Reaching Bukit Lawang from within North Sumatra

Private transport

To reach Bukit Lawang from Medan city or Medan airport, we offer a private, air-con car from this website at £40, one-way, taking around 3.5 hours from the airport, and 3 hours from the city. Please see our trekking page for more information about our services. We can also arrange pickup from other locations.

Public transport 

Bukit Lawang Bus Station (Gotong Royong)

The Bukit Lawang bus station and weekly market (Fridays) is located in the village of Gotong Royong, about 1.5km from Bukit Lawang itself. Although private cars (including the air con tourist buses) and motorbikes can enter Bukit Lawang (although cars cannot get past the entrance area), public buses from Medan/Binjai run only as far as the bus station. 

You may be approached by a guide, either at the bus station in Gotong Royong, or on arrival in Bukit Lawang. Their goal is to sell jungle treks. If you don't intend to book a trek with them, then it's best to advise them that you have already booked a trek, and don't require assistance finding accommodation, transport, etc., so they will not waste their time.

To reach Bukit Lawang from the bus station, you can take a becak (rickshaw). Drivers ask tourist a fare of 10,000idr, or 15,000idr if you can squeeze two people in a single becak. It's not necessarily to haggle with becak drivers as these fares are standard. Everyone is going the same place, except visitors to Rindu Alam, Batu Mandi and Ecolodge, who can be dropped off a little closer to their hotel if they tell the becak driver where they are going. When the becak drops you off in Bukit Lawang itself you will have a walk of 2 to 30 minutes to reach your guesthouse, depending on where you are staying.

If you prefer to walk instead of taking a becak, the best walking route is not to go along the main road, but instead to head out the back of the bus station, and then turn right, head across the field, and then along the irrigation canal towards Bukit Lawang. 

From Medan Kuala Namu airport via Binjai

The airport for Medan, Kuala Namu, opened on July 24 2013. Unlike the now closed Polonia airport, which was in central Medan, the new airport is located around 30km beyond Medan (so further from Bukit Lawang).

The simplest public transport option from the airport is the ALS (Antar Lintas Sumatera) bus to Binjai, a city just beyond Medan on the road to Bukit Lawang. The fare from the airport is 50,000rp by (large, air con) ALS  bus. This bus takes 2 hours and runs every 45 minutes between around 3am and 10pm. In the other direction the buses are exactly every 45 minutes from 6am to 6pm.

From Binjai Supermall to Bukit Lawang

Airport Buses to Binjai terminate on the east (Medan) side of the city, across the road from the Binjai Supermall. 

To continue your journey from Binjai to Bukit Lawang, you should catch a 'P.S' (Pembangunan Semesta) minibus, hailing the bus from directly outside the Supermall, as they pass by on the journey between Medan and Bukit Lawang. The fare is 15,000IDR payable on arrival in Bukit Lawang, not before!

From Binjai Tanah Lapang to Bukit Lawang

If you take the airport bus, you might be encouraged to take a becak (rickshaw) to Tanah Lapang, which is 2km further west, and is just a junction where buses from Medan to Bukit Lawang stop to pickup passengers

In general this is to be avoided, as there are 'preman' (local smalltime mafia), who hang around at Tanah Lapang. These preman try to control the flow of tourists from Tanah Lapang to Bukit Lawang by demanding excessive fares, often in excess of 100,000IDR per person. They also have connections with drivers returning from Medan airport and if you have missed the last bus (sometime before 7pm typically), they will arrange for them to pick you up - at inflated cost. You may wish to head to Tanah Lapang if you are late arriving in Binjai (after 6pm or so) as there is some small chances you can catch a later bus there. Note that the rickshaw fare to Tanah Lapang from the Supermall/train station/bus station should be around 10,000rp, but they may ask much more.

From Kuala Namu airport via Medan city

If you wish to spend a  night in Medan (this isn't necessary if you use our private transport as we can pickup any time, and note there are also hotels near the airport, which is more convenient if you just want to stay overnight), DAMRI buses run about every fifteen minutes. These run to Medan Fair Mall on Jalan Gatot Subroto, about 6km short of the bus station for Bukit Lawang, and also to Amplas bus station (for Lake Toba). Fares are 20,000rp to Medan Fair Mall, and 15,000rp to Amplas.

A train service runs from the airport to Medan city. The official 'Raillink' site offers tickets for 50,000rp, but booking closes around 1 hour before travel. Otherwisew the price at the airport train station is 100,000IDR. This is rather expensive, and for two people a taxi will cost a similar amount. From Medan city train station you can potentially continue to Binjai on a separate train, but the ALS bus is a far better option in this case.

The Binjai train station is located close to the terminus for the airport bus, so see above for onward transport.

From Medan city to Bukit Lawang

Bus

Reaching the bus station

Buses for Bukit Lawang leave from 'Kampung Lalang' a district on the outskirts of Medan, about 8km from the centre. They are supposed to leave from Pinang Baris, the bus station close by, and transportation drivers may try to take you there, but anyone in the area should be able to direct you to the right place to catch a bus, which is marked on Google Maps  as Mawar Bakery and Cake Shop

To reach this area from Medan, take an app taxi (Grab or Gojek). Price is around 40,000rp. Yellow local buses are 5,000rp and labelled as going to Pinang Baris, 'Kp. Lalang' (Kampung Lalang) or 'Binjai' but the app taxi makes more sense. You can take Grab all the way to Bukit Lawang but the fare set is too low (because they won't find a return fare) and you will have trouble finding a driver to accept you, also they might try to sell you to an agent in Bukit Lawang for trekking, so it's not really recommended. You can contact us directly for our reliable car service: WhatsApp, or book a pickup as part of your trek.

Motorised rickshaws, known as becaks, are more readily available in Medan than taxis. We do not recommend the rickshaws, as they are not metered (hence very expensive for a tourist) and they are very cramped for two people with luggage, however whereas taxis are sometimes scarce, the becaks are pretty much everywhere. If you take a becak be wary of snatch thiefs on motorbikes.

Buses from the bus stop outside the Mawar bakery

The PS (pronounced Pay-Es, and short for Pembangunan Semesta, the name of the bus company operating them) buses are orange coloured, and a mid-sized mini-bus, around 15 seats. The cost is 20,000rp to Bukit Lawang, payable on arrival. 

There are a couple of points about the seats: next to the driver seats two, if you are solo you can sit there and refuse anyone else to sit next to you, and pay double fare (it's not necessary to pay double if the bus is quiet, so just sit there and wait and see!). Behind the driver seats up to eight at busy times as they load all the extra passengers here, so it's best avoided in the evening - try sitting at the back. Smoking, with the windows closed, is common on the minibuses, Indonesians don't like the wind! 

First buses to Bukit Lawang start from Binjai at 5:45am, the first from Medan at 6:15am, and then they are every 12 minutes throughout the day till the last bus at 6pm from Medan leaving Binjai maybe before 7pm, but don't count 100% on this time - there is no complaints service if you arrive at 5:50pm in Medan and the last bus is gone!

From Bukit Lawang to Medan the first bus is early, at 4:30am, but the last bus is at 5pm.

WARNING: overcharging on the bus from Medan to Bukit Lawang is almost universal. Touts at the bus stop will try to tell you to pay before boarding, and that the cost is 50,000rp, 150,000rp or even more. The fact is that the fare is no more than 20,000rp and you pay ONLY when you reach Bukit Lawang, not before. However the bus station touts are aggressive drug addicts and the driver may refuse to take you if you don't accept being overcharged. You could potentially avoid this overcharging by flagging down the bus 1km down the road, on the main road between Medan and Binjai. Or just accept that you will probably be overcharged!

Bus or train via Binjai

A train service runs about every 2 hours from Medan to Binjai, and is quite cheap at 12,000rp, but because it's infrequent it's not all that convenient. You can check tickets at Traveloka.

Rental car (self-drive)

Not really a recommended option, as it's not really any cheaper than renting a car with a driver, and the local driving standards are very poor, so you need to be quite brave to do this. 

To/From Berastagi and Lake Toba

Private car

Allow seven hours from Lake Toba via Medan, or five hours to Berastagi via the newly surfaced mountain road that avoids Medan. We can arrange this for you, please see our trekking page for more details. 

Tourist bus

If there's only one or two travelling, it will be cheaper to get a tourist bus (essentially a shared private car). The cost is 180,000rp to/from Berastagi, 230,000rp from Lake Toba. Note however that tourist buses are arranged according to demand, so off-season the tourist bus to Lake Toba may go via Berastagi or via the airport or Medan city, and your bus might be changed on route. The only guarantee is that it's an air con car. Departure times are 8am or 8:30am.

Public bus

From Berastagi buses run to Padang Bulan bus station in Medan, and to Pinang Baris bus station, Medan. Pinang Baris is much more convenient for Bukit Lawang, whereas from Padang Bulan you'll have to take a local bus (or taxi) to Pinang Baris (Kampung Lalang).

From Lake Toba the bus runs to Amplas bus station. From here you will need to travel to Kampung Lalang/Pinang Baris by private taxi, or take local buses to Pinang Baris.

Train

There is no train towards Berastagi, in the mountains. A daily economy class train runs from Medan to Pematangsiantar, which is less than an hour from Lake Toba by bus. Alternatively many more trains, including some executive class trains, run from Binjai to Medan to Tebing Tinggi, roughly half-way between Medan and Lake Toba, and back again (in the reverse direction most terminate at Medan rather than Binjai).

To/From Tangkahan

It's around 40km on rough back roads without buses from Bukit Lawang. It takes 2-2.5 hours to reach there from Bukit Lawang. See our Tangkahan page for trips.