Planning to Visit Bukit Lawang? Here’s Your Travel Guide
visit bukit lawang

Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia

The motto of any jungle adventure should be “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Mother nature, along with the resilient people of Bukit Lawang, Indonesia, has carved out one of the most incredible places on planet earth. Located roughly 78 miles from the closest airport in the capital city of Medan, the 4-hour bumpy ride is well worth the trip. Let’s visit Bukit Lawang!

Visiting Bukit Lawang? Monkeys, Orangutans, Elephants, Oh My!
visit bukit lawang

On the banks of the beautiful Bohorok River, surrounded by endless palm fields to the east and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gunung Leuser National Park to the west, this sleepy little village should be on everyone’s bucket list. Nearly whipped off the face of the earth by a 65-foot high tidal wave during the devastating flood of 2003, Bukit Lawang has recovered completely and is today a thriving ecotourism destination.

 visit bukit lawang

As one of the last places on earth to see wild orangutans, Bukit Lawang is the gateway to their home in Gunung Leuser National Park. While there are many companies offering guided tours, we cannot say enough about EcoTravel Sumatra. From our first contact via email, to the friendly driver that picked us at the airport, to our unforgettable guide Adi who introduced us to the orangutans, we highly recommend looking into this exemplary tour company.

 visit bukit lawang

Monkeys? Check! Orangutans? Check! Elephants? Check!! Make sure to have a look at our short film of two of the most exciting days of our lives.

Getting to Bukit Lawang

visit bukit lawang

Fly into Medan

If planned in advance you can find reasonable, direct flights to Medan from many neighboring cities like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for just $11, Singapore for $42, or Bangkok for $44 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.

Bukit Lawang Flight Deals

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From Medan Airport to Bukit Lawang

visit bukit lawang

As the great Tom Hanks once said, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

Kualanamu International Airport is roughly 23 miles from the city center of Medan which is roughly 55 miles from Bukit Lawang. This trip takes about 4 hours and is grueling to say the least. Do the math: 55 miles in 4 hours is about 14 miles per hour. The winding ride through city and jungle is bumpy to say the least, and is our main reason for our recommendation anti-nausia medicine in the packing tips section…

Private Transport

For about $55, take an air-conditioned 4×4 van directly from your Medan hotel or the airport to your accommodations in Bukit Lawang. Our experience with EcoTravel Sumatra went seemlessly, and we highly recommend private transport from Medan.

Public Transport

Take the Antar Lintas Sumatera bus from the airport to a town called Binjai for about $2.50. Find this bright orange bus parked just outside of the arrival exit gate. In Binjai, the bus will drop you in front of the Supermall. From there, you need to get yourself to Ginjai Merdeka football field. Best is to take a tricycle taxi called a becak for about $1. Here, you will find the minibuses waiting to take people to Bukit Lawang for only $1.30.

Getting around in Bukit Lawang
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This amazing town is so walkable, you could do as the locals do and cover the whole town barefooted (although we recommended flip flops)! Use any of the swinging bridges to get from one side of town to the other. Just watch out for motorbikes and children, as the boards aren’t very wide.

Where To Stay in Bukit Lawang

visit bukit lawang


Inns, Guesthouses, Hotels, Bungalows, Ecolodges, and Retrets, Bukit Lawang has no shortage of options to choose from. EcoTravel Cottages and Ecolodge Bukit Lawang are both very nice and run about $40 per night. We recommend shopping, the most competitive resource when searching for hotels in Bukit Lawang.

Bukit Lawang Hotel Deals


With only 3 hostels in Bukit Lawang, you should plan ahead to find one that suites all of your needs. Prices range from $6-$10 a night for a dorm room, while private rooms cost about $19-$26 per night. Hostelworld is our recommended resource when searching for hostels in Bukit Lawang.

Bukit Lawang Travel Tips:

visit bukit lawang

Bukit Lawang Travel Tips: Money

Indonesia’s national currency is the Rupiah or IDR, and is currently exchanging at 13,500IDR to $1USD. **There are no ATMs in Bukit Lawang! Bring plenty of cash with you as credit cards are very rarely accepted. Best bet is to find the nearest ATM when arriving at the Medan Airport.

Bukit Lawang Travel Tips: Tipping

A general rule for tipping in Indonesia is the 10% rule. While tipping in hotels is not expected, a common tip to restaurant servers, tour guides, or drivers is 10%.

visit bukit lawang

Bukit Lawang Travel Tips: Packing

Anti-nausea medicine, headlamp, extra socks, slip-on shoes, mosquito repellant with deet(not available in most of SE Asia), sun screen (buy before you arrive, it is very expensive and often has bleaching agents in SE Asia), fast drying long pants and long sleeve shirt.

Bukit Lawang travel tips: Travel Insurance

Traveling through Bukit Lawang is exciting, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. This place in particular can be on the dangerous side, between slippery jungle trails, the outside chance of malaria or zika, not to mention the wild animals; it’s better to be safe than sorry. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.

If planning to visit Bukit Lawang, you might want to check out our Bukit Lawang resource page.

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