Photo: River scenes.

Eat and meet

Food in Bukit Lawang is quite reasonable with some guesthouse restaurants being particular standouts. Otherwise a couple of local warungs serving up simple and cheap food. If you’re planning on eating dinner away from your own guesthouse, take a torch.

Nora’s Rainforest Guesthouse is a top place for dinner with a laidback ambience, great selection of Indonesian and Western food and delicious juices. This is one of the better restaurants in town.

Ecolodge on the south side of the river is a bit out of the way if you’re looking for dinner and your accommodation is on the north side of the river. But for something a little more upmarket at lunchtime, Ecolodge doesn’t disappoint despite the higher prices. The owners have made an effort to offer an Indonesian-heavy menu more interesting and complex than anything else in town.

Jungle Inn has been the go-to spot for afternoon tea or a quick lunch fin Bukit Lawang for years and still offers better than average food at good prices. The setting here on the side of the river near the orangutan centre is peaceful and you’ll occasionally see monkeys swinging through the trees as you sip on your homemade chai.

We were impressed with the restaurant at Sam’s Bungalows’ when we visited for brunch. The wooden restaurant is perched overlooking the river and has a relaxing ambience. The food doesn’t disappoint either -- someone here definitely knows how to cook. One of our favourites.

For something cheap, head across the river to the Wisma Leuser Sibayak restaurant. It’s a basic kind of place with food like fried rice, pancakes and other backpacker standards, but it’s cheap – so cheap that it regularly gets busy at lunch time when it’s easier to access than at night when a perilous walk across the bridge over the river is required.

If you’re just not into food served in restaurants attached to guesthouses, you’re going to have to walk towards where the entrance to Bukit Lawang, where the road stops and the shops start. Around here you’ll find a couple of warungs that do most of their business during the day with lots of locals filling up on fried chicken, fried rice and tofu and tempe. Prices are rock bottom and the restaurants don’t prioritise cleanliness, but that’s never stopped anyone, right?

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Bukit Lawang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Indonesia.

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