What to do

The prime tourist draws in Bukit Lawang are orangutan trekking in the Gunung Leuser national park and visiting the orangutan feeding, which takes place twice daily in Bukit Lawang. However some visitors stay for many weeks without visiting the orangutans, instead preferring to soak up the relaxed atmosphere - nightly jungle parties at various guesthouses featuring guitar-playing guides drinking bir Bintang and singing late into the night.

Below you can read some more details on the many local activities.


Bat cave tour with Landak river BBQ

£27.50 per person Book Now!

We will take a walk to explore Bukit Lawang's bat cave with a guide.Then we will head to the tranquil Landak river for a relaxing afternoon swimming in the river with BBQ. Full details

Orangutan feeding

Bukit Lawang - Leuser Platform Feeding

Until December 2015, there were twice-daily feeding sessions, whereby semi-wild or rehabilitated orangutans could go to the feeding platform, where they were fed by national park rangers, and tourists could watch.

A flood in December 2015 destroyed the river crossing, and since that time (current as of July 2016), there are NO feeding sessions, the only way to see orangutans is on a trek in the jungle. If you want an easier trek, you can try the half-day trek.


Play time, Bukit LawangThe number one activity for local tourists in Bukit Lawang is swimming ('mandi') in the river. Thousands of locals visit on public holidays just to mandi in the river, enjoy their picnic lunch, before returning to Medan.

Western visitors can also enjoy swimming in the Bohorok river. Good places to swim include outside the Sibayak hotel where there is a rock popular with local children for jumping into the river, and at the camping ground, half-way up the river, which normally has fewer people than locations further down stream. Below the Ecolodge, next to Rindu Alam Hotel is another good spot.

Further up stream, at the Jungle Inn, and beyond, is also a nice wild spot for swimming.

There can be rocks and strong currents in the river, so it is a good idea to check if others are swimming before just jumping in.

See also the Landak river day trip for another good swimming spot.

Jungle parties/music

DSC00751Most guides in Bukit Lawang have some kind of musical ability, usually guitar playing or drums, and in the evening can be found making music in the various local restaurants, singing along with tourists.

The most popular venue is Bukit Lawang Indah, where most nights many bottles of Bintang are consumed to a soundtrack of guides and tourists playing guitar and singing.

On Saturday nights a more formal party occurs, starting with live, amplified music at Indra Valley Inn (most of the way up stream) at around 9pm, and finishing at 1am. A Saturday disco also occurs at the Farina 53 guesthouse restaurant, starting around 11pm and getting busier after the music finishes at Indra Valley. Festivities conclude at 3am. During the month of Ramadan the disco and music do not take place.


DSC01011If you would like a BBQ of chicken or fish, served by the river in the evening, ask one of the guides. You can also book a BBQ as part of your trip with us. Please see our bookings page.


Weddings in Bukit Lawang are a very public affair, with typically hundreds of guests. Most local people are members of the Karo, Malay or Javanese ethnic groups, and depending on which group the couple marrying belong to, there will be different clothes, music, and food.

Wedding festivities last at least one full day, sometimes two, and tourists are always very welcome to visit.

Visitors to a wedding make a cash donation (typically 50,000 or 100,000 rupiah per person) in an envelope to the parents of the groom, and can then stay and watch the festivities, eating from the wedding buffet, which will consist of various special foods, depending on the group. To cater for the many guests, a whole cow is typically slaughtered and cooked, along with chickens, goats, and other animals, with a whole army of cooks preparing food behind the scenes.

Weddings usually take place in the market in Gotong Royong. If you want to visit a wedding you can ask at the Guide Office or one of your guides. Non-family visitors are invited in the evening, where entertainment will be provided by a live singer and amplified keyboard music.


120926_007The Bohorok river, which runs through Bukit Lawang, is a popular venue for tubing. Tubing is floating down the river in an inflated truck inner tube. You can hire tubes at many points along the river in the village for the day, walk up stream, and then float down the river as far as the Sibayak guesthouse.

If you'd like a bit more of an adventure then you can try tubing to Bohorok, 10 kilometres downstream. 


321670_10150336655634539_224056642_nYou can rent kayaks in Bukit Lawang for kayaking on the river.

Trips further afield are also available.


White water rafting expeditions can be arranged from Bukit Lawang.


Bukit Lawang Market - Selling all kinds of stuffColourful weekly markets are held each Friday in the bus station at Gotong Royong, where buses from Medan drop and pick up passengers. It's a fifteen minute walk from the bottom of Bukit Lawang itself, and a reasonable walk, although locals nearly all go by motorbike or becak (motor rickshaw), fare, 5,000rp per person, and might think you crazy if you prefer to walk in the heat.

If you are in town on a Friday, it's worth a visit. The market runs from morning until around 4pm. If you arrive in the morning you will see workers from local rubber plantations bringing their rubber to be weighed and sold. By afternoon all the rubber will have been sold, and the workers and land owners paid, but the strong smell will remain! 

Vendors in the market include: fish sellers, meat sellers, many different fruit sellers, vegetable sellers, spice and jamu (traditional medicine) sellers, people selling dried fish and shrimp, clothes (mostly used and of very low cost and basic quality), household goods, fireworks, and others.

On days other than Friday two or three vendors sell fruit and vegetables in the same venue.

A similar, slightly larger, market is held in Bohorok the town 11km from Bukit Lawang on Sundays.

If you would like a guide to visit the Friday Gotong Royong market and do a two hour tour explaining the different kinds of fruit, vegetables, fish, spices and other items on sale, the cost will be 200,000rp for up to three people inclusive of round-trip becak trip.

For the same kind of tour at Sunday's Bohorok market, the cost is 200,000 rupiah for one person, by motorbike taxi, or 300,000 rupiah for two people by becak.

Bat Cave

Sumatra - Bukit Lawang - 2002 (26)

The Bat Cave (gua kampret in Indonesian) is located 2km from the village. The trail starts from the Ecolodge hotel, and there are some signposts. A torch is required to see anything inside the cave, which is around 500-metres long and is home to many thousands of bats.

A small entrance fee, of 5,000rp, may be collected by the land owners.

There are two further caves, less commonly visited, the Swallow Cave, and the Ship Cave.

If you would like to visit the Bat cave with a guide, the price is 300,000rp for any size of group, to walk from the village to the cave, show you around the cave and then walk back to the village.

Landak river BBQ and swimming trip

DSCF7020-EditThe Landak river runs close to Bukit Lawang, and a walk of around 2km through rubber and durian plantations, past the bat cave will bring you there.

The river is the perfect spot for swimming with clear and calm waters, well-away from the main village.

Start by visiting the bat cave before continuing on to the river. Your guide will cook you a lunch served, jungle-style, on banana leaves, of fish caught from the local river (hopefully!), jungle-foraged ferns and rice. Alternatively if you prefer you can enjoy a BBQ chicken or curry lunch.

The afternoon is spent relaxing and swimming in the river, returning to the village before night falls.

Price per person 300,000 rupiah.


A popular leisure activity in Bukit Lawang is to go fishing in one of several local ponds (small farms). The usual species are:

  • carp (ikan mas, literally gold fish)
  • Nile tilapia (ikan nila)
  • Catfish (ikan lele)
  • Giant goruami (ikan gourami)
  • Silver pomfret (ikan bawal)
  • Mahseer (ikan jurong)

You pay for what you catch. Most species are around 20,000-30,000rp/kilogram. Ikan jurong, however, are slow growing, and highly prized, and much more expensive. They are usually kept separately in a special pond. Some can also be found in the rivers.

Your guide can clean, cook and grill your fish.