray Park and Royal Golf Club), ☏ . Sort of outlying hotel location with laundry, restaurant, pub (smoky), casino, billiards, Wi-Fi. Gated. US$43.
- 4 Four Villages Inn, ☏ .
- 5 Golden Tulip Kumasi City, Rain Tree Street, Lesley Opoku-Ware Drive (3 km from Kejetia Mkt; near junction of Harper Rd and Victoria Opuku-Ware Rd), ☏ . Full amenities: Wi-Fi, a/c, pool, bar, restaurant, buffet breakfast, gym, room service, airport shuttle, security cameras, conference room, tennis courts. Pool and grounds and dining room are very nice. ~US$110.
- 6 Royal Lamerta Hotel, ☏ .
There are safe guides in hotels. Be mindful of pickpockets at the Kejetia Market.