Sumatra Eco Tourism


Fly to Singkil from Medan and Banda Aceh...more details

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See the map where all the objects are marked with a red star. They are here listed in geographical order. For those with just half a day or less the top attractions are underlined. See in the end of this page for cycling and hiking tours and about jungle trekking with guerilla soldiers.

The Grave of Syiah Kuala

Teungku Syiah Kuala was the title of Syech Abdurrauf bin Ali Al-Jawi Al-Fansuri Al-Singkili who was a leading Muslim scholar during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda. He studied Islam in Makah for 15 years and became the leading Muslim teacher in Aceh, attracting students from all over the world. He wrote many books on Islam, science, and society. He was entrusted to handle the religious affairs of the Sultanate.

Syiah Kuala was born in Singkil in 1620 and passed away in Banda Aceh 1693. According to belief in Singkil he moved his grave to Singkil all by himself. The grave in Singkil is yearly visited by hundreds of Muslims from West Sumatra who consider him to be the father of Islam in West Sumatra. One possible explanation is that it was two persons and their names got mixed up.

Fishing Ship on a House

Click to enlargeImagine having a fishing ship landing on your roof! It happened in the Gampong Lampulo village. The Tsunami lifted up a big fishing ship and parked on top of a private home. It is kept on the roof as an attraction. Take a look at the nearby fish market while you are in the area.

Fish Market

Click to enlargeThe fish market along the river is worth a morning visit. It is lively, colorful and there are many fish to see. It is here the fish are landed. It is a very photogenic place and the locals love to be in your pictures.

The Grand Mosque (Mesjid Raya Baiturrahman)

Click to enlargeOne cannot avoid seeing this exceptional Mosque. The original Mosque was built in the 13th century. It was burnt down a few times. Latest in 1873 when the Dutch attacked Banda Aceh. In order to gain some popularity the Dutch rebuilt the Mosque in 1883. It has been extended several times since then. It has now 7 domes. The Grand Mosque has room for 9.000 praying persons. The latest addition is the minaret. During the Tsunami many people took refuge to the Mosque, which only got minor damages. To enter the Mosque area you have to be dressed properly and be clean. No shorts are allowed. Women have to cover their shoulders, use a head scarf, and cover their legs. A good advice is to ask the security guard. Avoid the mosque during praying times. The minaret is since the Tsunami closed for the public.

Blang Padang Park

Click to enlargeBlang Padang Park (aka Tsunami Park) is a former military exercise area that has become an open park where the locals now do exercises. Especially Sunday mornings many families visit this park and mass aerobic classes are given, with normally over 200 participants. In one corner is the RI-01 monument; a replica of a Douglas DC-3, the first Indonesian airplane, purchased by the Indonesian independence movement against the Dutch. Indonesia declared independence from the Dutch in 1945. The Dutch didn’t enter Aceh again after World War II, except Pulau Weh. The wars with Aceh before WW II had been too costly. The Acehnese collected gold in support of the Indonesia’s fight for independence. A part of the gold was used to buy the first airplane in order to break the Dutch blockade. The airplane was then registered in Burma and at independence it became the first airplane of Garuda. This park also has the “Thanks to the World” Monument in the form of a wave. All around the park are small monuments in the shape of boats with expresses of the gratitude to all the countries that helped to rebuild Aceh after the Tsunami.

Tsunami Museum

The Tsunami museum is a must for a visitor to Banda Aceh. The exhibits are not that many, but together with the unique design of the building one cannot avoid getting touched. Some people find a few of the pictures displayed a bit too horrible. However, the Tsunami on December 26, 2004 was after all so much more horrible. Approximately 260.000 people died.
Open: Friday closed. All other days: 09.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.30. Free entry.

Kerkhof Peucut

Kerkhof is a Dutch word and literally means Church yard. The Dutch were buried here during the period 1873 - 1910, most of them military personnel, about 2,200 of them, including General Kohler who was killed during the attack on the Grand Mosque. Two other generals are also buried here. However, most people buried here were soldiers from Ambon, Manado, and Java, recruited by the Dutch army. There is not one single woman buried here. The Dutch women had a hard life during the war, but did not take active part in warfare like their Acehnese counterparts did. It is often claimed that the only Acehnese buried here was a son of a Sultan Iskandar Muda who was punished with death, however, that happened 250 years earlier. A Dutch foundation still makes annual contributions to the Kerkhof to keep it tidy and maintained.

Taman Gunongan

Taman Gonongan stands for Sultan Iskandar Muda's love for his young wife Putri Phang from Pahang, Malaysia. As she felt bored alone in Banda Aceh, Iskandar Muda built a miniature of the mountains resembling Putri Phang's home in Malaysia. She spent much time here, playing, relaxing and swimming in the river. Next to the Gunongan is the grave Kandang Gunongan where Sultan Iskandar Thani rests. He married Sri Ratu Syafiatuddin, the daughter of Iskandar Muda, and took over the sultanate. It was built by his wife who took over power and became first of several Sultanas (female sultan). Open: Daily 08.00-17.00.

Pintu Khop

Pintu Khop was the gate between the Putri Phang Park and the Sultan’s palace. The palace was later destroyed by the Dutch and replaced with Dutch military houses. The park had a pool and also a library where the Sultan used to relax with his wife. It was built by Sultan Iskandar Muda during the golden age of Aceh.

Museum Aceh

Click to enlargeThis Museum has a nice traditional Acehnese house, which is an interesting example on how the Acehnese once built their houses. This traditional house was built in 1914 by the Dutch Governor van Swart. The “Cakradonya” is a one meter tall and one meter wide bell presented to the Acehnese in 1400 by a Chinese emperor. Iskandar Muda once used the bell on his ship in a battle with the Portuguese. It used to hang in a big tree to call people to meetings in the palace. The Dutch were afraid the tree would break and ordered the bell to be taken down. The Chinese laborers had to drink arrack (an alcoholic drink made from sugarcane or coconut), as they believed the bell was a home for ghosts. As soon as the bell was taken down there was a bad flood. The locals asked the Dutch to hang it up again, but not until a similar flood next year the Dutch gave in and built a special building for it. Thus, Banda Aceh was saved.

Open: Mon. closed. Tue.-Thu. 08.30-12.30 and 13.30-17.30. Fri. 08:30-11:30 and 14.00-17:30. Sat.-Sun. 08:30-12.30 and 14.00-17:30. Entrance: Rp. 750, children Rp. 250.

Sultan Iskandar Muda Grave

Iskandar Muda is maybe the most famous of all the Sultans and Sultanas of Aceh. He ruled the Aceh Kingdom “Aceh Darussalam” between 1607 and 1636 with a firm hand. When his only son broke the rule of Shariah, he ordered the hand of his son to be cut off. He strengthened Aceh as a regional power and Islam grew very strong during his reign. Banda Aceh became a trading hub. There are a few other graves here also, for example of his daughter Sri Ratu Safiatuddin who ruled between 1641 and 1675. The graves are next to the Aceh Museum.

Kandang XII Grave

Makam Kandang XII is a burial complex renovated in 1978. Twelve sultans are buried here. The most famous one is Sultan Ali Mughayat Shah who reigned 1514 – 1530. He significantly increased the size of Aceh. It is located close to the Governor’s residence, Pendopo, and surrounded by colonial army buildings.Click to enlarge


The Governors official Residence, once built by the Dutch in 1880, is a beautiful building. It is near the Aceh Museum.

Ali Hasjmy Museum and Library

A museum built by a former Governor of Aceh, former Chairman of Majelis Ulama Indonesia in Aceh (highest body of religious affairs), and former Chairman of LAKA Aceh (body for culture and traditions) the late Prof. H. Ali Hasjmy. He was a colorful person and collected artifacts and oddities from Aceh and his own life. The library contains 15.000 books, including some invaluable manuscripts from the 17th century. Located on Jl. Jend. Sudirman 26.
Open: Mon.-Thu. 08.00-13.00. Fri. 08.00-11.00. Sun. and public holidays closed.Click to enlarge

PLTD Apung

This is a 780 ton floating electricity plant, once anchored near Ulee Lheue to help overcome electricity shortage. Tsunami moved the ship 4 kilometers inland to the village Punge Blang Cut. It is now kept in its new position as a huge monument of Tsunami. It shows how powerful the Tsunami really was. There is a nice park next to the ship that depicts (shocking) pictures of the damage caused by the Tsunami.
Open: Daily except Fri. 08.00-18.30, except praying times. Fri. 08.00-11.30 and 14.00-1630.

Massgrave in Ulee Lheue

The mass grave is located along the main road to the ferry terminal in Ulee Lheue, on the site of the former hospital Meuraxa. The hospital buildings were destroyed by Tsunami. Now 14.264 unfortunate persons rest here.

Click to enlargeEscape Buildings

There are three tall four storey buildings built after Tsunami as buildings where to run if a new Tsunami would come. They is strong enough to withstand an earthquake of 9-10 Richter and a Tsunami wave of 10 meters. The buildings are used annually at the regular Tsunami drill. On the open top floors are helipads. The views from the top-floors are very nice. The buildings are always open and worth a visit for the view.



Outside Banda Aceh

Cut Nyak Dhien Museum

Cut Nyak Dhien is maybe the most famous female freedom fighter in Indonesia. She married her first husband at the age of 12. When he was killed by the Dutch she married the leader Teuku Umar on a request by her family. She agreed only if she would be allowed to join Teuku Umar in his fight against the Dutch. However, Teuku Umar surrendered later to the Dutch upon the pre-condition that his men became soldiers in the Dutch army. Cut Nyak Dhien refused to serve the infidels and convinced her husband to break the agreement with the Dutch. Teuku Umar left the Dutch army with many new weapons and carried on the fight for independence as the leader of the Acehnese. When he died in 1899 in Meulaboh, Cut Nyak Dhien took over as general and carried on the fighting. She lived in the jungles with her soldiers. Eventually she got too old and almost blind and she was, against her own will, handed over to the Dutch in 1906 by her own officers. The precondition for her resignation was that she could spend the last days of her life among the Acehnese people. At first the Dutch agreed, but afraid of her big influence among the Acehnese, they sent her to West Java where she died in exile. Cut Nyak Dhien's strength was a great embarrassment for the Dutch who even burnt down her house. A replica of the original house, filled with Acehnese artifacts and various possessions of Cut Nyak Dhien, now stands in its original place in Lam Pisang village 6 kilometers west of Banda Aceh towards Lhoknga. Just along the road on your left hand side if you come from town.
Open: All days 08.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.00. Entrance: Free, but contributions are welcome.

Beaches in Lampuuk and Lhoknga

The best beaches and surfing near Banda Aceh can be found in the nearby area of Lampuuk and Lhoknga. Many surfers go here and there are several home stays available. Lhoknga has great fresh fish BBQs, but on Sundays it can become quite crowded. There are a few other remote beaches more difficult to reach, for example the Lhok Buntah, which faces Pulau Bunta (Pulo Aceh) or the beach north of Lampuuk. Ask in Lampuuk to be taken to these beaches. The Pasir Putih beach past Krueng Raya to the east of Banda Aceh is also a nice beach.

Click to enlargeBenteng Indra Patra

Indra Patra Fort was either built by Iskandar Muda or the Indra Patra Hindu Kingdom. There are traces of Hindu influences in the architecture. It is located 23 km east of Banda Aceh, towards Kreung Raya. There is a 100m walk down from the road. The beach here is rather good.

Benteng Iskandar Muda

The Iskandar Muda Fort is one of the many forts built by Iskandar Muda. It is to the left, 200m before the bridge when you enter Kreung Raya.

Malahayati Monument and Grave

Keumala Hayati, or Malahayati was brought up at sea by her admiral father and later married to another admiral. She was appointed Commandant of the Royal Protocol. After an Acehnese victory in a sea battle against the Portuguese that claimed a very many victims, Malahayati suggested that the widows of the fallen officers would command an armada of their own. The sultan agreed and the new armada became known as “Armada Inong Balee” (the Armada of Widows). Malahayati commanded approximately 100 ships. At one incident with the Dutch, Malahayati supposedly stabbed one of the two Dutch commanders, Cornelis de Houtman, with an Acehnese dagger, a “rencong”. This eventually led to the exchange of ambassadors between the Netherlands and Aceh. Her grave is just opposite the big harbor of Kreung Raya, overlooking the ocean from the hill.

Benteng Balee Inong

Benteng Balee Inong was a fortification a few kilometers beyond Kreung Raya harbor. It was built by Malhayati and her Armada Inong Balee. The fort is however in ruins.

Ie Seuhom hot springs

Six kilometers inland from Kreung Raya is the Ie Seuhom hot spirngs. The name means hot water. The road there takes you through pepper orchards, once the basis for Aceh’s power in the 19th century. Aceh was then the biggest black pepper exporter in the world. The springs itself are hot enough to boil eggs, but downstream the water cools off a bit and one can enjoy a warm bath. Take the road between Kreung Raya village and harbor inland towards Blang Bintang. After app. 2 km turn left. This road leads to the area with the springs. Ask locals for directions. The road towards the hot springs continues to Lam Teuba and offers nice scenery.

Click to enlargeCycling and Hiking Tours

Aceh adventure promotes cycling and eco-tourism in Aceh. They organize hike and cycling trips in Banda Aceh and its surroundings, which includes great beaches, traditional villages, hills and forests. They also have motorbikes for rent.
Aceh Adventure, Jl. Dr. Mr. Mohamad Hassan no. 134, next to the bus Terminal. Ph: +62813 9957 8873.

Click to enlargeGuerilla Trekking

Aceh Explorer arranges jungle trekking into the former hideouts of the Aceh guerillas (GAM), and they uses the best guides for this, the former guerilla solders. An example on how their skills can be used for peaceful tourism. Facebook: Jelajah Aceh.








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