How to get to Bukit Lawang
Bukit Lawang is located 120 km north-west of Medan, northern Sumatra Indonesia. The closest airport is Kuala Namu International Airport (KNO) near Medan. From the airport or Medan City to Bukit Lawang there are different options for transportation.
Public bus and private pick up
Travelers on a smaller budget are welcome to make their way to Bukit Lawang by public transportation. This can be a bit of an adventure, it’s cheaper, but it takes longer
From Kuala Namu International Airport Medan You can take the local bus (ALS), which leaves every 15 minutes directly from Kuala Namu airport to Binjai city (40,000 RP). On arrival at Binjai station, take a tuk-tuk (10,000 RP) to Tanah Lapang Binjai. From there, take the L300 or PS bus (25,000 RP) directly to Bukit Lawang.
If you already in Medan City you can take a taxi or local bus to Pinang Baris. Ask your driver to drop you at ‘Mawar’ bakery (1km from the bus terminal) where you can catch the public bus directly to Bukit Lawang (30,000 RP with luggage). The bus takes 4-5 hours and stops frequently along the way, including a longer stop at Binjai city for refueling. The bus leaves after 30 minutes waiting at Binjai City till the last bus station at the bus terminal in Gotong Royong, a village just 5 minutes from Bukit Lawang. From here, take a becak (tuk-tuk) for 10,000 RP to Bukit Lawang where your guesthouse is only a short walk away.
Please make sure not to arrive later than 3:30pm at bus the station in Medan or in Binjai because the last public bus from Medan or Binjai leaves to bukit lawang at 4:00pm! If you contact our office at least 1 hour before your arrival by phone (+62 82360199772) we will send somebody to pick you up at the taxi stop or bus stop in Bukit Lawang central and drop you to your guesthouse.
Sometimes other guides in the bus are seeking to sell jungle trekkings to you. Just let them know that you will be picked up by us.
Airport or Medan city private pick up
We also offer private transportation. Depending on with how many people you are, it could be more cheaper and would be more comfortable to book a pick up with us. This includes a private car with AC with an English speaking driver. See ‘Transportation’ for more information and prices.
Facts about Sumatra
- Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia. It is the largest island in entire Indonesia and the sixth largest island in the world.
- North Sumatra is a province on the Sumatra island. Its capital is Medan. The province stretches across the island of Sumatra between the Indian Ocean and the Strait Malacca. It borders Aceh province on the northwest and Riau and West Sumatra provinces in the southeast.
- The island includes more than 10 National Parks, including 3 which are listed as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra World Heritage Site—Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.
- The island is home to 201 mammal species and 580 bird species.
- Sumatra has a huge range of plant and animal species but has lost almost 50% of its tropical rainforest in the last 35 years and many species are Critically Endangered such as Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhino and Sumatran Orangutan.
- The people represent many different ethnic groups, speaking 52 different languages. Most of these groups, however, share many similar traditions and the different tongues are closely related.
In Sumatra there are only two seasons, a dry and rainy season. The rainy season lasts from November up to February and the dry season from March to October, with the transition periods characterized by capricious weather occurring in the months of March and October. Even in the middle of the wet season temperature could range from 25 degrees to 36 degrees Celsius, except at higher altitudes, which can be much cooler. The heaviest rainfall is usually recorded in December and January each year. But usually it is hot and humid around Bukit Lawang. It tends to rain every few days, but normally not for a very long time also in the rainy season.
- Indonesia has several traditions and customs and it is best if you know them beforehand. Some of them are:
- Even though hand shaking is deemed appropriate between men and women, bear in mind that a number of Muslim women prefer to introduce themselves to men by nodding their head, smiling, and clasping their hands without any physical contact.
- Traditionally, when you greet someone, both hands are used when shaking, without grasping.
- Shoes must be taken off before entering a house or place of worship like mosques.
- Usually drinks are offered to guests. It is polite to accept.
- When eating, receiving or giving something, always use your right hand. Right index finger should not be used to point a place, items or people. Use the right hand thumb and fold the remaining fingers to be more polite.
- Most Indonesian Muslims do not consume alcoholic drinks and pork. Hence, the tradition of proposing a toast to honor someone is not generally known.
- Indonesian people are very welcoming and friendly and tend to be very smiley. You will attend to be asked “where do you come from” and call you with “mister” even though you are woman
- Women should wear clothes that cover them reasonably (shoulders and knees covered), especially in the Aceh province. It is advised to wear t-shirt / shorts when swimming instead of bikinis.
Tourists can get a 30-day “Visa on arrival” at Medan airport and at any other Indonesian international airports. From July 2015 “Visa on arrival” is officially available for free at Kuala Namu Airport in Medan for tourists from more than 169 countries. Nevertheless, immigration authorities often find reasons to charge a fee of 35 US dollars from travelers. Therefore we recommend our guests to always carry the exact sum of 35 US dollars with them while proceeding through immigration. Other airports, like Banda Aceh, still charge for issuing visas. If you want to stay longer you can get a 60-day tourist visa at the Indonesian Embassy. The exact process and documents required will vary depending on your nationality, the country you apply in and the kind of your stay in Indonesia. The validity of your passport should be 6 months from the date of arrival in Indonesia.
Make sure in advance to arrive with enough cash in the area of Gunung Leuser National Park! In Bukit Lawang there are no ATM machines if required. There are also plenty of cash points in Medan and Binjai where you can get money with credit cards or exchange foreign currencies into Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Note: The maximum amount you get from ATM machines is 2,000,000 IDR, so you will have to make several transactions to get a higher amount! Due to frequent problems with ATM machines we recommend to take 2 -3 different ATM/credit cards with you! In Gunung Leuser area around Bukit Lawang and Tangkahan you can pay with cash money only.
- You should take out comprehensive insurance with good medical cover in advance. Please note that travel insurance is within the personal responsibility of each traveler and should cover accidents, injury or loss of personal property!
- Please consult your doctor in advance and discuss your individual medication (Tetanus and Hepatitis vaccination, anti-rabies inoculation…) and get his advice on malaria prophylaxis. Basically you should use an insect repellent all day whilst in the jungle (Deet > 40%) and wear long sleeves/trousers during sunset when the mosquitoes are at their most active. There are mosquitoes around Bukit Lawang but we have had no reports on malaria infection in recent years – but there is always a risk since mosquitoes can be dangerous all over Southeast Asia!
- You need to be fit enough for strong exercise if you plan to do treks over a few days. A general health check with your doctor is an absolute necessity before travelling to the Sumatran jungle and lies within the responsibility of each guest.
- Please note that in and around Gunung Leuser National Park you will mostly be out in the wild and that the tours arranged by us Bukit Lawang Adventure include: traveling in mountain terrain, trekking in dense rainforest and crossing rivers; unpredictable behavior of wildlife; accidents caused by the forces of nature; accidents or illness in remote regions with little or no medical facilities and without any means of rapid or free evacuation; accidents caused by Indonesian traffic.
- You should inform us about your personal health conditions like high blood pressure, allergies, operations, pregnancy and fear of special insects, heights or darkness in advance!
- In order to keep you as safe as possible you have to abide by the rules and instructions given to you by us and our guides at all times. Please note that the tour operator is not liable for any damages or injuries suffered in consequence of anything, however caused, in connection with services carried out by third parties and for death or personal injury.