Getting there and away
Banda Aceh is serviced by an international airport connecting it to Kuala Lumpur and destinations within Sumatra and Jakarta, as well as a bus terminal that connects to destinations throughout Aceh and North Sumatra.
The airport, Bandara Sultan Iskandar Muda, is located 18 kilometres from the centre of town. A taxi counter offers fixed price cab rides to popular destinations such as the centre of town (85,000 rupiah), Ulee Lheue for the ferry to Pulau Weh (120,000 rupiah) and Lhoknga (150,000 rupiah). Rates are quite reasonable and negotiation probably isn't going to get you far.
Around town, locals use becaks, which in this neck of the woods are motorcycle sidecars, and labi-labi, which is the local name for a minibus/pickup truck. In our experience becak drivers are surprisingly quite shifty when it comes to negotiating a fare and will often ask for amounts that are more than double what should be the case. A two-kilometre ride should cost no more than 15,000 rupiah and anything closer should be around 10,000 rupiah. Many drivers won't move their vehicles for less than 10,000 rupiah no matter how close the destination. A full day trip should cost 150,000 rupiah, slightly more if you want to head out the beaches of Lampuuk or Lhoknga.
A massive labi-labi terminal is located around the back of Jalan Diponegoro and Jalan Cut Meutia and offers destinations all over the surrounding region. Minimum fares are 2,000 rupiah and are 7,000 rupiah for Ulee Lheue (ferry port) and 10,000 rupiah for Lhoknga.
Minibuses for the east part of Aceh depart from Terminal L300, accessible by becak from the centre of town for 20,000 rupiah. Sample fares include:
Medan departing at 21:00, taking 11 hours and costing 160,000 rupiah. This is a slow van rather than a bus and is not recommended unless you want to really get off the beaten path and stop somewhere on the way to Medan. Try Terminal Batoh for Medan.
Takengon departs at 10:00 & 21:00, takes 7 hours and costs 100,000 rupiah.
Buses for the rest of Sumatra depart from Terminal Batoh, accessible by becak for 30,000 rupiah. Sample fares include:
Medan departing every hour from 08:00 to 23:00, taking between 8 & 10 hours and costing between 140,000 and 200,000 rupiah. A luxury service departs at 23:00 and is non-stop, allowing a much better sleep.
Binjai (for Bukit Lawang): catch a medan bound bus and ask to get off in Binjai to save yourself an hour or two heading all the way into Medan and changing buses there.
Meuloboh departs at 20:00, takes 4 hours and costs 120,000 rupiah.
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