Most international visitors to Bukit Lawang begin their journey by flying to Medan's Kuala Namu airport, the closest airport to Bukit Lawang, around four hours' drive away.
From Europe, Australia and America
There are no direct flights to Medan from outside Asia. The usual long-haul destinations are Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta (Jakarta more common from Australia). Bangkok is another option, but only has four flights per week, all early morning, so while this is a good option if you are planning to stop in Thailand, it can be difficult to find connections from Europe if you want to go non-stop.
You can book long-haul through tickets on Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines or Garuda. It is often, however, cheaper to book the cheapest flight to one of the four cities above, and then add a low-cost hop to Medan, whch should cost around US$100 return, from any of those four cities.
The main international airports served from Medan are Kuala Lumpur (and Subang), Penang and Singapore. All are served by several flights per day, each of around one hour, and Kuala Lumpur and Singapore have excellent international connections. As mentioned above, Bangkok is also served, by Air Asia, from Medan, and there are several flights a week to/from Ipoh.
An interesting option is to fly to Medan from Colombo. There are two scheduled flights per week on Mihin Lanka on Saturdays and Wednesdays, taking 3 hours. Operation may only be seasonal, from November till June. This is the shortest route from Medan to Europe. Through fares are available on Mihin Lanka's parent airline Sri Lankan Airlines. There are also fares to Jeddah on Garuda.
The main destinations from Medan are Jakarta (for flight connections to almost anywhere outside Sumatra, including Bali, Sulawesi, etc.) , Padang (for Bukittinggi and West Sumatra), Banda Aceh (for Aceh and Pulau Weh), Surabaya (for Mount Bromo and onward connections as with Java) and Gunung Sitoli (Pulau Nias). You can also fly direct to Bandung or Yogyakarta, both in Java.
Although most journeys from Medan to other islands in Indonesia will be routed via Jakarta, it's worth considering via Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, if you are planning on staying in Indonesia beyond 30 days, as the exit and re-entry will allow you to get a new visa with no hassle.
In addition a number of small airports in Aceh and North Sumatra are served from Medan by Susi Air and Wings Air, as a substitute for long bus journeys, but bear in mind that the safety record for smaller flights is poor. These include: Meulaboh, Lhoksumawe, Aek Godang, Takengon, Simeulue, Silangit, Blang Pidie, Tapak Tuan and Sibolga.
For booking long-haul flights, try:
- Expedia - for international flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta
- Singapore Airlines - for long-haul flights to Medan
- Malaysia Airlines - for long-haul flights to Medan
- Matrix Airfare Search - for comparing flight prices, you can search prices over a window of a month, and can choose multiple airports (e.g., you can type in BKK, SIN, KUL, CGK to compare prices to all of these airports in one search).
For booking short-haul flights, try:
- Air Asia - Asia's busiest low-cost airline
- Garuda Indonesia - the national airline of Indonesia
- Lion Air - Indonesia's largest airline - please note, foreign credit cards might not be accepted
- Utiket - flight search engine for Indonesia - you can pay with foreign credit cards
- Tiket.com - a different flight search engine for Indonesia - you can also pay with foreign credit cards
- Susi Air - airline operating small planes to small destinations within Sumatra and Indonesia
- Sky Scanner - international airline price comparison, not Indonesian-focused