When preparing for a trip to Sumatra it is good to know what to pack. So we gathered a pack list for Sumatra with our essentials and must haves for a Sumatra holiday as well as some do’s and don’ts while travelling the island.


Sumatra is mainly Muslim. Sure tourists can wear what they want (especially in tourist areas), but it’s always more nice to show some respect and leave the hotpants and crop tops in the backpack. It is always a good advice to see what the locals are wearing. If no one wears shorts or tank tops you shouldn’t either. Not only out of respect, but also to avoid people staring at you. In the region of Aceh and Padang it is very common to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts – although the heat gets unbearable at times.

So here’s a list of clothes to bring for you trip to Sumatra

  • Shirts and Tops
  • Long Sleeve Shirts
  • Shorts
  • Long Pants
  • Leggins (for the ladies)
  • Fleece
  • Rain coat
  • Skirts/dresses (see info below)
  • Swimming clothes (see info below)
  • Scarf/sarong
  • Underwear/socks
  • Trekking shoes/trainers
  • Flipflops
  • Hat or bandana

Swimming clothes: Most women in Sumatra go swimming with their normal clothes on, incl. their hijab. Bikinis or swim suits are uncommon. So it is advisable to dress accordingly and bring some clothes (T-Shirt and Pants) with you with which you can go swimming.  This only applies for ladies. Men can use swimming shorts.

Skirts and dresses: Knee-long skirts are difficult, because you easily end up sitting on the floor in a warung or the back of a motorbike. In any case it is advisable to wear leggings with knee-long skirts. Long skirts and dresses are ok, although the difficulties with sitting on a motorbike remain.

Leather shoes: Just don’t bring them, even leather sandals. It can rain heavily from one minute to the other and your good shoes are history.

Hygiene and medicines

There are pharmacies in the main tourist areas and larger cities. However, it is still advisable to bring important medications from home, especially if you need to take them on a regular basis. The same applies to hygiene products. Tampons, shampoo or sunscreen are sometimes very expensive on Sumatra.


  • Towel
  • Sarong or long scarf
  • Torch + batteries
  • Charger
  • Spork (spoon and fork)
  • Army knife
  • Clothes line
  • Travel adapter
  • Drybag
  • Ear plugs
  • Bottle for refilling water (say no to plastic)

Suitcase or backpack?

In the end, of course, it’s a personal choice. However, a backpack is actually more comfortable on Sumatra. There are rarely pavements and the roads can be very rough, so it can be a hassle to drag a suitcase from A to B. But it also depends on how you are travelling. But it also depends on how you are travelling. If you are travelling with a private driver, he will certainly be able to help you carry your suitcase.

Read also: What to bring on a jungle trek