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Indonesia forum

Driving in Sumatra

Posted by u2tool on 12/10/2017 at 23:44

We are thinking of renting a car short term at two stops on our trip. We'd like to rent one in Medan, to visit Lake Toba, Bukit Lawang, Berastagi, over a few days. We're also thinking of renting a car out of Padang to visit HarauValley, Bukittinggi. We'd like to have a little autonomy for part of the trip, but no long haul driving. I've driven all over Thailand (and Portugal which is even crazier).

I'd like to hear from any that have done it, how navigable the roads are, the pros and cons. Thanks in advance.

#1 u2tool has been a member since 18/7/2011. Posts: 2

Posted by gecktrek on 17/10/2017 at 00:07

hey, i've only rented and ridden motorcycles in sumatra... traffic-wise it's much the same as any asian country, obviously a lot more traffic in the larger towns. i use a combination of hard-copy maps and online map app's such as google or mapme... some of the scenery out of the towns is spectacular...

#2 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 139
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Posted by LukeMackin on 2/11/2017 at 20:07

Roads from Padang to Bukittinggi and Harau are fine (although narrow at times). But honestly, I would just hire the driver to go with the car. Really only about an extra 150,000 IDR a day, and you remove the liability if you get into an accident (the foreigner is always at fault, period). And you can enjoy the fantastic scenery instead of being worried about being laser-focused on the road, watching for dogs/chickens/children/speeding trucks and buses. Not sure why you would lose any autonomy - you tell the driver exactly where you want to go, and he takes you there. You say no long haul driving, but driving from Medan to Toba to Bukit Lawang, etc, is definitely long haul! Even from Padang to Bukittinggi is more than two and a half hours, and another hour and a half+ to Harau.

#3 LukeMackin has been a member since 4/7/2013. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8
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