Bukit Lawang is a small village in Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumutra. The village and national park have been made famous by the Orangutans who live in the lush tropical forest. The centre no longer rehabilitates the Orangutans but it still provides a feeding platform area from where you can view these magnificent beasts.
The main season to visit is Sumatra’s dry season which runs from around March to October. Outside of this time things get very wet and it could be a challenge to get to Bukit Lawang from Medan as the road can be in very poor condition.
Bukit Lawang is the main entrance point for the National Park and is situated on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra.
To Sumatra > Medan is the main entry point. At the time of writing there was no ferry service from Malaysia so everyone flies into Medan’s International Airport unless they are coming overland from somewhere else in Indonesia.
From Medan Airport > You can organise a private car to pick you up at the airport and take you all the way to Bukit Lawang for around rp 400,000. Other options include a taxi from the airport to the bus station at Pianag Baris. From there public buses run all the way to Bukit Lawang.
Accommodation is plentiful in the village and nearly all visitors stay alongside the river in basic guesthouses.
Restaurants and cafes are also plentiful offering basic traveller food and Indonesian dishes. Many of the guesthouses also have a cafe or restaurant on site.
For more specific details about where to stay then check out LPs Guide to Bukit.
Nightlife is fairly limited and is usually confined to sitting around the guesthouses and chilling out with a bottle or two of Bintang and a sing along with the guides who tend to double up as singers!
Main activity is of course to go jungle trekking to see the Orangutans in their natural environment. In order to do this you will need to employ the services of a guide. Your guesthouse may well be the best place to ask around as guides usually attach themselves to guesthouses and are qualified.
Treks can last half a day to three or more and costs vary as you’d expect but expect to pay around EURO 30 per day (as of early 2012).
The feeding platform is accessible at 8am and 3pm and you will be led there by park rangers. Just beyond the national park entrance you will need to pay for a permit.
We strongly advise that you visit in the morning as this is when you are more likely to see the Orangutans. Sometimes at the feeding platform you will see lots and other times maybe none. Hope that you are lucky on the day(s) that you go.
Going solo in Bukit Lawang
Bukit Lawang is an ideal destination for the solo traveller. The jungle treks tend to be in groups so its very easy to hook up with others. The nightlife is concentrated on the guesthouses so you can sit around and get to know your fellow travellers over a cold beer. Rooms are cheap and affordable for single travellers and it is easy to get around on your own too.
We travelled from the UK to Sumatra with Thai International Airways to Bangkok and Air Asia to Medan.
(video presentation watching the orangutans at the feeding platform)