Despite the fact that it is the largest of all the islands in Indonesia, poor old Sumatra tends to get left behind by travelers that find the island of Bali, Lombok and Java to be more interesting.
This is unfair, as the culture and nature that can be found around this mountainous, jungle-clad island will make you wonder out loud how this place isn’t better known by your fellow travelers.
Below, I will brief you on a few destinations you will want to visit during your trip to Sumatra this year…
For those coming over to Sumatra by from Java, the first destination that you will come across is the city of Palembang.
As the capital of South Sumatra, this is the best place to stock up on supplies before heading into the wilderness that draws many outside visitors to this region.
If you’re looking for a comfortable place the base yourself while you make your preparations, then Favehotel Palembang is the perfect spot, as its comfortable beds and state-of-the-art televisions will be your perfect companions after a long day spent going from store to store in this bustling Indonesian city.
Situated halfway up Sumatra on the east coast is the city of Medan. The largest city that one can find on the island of Sumatra, it is often used as a transit point to head to other destinations on the island, but those that do this miss out on the chance to explore a place that is relatively unaffected by Western influences (apart from the Dutch Colonial architecture of centuries past, of course).
If your language skills are strong, a trip here will be most rewarding, as locals will come up to you and ask you what you are doing here.
Apart from their curiosity, there is much to see here, as there are temples and markets that will give you a taste of the real Indonesia.
3. Lake Toba
Many visitors that pass through Medan in a hurry are in a rush to get to Lake Toba. Formed from the remains of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recent geological history (it occurred over 75,000 years ago, and would dwarf any of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded human history), the crater lake formed in the aftermath of this massive event is a delightful place to relax and take a break from the arduous travels that one can experience in Sumatra.
The lake water is heated by the volcanic activity that takes place deep underground, and there are plenty of hot springs that can be found in the area as well.
Find a bungalow, and spend plenty of time in a hammock catching up on your reading; there is no better way to experience the vibe of Lake Toba then to do this.
Finally, be sure to pay a visit to Padang, as it is home to some of Indonesia’s most celebrated dishes. The best known one of all is Nasi Padang, which is buffet-style dish that takes white rice and gives you an assortment of curries, meats and vegetables with which you can top it.
When you aren’t busy eating, there are plenty of surfing beaches within an easy trip of the center of the city, making it a great place to catch some waves without having to deal with the scene that can be found in Bali.