Mount Leuser National Park. Jean-Marie Prival / Creative Commons
The rich culture of the Indonesian island of Sumatra flourishes in the midst of amazing natural wonders: the Batak, Minang and Malay ethnic groups enrich the Sumatra travel experience, providing delightful cultural encounters travelers can find at the jungle edges, coasts and lakeshores.
Tours of Sumatra begin at the main air gateway Medan, Indonesia's fourth-largest city and its largest outside of Java. The city center still retains a good deal of historic architecture, with the Mamuin Palace and the Great Mosque occupying pride of place. Culinary enthusiasts should hit up the food scene at Selat Panjang Street.
As you make your way southeast down Sumatra, you'll find endless opportunities to explore the island's natural wonders. An orangutan rehabilitation center at Bukit Lawang lets you meet Southeast Asia's only endemic primate; neighboring Mount Leuser National Park provides hiking trails through dense rainforest; and the majestic Lake Toba will simply amaze you: it's a sea unto itself, 450 metres deep and spanning over 1,145 square kilometres.
Sumatra's culture should also be laid open as you make your way through, from Jangga Village's glimpse into Batak life to the Toba lifestyle practiced on the Lake Toba island of Samosir.
At last you'll enter Padang, West Sumatra's capital and a culinary giant, the source of the masakan Padang restaurants that you'll find all over Indonesia. North of the city you'll find Bukittinggi, the cultural heartland of the Minangkabau ethnic group. Beyond exploring the local culture, go for a little retail therapy at the local markets, Pasar Aur Kuning and Pasar Atas.
Cultural presentation at Samosir Island, Sumatra. Image courtesy of the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism
Great Mosque of Medan. zolmuhd / Creative Commons
Museum of Minangkabau Culture, Bukittinggi. Image courtesy of the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism
Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
If you're interested in mountain treks and welcoming encounters with local tribes, try these other experiences: visiting the scenic Rice Terraces of the Philippines; hiking through Sarawak and Sabah in East Malaysia; visiting Laos' mysterious Plain of Jars; and Brunei's Tutong cultural and ethnic experience.
Rice-planting on the Banaue Rice Terraces go as they have for countless generations, on paddies carved out of the mountain by...
Enjoy a 50 percent discount on cabin fare for two, applicable on selected two- to three-night cruises that explore the jewels...VIEW DETAILS
Tour of Laos and Viet Nam that will strengthen your body and nourish your spirit. For a life-altering change in perspective, ...VIEW DETAILS
Most of the trip is centered around the Philippines' paradisiacal island of Palawan. You'll start your first day at t...VIEW DETAILS
Fitness assessment with a World Champ. Feel great and leave Bali with a meal and fitness plan from world champion Komang Arna...VIEW DETAILS
One bedroom Residency Min 2 nights stay 2 breakfasts at 163 Lounge inclusive daily inclusive of one day KL tour (...VIEW DETAILS
Madame Tussauds Singapore Full ExperienceVIEW DETAILS
Go on an epic Asean journey with AirAsia Asean Pass, a travel pass that allows you to book our base fares at least 14 days or...VIEW DETAILS
Rent a car for 2 days or more at participating locations in Asia and enjoy up to 15% offVIEW DETAILS
Take advantage of this special price for a 3 days / 2 nights Stay and Shop Experience for 2 persons. Enhance your visit to Ku...VIEW DETAILS
Located conveniently above the transport hub of Outram Park MRT interchange station, Dorsett Hotel, Singapore offers easy acc...VIEW DETAILS
Embark on a memorable stay with your loved ones at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore, located at the prime Marina Bay waterfr...VIEW DETAILS