Photo provided by Dan Holz
Photo provided by Dan Holz

Sumatra is the world’s sixth-largest island, yet unlike Java to the west and Malaysia to the north, it remains largely undeveloped. It is a land of active volcanoes and picture-perfect lakes, where ancient communities live as they have done for centuries and primates run wild through dense tropical forest.

Most travelers arrive in Medan in the north of the island. West of here, the Gunung Leuser National Park offers trekking opportunities in majestic and remote rainforest. To the south, find Danau Toba, and spend a day exploring south-east Asia’s largest lake. Also relatively close by is Bukit Lawang, a forest park where you have the best chance of spotting the native orangutans.

Discover Pedang on the island’s west coast and book a boat trip to the enigmatic Mentawai Islands. They hold some of the best surf waves in the world. If you don’t want to get in the water, the islands offer numerous opportunities for exciting discoveries on land. Spot stunning native species of flora and fauna or learn about the local indigenous communities that still live according to their ancient customs.

Divers will love the chance to explore the underwater wonderland at Pulau Weh. For a challenging hike, tackle the volcanic peaks around Berastagi.

Traveling between locations can be arduous in Sumatra as the distances are long and the roads poor. The best way to move between major cities is by plane, which is usually inexpensive. Sumatra is reasonably underdeveloped for tourism, so come prepared for some serious adventure travel. The island’s climate is hot and tropical year-round. March to October is generally the best time to visit Sumatra, as the air is less humid and the views from the mountain tops are clear and more spectacular.

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shopping, dining and familyFriendly

Top hotels in Sumatra

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for JW Marriott Hotel Medan
JW Marriott Hotel Medan
5 out of 5
Jalan Putri Hijau No. 10, Medan, North Sumatra
1 Sep-2 Sep
4.5/5Wonderful! (423 reviews)

Located in Kesawan, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Tjong A Fie's Mansion, Medan Mall and Sun Plaza. University of North Sumatera and Marian Shrine ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (423 reviews)

"Spacious , well lit and clean and fresh air Services at restaurant not too good . The configurations of the shower as part of the toilet area. The whole toilet is perpetually wet every time after a shower..."…"

Reviewed on 15 Aug,2019

JW Marriott Hotel Medan
Image for Mercure Padang
Mercure Padang
4 out of 5
Jl Purus IV No 8 Padang, West Sumatra Indonesia, Padang, West Sumatra
10 Sep-11 Sep
4.1/5Very Good! (94 reviews)

Located in the heart of Padang, this spa hotel is within a 15-minute walk of University of Eka Sakti and Air Manis Beach. Taman Budaya Cultural Centre and Adityawarman ...

4.1/5Very Good! (94 reviews)

"Muy bueno estuvo todo tranquilo gracias, volveré pronto y conoceré más Sumatra"…"

Reviewed on 9 Jul,2019

Mercure Padang
Image for JAV Front One Hotel Lahat
JAV Front One Hotel Lahat
3 out of 5

Situated in Lahat, this hotel is 0.6 mi (1 km) from Lahat Clock Tower and within 3 miles (5 km) of People's Struggle Monument and Ribang Kemambang Park. Muara ...

JAV Front One Hotel Lahat