WHERE is GREEN HILL?
Green Hill Guest House is located in the up river area of Bukit Lawang only 10 minutes walk from the orangutan viewing platform. We are not accessible by car and it is approximately a 10-15 minute walk from the taxi drop off point/public transport down river.
If you pre book and let us know your travel arrangements (be it private car or public bus) we will of course send a staff member to meet you and escort you up to Green Hill.
We will usually be able to help you with your luggage if necessary but if you have lots to carry or are a large group there are local porters available who currently charge only 30,000 IDR per bag. If the luggage is oversize it may be a little bit more. By using porters you are saving yourself getting hot and bothered and also supporting the local economy.
HOW TO GET HERE
Firstly, you need to get to Sumatra and it is quite easy. The best airports from which to get here are Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Singapore or Jakarta. From either of these three it is then only a short flight over to Kualanamu International Airport, North Sumatra (approx 1 hour outside Medan). Most airlines and travel agents can book you a tickets for the entire journey but...another and perhaps cheaper option is to arrange your flight into Medan yourself...i.e. AirAsia often do really good deals and you can book online.
Once you are in Sumatra you then need to get to Bukit Lawang and there are a number of options which vary in terms of cost, comfort and adventure: We can arrange private transport and meet you at the airport (650,000 IDR) or your hotel (500,000 IDR)...OR...you can make your own way to Bukit Lawang on public transport. We will provide you with a detailed set of instructions (which do include the location of a secret lovely clean toilet very close to the bus stop in Medan!)
It takes approximately 4-5 hours from the airport to Bukit Lawang...depending on traffic and the time of day at which you travel. Several guests have book mid-day or earlier flights out of Medan as it only takes about 3 hours in a private car when you leave bukit lawang in the early hours...
Medan is a busy, hectic city and can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not used to Asian citys. If you need to spend any time overnight there we can recommend a variety of hotels (to suit different budgets) and places to eat and shop. Drop us an email and we will advise you on the best options to fit your schedule.
WHAT TO BRING
The climate here is hot and humid so it's best to wear loose fitting, cotton clothing. Jeans are sometimes nice to wear on an evening but not good for walking/trekking. Board shorts (e.g. quiksilver, billabong etc) are ideal as they dry really quickly. (see Cultural Awareness section below for further guidance). If you are going trekking don't worry, you don't need any specialist clothing or equipment but there are a few useful things to have (e.g. head torch) especially if you are camping overnight: we will send you a detailed 'kit list' when you make your booking. There are a few little shops close by that sell just about everything you need such as mosquito repellent, tiger balm, toiletries etc
The closest ATM is 30 minutes away in the village of Bohorok BUT...it only takes Maestro and Mastercard. It can be a little bit unreliable so it is best to stock up on cash before you arrive or along the way..there are ATM in the airport and throughout Medan and Binjai (2 hours away). If you book a private car pick up the driver can stop along the way. It is possible to exchange foreign currency in Bukit Lawang but remember the rate you get will be lower than in a city.Please note that once you are here in Green Hill we can only accept payment in local currency, Indonesian Rupiah.
VISA / INSURANCE
As with any holiday it is always advisable to make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance with good medical cover.
It is a simple process to get a visa for Indonesia. You can get a 30 day visa on arrival at Kualanamu airport which is free. If you want to spend longer than 30 days (and most people do) exploring Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia you can get a 60 tourist visa at an Indonesian Embassy. The exact process and documents required will vary depending on your nationality and the country you apply in, check out websites for exact information, it is a good idea to be prepared. If you are already travelling in Asia a good Indonesian Embassy to go to is in Penang, Malaysia. You can take your application in on a morning (get forms at Embassy) and usually pick it up the following morning. At the last count you needed 1 passport photo with a red background, a copy of passport and a copy of your flight/travel ticket out of Indonesia. Things that have been asked for randomly in the past have been a copy of credit/bank card and a copy of ticket into Indonesia. The cost was 170 malaysian ringgit as of February 2013.
It is usually hot and humid most of the time and it tends to rain every few days...but not for very long. When guests arrive after the 15minute walk along the path they often feel hot and tired...but dont worry..Green Hill is quite cool and on a night time it is very pleasant. The rainy season (approx November to March) is no problem and rarely impacts on any activities such as trekking> It just tends to rain a bit more and a bit longer and you sometimes get spectacular thunderstorms. It is a good idea to carry a small collapsible umbrella which can also be used as a sunshade.
THe Bohorok river whoich passes through Bukit Lawang does have a strong current and you should always be carfeul when you are swimming or tubing. If you would like a life jacket for rafting please tell us when booking your trek.
We have a collection of photos, nature books, factsheets, scientific journal articles etc. Why not learn a bit about the amazing wildlife of Bukit Lawang over a beer or fruit juice. We are currently working on our own 'biodiversity survey' using photographic evidence of all the different species that have been spotted in and around this area and the album is on display..we currently have over 316 different species! Come along and identify your spottings using our books and maybe even add a 'new species' to our collection (see orangutan and wildlife webpages for further info)
With it being so hot and humid it is important to make sure you drink plenty of water. Bottled mineral water is readily available, you can also buy it at Green Hill and we have a refill water cooler in so that means you can reuse your bottles.
You should always wear a high factor sun cream and wear a hat. Don’t forget the back of your neck especially if you’re tubing on the river or if you go to Tangkahan on a motorbike.
Malaria and bite prevention: There are mosquitoes around actually not that many..this is due to the fast flowing river. You should use a repellent and maybe wear long sleeves/trousers at dawn and dusk which is when mosquitoes are most active. Apparently the sweat of people who have diets high in B12 can deter mosquitoes! (eat alot of marmite). Many people use Tiger Balm on bites but you can easily buy a very similar balsam here for less than £1 which does the same job. Also, we often find that guests using spray or roll on repellent still can get bitten and we would advise applying to hands first them rubbing over body...spray tends to get blown away! Also...the locally available stuff does seem to work, contains about 15%deet, smells quite nice and is only about one euro a bottle.
You should check with your Doctor or a travel clinic what vaccinations are recommended and also for advice on malaria prophylaxis..altho alot of Doctors seem to advise that ALL of Sumatra is a high risk area..this is not the case.
It is a good idea to bring a personal medical kit containing things such as painkillers, plasters, anti-diarrhoeal tablets etc.
CULTURAL AWARENESS AND SENSITIVITY
When you travel anywhere in the world your trip will be enhanced if you are aware of the customs and culture of the place you are visiting. Indonesian people are very welcoming and friendly and tend to be very non-confrontational. If you ask directions they will still try and help you even if they don’t actually know. You will also find that you are often asked where are you from, where are you going and kids will usually shout ‘hello mister’ whether you are male or female.
Sumatra is a predominantly Muslim country and you will often hear the call to prayer from the mosques (5 times a day). It is nice to show your respect by not playing loud music etc when people are praying. It is also nice generally if ladies can refrain from wearing skimpy/revealing clothing such as strappy vest tops, figure hugging tshirts with scoop necks, short shorts or bikinis. Men should not be topless when eating...wear a t-shirt. For swimming you can follow what the locals do...shorts and tshirt (ladies)..shorts for men...and men...pleeease do not wear little white speedo trunks...thanks:-) Don’t worry about this sort of thing though, or think that its restrictive, it’s just nice if you show respect for the culture by adjusting to what happens here.