Travel Guide to Sumatra

Indian Embassy in Sumatra

Indian Embassy in Sumatra

Consulate General of India

JL.Uskup Agung A. Sugiopranoto 19, Jati, Medan Kota, 20152 Medan , Sumatera Utara,

Madras Hulu, Medan Polonia, Medan City, North Sumatra 20152, Indonesia

Contact Number: (+62) 61-453 1308, (+62) 61-455 6452

Visa Process for Indian Visitors to Sumatra

  • Original Valid passport for 06 months from the date of travel + Old passport
  • Visa Application forms
  • 2 photographs: 35X45mm, white background matt finish, 80% face size
  • Hotel Vouchers and Return Tickets
  • Day to Day Itinerary

About Sumatra

Sumatra is the biggest island in the Sunda archipelago of Indonesia. This elongated island is the sixth biggest island in the world. The area of the island sprawls over 473,481 square kilometres and is shared by Indonesia and few other countries. This island is bordered by the Indian Ocean in the west, northwest and southwest coasts. The remaining northeastern part of the island falls in the Strait of Malacca. This strait separates the island from the Peninsula of Malay. The southeastern part of Sumatra Island is separated from Java by Sunda Strait.

The island is the perfect amalgamation of broad coastal regions and volcanic mountains. The Bukit Barisan mountain ranges contain a few active volcanoes. These mountains form the backbone of the island. Majority of the northeastern part of the islands contains stretched plains, swamps, and lowlands. The climatic condition is tropical, as the Equator passes through the place. Due to the tropical climate, lush rainforests and mangrove forests are found in abundance. Sumatra also has a complex river network. The island is full of diverse flora and fauna. Although the population has consumed nearly 50% of its resources, the tourists still find exotic plants and animals in the famous places in Sumatra.

Places to visit in Sumatra

Here is the list of famous places to visit in Sumatra that you should include in your itinerary.

  • Medan: It is the capital and the third largest city in North Sumatra. It is also considered as the culinary capital of Sumatra, where you get to enjoy native delights such as Nasi Padang and Soto Medan. Visit Istana Maimun to learn about the royal culture and heritage.
  • Lake Toba: This attraction site is the perfect combination of hills and a serene lake formed on the crater of an extinct volcano. You can enjoy boating and swimming. Hot springs and unspoiled villages with traditional handicrafts will mesmerise you to the core.
  • Bukit Lawang: The protected stretches of rainforest that homes a diverse flora and fauna act as the centre of attraction for tourists from across the globe. You will find orangutans living in peace with humans. It is also a favourite site for trekkers and hikers.
  • Gunung Sibayak: This dormant volcano is easy to climb and hence a preferred destination for hikers and trekkers. The eruption of smoke and hot springs enthral visitors in large numbers.

How to reach Sumatra from India?

If you are planning to visit Sumatra from India, you can board flights connected from New Delhi to Medan or any other metro city from India. One-way tickets are available at a price as low as INR 15,000, and for the two-way journey, you can buy tickets at an average cost for INR 30,000 from any of the online travel booking destinations like Expedia, MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip, etc. The availability and cost of the tickets depend upon the time you choose to travel. Usually, tickets booked 1-2 months prior would have lesser cost than those booked in nearer dates. You could also book flights to Medan, Padang, and Palembang from other Indian cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, and so on.

Travelling in Sumatra

To cover tourist places in Sumatra, you can consider these mediums of local transport.

  • Local transport: Small minibuses called ‘angkot’ or ‘bemo’ are available here with ease. You will also get motorcycle rickshaws or ‘becak’ and horse carts or ‘bendi’ to travel from one local spot to the other.
  • Minibus: When the journeys are short or mid-ranged, the travellers often use shared cars or a minibus. These buses are not comfortable but provide a convenient medium to get around.
  • Bus: To travel between cities, you can avail bus transport. The traffic on the road is a mess. No matter what kind of bus you avail, it takes a lot of time to reach another city. Perhaps, boarding on the train or through the plane is a better option, subject to availability and your budget constraints.
  • Train: Three train services are preferred by the tourists that run from:
  • Central Medan to the city’s new airport
  • From Palembang to Bandarlampung
  • Lahat in Pasemah Highlands
  • Air: The best way to travel between cities is via air. Other mediums take more than 6 hours whereas, the airliners will take an hour or less to reach.

Best time to visit in Sumatra

The best time to visit points of interest in Sumatra entirely depends on the location. Expect dry weather from April to October. During April to October, you will able to enjoy the waves of Pulau Nias and Mentawais. The best time to witness wildlife and experience a jungle tour is in between May and September. The hotel prices are considerably low in between November and February, hence enabling you to make the most of Sumatra points of interests.

If you are up for the cultural events in Sumatra, then it is better to follow the list mentioned below.

  • Pesta Budaya Tabuik (January or February): This is an Islamic festival held during the time of Muharram.
  • Harvest Festival: This festival is held when the new harvest is taken home. It is organised in Sianjur Village near the foothills of Batak Mountain.
  • Danau Toba Festival: This festival is held in June where canoe races are organised with cultural performances.
  • Dragon Boat Festival: This festival is an international boat competition held in July/August. Several international teams participate in this event.

What to Pack?

When packing for Sumatra, you should keep these important things in your bag.

  • More than one pair of shoes
  • A pair of sandals or flip-flops is necessary
  • Decent clothes (prefer cotton when you are visiting during the dry season). It will be helpful if you have full sleeve shirts and long pants to cover up your arms and legs. Sumatra is a malaria-prone zone so, it is better to be cautious.
  • Travel documents and ATM cards
  • Prescription drugs and recommended medicines for tropical climate
  • Travel and health insurance
  • A rain jacket is a must
  • Hiking shoes (waterproof)
  • Prefer nylon socks if you are visiting the rainforest to keep your feet dry as much as possible
  • Insect repellant
  • A battery-operated torch

Besides, if you are interested in seeking adventures, you will require taking along few more related items and accessories. However, the trekking and hiking equipment is available locally as well.

Top Delicacies of Sumatra

  • Beef Rendang: This is a typical dry curry made with beef and spicy ingredients. The beef pieces are kept tender with aromatic gravy.
  • Soto: If you are in Sumatra, you should try the native noodle soup. It is made with coconut milk and homemade spices and is served with chicken or 'ayam'.
  • Chicken curry: This is a native delicacy prepared with coriander, lime, ginger, and chilli.
  • Fish Curry: Fish being abundant here, it is a staple food. Try the fish curry with rice made in the local cuisines.
  • Bubur Jagung: It is a dessert made of corn. It can be eaten either cold or hot.
  • Durian Sambal: Made from durian fruit and extremely spicy chillies, the dish has an unusual yet exciting flavour.
  • Nasi Goreng: It is the staple food of the natives, seasoned with dried and fried onions.
  • Ayam Bukkitinggi: This special preparation of chicken involves peanuts and tastes exquisite!
  • Gulai Daun Singkok Tumbuk: The fish is grilled after seasoning and is served with green and raw vegetables.

Top Indian Restaurants in Sumatra

Malabar Restaurant

  • Located at: Jln. Thamrin No. 1, Padang 25211, Indonesia
  • Cuisine: Indian, Asian
  • Contact No.: +62 751 33969

Restoran Cahaya Baru

  • Located at: Jln. Teuku Cik Ditiro 12/16, Medan 20152, Indonesia
  • Cuisine: Indian, Indonesian
  • Contact No.: +62 61 4530962

Berkah Esquina Cafe

  • Located at: C Jln. M. Yamin 8 | Stasiun Kereta Api, Medan 20111, Indonesia
  • Cuisine: Indian, Asian, Vegetarian Friendly
  • Contact No.: +62 61 4579298

Shopping List Essentials

Sumatra is full of diverse traditional handcrafts. Shopping and buying souvenirs are some of the important things to do in Sumatra. You will find various wood carvings, sculptures, hand-woven clothes and fabrics, colourful paintings, batik silk products, etc. in the markets here. The shopping ventures are mainly restricted to the cities and towns of Sumatra. Medan homes many art shops and crafts centres, which sell several appealing items like leather bags, Dutch ceramics, shoes, jewellery, etc.

You will also find big shopping complexes in Medan that have huge supermarkets. You can go to Medan Mall, Sun Plaza, and Fair Plaza to purchase branded items. Danau Toba is one of the most famous places in Sumatra for its vast and cheap collection of clothes, bags, wooden items, embroidery, ornamental bamboo cylinders, etc. You will find exclusive handicrafts of Gayo embroidery here.

In Takengon, you can buy exclusive Gayo tapestries and decorated pottery as souvenirs. In Bukittinggi, you will find vibrant sarongs, silky headscarves, antiques and other handicrafts from the local villages.

In South Sumatra, songket sarongs are among the favorite shopping sensations. These are made of finely interwoven silver or gold threads. These hand-woven items take a month to complete which makes it pretty hard to bargain for, with the locals. You can also find ceremonial clothes or 'kain tapis' here.

Healthcare Centers

The healthcare options in Sumatra are limited according to its population and area. Thus, it is advisable to keep the list of famous healthcare centers and be prepared for any emergency that you may encounter during the trip. As a measure, one should always invest in a travel insurance policy to keep the journey secured from all sides. You can find multispecialty hospitals in a few places that are easily accessible. Most of the speciality medical facilities are located in the cities such as Medan and Palembang. Here is the list of hospitals and medical centres you need to know before visiting Sumatra.

  • Colombia Asia Hospital: This hospital is situated in the city of Medan and has proper healthcare facilities to cater.
  • RSB YK Madira: It is situated in Palembang. It also has proper healthcare facilities to exploit in an emergency.
  • M. Djamil Hospital: Located in West Sumatra, this hospital comprises all the modern healthcare amenities.
  • Bhayangkara Hospital: This police hospital is located in Central Java.


The Indonesian currency or Indonesia Rupiah is prevalent in Sumatra. The foreign currency can be exchanged at the airports and banks. In fact, it can also be done in the SS office. If you do not have any option left, there are currency dealers to exchange your money. They will demand a certain percentage of exchange cost that varies as per the time. Exchanging money in the bank is plausible. The banks will ask for lesser rates than the local arrangements. You need to pay US$ 25 on arrival and make sure that the foreign currency with you is clean with no marks or creases to ensure a hassle-free transaction. As per current rate of exchange, 1 USD = 13509.00 Indonesian Rupiah.

Basics of Local Communication

There are certain etiquettes that you should remember before visiting Sumatra.

  • Hands on the hip while talking is rudeness
  • Do not let your foot soles face someone
  • Hand over money and things. Do not throw them
  • Always take off your shoes while entering a home
  • Wear modest clothes
  • Use right hand while eating and receiving things
  • Greet locals in villages while strolling on the roads

Like in all the other parts of Indonesia, Sumatra also has Indonesian as its official language and the primary lingua franca. In addition, the following translation of some of the most commonly spoken words or phrases would help you to diminish the communication barriers during your tour to Sumatra

  • Good morning : Selamat pagi
  • My name is … : Nama saya…
  • Where is...? : Dimana
  • Yes : Ya
  • No : Tidak
  • Please : Tolong
  • Sorry : Maaf
  • How much is this? : Berapa ini?

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What kinds of medical coverage’s are provided??

The following medical expenses are covered: 

  • Travel insurance includes medical expenses, repatriation, and emergency medical evacuation. Even dental care expenses such as acute anesthetic treatment of teeth are covered.

What is a deductible?

“Deductible”means a cost-sharing requirement under this policy, that provides that the insurer will not be liable for a specified rupee amount or percentage of claim amount or number of days or number of hours, as specified in the policy schedule and which will apply before any benefits are payable by the insurer. A deductible does not reduce the sum insured and is applicable per event, upto the specified limits mentioned.

What Is Not Covered Under the Travel Insurance Plan?

  • Medical Expenses (inclusive of Repatriation and Emergency Medical Evacuation), Daily Allowance in case of hospitalization, Compassionate Visit benefits, the following will not be payable for Any pre-existing condition, Routine examinations, Expenses for rest or recuperation at spa/ health resort/ sanatorium, Pregnancy (including childbirth, miscarriage, abortion or related complications ) or treatment relating to the removal of physical flaws or anomalies (cosmetic treatment or plastic surgery).
  • Cosmetic surgery, unless such cosmetic surgery is rendered medically necessary as part of treatment for accidents and burns whilst being abroad.
  • Suicide, attempted or wilfully self inflicted injury or illness, mental disorder, anxiety, stress or depression, venereal disease, alcoholism, drunkenness or the abuse of drugs, or any loss arising, directly or indirectly, from any injury, illness, death, loss, expense, or other liability attributable to HIV and/or any HIV related illness including AIDS and/or any mutant derivative or variation thereof however caused.
  • Treatment which could be reasonably delayed until the Insured’s return to India, which will be decided jointly by the treating Physician and the Emergency Assistance Service Provider and shall be in accordance with accepted standards of medical care.
  • The Insured taking part in naval, military or air force operations; war and nuclear perils.
  • Insured engaging in air travel unless he or she flies as a Fare Paying passenger in an aircraft licensed to carry passengers.
  • Participation of the Insured in winter sports, mountaineering and such other professional sports or any other hazardous or potentially dangerous sport for which the Insured members are adequately trained, physically fit and using proper equipment. and that too only if specifically agreed and mentioned in the policy schedule.
  • Hazardous occupation, or if engaged in any criminal or illegal act.
  • Medical Expenses in respect of Experimental, investigational or unproven treatments or treatments which are not consistent with or incidental to the diagnosis and treatment of the positive existence or presence of any Illness for which confinement is required at a Hospital. Any Illness or treatment which is a result or a consequence of undergoing such experimental or unproven treatment.
  • Naturopathy treatment.
  • Non Allopathic treatment e.g. - Ayurvedic, Yogic, Homeopathic, Unani treatment(s).
  • Under no circumstances shall this insurance contract be deemed to provide cover and no liability be incurred to pay any claim or provide any benefit hereunder to the extent that the provision of such cover, payment of such claim or provision of such benefit would expose us to any sanction, prohibition, or restriction under United Nations resolutions or the trade or economic sanctions, laws or regulations of the European Union, United Kingdom, United States of America & India

You can avail the Travel Insurance online and enjoy the benefits offered by ICICI Lombard General Insurance (Bharti AXA General Insurance*)

What Is Covered Under Travel Insurance?

Loss of passport and documents:

Reimbursement of actual expenses incurred in connection with obtaining a duplicate or fresh passport or reasonable cost of replacing/obtaining the stolen documents/ tickets if the passport belonging to the Insured / Insured Person be lost

Home Fire Insurance Contents & Home Burglary Insurance (contents):

Cover against any loss or damage of the Contents at Home of the Insured in India caused by Fire and Allied perils or through burglary and/or housebreaking while the Insured is on a trip abroad.

Hijack Distress Allowance

Payment of distress allowance in case of hijack of a common carrier for more than certain number of hours whilst on the trip. You can easily avail the allowance by filing a claim online through Travel Insurance cover online process.

Medical Expensesinclusive of Repartration  and Emergency Medical Evacuation

If you are sick or injured during the journey, your medical expenses can prove to be costly. In such cases,  Travel Insurance cover greatly helps. The insurance company also offers a cashless settlement with the network hospitals or you can also opt for the reimbursement process within 30 days of hospitalization.

Legal Expenses

Payment of legal costs and expenses incurred by the Insured towards claims from third Parties for compensation in respect of death or disablement arising due to an injury whilst on a trip abroad.

Personal Accident

Payment of compensation if the Insured sustains accidental bodily injury during a trip resulting in death or Permanent Total Disablement or Permanent Partial Disablement within 12 months of occurrence of such injury.

Trip Cancellation/Or Interruption

Payment towards the non-refundable prepaid payments incurred on the trip being cancelled and additional cost of transportation in case of Interruption: due to medical problems, personal employment problems or natural disasters or other listed reason in policy wordings.

Trip Delay

 Reimbursement of additional expenses if trip is delayed beyond a period, due to airline problems, medical problems, personal employment problems or natural disasters.

 Daily Allowance in case of Hospitalisation

 Payment of daily allowance for the days the Insured is hospitalised beyond a specified number of days, as mentioned in the Policy Schedule, for which a valid claim is admissible under the Policy whilst on a trip abroad.Emergency Accommodation

 Payment of compensation for the additional cost of emergency accommodation if the Insured/ Insured Person could not stay in the accommodation originally booked due to ­fire& flood, earthquake, storm, hurricane, explosion, outbreak of major infectious diseases.

Why do I need Travel insurance?

During a trip there are chances of unfortunate events such as loss of checked in baggage, medical emergency, loss of passport that can spoil your international trip, be it business or leisure. Travel insurance can protect you from such events ensuring that you are left stuck in foreign land.