MUST READS before travelling to Banda Aceh & Pulau Weh

Learn everything about wifi, ATM's, getting around and the dress code for Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh.

Everything you need to know before travelling to Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh in North Sumatra

Before you get ready and pack your backs there is some things you need to know before travelling to North Sumatra. Even though Indonesia is one country, the culture, habits & beliefs are different. We will give you some insights on how to be perfectly prepared for your trip to Pulau Weh, Banda Aceh in North Sumatra.

…Let’s get started! 

Wifi, Phone Signal & ATMs 

Wifi: Most accommodations, restaurants and warungs (Indonesian word for local restaurant) nowadays have wifi. However, this might not have the fastest speed. Most of the time it’s enough to check your messages and to stay in contact with your loved ones. Internet in general is quite expensive for the locals, so make sure not to download and /or stream movies or any big files.

Phone Signal: Even though the internet at some accommodations or restaurants on Pulau Weh is quite slow you mostly will have 4 G signal. No matter if you are working remotely or want to be in touch with your loved ones. On Pulau Weh the 4 G signal is very good!

ATMs: Of course the island of Pulau Weh has ATMs. The ATM machine can be found in both Sabang and Iboih.

 

Looking for a work friendly place on Pulau Weh? We hear you digital nomads. We have preselected the best accommodations with a desk and a friendly work atmosphere. Check out places for digital nomads on Pulau Weh!

Religion, Alcohol & Dresscode in Banda Aceh & Pulau Weh

Religion: Islam is the dominant religion in Aceh and over 98% from about 4 million population identify as Muslims. Acehnese religion is Islamic in the orthodox tradition with a growing mystical strain and some pre-Islamic elements such as a belief in spirits.

The sound of religion – Watch out for mosques: Be aware in Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh that people will at least pray 5 times a day. The mosque uses megaphones – so there might be some ‘noise’ around!

Alcohol: Because of sharia law, alcohol is not available as openly here as elsewhere in Indonesia, but a few of the more expensive restaurants and hotels discreetly serve beer and wine. Freddies Sumurtiga for example has an excellent wine selection. LINK

Dress code: The region of Aceh, so also Pulau Weh, is under the Sharia Law. While in Banda Aceh this is more strict, on Pulau Weh it’s very easy going. At some public beaches you are not allowed to swim in your bikini but most of the accommodations have a private beach access where it’s absolutely fine to wear a bikini. On the streets it’s highly recommended to cover your shoulders, elbows and knees. Even though you might see some tourists wearing hot pants and shorts we advice you to not wear this.While being in Aceh, make sure to wear long sleeves and cover (at least) your elbows and knees. As a woman it’s highly recommended to wear a sarong. Respect the culture and simply dress accordingly. We are all tourists on this world and guests in their country. 

Let’s learn more about the Sharia Law!

ShariaSharia law or Islamic law is a set of religious principles which form part of the Islamic culture. The Arabic word sharīʿah (Arabic: شريعة) refers to the revealed law of God and originally meant “way” or “path”.ShariaSharia law, or Islamic law (Arabic: شريعة (IPA: [ʃaˈriːʕa])) is the religious lawforming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. … Historically, sharia was interpreted by independent jurists (muftis).

This is called ‘khalwat’. It is a crime for a man and a woman who are not married to be in a secluded place together in Aceh. This is called khalwat and it is punishable by up to nine lashes, a fine of 150 grams of gold or 15 months’ imprisonment.

Alongside khalwatmaysir (gambling) and khamar (consuming alcohol) are also illegal under sharia.

Under the 2014 jinayat, zina (adultery and pre-marital sex), liwath (gay sex), musahaqah (lesbianism) and qadzaf (falsely accusing other people of adultery) are also classified as crimes. Those found guilty of such crimes could face up to 100 lashes or 1,000 grams of gold or 100 months in prison.   

It does, but only for crimes that are not regulated under the Criminal Code such as khalwat, premarital sex or homosexuality. Non-Muslim offenders, however, could be prosecuted under sharia if they are willing to do so (the legal term for this is menundukan diri, which loosely translates to “submitting”).

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Travelling as a tourist to Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh, you don’t have to worry. As a couple or as friends you can sleep together at your accommodation.

Tsunami, Earthquake and Precautions in Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh

The December 26 in 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami was caused by an earthquake that is thought to have had the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. The epicenter of the 9.0 magnitude quake was located in the Indian Ocean near the west coast of Sumatra.

Since then an expansive tsunami response program has been established in Aceh. The national Syiah Kuala University, based in Banda Aceh, houses the Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center, which oversees the program. There are now tsunami siren towers placed around Banda Aceh, which sound when beacons out at sea register an earthquake seven or higher on the magnitude scale!

There are also escape towers, officially called “vertical evacuation sites” – several floors high, built to withstand the impact of water and equipped with a helipad on top – that people are meant to run to when the sirens sound. The coastal road has been widened to better facilitate evacuation, and escape route signs are prevalent.

 

Absolutely worth a visit: The Tsunami Museum in Banda Aceh. Instead of waiting for your ferry or you plane make sure to stop at the Tsunami Museum of Banda Aceh. Breath-taking impressions of the catastrophe in 2004.

Health, Safety & Mosquitos in Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh

Safety: In general speaking North Sumatra with it’s region Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh is very safe. Follow the dresscode and don’t stay out late. Normal awareness when travelling applies here in Banda Aceh and Sumatra. Locals are very friendly. When travelling to rural areas they might stare a bit at you, but that’s just because they are fascinated. Simply give them a smile!

Medical Center: On Pulau Weh medical facilities are available in Sabang 21 kilometres from Iboih, although you’re going to want to get out of there and to Banda Aceh as quick as possible if the ailment is serious.

Traveling alone as a woman: Travelling to Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh as a woman is absolutely fine. Simply follow the basic rules, dress appropriate and be aware of ‘usual’ threats, like in every country.

Some words from Sara, who travelled to Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh: ‘I had an amazing time in Sumatra, I have been travelling here already a view times by myself and never felt in danger. People are very welcoming, helpful and friendly. It happens very often that locals want to take a picuture with me, or stear a bit – this can be a bit irritating in the beginning. You will get a lot of questions if you are married already and where are you from! They are curious and interested in you – but that applies for every island in Indonesia, I guess. Other than that – I met many open hearts & I love the people from Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh.’

Dengue and Malaria: It has not been an issue on Pulau Weh. 

Mosquitos: Mosquitos appear early in the morning and in the evening in Banda Aceh and on Pulau Weh. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent. You can also buy it in the local stores on Pulau Weh and Banda Aceh!

You prefer sleeping with a mosquito net? Home Sweet Home offers the best accommodation in Banda Aceh and Sumatra. Simply use the filter and select places with a mosquito net! 

Getting around in Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh

We’ve collected the best ways of getting around.

How to get to Aceh & How to get around

How to get to Pulau Weh & How to get around

Dont’s in Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh

Wearing shorts and light clothes: Simply dress appropriate and cover at least your elbows and knees. 

Drinking alcohol: it’s prohibited under the Sharia Law. Choose selected hotels to enjoy your beer or wine!

Touching and kissing each other in pubic: It is not common to show your love in public. 

Respect the locals & the culture! Different countries, different habits. Whether it is your first time travelling to Indonesia or your 10th time. There will always be that moment during your travels that will put a big smile on your face. Check out our amazing Fun Facts about Indonesia!

The world is full of clichés, so is Indonesia! People do things a bit differently than the western world is used to – but the reasons why are often not what we think they are. Lern the clichés of Indonesia! 

Packing List for Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh

I pack my bags and… Don’t forget the essentials for Indonesia. Be aware to bring some light long pants and long sleeves. Go ahead & simply Download FREE Packing List for Bali & Indonesia!

No matter if you are in Indonesia already or about to pack your bags – We prepared some more stuff:

Must Reads, Tips & insights about Indonesia

Departure Checklist: Everything you have to prepare before!

What to expect from your accommodation in Aceh & Pulau Weh

Simple style: Most of Banda Aceh’s and Pulau Weh’s accommodations are very simple – but you will find everything you need.

Price Range: On Pulau Weh you get basic accommodation starting form 80.000 IDR per room. Average is around 150.000 IDR. Low budget travellers want to travel to Iboih for the best spots! If you wish some luxury you can get some magical  places already for 350.000 IDR per night. There is some high class places which go beyond and give you a resort feeling. 

Breakfast: Usually, breakfast is not included when travelling to Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh. Most of the places have a local warung where you can purchase a cheap breakfast (banana pancake!) or have at least a place nearby in walking distance. 

Mosquito nets: Most places in Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh offer mosquito nets. Though, the mosquitos are not too bad. 

No blankets/ sheets: Not in every place you will find a blanket. Though, there isn’t a need. The climate is hot so you will be enjoying fresh air from your fan!

No hot water: While in other areas in Indonesia hot water showers are quite common, this is not the case for Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh. Take advantage of that and cool off your body with a cold shower. A view places though do have hot water – simply check the filters for that. 

Not 5* but a million stars with HSH Stay: Above water, above cliffs, right at the beach. Everything is possible in North Sumatra. the places are very charming and even offer their own footbridges into the water. What are you waiting for? Find your place to stay in North Sumatra! 

More insights & tipps about Pulau Weh

Transportation in Sumatra: How to get to Pulau Weh and how to get around?

What about an catching some waves? Explore the stunning beaches and waves of Lampuuk & Lhoknga Beach!

An island full of magic: Explore the best things to do on Pulau Weh! 

Magic under Water: Explore the underwater world of Pulau Weh and find the best Dive Sites! 

Where to stay in Pulau Weh?

Other questions you might have when travelling to Aceh Region

In general speaking North Sumatra with it’s region Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh is very safe. Follow the dresscode and don’t stay out late. Normal awareness when travelling applies here in Banda Aceh and Sumatra. Locals are very friendly. When travelling to rural areas they might stare a bit at you, but that’s just because they are fascinated. Simply give them a smile!

Dress code: The region of Aceh, so also Pulau Weh, is under the Sharia Law. While in Banda Aceh this is more strict, on Pulau Weh it’s very easy going. At some public beaches you are not allowed to swim in your bikini but most of the accommodations have a private beach access where it’s absolutely fine to wear a bikini. On the streets it’s highly recommended to cover your shoulders, elbows and knees. Even though you might see some tourists wearing hot pants and shorts we advice you to not wear this.While being in Aceh, make sure to wear long sleeves and cover (at least) your elbows and knees. As a woman it’s highly recommended to wear a sarong. Respect the culture and simply dress accordingly. We are all tourists on this world and guests in their country. 

Learn everything about wifi, ATM’s, getting around and the dress code for Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh. MUST READS before travelling to Banda Aceh & Pulau Weh!

Pulau Weh: Pulau Weh, an island north of Sumatra with Kilometer 0 of Indonesia is a great getaway for snorkelling and diving lovers. Explore the stunning underwater world, white sand beaches, waterfalls. Explore the areas if Iboih, Sumur Tiga, Sabang, Sukarkarya, Gua Sarang and much more.

Iboih: Iboih is a little village right at the shore with most accommodation in the cliffs. Meet some people there, travel on a shoestring and get some world class diving and snorkelling for every budget.

Sumur Tiga: The area of Sumur Tiga has a beautiful white sand beach, nice coral for snorkelling and is only a stone throw away of Pulau Weh’s attraction Japanese Fortress. Close to the Balohan Harbour on Pulau Weh.

Sabang: Sabang is a city consisting of a main island and some islands off the northern tip of Sumatra. The islands form a city within Aceh Special Region, Indonesia.

Sukarkarya: Sukarkarya is the name of the North West region of Pulau Weh in Sumatra. This includes Iboih with it’s nice snorkelling and diving as well as Long Beach and Kilometer 0 – The north point of Indonesia.

Gua Sarang: Gua means cave. Gua Sarang is actually a sightseeing spot. The Sarang Cafe comes with a panoramic view of the blue sea, trekking activities, snorkeling, and cruising the cave into a bird’s nest. Magic on Pulau Weh in North Sumatra!

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You have any questions, ideas & tips about Pulau Weh? Simply ask us in the comments!

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