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
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
- 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.
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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