Planning a trip to Sumatra? Good Choice! This beautiful and diverse island is located just below Malaysia and is part of Indonesia. Don’t let the word “island” fool you. At 470,000 km2, Sumatra is the fifth largest island in the world. When visiting, make sure you know which sights you want to see, what kind of trip you want to take, and what is important to you. We’ve compiled a list of North Sumatra highlights to help you make your choice!
1) Gunung Leuser National Park
The island of Sumatra is known for its beautiful orangutans. For many, these animals are the reason to visit Sumatra. Sumatra is one of the few places where you can see these exceptional animals in their natural habitat. The best place to see orangutans in Sumatra is Gunung Leuser National Park in North Sumatra, a 3-4 hour drive from the capital Medan.
2) Lake Toba
About a 4-hour drive from Medan is the beautiful crater lake of Toba. What is unique about this crater lake? In the middle of the lake, a landslide created an island! This island is named “Samosir”. It is fun to explore the island by scooter. Cross beautiful mountains and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake. There are plenty of terraces to eat delicious kopi and nasi goreng. Ready for some action? You can have a blast on jet skis at Lake Toba.
3) Bukit Lawang
The most popular base for jungle trekking in Gunung Luther National Park is the cozy village of Bukit Lawang. The village is in the jungle on the banks of the flowing Boholok River. You might even see orangutans from your room! Bukit Lawang is a great place to relax after a long trip, besides the fact that you can walk directly into the jungle from the village. The atmosphere is relaxed, there are hammocks everywhere, the river is perfect for swimming, and Saturday nights are filled with live music, bintang, and fun. Before you know it, you’ll be here for days.
4) Banda Aceh
Unfortunately, the profoundly religious Banda Aceh is world famous for the 2004 tsunami tragedy. The tsunami destroyed the city and claimed many lives. Today, the city has been completely rebuilt and is a special anchorage on the fertility island of Weh.
5) Pulau Weh
Thought Sumatra was all about nature and culture? Then you are wrong! Take a 50-minute ferry ride from Banda Aceh to the island of Weh. Located at the northernmost tip of Sumatra, it is a paradise on earth. It is the best place in Sumatra for diving and snorkeling. The underwater world is terrific and super accessible. Colorful corals and thousands of beautiful fish and starfish cannot be appreciated from the beach. One of the most popular facilities on Koh Wae is Freddie’s Beach Resort, which has a beautiful ocean view. If you don’t stay here, definitely go eat there. Freddy’s is known not only for its views, but also for its delicious Western cuisine. Noodles, rice, banana fritters, followed by pizza and delicious burgers…
6) Pulau Banyak
Located on the west coast of North Sumatra, the Banyak Islands are a bit removed from other tourist destinations. This group of islands is a paradise for those who love peace, nature, and the sun. To get to this island, one must first go to the town of Singkil and then take a ferry or speedboat to Balai Island. Tourism is still not significantly developed on Banyak Island, so sometimes you feel like you are on a deserted island. That said, the facilities are very basic. Think basic accommodations, electricity not always coming, poor internet, absence of ATMs, etc. Keep this in mind. If you really want to get off the beaten path, don’t miss Banyak Island.
Have you ever been to any of these places? Share your experience with us in the comments below!