In Sumatra folklore, it was mentioned about pulau ameh (Minang language) and Tanoh Mas (Lampung Language). These names were convicted as a real name of Sumatra, “The Gold Island”. I’tsing, a Chinese traveler who was settled in Sriwijaya in 7th century (today known as Palembang), addressed Sumatra as chin-chou which means “Golden Land”. In Sanskrit carved on several epigraphs, there were mentioned a lot about Suwarnadwipa or Suwarnabhumi which also means the land of gold. A Greek manuscript from the year of 70 point out Taprobana - name for Sumatra in ancient Greek - as chryse nesos or island of gold. Based on those references, Sumatra Island also known as the ‘Land of Gold’.
The Island of Gold in western part of Indonesia presents a complete package of tourism attractions. You can start your journey to explore cultural and traditional heritage with strong Malay and Islamic nuance. Local wisdom of Malay dominated community has been able to preserve cultural and natural heritage of Sumatra. Array of volcanic mountains, huge spread of white sandy beaches and tropical rainforest, are beautiful picture of Sumatra nature which has been conserved until today.
You can complete your adventure by enjoying culinary treat from northern to southern edge of the Island. Unique taste of culinary delight will always attempt you to taste its variety. Taking pleasure of the enchantment in every corners of Sumatra Island will surely be a great life experience
Art and Culture
Within Malayan cultural bond, there are variety of cultural colors from western edge of Aceh to Lampung in southern part of Sumatra. Sumatra and several small islands around are administratively divided into 10 provinces. Dancing, poem and idyll reciting have been a unique way of expressing things in the community.
From Aceh or Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD), Saman dance and a unique L-shaped dagger called Rencong have emerged as famous specialty. In the harmony of body movement, song and poetry of its dancers, Saman dance has enchantingly conveyed religious, ethical, educational, as well as patriotic messages.
In North Sumatra region, you can also discover magnificent architectural works. Dominated by Batak, Malayan and Nias tribes, people in north Sumatra not only known as good dancers and singers but also as skillful crafter who mix architectural works with carving and sculpting art. Architectural art in form of traditional housing can be found in Samosir island. You are suggested to take home an Ulos fabric, a specialty fabric which will preserve your memories on cultural unique of Tano Batak.
While visiting North Sumatra, you should spare your time to go to small island in western side of Sumatra. The Nias Island called by Nias Tribe (Ono Niha) as Tano Niha. Traditional ritual of stone jumping has been a cultural icon of Nias Tribe. The attraction of skillful and strong Nias youngsters jump over 2 meters stone walls will be a fascinating show you should not miss.
Rumah Gadang and "Minang Silek" Martial Art
Matrilineal customary law and artistry of Minangkabau tribe is magnet of West Sumatra. Rumah Gadang appears to be interesting traditional house with its unique buffalo horns shaped roof. Cultural distinctive of Minang tribe also reflected through a mixture of martial arts with dance, music and performing arts which packaged as ‘Silek’.
Sumatra enchantments also emitted from northern edge of the Island as gold radiance from Lampung Tapis fabric. The gold thread embroidered fabric has been a traditional sacred symbol of Lampung people. Today, Tapis fabric with variety of ornamental patterns becomes a traditional handicraft with high economic value.
Distinguish Sumatra art, culture and tradition also can be enjoyed through buildings which reflect historical, sacred, religious value as well as high civilization of Sumatra community in its glorious times. Baiturrahman great mosque in the city of Banda Aceh appears to be a religius symbol as the terrace of Mecca’ as well as of courage and nationalistic spirit of Aceh people. This one of magnificent mosques in Southeast Asia, stand gracefully in the middle of busy city. Even the last horrible tsunami can destroy this sturdy building which was inherited from Sultan Iskandar Muda.
Great Mosque and Maimun Palace
Another magnificent building can be found in the heart of the city of Medan. Here stand the Maimun Palace with its strong nuance of Malayan culture. This Sultan Deli Kingdom heritage was situated side by side with Al-Maksum Mosque or the Great Mosque of Medan. Both are religious symbols which are silent witness of the Malayan Kingdom history in North Sumatra.
A famous landmark is also located n Sumatra Barat Province. A clock tower situated in the heart of the city of Bukittinggi is well known as Jam Gadang. The tower has been built in 1926 and become an icon of West Sumatra. The 26 meters tower display 4 clocks which is powered by mechanical system. The clock machinery was one of two specially built machines in the world. Another clock machine installed in London Big Ben tower. The beautiful Jam Gadang tower with its background scenery are an interesting panorama to be taken into your photograph.
Ampera Bridge and Gadang Clock
Enjoy the romantic ambience in Sriwijaya land from famous the Ampera bridge. On the bridge above Musi River you can see the dynamics of the city of Palembang with its sparkling lamps. Far away there is a view of Palm tree array decorated by garden lamps within the front yard of Kuto Besak fort. The fortress was a center for Palembang Kingdom in 18th century. It is strategically located in open wide area in front of beautiful scenery as background which made the fort as tourism site worth to visit.
You can also visit historical site scattered over Sumatra Island, such as Muarojambi Temple (Jambi), Muara Takus Temple (Riau) and Kedukan Bukit Epigraph (Palembang). These sites record the long historical journey of Sumatra people.
The Beauty of Nature
Mountains Valeys & Lakes
Bukit Barisan Mountains which spread from northern edge (Aceh) to southern edge (Lampung) of Sumatra characterize the nature of Sumatra Island. The 1.650 kilometers mountain line consists of actively volcanic mountain with highest peak in Kerinci Mountain, Jambi (3.805 meters above sea level).
Another highest peak is on Dempo Mountain (3.159 meters above the sea level) in South Sumatra. A small city, Pagaralam, on the mountain feet is interesting place to visit. Besides the panoramic beauty of Dempo mountain, in this city you can enjoy more than 33 waterfalls and observe 26 menhir sites from megalithic age. You can stay a while here in Pagaralam to enjoy the freshness of mountain breeze accompanied by a cup shooting warm tea from Dempo Mountain tea plantation.
High plateau view has been a specialty of the city of Bukittinggi, West Sumatra. Natural exotic of Bukittinggi is beautifully sketched through Ngarai Sianok valley. The valley has two sturdy vis-à-vis rock walls with 100 meters height and form a wide gap filled with paddy field and Sianok River long curves. By the sunset or sunrise, red, yellow, and orange tinge on the sky are perfecting the panoramic beauty of Ngarai Sianok. Spend your time for kayaking along Sianok river to get the captivating view as well as enthralling experience.
Toba Lake - The biggest volcanic in the world
An eruption of giant volcano of Toba mountain about 74 thousand years ago has formed a biggest volcanic lake in the world, Lake Toba. The lake was so extensive and resembles a sea across 6 regency territories in North Sumatra province. Fresh breeze blows around hills which are circling the Lake. Sailing across the lake by rented motor boat is a splendid way to enjoy the beauty of Lake Toba. You can also stop by in Samosir Island, a big island in the middle of the lake which reaches the height of on 1.000 meters above sea level.
Beach and Sea
Tanjung Tinggi Belitung
In the south corner if Sumatra, lies a beach tourism object with its white clean sandy beach known as Pasir Putih beach, South Lampung. You can also enjoy the wave play on rented tourist boat. By this boat, you can also visit Condong Island which only takes 10 minutes boating from the beach. In Condong Island you can enjoy its fascinating sea park.
The spread of soft white sand can also be found in Belitung Island. The Island, located near Bangka Island and separated by Gaspar straits, has many beautiful and unique beach tourism regions. Tanjung Tinggi beach is one of them. On the spread of white sandy beach, lie hundred of granites with various exotic forms. Most of the rocks are in giant size so you can climb, walk and jump on them. Above these rocks you can also sit in leisure to enjoy romantic ambience by the sunset.
Surfing in Manawa Island West Sumatra
In addition to its beauty of white sandy beaches, Sumatra is also gifted by Manawa Islands in West Sumatra which is well-known as The Surfing Island. These islands situated in Indian Ocean, about 150 kilometers from the Sumatra mainland. There are at least 400 favorite surfing spots where surfers from around the world like to explore. By world surfer community, the wave rolls in Mentawai has been ranked as the third best surfing site in the world after Hawaii and Tahiti.
National Parks in Sumatra
Sumatra has conserved biodiversity within natural conservation regions spread in several part of the Island such as Gunung Leuser National Park (Sumatra Utara) and Kerinci Seblat National Park (Bengkulu), and Barisan Selatan National Park. Development of Sumatra natural conservation center is an effort for protecting tropical rainforests which serve habitat for biodiversity. South Bukit Barisan national Park is the one which comprises three provinces’ territory: Lampung, Bengkulu and south Sumatra. This National Park has been elected as a World Heritage Site, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra.
Most of National Parks in Sumatra have appointed to be conervation center for Sumatra endemic flora and Fauna which include Sumatra Rhinoceros ( Dicerorhinus sumatrensis sumatrensis ), Sumatra Elephant ( Elephas maximus sumatranus ), Sumatra Tiger ( Panthera tigris sumatrae ), and Tapir ( Tapirus indicus ). The most popular flower originated from Sumatra is giant lotus ( Rafflesia arnoldii ). This rare parasit plant is the biggest flower in the world which is endemic in Sumatra Island and conserved mainly in Kerinci Seblat.
Another magnet of Sumatra fauna is Sumatra elephant actions from five regions of elephant training centers on Seblat (Bengkulu), Way Kambas (Lampung), Lhokseumawe (Aceh), Sebangau (Riau), and Sebokor (Sumatra Selatan). Way Kambas National Park, the oldest natural conservation in Indonesia, serves as home and playing ground for about 200 Sumatra elephant. The show presented by trained elephants can entertain and tickle visitor to laugh for its happy and funny act.
Sumatra Tiger and Crodille Captivity
The animal show performed by delta crocodile ( Crocodyllus porosus ) in Asam Kumbang Crocodile Captivity, is not less attractive. The Captivity has been established in 1959 and keeps about 2.600 crocodile as private collection of Lo Than Mok. The act of crocodile gobbling up its prey is a major attraction. After purchasing an available duck or chicken, you can be excited to see how the crocodiles fight to each other for getting the poultry you have thrown to their pool. These Sumatra crocodile and elephant shows will add colorful features of your exploration in The Island of Gold.
Business Center in Sumatra
Among parts of Sumatra, Batam has emerged as an international business and trade center. Its strategic location near neighboring countries (Singapore and Malaysia) as well as in the middle of international shipping line, served Batam development as an international industrial area and harbor. The city of Batam has made Riau Islands Province as another gate for international tourism beside Bali.
Hang Nadim International Airport provides easy access to reach Batam. The airport famous with its longest runway in South east Asia and become a pride for Riau Islands Province. Five international ferryboat ports - Batam Centre, Harbor Bay, Nongsa, Waterfront City, and Sekupang - make it even easier access from Batam to Singapore and Malaysia, and vice versa. Access from and to Batam Island, Rempang Island and Galang Island are facilitated by Barelang bridge. This Landmark, extend to 2 kilometers length, has been an icon of Batam. The name ‘Barelang’ was taken from the islands connected by the bridge: BAtam, REmpang and GaLAng. The beauty of gleaming lights of Batam can be viewed from this bridge.
Harmonious life of multi-ethnics bonded by Malayan and Islamic culture is strongly felt in Batam. The blend of cultural elements is expressed in unique art and Tradition of Batam such as Jogi dance Zapin dance and Ronggeng dance. Cultural enchantment of Batam apparently is not faded by industrialization. As a business center zone, city of Batam offers shopping centers which are also being favorable tourism sites.
Culinary in Sumatra
exploring culinary attractions in Sumatra Island will be an unforgettable experience. Hot and spicy cuisine and durian based food are culinary specialty of Sumatra. You will hard to resist magnificent taste of Rendang. This distinctive hot spiced meat become popular across the world and ranked in the top of World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods year 2011 in CNN version. Hot and tempting sensation also comes from Keripik Sanjay, a famous snack for as your memento for your relatives.
Almost in all Sumatra regions you can find durian fruit. When the season comes, the seller will display their durian all along the road from suburb to downtown. You can stop by and taste the soft and sweet durian flesh and enjoy the aroma of “The King of Fruit”. You can also bring durian delicacy in form of processed food like Lempok or Dodol. Famous Durianbased processed food includes Tempoyak which are fermented from durian flesh and used as seasoning or mixed with sambal sauce. The seasoning will give you an appetizing mixture of hot, sweet, sour and salty sensation in your tongue.
Another special food is Empek-empek which is made of sago powder and fish from south Sumatra. This chewy food will be tasted so delicious with vinegar seasoning for its sour and sweet flavor. With fish chips as supplement, you will be tempted to have it more and more.