Bukit Lawang, Sumatra is the small village nearest to the edge of the Gunung Lesung National Park, and the perfect place for nature enthusiasts to stay for a few days.

Until the early 1970’s Bukit Lawang was little more than a 300 shacked town built to accommodate the nearby rubber plantation but in 1973 the Orangutan rehabilitation centre was moved from Ketambe to Bukit Lawang where it rehabilitated more than 200 orangutans into the wild until 2001.

bukit lawang sumatra

Now the centre is closed but the town has a population of around 3000 people and is a popular place for tourists heading into the jungle. During peak season and at weekends the town is a busy place for both travellers and locals who come to cool off or bathe in the river that passes through the town. Bukit Lawang is in essence a remote town. It takes at least 4 hours to arrive from Medan and when approaching the town it is clear the city is far behind; the main sounds to be heard are those of wildlife and the running rapids of the Bahorok River. 5 times a day the call to prayer resonates through the town over loud speaker drawing out the sound of nature. That aside, the vibe is peaceful and the landscape utterly magnificent.

Bukit Lawang sits deep on the floor of a valley framed by enormous healthy green trees of varying shades and sizes in every direction. Here nature by far out numbers remnants of human habitation. The mighty Bahorok River runs through the centre of Bukit Lawang and over top are three foot bridges connecting the two banks where guesthouses and restaurants are. There’s also a small market selling the usual Asian style t-shirts, harem pants and sarongs. As far as things to do in Bukit Lawang goes, tubing down the Bahorok River is popular or there is a walk to the nearby bat cave.

It is possible to walk along the bank of the river towards to old information centre but entry into the park itself is prohibited without a guide – and for good reason too; the jungle has no clear path at all and becoming disoriented would be all too easy.

It would be easy to simply laze about in a hammock reading a book listening to the sound of cicadas and birds, spotting monkeys for a few days either side of trekking; Built Lawang is nothing short of a peaceful reprise from the outside world. But no trip to Bukit Lawang is complete without at least a day jungle trekking into Gunung Lesung National Park, if not a few nights.

bukit lawang sumatra

Bukit Lawang Accommodation

Expect basic Indonesian style accommodation (there are no ritzy big branded 5 star Bukit Lawang hotels). Quaint guesthouses or thatched roofed bungalows are typical of Bukit Lawang. Most options are either very simple bordering on the dark side of rustic but there are a small handful of hidden gems that combine authenticity with comfort. Quality is limited; reach out to us for Bukit Lawang accommodation recommendations.