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Travel Guide Asia Indonesia Sumatra Aceh

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Introduction

Aceh is the northernmost province on the island Sumatra in Indonesia. It has the status of a ‘special region’ implying it enjoys more autonomy than other provinces. The Acehnese are a fiercely independent people. They have fought the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Japanese and the Indonesians who sought to impose their rule on them. They revolted twice against the Jakarta government. The first time this led to the Soekarno government allowing them a large measure of self-rule. When the military regime under Soeharto reneged on that agreement, the Acehnese revolted again. This time it ended with the Memory of Understanding brokered by Finland, after the Indonesian army had been discredited by their response to the 2004 tsunami. Aceh remains a province within the Indonesian state, but with far-reaching autonomy. Unlike elsewhere in Indonesia with its 90% Muslim population, syaria is the law for Muslims in the province which is now officially named Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. And 70% of Aceh’s oil and gas revenues can now be spent by the provincial government. Indeed it was the oil which incited the Dutch to wage a bloody war against the Aceh sultanate in the East India archipelago late in the 19th century, and which led the military regime to ignore the special status Aceh had obtained in 1959. Although sharia law now is imposed on Muslims and Muslim women wear a head-scarf, Aceh is nothing like the middle east. The people are very friendly and tolerant, as long as one respects their religious sensitivities. Typical is how they acknowledge their own diverse background, by interpreting the name ACEH as an acronym, which stands for: Arabia, China, Europe and Hindia.

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Cities

  • Banda Aceh - the capital.
  • Lhokseumawe - Industrial city.
  • Kutacane - Southernmost city, a place where roads meet.
  • Takengon - mountainous city by Laut Tawar Lake, famous for its fish.

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Sights and Activities

Aceh is rich in events, attractions and unique cultures that will fascinate anyone. Aceh is also rich in natural beauty, waves and sea gardens which are suitable for diving. However, some of the most beautiful Aceh tourism and historical sites and beaches were damaged by the massive earthquake and the tsunami in 2004.

Highlights: The Baiturrahman Great Mosque, Aceh State Museum, The Graves of Sultan Iskandar Muda and of Teungku Syiah Kuala, Salahuddin Graveyard in Bitay (Turkey village), Ujong Batee and Lampuuk Beaches, Tjut Nyak Dien Museum, Rubiah Sea Garden, Simpang Balik Hot Water Pool, Linge Isaq Hunting Area, Leuser National Park, Cakra Donya Bell, remains of the Samudra Pasai Kingdom and Teungku Chik Di Tiro Heros Cemetery.

Nature and outdoor lovers who arrive in Medan can travel from Medan to the jungle resort of Bukit Lawang and from there, go to the more remote Tangkahan. From Tangkahan, you can travel to the mysterious Danau Laut Tawar near Takengon were you can hike and climb some spectacular volcanoes. From Takengon you can travel to Banda Aceh. There you can visit some great beaches and go mountain biking and hiking. Banda Aceh is also the place to get a ferry to Sabang or Pulau Weh where you can dive and snorkel.

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Getting There

By Plane

Sultan Iskandarmuda Airport (BTJ) near the capital Banda Aceh offers flights to/from Jakarta, Penang, Medan, Kuala Lumpur, Blang Pidie, Meulaboh, Simelue, Takengon and Tapaktuan.

By Bus

The road from Medan to Banda Aceh are now reasonable. Especially the express night buses from Medan 10 hours,200 000 IDR are a good deal. Non express day and night buses are cheaper (150 000 IDR) and take longer 12-14 hours.

By Boat

The ferry from Penang has stopped running. Instead, take the ferry to Medan and continue from there.

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Getting Around

There is no need for travel permits anymore in Aceh. Taxis, rental cars and motor taxis are available in Banda Aceh.

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Eat

Arab, Persian, and Indian traders influenced food in Aceh although flavours have changed to a point where they are no longer similar to their original form. Amongst these are curry dishes known as kare or gulai, which are rich, coconut-based dishes traditionally made with beef, goat, fish or poultry, but are now also made with tofu, vegetables, and jackfruit. Popular Acehnese food includes roti cane and mie Aceh.

New restaurants and seafood stalls are popping up all the time in the local Lhoknga and lampuuk seaside areas of Banda Aceh as the local economy develops.

2 or 3 days before fasting month to 2 or 3 days after fasting months you will still find difficulty in getting food in day time, and visit in this time is discouraged.

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Sleep

There are many hotels and also other types of accommodation available in Banda Aceh and the surrounding area. There are many cheap guest houses in the popular local beachside areas of Lhoknga and Lampuuk, there are a range of very affordable guest houses which cater mostly to international tourists, particularly surfers and adventurers.

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This is version 10. Last edited at 9:47 on Dec 27, 17 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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