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How to get to Bukit Lawang

Travelling around Sumatra is sometimes difficult. The island is huge, the roads are bad and busy with lorries and motorbikes. Public transport is limited and an adventure in itself. Get prepared for endless hours in packed busses with drivers driving like crazy.

Flying is the most convenient way to get around Sumatra. All the major cities on Sumatra have international airports. Medan is the main hub for flights onto the island.

Local mini busses are the cheapest way to get around, but this is everyhing but a comfortable journey. The minibusses have no air condition and can get very cramped. You will be sitting very close to others. There is no real legroom. Many people don’t speak English, but are always friendly and maybe want to take a photo with you. The road is bumpy and the bus stops frequently to collect and drop off passengers along the way. The driver will mostly put your luggage on the roof, but if there is space you can also keep it with you.

The current Governor of North Sumatra comes from Bukit Lawang. One of his promises was to improve the road from Medan so it will be more enjoyable to get to Bukit Lawang. Work has already started and the road has improved a lot compared to previous years . However work is still in process. There are some remaining bumpy parts, but in general the road gets better.

Read here our lists on how to get to Bukit Lawang from various directions:

Local Bus

If you are on Pulau Weh take the ferry to Banda Aceh city.

From Banda Aceh you can take a night bus (around eight hours) to Medan. You can book this on site or online at redbus.co.id.

From here take a becak (tuktuk) to Tanah Lapang, which is a junction 2km away, where buses to Bukit Lawang stop to pickup passengers. The becak costs around 10,000-15,000/person depending on your negotiating skills.

From Tanah Lapang you wait for a minibus to Bukit Lawang. Note: The last bus leaves around 5pm. There are usually men hanging around waiting for tourists going to Bukit Lawang. They tend to demand high fares up to 100,000 IDR to Bukit Lawang, where it is actually something between 15,000 – 30,000IDR payable on arrival.

By air

From Banda Aceh you can fly to Medan Kuala Namu airport. There are several flights daily. From the airport see the section above on how to get to Bukit Lawang from there.

Tourist bus/shared taxi

There are daily schedules for the shared taxis.  The price is 170,000 IDR/person. Duration ca. 5 hours.

Private car

We are happy to arrange a hazzle free private car waiting from your accommodation in Berastagi to Bukit Lawang. Just contact us.

Local Bus

Here you have to change three times.

  1. From Ketambe first take the local bus to Kutacane.
  2. From here several buses leaving to Padang Bulan in Medan daily. The ride takes about 6-9 hours.
  3. Take a becak to Pinag Baris bus station.
  4. From here take one of the local orange mini busses to Bukit Lawang.

Note: The last bus leaves around 5pm. The fare is something between 15,000IDR – 30,000IDR payable on arrival in Bukit Lawang, not before! There are usually men hanging around at Medan bus station waiting for tourists going to Bukit Lawang. They tend to demand high fares up to 100,000 IDR to Bukit Lawang, where it is actually something between 15,000 – 30,000IDR payable on arrival. It depends on your negotiation skills, but sometimes tourists also get kicked out of the busses if they refuse to pay the high price. It can help if you pretend that you have already been to Bukit Lawang and know the prices.

Tourist bus/shared taxi

There are daily schedules for the shared taxis from Ketambe to Bukit Lawang. The price is 450,000 IDR/person. Duration ca. 10 hours.

Private car

We are happy to arrange a hazzle free private car from Ketambe to Bukit Lawang. Just contact us.

Local Bus

This can be a long ride, because you have to go via Medan.

  1. Take the ferry to Parapat.
  2. From the ferry catch a local bus to Pematang Siantar (ca. 20,000 IDR, 1 hour).
  3. From there take an air-conditioned bus named “Intra” to Amplas Bus Station in Medan (ca. 25,000 IDR, 3,5 hours)
  4. Here you need to change the bus stations. Take a becak to go to Pinang Baris Bus Station.
  5. From here you can catch one of the orange local busses to Bukit Lawang (ca. 30,000 IDR, 3,5 hours). Note: The last bus leaves around 5pm.

Tourist Bus

A more convenient way is taking the tourist bus from Bukit Lawang. Thisshared car leaves daily from Lake Toba to Bukit Lawang. The price is 270,000/person including the cost of the ferry. Duration: Approx. 8 hours. We are happy to arrange this for you. Just contact us.

Private car

We are happy to arrange a hazzle free private car for your transport from Lake Toba to Bukit Lawang. Just contact us.

Medan Kuala Namu airport is located around 30km outside Medan. The drive to Bukit Lawang takes about 4 hours.

Local Bus

From the airport, take the ALS bus to the town of Binjai, just past Medan on the road to Bukit Lawang, leaving the airport building and going straight into the railway station building. Exit the building on the right before the Indomaret. All buses leave from there. Large signs indicate the direction of travel.

The cost from the airport is fixed 40,000 IDR. This bus takes ca. 2 hours depending on traffic and runs roughly every 45 minutes between around 3am and 10pm.

It’s best to try to get off the bus at Medan Supermall. Here you should catch one of the orange minibusses. They’re marked with Bukit Lawang on the front window. Just hail at them as they pass by. The fare is something between 15,000IDR – 30,000IDR payable on arrival in Bukit Lawang, not before!

Sometimes the ALS busses also drop passengers at Binjai’s main bus station. From here you need to take a becak (tuktuk) to Tanah Lapang, which is a junction 2km away, where buses to Bukit Lawang stop to pickup passengers. The becak costs around 10,000-15,000/person depending on your negotiating skills.

From Tanah Lapang you wait for a minibus to Bukit Lawang. There are usually men hanging around waiting for tourists going to Bukit Lawang. They tend to demand high fares up to 100,000 IDR to Bukit Lawang, where it is actually something between 15,000 – 30,000IDR payable on arrival.

There have been red direct buses from Medan airport to Bukit Lawang for some time. These are somewhat more modern and larger than the usual minibuses. BUT: If you travel from Bukit Lawang and not enough travellers want to go to the airport, you may have to get off at Binjai or at the Pinang Baris bus station in Medan and continue before there.

Tourist bus/shared taxi

Before Corona, there was a counter for tourist buses (shared cars). This service was no longer available when we last checked. However, if you land before 12 noon, we can organise a tourist bus for you. The cost is 210,000IDR/person. Just contact us.

Private car

We are happy to arrange a hazzle free private car waiting for you upon arrival. The costs are 55 Euro/car for up to 4 people. Just contact us.

How to get to Bukit Lawang from Medan city.

Local Bus

From Medan city take a grab or becak to Pinang Baris Bus Station. From here you can catch one of the orange minibusses. The last bus leaves around 5pm. The fare is something between 15,000IDR – 30,000IDR payable on arrival in Bukit Lawang, not before!

Note: There are usually men hanging around waiting for tourists going to Bukit Lawang. They tend to demand high fares up to 100,000 IDR to Bukit Lawang, where it is actually something between 15,000 – 30,000IDR payable on arrival. It depends on your negotiation skills, but sometimes tourists also get kicked out of the busses if they refuse to pay the high price. It can help if you pretend that you have already been to Bukit Lawang and know the prices.

Tourist bus/shared taxi

Your accommodation can also organise a shared taxi to Bukit Lawang. They usually leave in the morning. The costs are 150,000IDR/person. If your accommodation does not offer this, please contact us and we will organise it for you.

Private car

We are happy to arrange a hazzle free private care from your accommodation in Medan to Bukit Lawang. The costs are 55 Euro/car for up to 4 people. Just contact us.

bookings

For questions and bookings please contact us

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