Introducing North Sumatra
For most visitors, this is the sole slice of Sumatra they'll taste. And with good reason: ogle the orangutans in Bukit Lawang, veer over the volcanoes of Berastagi and laze away on the shores of Danau Toba. Overall, North Sumatra is a well-trodden and worthy circuit that centres on gateway metropolis Medan.
North Sumatra stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Strait of Melaka. From sea to shining sea, it is anything but homogeneous. The rolling landscape varies from sweaty plains to cool highlands, while the houses of worship switch between the metal domes of mosques to the arrow-straight steeples of Christian churches. The coastal Malays, relatives of peoples from mainland Southeast Asia, live along the Strait of Melaka and are the largest ethnic group. In the highlands around Danau Toba are the delightful Batak, and then there's the megalithic culture of Pulau Nias.
North Sumatra has a population of almost 12 million and is an economically robust province, producing more than 30% of Indonesia's exports. Oil, palm oil, tea and rubber are produced in large quantities, and fine tobacco is grown in the rich soil around Medan.
Indonesia in Depth—Sumatra, Java, Bali
Get ready to hit the ground running in this 28-day whirlwind tour of Indonesia’s top sights. We mean that literally, too – you’ll stay active as you hike and explore Berastagi, Sipirok, Tangkahan, Bukit Lawang and more. Recharge with street food crawls and coffee plantation tours, and take the time to get up close and personal with orangutans and elephants.
Indonesia is a busy place, and not just because it’s one of the most densely-populated places on Earth. Blessed with rich jungles, imposing volcanoes and mile upon mile of gorgeous beachfront, it’s not surprising that 135 million people live here full-time.