Bali, Lombok, and Raja Ampat certainly capture the tourism spotlight. However, Indonesia boasts more collections of holiday destinations waiting to be explored. Sumatra, for instance, the archipelago’s western island offers a diverse layer of landscapes, cultures, and cuisines across its ten provinces.

Interested in the prospect of an unforgettable vacation? Let’s find out Sumatra’s hidden gems that have captivated most international tourists.


5. Aceh: The Veranda of Mecca 

Aceh, nicknamed the “Veranda of Mecca” for its rich Islamic heritage, isn’t just a history buff’s paradise. It also ranked fifth for attracting foreign visitors in 2023 (over 25,244 to be exact). The Tsunami Museum offers a powerful reminder of the 2004 disaster, but Aceh has so much more to offer. 

Iboih Beach

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Iboih Beach, explore the underwater wonderland of Rubiah Sea Garden, or trek through the mountains of Bur Telege in Takengon for some epic scenery. Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport is your gateway to all of this.

4. Riau: Nature’s Playground in Sumatra

Unlike Aceh, Riau offers multiple entry points: Sultan Syarif Kasim International Airport and Dumai International Seaport. This makes it easy for all kinds of travelers to experience the wonders of Riau. Over 40,810 international tourists flocked to Riau in 2023, and it’s no surprise why. 

Ulu Kasok, Kampar regency in Riau

Tesso Nilo National Park is a haven for nature lovers, with lush rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife. Craving an underwater adventure? Head to Ulu Kasok, also known as the “Raja Ampat of Sumatra,” for stunning coral reefs. Calling all adrenaline junkies: Riau boasts the legendary “Seven Ghosts” – powerful tidal waves in Kampar River that challenge experienced surfers worldwide.

3. West Sumatra: Beyond the Surf

West Sumatra isn’t just a haven for surfers seeking post-Bali waves in the Mentawai Islands. This diverse province boasts pristine beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and a rich cultural heritage.  Explore the fascinating traditions of the Mentawai tribe, or immerse yourself in the beauty of West Sumatra’s tourism villages – Kubu Gadang and Nagari Sijunjung offer a glimpse into authentic local life. 

 

Kubu Gadang Tourism Village

For a touch of adventure, take a scenic drive along the winding Kelok Sembilan road in Payakumbuh, where misty mornings create breathtaking panoramas. In 2023, over 44,000 foreign tourists explored West Sumatra, arriving at Minangkabau International Airport.

2. North Sumatra: A Land of Natural Wonders

“Horas!” is the warm greeting you will receive in North Sumatra, the second-most visited province by foreign tourists in western Indonesia.  With over 178,000 international arrivals in 2023 landing at Kualanamu International Airport, North Sumatra offers a plethora of experiences. 

Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra

Find tranquility at the majestic Lake Toba, or embark on an eco-adventure in Bukit Lawang, a riverside haven on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Capture stunning Instagram-worthy shots at the Sipiso-piso waterfall, a cascading marvel amidst lush greenery.

1. Kepulauan Riau: A Paradise for Relaxation 

Bintan in Tanjung Pinang, Kepulauan Riau

Claiming the top spot with over 1.3 million international visitors in 2023 (still recovering from pre-pandemic levels) is Kepulauan Riau. This island archipelago, once part of Riau province but separated since 2004 (“Kepri” is how most Indonesians call this province), entices travelers with its relaxed island vibes and focus on marine tourism. Batam and Bintan are the undisputed stars, drawing crowds with their delectable seafood and exciting water activities. 

 

Sumatra caters to every style of travel and vacations. From urban exploration in big cities, peaceful small villages with breathtaking nature, to the fun adventure of beaches and mountains. Start to plan your visit and pack your bags.Sumatra awaits you!  

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