Getting Around Sumatra

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Getting around Sumatra is very easy and very cheap but at times not the most comfortable. A lot of the bus services are small mini vans. Some are dedicated to tourists and charge a bit more or you can be brave and get the local buses and enjoy a ride with an overload of Sumatrans. I once caught a bus from Bukit Lawang to Medan. The bus was mini van was big enough to sit 12 adults comfortably. We had 28 people on board and some extras sitting on the roof. That was an interesting trip.


Airports are located at Medan, Padang and Pekanbaru. Organising a flight in Sumatra is cheap and easy. Flights between cities can be irregular so booking ahead can avoid travel delays.

Padang        Batam           400000 Rp
Padang        Denpasar       575000 Rp
Padang        Jakarta          299600 Rp
Padang        Jogyakarta    461700 Rp
Padang        Medan          285000 Rp
Padang        Surabaya      528800 Rp



You can book bus tickets in all the hotels. All hotel operators get a commission for booking your ticket. Some will charge the same amount as if you book at the bus station but others put a markup on the ticket. Remember these people are just trying to make a living and when you convert how much extra they are putting on it's usually only 50c or a $1 more so don't stress out about it.

You can flag buses down as you are walking along. If they have room they will stop and collect you.

Here's a general guide to the bus fares around Sumatra:

Medan to Lake Toba               40,000Rp

Medan to Brastagi                   28000Rp

Medan to Bukit Lawang          32000Rp

Bukit Lawang to Lake Toba    60000Rp

Bukit Lawang to Brastagi        45000Rp

Brastagi to Lake Toba             40000Rp

Lake Toba to Bukit Tinggi      110000Rp - A 12 hour bumpy trip! This goes via the Equator with a quick stop off to take a pic and buy a tshirt!

These are popular tourist bus routes so they are scheduled daily.



The train network is very small in Sumatra due to its mountainous nature. You can catch trains from Medan to Pematangsiantar, Tanjung Balai and Rantauparapat. Also in the south you can catch a train from Bandarlampung to Pelembang and then on to Lubuklinggau.


There are a number of ferry services with the Sumatra on rivers and Lake Toba. Majority of the ferry services are to get the islands of the coasts of Sumatra.

Last updated 20th July 2008
















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