Feature article Indonesia Medan Sumatra Travel

Sumatra An Awesome Backpacker Trail

Sumatra An Awesome Backpacker Trail

Sumatra Indonesia has had a nicely worn backpacker path for greater than 20 years. It’s nonetheless one of many least expensive locations on the planet to journey in and in case you are ready to journey tough, staying in primary lodging, you’ll be able to nonetheless journey for round $20 per day. The fifth largest island on the planet, Sumatra has the perfect circumstances to go to a number of the most original animals on the planet and a few of the most numerous geographical topologies on all the planet.

Orangutan in North Sumatra Indonesia

Orangutan in North Sumatra Indonesia

Sumatra is DIVERSE. Numerous cultures, 52 totally different languages spokens, geopraphical topology to go well with all visitsor (seashores, tropical islands, jungle, rivers, lakes, mountains, volcanos, scuba diving, jungle trekking, mountaineering, wind browsing, caving and paragliding).

Sumatra has a number of the most original wildlife on the planet, uncommon and endangered species just like the Sumatran Orangutan, Sumatra Tiger and Asian elephants nonetheless roam within the Nationwide Parks of Sumatra. The place else are you able to go to wash an elephant?

Washing elephants at the river Tangkahan

Washing elephant in Tangkahan Sumatra

Sumatra continues to be one of many poorest locations on the globe, very near a number of the main Asians hubs like Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, although nonetheless solely sees a really small proportion of vacationers that go to this superb vacation spot.

Traversing the equator, Sumatra has a tropical setting with secure temperatures all yr round of round 30 levels through the day.

There are a number of entry factors into Sumatra. By aircraft you’ll be able to fly direct to Banda Aceh (Aceh Province), Medan (North Sumatra) or Padang (West Sumatra).

By ferry you will get to Sumatra by way of Penang in Malaysia direct to Medan, from Melaka in Malaysia to Dumai in Centra Sumatra or from Java you will get from the ferry port of Merak in Java to Bandar Lampung in South Sumatra.

Take a look at the varied cities, cities, villages and vacationer points of interest in Sumatra Indonesia:


Banda Aceh

Banda Aceh Sumatra

Banda Aceh Sumatra

Bandan Aceh is capital metropolis of Aceh province, the very northern province of Sumatra, Aceh Province had a few years of civil conflict between the Indonesian Authorities and the native Islamic loyalists who demanded independence and Sharia Regulation to be carried out within the area.

Banda Aceh was devastated by the 2001 Tsunami off the coast of Sumatra the place greater than 200,000 individuals have been killed. The city centre has rebuilt and has many monuments to the Tsunami all through the city. The Tsunami did see an finish to the key preventing.

You’ll be able to simply get to Banda Aceh with direct flights from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia or there are flights from Medan or Jakarta to Banda Aceh. There’s additionally an extended 10 hour bus journey from Medan.

Pulau Weh

Pulau Weh Sumatra Indonesia

Pulau Weh Sumatra Indonesia

Pulau Weh is an attractive tropical island simply 45 minutes by ferry from Banda Aceh. With a few of the greatest scuba diving in Indonesia. With some lovely white sandy seashores, coral reefs, waterfalls and a few good spicy meals. There’s additionally a small volcano on Pulau Weh and a few scorching springs for bathing.

There’s a monument on the very northern coast of Pulau Weh ‘0 km Indonesia’ which marks probably the most easterly and northern level of Indonesia.

9 Kilometer Indonesia monument The Start of Indoensia

9 Kilometer Indonesia monument The Begin of Indoensia

Learn extra about Pulau Weh Sumatra.

Nias Island

Nias Island is legendary for it’s wonderful browsing. Situated off the coast of Aceh, you will get a ferry from the city of Sibolga or Singkil. There are buses that depart from Medan in North Sumatra or you’ll be able to catch a bus from Berastagi or Lake Toba to get to Sibolga. The ferry crossings from Sibolga take round 10 – 12 hours to get to the ferry port of Gunung Sitoli on Nias Island. The ferries from Singkil take round 5 – 6 hours to get to Nias.

North Sumatra

Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang Village North Sumatra

Bukit Lawang Village North Sumatra

Bukit Lawang is likely one of the should go to locations of Sumatra! Bukit Lawang means ‘Gateway to the Hills’ (Bukit – which means hills, Lawang which means gateway in bahasa Indonesia). That is the place to return to see the superb Sumatra Orangutan.

Bukit Lawang is on the border of the Gunung Leuser Nationwide Park, house to a few of the nice animals of Sumatra together with Orangutan, Elephants, Sumatran Tigers, Solar bears and solar bears. It’s straightforward to rearrange jungle trekking excursions into the ‘skin of the jungle’. These are days journeys or in a single day journeys. You’ll be able to organise longer treks into Gunung Leuser Nationwide Park however that’s solely beneficial for knowledgeable jungle trekkers. In case you have by no means been within the jungle, attempt the in a single day journey first earlier than you enterprise additional. For those who can’t stroll up Three – four flights of stairs with out getting out of breath, I recommend you do some strolling earlier than you even attempt the in a single day journey within the jungle.

Within the 1970s, one of many first Orangutan Rehabilitation centres opened at Bukit Lawang, introducing Orangutan that had been stored as pets, again into the wild. Altough the rehabilitation centre not operates, they nonetheless handle the Orangutan Centre the place you go to within the mornings and afternoons to see the day by day feeding of the semi-wild orangutan. Even to see the Orangutan feeding at Bukit Lawang, anticipate a 20 – 30 minute stroll by means of the jungle, up some steps to get to the feeding floor.

There are common buses that depart from Medan (the capital metropolis of North Sumatra) going to Bukit Lawang. It takes round Three.5 hours on the general public bus or there are mini-buses that get there in round 2.5 – Three hours. A personal automotive will take round 2.5 hours. Bukit Lawang is simply 68 Kilometers from Medan however the roads are usually not in one of the best situation. Roads out of Medan have improved however the nearer you get to the jungle, the extra put on and tear there’s on the roads.

Gunung Leuser Nationwide Park is among the largest Nationwide Parks in Indonesia stretching from North Sumatra into Aceh Province within the north of Sumatra. With the Gunung Lesuer (Lesuer Mountain) within the coronary heart of the Nationwide Park, round a 5 day trek to get to. Bukit Lawang isn’t an excellent place to start out a trek to Gunung Leuser. There are a selection of villages on the perimeter of the Gunung Lesuer Nationwide Park that are higher begin of factors to do a four day trek.


Maimoon Palace Medan Sumatra

Maimoon Palace Medan Sumatra

Medan is the capital metropolis of North Sumatra, a noise, overcrowded metropolis, Medan is the third largest cities of Indonesia. With a inhabitants of over 2 million individuals, Medan is a busy metropolis which you don’t have to spend alot of time in. The gateway to the most effective points of interest of North Sumatra. There are some good motels in Medan, in addition to some dust low cost backpacker motels to do a fast in a single day layover in Medan, earlier than you go to the actual superb locations in Sumatra!

There are a number of fascinating locations to go to in Medan so you can simply spend 2 -Three nights in Medan, in case you are not in a rush. With the spectacular Grand Mosque and Maimoon Palace near the centre of city with a great deal of giant trendy buying malls shut by. There are a great deal of large, trendy purchasing malls and a great deal of nice eating places serving a variety of Sumatra meals, Indonesian meals in addition to a wide selection of Indian and Chinese language delicacies out there. There’s a respectable nightlife in Medan, with a great deal of low cost bars, a number of nightclubs and loads of pubs the place you will get a very good pub meal and some chilly beers at an affordable worth.

There are another vacationer points of interest in Medan like some ‘zoos’ and wildlife parks just like the Crocodile farm on the outskirts of Medan metropolis. There’s additionally a variety of religions in Medan with numerous Mosques, Church buildings or temples to the varied religions. Grand Mosques, small mosques, a powerful Roman Catholic Cathedral and numerous Taoist Chinese language temples, Hindu temples and a few Buddhist temples and shrines.

There are direct flights to Medan from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Padang and a number of other different cities in Indonesia.

You may as well get a ferry from the island of Penang in Malaysia direct to Medan. The ferry journey between Penang and Medan takes round 6 hours. There was a number of ferry corporations operating providers from Penang to Medan however now with the very low cost air journey in South East Asia, it’s faster and virtually cheaper to fly as an alternative of catching the ferry.


Sibayak Volcano at Berastagi

Sibayak Volcano at Berastagi

Berastagi (pronounced in Indonesian as ‘brastagi’) is simply 2 hours away from Medan, with many buses leaving each hour. Berastagi is an agricultural centre of North Sumatra which has 2 lively volcanoes, Sinabung Volcano and Sibayak Volcano. Proper on the base of Sibyak there are some nice scorching springs the place you possibly can bathe which is meant to be therapeutic to your pores and skin and well being.

You’ll be able to nonetheless do treks to the highest of Sibayak volcano which can take round 2 hours to climb to the height. You used to have the ability to make the for much longer hike to the highest of Sinabung Volcano however in recent times there was alot of volanic eruptions at Singabung which has now seen an exclusion zone across the volcano.

There are common public buses and mini-buses operating between Berastagi and Lake Toba.

Sikulikap Waterfall

Sikulikap Waterfall North Sumatra

Sikulikap Waterfall North Sumatra

Sikulikap Waterfall is a powerful waterfall situated simply 20 minutes north of Berastagi. In case you are touring from Medan to Berastagi you possibly can cease alongside the best way. From the primary freeway, the waterfall is round a 15 minute hike via the forests to see this 30 meter tall waterfall. This is likely one of the nicest waterfalls in North Sumatra…Sipiso-piso falls under, being the should go to Waterfall in Sumatra.

Sipiso-Piso Falls

Sipisopiso Waterfalls Sumatra

Sipisopiso Waterfalls Sumatra

Sipiso-Piso waterfalls is probably the most spectacular waterfall in Sumatra. Situated 30 minutes drive south of Berastagi, the falls are 120m tall (360 ft). Sipsio-piso falls are situated on the sting of a canyon proper on the north lip of the Lake Toba caldera. The entire panorama round Lake Toba was shaped by a super-volcano which exploded 75,000 years in the past forming an enormous gap which crammed with water to be generally known as Lake Toba.

In case you are touring from Berastagi to Lake Toba, it’s straightforward to make a fast cease to take a look at these watefalls. i might undoubtedly advocate the cease to interrupt up the two – 2.5  hour journey to Lake Toba from Berastagi.

Lake Toba

Lake Toba North Sumatra

Lake Toba North Sumatra

Lake Toba is one other should go to place in Sumatra, the most important lake in South East Asia, Within the centre of Lake Toba is Samosir Island (not likely an island as there’s an isthmus related on the far aspect of Samosir). Samosir Island is the place to return and have a soothing vacation by the lake with sufficient locations of curiosity to spend Three – 5 days of enjoyable. Or keep extra days if you need extra enjoyable! Whereas Sumatra is the fifth largest island on the earth, Samosir is the fifth largest lake islands (not likely an island…).

Lake Toba has the very distinctive tradition of the Batak individuals. While the remainder of Indonesia has the bulk inhabitants following the Islam area, the individuals of Lake Toba are predominantly Christians. Whereas it’s is uncommon to get an excellent pork dish in the remainder of Indonesia, there are some nice pork dishes in Lake Toba. Actually good pork dishes!

Earlier than Christianity was launched to the Batak individuals, there was a little bit of a historical past of cannibalism round this area of Suamtra! There are some archaeological websites you’ll be able to go to on Samosir Island, the place ceremonial grounds have been situated the place the native tribe used to sacrifice opposing tribe members and prepare dinner them up in an enormous pot. Christianity stopped the consuming, however the Batak individuals nonetheless have a mixture of conventional religions. When you spend anytime in Lake Toba you’ll hear some nice native legend tales about how the lake was shaped.

In addition to the majestic lake, there are a selection of lovely waterfalls and mountaineering trails on Samosir Island, which is an island situated inside Lake Toba. In case you like climbing, then there’s a nice hike from the top of Lake Toba, as much as the very best level of Samosir Island (

A small ferry travels from Parapat throughout to Samorsir Island the place there’s a nice vary of low cost lodging on the island.

Once I first visited Lake Toba, 20 years in the past, I deliberate to remain 2 nights! 1 month later I moved onto Bukit Lawang!


Tangkahan Sumatra Indonesia

Tangkahan Sumatra Indonesia

Tangkahan additionally proper on the border of the Gunung Lesuer Nationwide Park, Tangkahan is the place to go to wash an elephant! Tangkahan is a village surrounded by Palm Oil plantations. As a option to shield the village of Tangkahan from the encroaching oil plantations, and to guard the jungle from poaching, the village setup a troop of elephants that patrol the jungle for poachers. This then began an amazing vacationer points of interest to usher in cash so the villagers can become profitable from tourism.You possibly can go to the elephant camp and assist by contributing to guard the jungle. You possibly can simply go alongside to see the every day washing of the elephants or you possibly can pay to have your personal elephant jungle journey by means of the jungle. Because of the reputation, you’ll be able to solely get a 1 -2 hour journey on the elephants.

It’s also possible to organize jungle trekking journeys from Tangkahan for an opportunity to see actual wild Orangutan, however you’ll want to be fortunate.

There are 2 rivers connecting proper at Tangkahan village with some nice swimming and there are some scorching springs with volcanic water spurting into one of many rivers. There are additionally some nice waterfalls straightforward stroll from Tangkahan.

Tangkahan may be entry by bus from Medan (as much as 5 hours bumpy journey) or you will get a 4WD from Bukit Lawang which can take round 2.5 hours.

Learn extra about washing elephants in Tangkahan

Jungle Trekking in North Sumatra

There are a number of villages you’ll be able to go to and organize jungle trekking in North Sumata. These villages embrace Bukit Lawang, 2.5 hours from Medan, Tangkahan (5 hours bus experience from Medan) and in addition Ketembe, on the very southern border of the Gunung Leuser Nationwide Park, round Three – four hours from Berastagi.

Learn extra about Jungle Trekking in Sumatra

White Water Rafting

There are a selection of rivers in North Sumatra with some nice White Water rafting. The Bohorok River and Wampu Rivers are each accessible from Medan (round 2 – Three hours drive to every of the rivers).

Additionally The Bingei River (simply 1.5 hours from Medan) has grade III and grade IV rapids.

West Sumatra


Padang in West Sumatra

Padang in West Sumatra

Padang is the capital metropolis of West Sumatra, the gateway to Mentawai Islands. In case you are into browsing, you’ll go to Padang. Even in case you are getting on a stay aboard boat for a browsing boat journey, you’ll should arrive in Padang.

There are a couple of locations of curiosity in Padang together with some caves constructed by the Japanese throughout their occupation of Sumatra through the 2nd world warfare.

Padang has an awesome number of it’s personal culinary delights together with the meat randang which is likely one of the greatest curry dishes you can find in Indonesia. There are a great deal of conventional Padang Eating places with the signal out the entrance saying ‘Masakan Padang’ which suggests Padan Delicacies. In these eating places, you stroll in, they load up the desk with somewhat serving of all the meals they provide, then they solely cost you for the dishes you contact. This can be a nice solution to attempt a great deal of several types of the native meals.

There are direct flights to Padang from Medan, Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Mentawai Islands

Mentawai Islands are surrounded by a few of the greatest surf breaks on the globe, Mentawi Islands can also be house to some very distant tribes and a few arduous core jungle trekking. If you need some straightforward treking then go to Bukit Lawang. If you wish to go someplace completely distant, then go to the Mentawai Islands.

The most important of the Mentawai Islands is known as Pulau Seribut. There are ferries that depart from Padang that go to the primary ferry port on Pulau Seribut.


Bukittinggi West Sumatra

Bukittinggi West Sumatra


Bukittinggi might be probably the most fascinating place in West Sumatra, house to the Minangkabau individuals. With their very own language and a matriarchal society, a number of the structure of the native Bukittingi buildings and houses are value a go to, with probably the most distinct lengthy homes with the bull horns.

Bukittinggi solely has a inhabitants of round 117,000 individuals however has alot of fascinating locations to see on the town in addition to straightforward day journeys from right here.

Proper within the centre of city are some nice examples of some Dutch colonial buildings erected through the time the Dutch dominated Indonesia, courting again to 1663, together with the Clock Tower proper within the coronary heart of city.

Bukittinggi Sumatra

Bukittinggi Sumatra

Crossing the Equator

Crossing the Equator in Sumatra

Crossing the Equator in Sumatra

Simply north of Bukittingi, you’ll be able to cross the equator. On the Trans-Sumatran Freeway there’s a monument and a white line painted on the street to point out you have been the Eqator crosses over Sumatra. This can be a nice photograph alternative, standing in each the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere on the similar time.

Lake Maninjau

Lake Maninjau West Sumatra

Lake Maninjau West Sumatra

Lake Maninjau is simply 1.5 hours bus journey from Bukittingi, so you possibly can simply do a day journey right here. Lake Maninjau is a superb place to loosen up so you would spend a number of days right here or a couple of weeks. Very enjoyable.

Kerinci Volcano

Kerinci is an lively volcano situated with the Kerinci Nationwide Park, south of Padang.

Cental Sumatra


Grand Mosque at Pekanbaru Sumatra

Grand Mosque at Pekanbaru Sumatra

Pekanbaru is a big city in Central Sumatra which has a whole lot of oil corporations and mining corporations working out of the encompassing areas.

Pekanbaru is a cease over metropolis for those who want it to be, espcially when you arrive into Dumai ferry port, crossing over within the ferry from Melaka in Malaysia. There are sufficient locations of curiosity in Pekanbaru to spend 1 or 2 nights. The Penkanbaru Grand Mosque is among the most spectacular Mosques in all of Asia. There are some giant trendy buying malls and a few nice night time meals markets to attempt some native Pekanbaru dishes.


Dumai is a sea port city in Central Sumatra. That is the place you arrive by ferry from Melaka Malaysia and get on a mini-bus to go to Bukittingi or Padang. Aside from the bus terminal subsequent to the ferry terminal, there’s not a lot purpose to remain in Dumai. Buses direct to Bukittinggi will take round 5 – 6 hours from Dumai. You will get from Dumai to Pekanbaru in round 1 hour.

South Sumatra


Palembang is the capital metropolis of South Sumatra.

You’ll be able to simply attain South Sumatra from Jakarta. A 2 hour drive from Jakarta after which round 2 hours on a ferry to the capital metropolis of Bandar Lampung. There’s a practice service that runs from Bandar Lampung to Palembang.

Bandar Lampung

Bandar Lampung is probably the most southern metropolis of Sumatra, what was a big fishing village on the coast of the Bunda Strait, has anticipated to a big metropolis with a inhabitants of just about 900,000 individuals. There are boat journeys you are able to do out to see Anak Krakatau, the lively volcano island. There are additionally dolphin sight-seeing excursions you are able to do.

Bandar Lampung has been widespread with backpackers as cease over metropolis, touring from Jakarta, throughout the Sunda Strait and up via Sumatra.

Anak Krakatau Volcano

Anak Krakatau Volcano

Anak Krakatau Island

Anak Krakatau is an lively volcano in the midst of the Sunda Strait, the ocean between Sumatra Island and Java Island. Anak Krakatau means ‘Child of Krakatau’ (or extra generally often known as Krakatoa Volcano which exploded in 1883). Anak Krakatau is the brand new volcano shaped, near the place Krakatoa exploded and it continues to develop. At present Anak Krakatau is over 500 meters tall and has common volcanic exercise. You possibly can organize a ship journey from Bandar Lampung to go to the island of Anak Krakatau and climb to the rim of the volcano.

Learn extra about day journeys to Anak Krakatau.

My Experiences in Sumatra and recommendation

A met a great deal of fascinating vacationers like authors who labored out of the US however traveled round Asia for reasonable lodging and solitude to nice one thing. A few of these stated Sumatra was one of many least expensive locations to remain. 10 years in the past, you used to get 60 day visas into Indonesia. Now you will get solely a 30 day visa on arrival

Though Sumatra is a wonderful place for some low cost backpacking journey, tourism has picked up and a few good high quality lodges have opened within the bigger cities and cities. Now you’ll be able to journey by means of Sumatra with a little bit of luxurious too!

How lengthy are you able to keep in Sumatra?

You will get a 30 day visa on arrival as you enter any of the ocean or airports in Sumatra Indonesia.

10 years in the past, you used to get 60 day visas into Indonesia. Now you will get solely a 30 day visa on arrival however it’s straightforward sufficient to journey again to Singapore or Malaysia to do a fast visa run.

Touring from Sumatra to Singapore direct, after an extended keep in Sumatra, could be a large tradition shock. There’s the good cease over level of Bintan Island, which is off the coast of Sumatra, however a lot nearer to Singapore. You possibly can catch a ferry from Medan to Bintan, or there are low cost as flights. Then from Bintan Island to Singapore is a 45 minute ferry experience.


Have you ever been to Sumatra? Do you have got any ideas for backpackers? Low cost locations to remain or vacationer points of interest that aren’t listed right here? Publish a remark under so different vacationers can learn the vacationer recommendation for Sumatra.

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