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Travel Forums Asia Sumatra

1. Posted by Juju76 (Budding Member 34 posts) 9y

Juju76 has indicated that this thread is about Indonesia


I would like to go to Sumatra for 3 weeks this summer and would be interested in hearing a few stories from people who have already been to Sumatra in general and West Sumatra in particular.
Any itinerary tips? Any places that should not be missed?

Thanks in advance


2. Posted by pPamela (Full Member 158 posts) 9y

Hi J,
I spent about 3 months in Sumatra from Aug 2006-end October 2006 visiting West (my favourite) and North Sumatra- my 6th visit to Sumatra since 1997.
Here are some photos from my 2005 trip.
Haven't got around to putting up my photos up for my recent 5.5 months mid June 2006 through to Dec 7th 2006 travelling through Indonesia.You can check out Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum and a search for pPamela and you will find some recent posts re my aspects of my trip.
Have a look at the photos and get back to me with more specific questions and I will help in any way I can.
Anyway you can stretch that 3 weeks into 4-5 weeks- that would be an ideal time. Sumatra is big and so beautiful.


3. Posted by Juju76 (Budding Member 34 posts) 9y


Here are some photos from my 2005 trip.
Haven't got around to putting up my photos up for my recent 5.5 months mid June 2006 through to Dec 7th 2006 travelling through Indonesia.You can check out Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum and a search for pPamela and you will find some recent posts re my aspects of my trip.

Terima kasih banyak for the advice and in particular for the web links, which proved very useful. I actually had two possible itineraries in mind:
a. Fly to Medan then go to Padang via Bukit Lawang, Toba and Bukittinggi.
b. Fly to Padang, stay most of the time in the Minang area around Bukittinggi and maybe try crossing to Siberut

At the moment option b. is the one I prefer because I only have 3 weeks and would like to avoid spending too much time on the road. What is your opinion?
Are there places you would particularly recommand in West Sumatra appart from Bukittinggi and Danau Maninjau?
Have you been to Siberut or heard about people who have done it? How difficult is it to arrange a trip to Siberut from West Sumatra?

Once again thank you for the advice


4. Posted by pPamela (Full Member 158 posts) 9y

I do not know much about the trips to Siberut, except that there are guides in Bukittinggi who will take you on 7-10 treks. One of my friends Hendri takes people on tours there. Send me a private message if you would like to contact Hendri.
I think you can get on the local ferries yourself, but I really do not know the details- sorry.
Maybe you could post on Lonely Planet Thorn tree forum for information.

Personally I think you plan a is more than feasible and possibly more interesting- inland lake-Maninjau- very natural-Indonesian, cool mountain area- Bukittinggi, Harau Canyon, hot Padang, another inland lake-Toba- more western, hot Medan, Bukit Lawang/Tangkahan-jungle, orangutans, trekking.
If you had any time left you could maybe check out a lovely cool area Brestagi- climb a mountain.
Depends on which way you do it.
Where are you flying into Indonesia?
If you fly into Jakarta you could get a cheap flight to Padang, and one hour from Padang by bus/car visit Bukittinggi, Embun Pagi and Lake Maninjau and surrounds for about 7-10 days and then bus it to Lake Toba- with ANS. ( 17 hrs)
Stay Lake Toba for a few days then bus it to Medan. ( 4 hrs).
Once in Medan stay over night at cheap, but really friendly Spoutnik (20,000).
Then take bus from Pinang Baris to Bukit Lawang ( 3 hrs over bumpy road).
In Bukit Lawang if you would like to check out another beautiful area- Tangkahan, engage an ojek (100,000 rupiah one way) and head there- 2 hrs over bumpy road- real adventure.
Stay at Jungle Lodge in Tangakahan or have a look at the bungalows that Mena has built ( were still building when I was there in September 2006.)
Wonderful place, just like paradise. have to get boat across river to the accomodation.
Then back to Bukit Lawang and back to Medan.
Or if you take your back pack you can get the early morning bus from Tangkahan back to Medan.
Sylvia from Jungle Lodge recommends the early morning bus because she knows the driver and he is a very good careful bus driver in her opinion.
P.S. One of my favourite areas is south of Padang-2-3 hr bus ride from Lubuk Begalung in Padang, not in the guide books except Rough Guide. The village is Painan- you can see lots of photos from my 2005 trip there.

5. Posted by Juju76 (Budding Member 34 posts) 9y

Hi Pamela,

Thank you very much for your very comprehensive reply. The itinerary you suggest seems really good. I am really looking forward to the trip!

Where are you flying into Indonesia?

I am not sure yet. Probably to Medan or Padang via Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, which is shorter than flying to Jakarta when you come from Europe. As mentionned in the post you left on, Tiger Airways seems to provide flights between Singapore and Padang at a very reasonable price.



6. Posted by pPamela (Full Member 158 posts) 9y

Hi Julien,

With TigerAirways you book all your flights online with your credit card and print off your itinerary and use that as your ticket.
Tiger fly direct from Singapore to Padang.
Enjoy yourself, I wish I was heading back there soon, but do not have the funds or the time at the moment.

7. Posted by M.A. (Budding Member 27 posts) 9y

There was some major flooding Bukit Lawang a few years ago that destroyed most of the town. When I was there in Nov 04, there was only 1 hotel left and no restaurants. We had real difficulty getting out of the area as the public bus services had practically been pulled. In the end we had to hire a private car to take us, but it ended up costing a lot more than we had intended to pay. We still had an amazing time - we hung out with a lot of the locals and got to see 7 orangutans in the wild and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. Berestagi and Lake Tabo were also great.

Selemat jalan!

8. Posted by pPamela (Full Member 158 posts) 9y

Hi M.A,
The major flood in Bukit Lawang happened on November 3rd 2003 and was caused by a huge dam that built up very high in the jungle and one night about 9pm the banks burst and a huge torrent of water probably similar to a a huge tsumani descended on the village of Bukit Lawang that had been built on reclaimed river land when the river was redirected in late '60's. The whole village was destroyed , but accomodation like Bukit Lawang cottages survived on the other side of the river as well Bukit Lawang Indah, and Sibayak.
And Jungle Lodge up the river suffered damage but has been repaired.
When I visited Bukit Lawang on Jan 21st 2005 for 19 days I went by hired car as well, but not because of bus shortage because I was feeling quite sick and my horrible hotel room in Medan was not the best place to be.
Spoutnik in Medan has since reopened at 20,000/night and would have been an o.k. place to hang out whilst feeling not so good.

I stayed at Bukit Lawang Cottages for 14 days and then moved to Norah's Homestay in the village of Gotong Royong- a much nicer option really, living right in the middle of the village.

That is where I stayed this time I spent 5 weeks in Bukit Lawang.
Loads of places to stay in Bukit Lawang now-
In the village- Nora's Homestay-30,000
Down in Bukit Lawang by the river there is
Bukit Lawang Cottages- prices now 80,000,
Bukit Lawang Indah- 30,000, and Sibayak.
Up the river is Garden Inn, then Jungle Lodge, Canoopy Restaurant along the path up the river has accomodation too-Tiar and Ayi friends of mine have a couple of simple rooms for 25,000 rupiah and a balcony that faces onto the river.
Jungle has a whole range of rooms at various prices including the very special Presidential Suite at 150,000 but wel worth every rupiah.
Jungle Inn also has just the best food and is the one accomodation not far from the the feeding platform.
Rock Inn- great place for dinner and a cold beer with a great view over everything has a one room only for 50,000.
Lots of buses leave for Bukit Lawang from Pinang Baris from about 8 am- do not take any notice of the 5.30 am time on the time table- is not true.
There is also an unmarked mini bus terminal about 1.5 kms up from Pinang Baris where all the mini buses leave from.
Another way to get there if you are in a hurry is to get a local bus to Binjai and then change to one of the many mini buses that leave from Binjai to Bukit Lawang.

Check out the following website created to raise money, but now an information site
You can check out what the damage was like after the flood and then check out the forum for information relating to the current Bukit Lawang.
Pamela- lover of Bukit Lawang and my many friends I have made there after my two long visits there.

Post 9 was removed by a moderator
10. Posted by marchimi (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y

Dear Juju76
We are just coming back from 4 weeks in sumatra -snip-
We went trekking near Bukik lawang (where we saw orang outans) then in Brastagi (where there are volcanoes), in the Battak country (where we saw traditional dances, weaving typical villages and palace) then we went to lake Tobba and around Bukiktinggi we saw hotsprings, the harau valley, Minangkabau villages and traditional crafts, paddies, maninjau lake, great fun and great food.
Then we went to siberut to meet mentawaian people with Guru, a guide recommended by Iwan, Guru is a very literate and cultivated man who can speak the mentawaian language and thanks to whom we had the perfect conditions to meet the mentawaian.
Finally Iwan recommended Pagang Island where we were alone with our young cook and where there were beautiful white sandy beaches, coconut trees, blue lagoon, fish and turtles. It was a wonderful journey.

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please ]