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WHAT ELSE TO EXPLORE IN NORTH SUMATRA ?
Sumatra is the biggest island of Indonesia! Far from mass tourism, Sumatra is a real hidden gem which is worthing to explore if you are looking for authenticity, culture, stunning different landscapes and an amazing fauna and flora! North Sumatra is easily reachable with good air connections to/from Medan and Banda Aceh but also good transportation means. North Sumatra offers various activities and stunning spots from jungle trekking to spot Orangutans, climbing volcanoes in Berastagi, admiring the incredible landscapes of Lake Toba, skim the waves off the Banyaks and Nias, snorkel and dive in Pulau Weh... North Sumatra is the perfect area to start exploring the undiscovered island of Sumatra.
Berastagi is a lovely hill town in the Karo highlands, about 120 km from Bukit Lawang. Located around 1300 meter above sea levels, this area offer amazing panoramic view on all North Sumatra and a refreshing and cooler climate. It is particularly popular spot as a starting base for climbing the Gunung Sibayak. You can hike it with or without a guide, but for sunrise we recommend to opt for a local guide. You can also take a walk to Gundaling Hill and enjoy the panoramic views over the town and the 2 volcanoes. Besides hiking you can explore the green surroundings, fruits plantations and stop at the amazing fruits market in the village! Don't miss the impressive Sipiso Piso waterfall between Berastagi and Lake Toba. Check out our tour to Berastagi!
Danau Toba is one of North Sumatra's most incredible sights, located around 110km from Berastagi. It is the largest lake in Indonesia but also the largest volcanic lake in the world! The lake is surrounded by the most inspiring landscapes made from mountains, hills and ricefields. On the center of this stunning lake stands Pulau Samosir, home the Batak culture. We recommend to stay at Pulau Samosir to enjoy all the wonders of Lake Toba. Explore the island by scooter, discover the amazing green surroundings and learn more about the Batak culture (King Siallagan’s Tomb & Batak Museum in Siminando). Chill at the lake side, enjoy a refreshing swim in the lake and try the water activities if you are looking for some fun! Hike the mountains to explore the hidden spots of Samosir (small lake, amazing waterfalls, hot springs, white beach and many others).
Pulau Banyak means “Many Islands” in Indonesian. The archipelago is located 29 km off the West Sumatra Coast, in North Sumatra. Some islands are really tiny and mostly are uninhabited. It is really heaven on earth and perfect if you are looking for chillling beach vibes and down time without internet connection. All the islands offer white sand beaches with coconut trees perfect to relax and a crystal blue water to swim. Accommodation on the habited islands are basic bungalows on the paradisiac beaches where you can lay down and relax. You can take a kayak or a boat to do island hoping, swim in the crystal clear water and enjoy the colorful sunsets and sunrises! Pulau Banyak has some of the most beautiful snorkeling spots in Indonesia that can be reached just by swimming from the beach but also amazing diving spots!
Pulau Weh also known as “Weh Island” or Sabang, is a hilly volcanic island located at the top of northern Sumatra and mostly covered by tropical jungle. The island is about 156 km2 and offer many amazing spots and different activities. You can hike a small volcano, enjoy hot springs and an amazing waterfall in the middle of the tropical jungle, explore the island by scooter, enjoy the viewpoints, do an early morning cruise to see dolphins, go to Kilometer 0...! Among all the activities the most unforgettable one is the discovery of the amazing underwater life by snorkeling or diving. The islands also offers stunning sunrise and sunset points! We recommend to spend some days in Iboih and then on the white sand beach with coconut trees in Padang.
EXTEND YOUR ADVENTURE IN WEST SUMATRA
Unspoilt islands, amazing waves, indigenous culture, volcanic lakes, green valleys, climbable volcanoes — you will find all the ingredients for a memorable adventure in West Sumatra.
Even if some areas are still really preserved from tourism, intrepid adventurers often wander south after a trip in North Sumatra to discover the hidden beauty of the rest of Sumatra.
Padang is a lovely city if you're interested in the history of Indonesia and if you are a food lover! Originally it was a port for traders of gold, spices and timber with a lot of trade from/to China. Thus many Chinese immigrated to Padang that's the reason why Padang has an amazing China Town with many restaurants and spice shops. Padang Old Town, is the old part of Padang where you can see many colonial Dutch buildings that are still intact along Batang Arau River. Padang is famous for its tasty food, you can go everywhere in the street and taste the delicious Sumatran cuisine! The most famous dish is Beef Rendang (Sapi Rendang).
If you are looking for nice beaches where to chill and swim, head to Bungus Bay, located 25kms south of Padang and can be reached by mini bus in 45 minutes. Bungus Beach is on a beautiful calm bay with white sandy beaches. From Bungus Beach you can take a boat to the nearby islands and do some island hopping. If you are looking for stunning brown-white sand beaches, visit Air Manis Beach and Sweet Water Beach located 10kms south of Padang. Padang is a good starting point for surfinf tours organized by different tour agencies.
There are about 70 Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra which are home to the Mentawai people, an indigenous tribe of hunter-gatherers also called "Flower People". The Mentawai culture is fascinating : customs include traditional tattooing and sharpening of the teeth and many traditional activities such as dancing, fishing, hunting... But the Mentawai islands are also a famous spot for experienced surfers! The unforgettable, world-class waves break over reef and rock. Adventurous travelers are going there for trekking, diving/snorkeling, to learn about indigenous culture, to get traditional tattoos and of course to surf the amazing waves.
Easily reachable from Padang, a nice journey across hills and valleys, through plantations and small villages will lead you to Bukittinggi, the cultural centre of Minangkabau culture. The town is surrounded by volcanoes, lakes, canyons and traditional villages and is located on the Agam plateau above a deep river valley. You can walk into town discover the market and most of all the Minangkabau culture in which the women play the dominant role. Their wealth is expressed in beautifully woven traditional dress and the adat houses with their distinctive roofs.
If you feel like an adventurer, you can explore the amazing surroundings of Bukittinggi which is full of wonderful unspoilt places : Ngarai Sianok Canyon, cliffs covered in tropical vines, ricefields and volcanic lakes. Lake Maninjau is a big crater lake 22 miles west of Bukittinggi perfect to chill, swim and spend lazy days of reading, fishing and maybe even watching a seasonal pacu jawi (cow race) event in West Sumatra. You can rent a bike, explore the area by foot or rent a canoe.
The verdant Harau Valley is around two hours north of Bukittinggi by motorbike but is also reachable by local bus. The Harau Valley is sometimes known as the Yosemite of Indonesia as it offers an amazing scenery between the enormous brown striped cliffs which rise up from the village. It is located in the Lima Puluh Kota district which has been designated as a nature conservation area, covering some 669 acres and hosting gibbons, macaques and a variety of wildlife. Its beautiful landscape, its peaceful serenity make the Harau Valley the perfect spot to relax after an intense road trip through Sumatra. The Harau Valley is famous for its steep rock walls which attract rock climbers and photographers. Do a trek up to the cliffs to enjoy the amazing panoramic view and take a plunge into the refreshing water of hidden waterfalls! Besides the 300 climbing spots, you can take time for a short walk around the village and watch the local everyday life or rent a (motor)bike to go through the rice paddies. Some women work in the rice fields while men plough the fields behind water buffalos, providing an interesting cultural trip.
The Kerinci region is a remote highland valley, located mountains and volcanoes and famous for its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and a unique traditional culture. The Kerinci Seblat National Park, with almost 14,000 km2, is the largest National Park of Sumatra. In fact, it’s one of the largest protected areas in all of Asia as it hosts the highest population of tigers of any protected area in all of Southeast Asia! The Kerinci Valley hosts the highest volcano and one of the highest volcanic lakes in Southeast Asia. Just behind the Mount Kerinci, you can observe the beautiful scenery of the The Kayu Aro Tea Plantation, with an area of more than 30 km2, it's the largest tea plantation in the world! This area offers great opportunities for trekking/hiking during several days into the cloud forests, at the top of mountains and volcanoes with Indonesia’s best chances to see Sumatran tigers in the wild. You can also opt for day trips to hot springs, waterfalls and unique lakes where you will be able to swim, chill and relax!
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO TRAVEL SUMATRA
VISIT THE TRAVEL BLOG OF CARLY & AGUNG : WE ARE SUMATRA
Carly and Agung are a couple living in Sumatra, they adore it and want to share their love of Sumatra with people! There is still little information about travelling here so their mission is to bring Sumatra into the limelight and to help adventurous travellers who want to explore this stunning part of the world.
If you plan to visit Sumatra, don't hesitate to go through their blog and to contact them!
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