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Bukit Lawang

Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

The guide harangue starts on the bus before you’ve even left Medan. A friendly stranger hops aboard and makes a beeline to the nearest available seat. They are full of Bukit Lawang tidbits and just so happen to be going in the same direction, or, imagine that, they are guides. Then they’ll escort you to a guesthouse, sit you down and sign you up for a trek. If you resist, the Indonesian fish boil begins: everyone starts to apply the pressure, and every greeting in the town is ‘Are you trekking tomorrow?’ It’s enough to make you hop back on the bus and seek refuge in Medan, of all places. Before leaving in a huff, give Bukit Lawang a day or two to grow on you. After the initial blitz, the place can be quite charming.