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Places of interest in Aceh
|Alas River |Banda Aceh |Governor's Residence |Grand Baiturrachman Mosque |Gunung Leuser National Park |Kerkhof |Lake Laut Tawar |Lhoknga & Lumpuk Beaches |Lhokseumawe |Linge Isaq Hunting Park |Museum Negeri |Takengon |Taman Sari

Aceh, at the northwestern end of Sumatra, came into contact with the outside world as early as the sixth century AD. Chinese chronicles of that time speak of a kingdom on the northern tip of Sumatra named Po-Li. Several Arabic writings of the early ninth century, and later inscriptions found in India mention the area. In 1292, Marco Polo, on his voyage from China to Persia visited Sumatra and reported that on the northern part of Sumatra there were as many as six trading ports including Ferlec, Samudera and Lambri. It is ironic that this area is presently one of the least known of Indonesia.

Islam is reported to have reached Aceh between the seventh and eighth centuries AD and the first Islamic kingdom, Perlak was established in 804 AD. Then followed Samudera Pasai in 1042, Tamiah in 1184, Aceh in 1205 and Darussalam in 1511. In this year the Portuguese captured Malacca and many Asian and Arabic traders sought to avoid the Malacca Strait and called instead on Aceh's port, bringing wealth and prosperity. Aceh's dominance in trade and politics in northern parts of Sumatra began, reaching a climax between 1610 and 1640.

With the death of Sultan Iskandar Thani in 1641, Aceh's decline began. The British and Dutch both started to vie for influence. In 1824 the London Treaty was signed, giving the Dutch control over all British possessions in Sumatra in return for a Dutch surrender of their establishments in India and an abrogation of all claims on Singapore. The Dutch fought a long drawn out struggle in their attempt to subdue the Acehnese. The Aceh War, which lasted intermittently from 1873 to 1942, was the longest ever fought by Holland and cost the Dutch more than 10,000 lives. This struggle has stamped a deep imprint on the Acehnese outlook and mentality.

The era of industrialization arrived, and with it has come a more open attitude towards things alien. Visitors should keep in mind, though, that the Acehnese take their religion, their manners and their morals seriously.

Alas River

The Alas River, 165 km southeast from Takengon, cuts through the Gunung Leuser National Park. This area is especially popular among the young and adventurous. The sharp bends and many rapids are challenging to white-water rafters.

Banda Aceh

The main gateway to the province, Banda Aceh has many beautiful beaches. The most popular ones are Ujong Batee beach, Lam Puuk beach and Lhok Nga beach, located about 16 km from Banda Aceh and can be reach by speedboat. They have clean water, white sand and impressive sunsets.

Coral reefs are found in the area and especially well known are those at Rubiah Island in Sabang, and around Beras.

Governor's Residence

Built in 1880, it was formerly the residence of the Dutch governors. The residence and the Grand Baiturrachman Mosque both occupy an area which was previously the center of the Aceh Sultanate.

Grand Baiturrachman Mosque

One of the most impressive mosques in Indonesia, the Grand Baiturrachman Mosque was built during the Aceh Sultanate around the middle of the last century. During the colonial period, Dutch troops occupied and burnt the old mosque. A new one was later built, and in 1935 it was extended and given 3 new domes, to which two more were added between 1959 and 1968.

Gunung Leuser National Park

The National Park of Gunung Leuser is probably the best place to see wild animals in their natural habitat in Indonesia. Located in Southeast Aceh, it can be reached from either Kutacane, or Takengon. The wealth of the park's flora and fauna make it a frequent site for research on primates, birds, insects and for environmental studies. Basic lodging facilities are available at the Ketambe post.


The Kerkhof (graveyard) bears evidence of the long and bloody resistance which the Acehnese waged against the Dutch expansion during the last century. The bodies of more than 2,000 Dutch soldiers lay buried here.

Lake Laut Tawar

Located near Takengon, in the highlands of Cental Aceh, is very scenic. It has soaring cliffs around the shore which are ideal for rock climbing. The lake is also stocked with trout. There are warm water pools at Simpang Balik. Many caves dot the lake's surroundings, Loyang Koro and Loyang Pukes caves by the side of Lake Laut Tawar are interesting to explore. Motorboats can be hired for fishing and sightseeing.

Lhoknga & Lumpuk Beaches

These two beaches are located about 17 km to the west of Banda Aceh. The white sand and clear waters are perfect for fishing, boating, snorkeling and bathing.


Lhokseumawe, located 274 km from Banda Aceh, is among the largest industrial zones in Indonesia. Located here are Indonesia's biggest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, the Asean and the Iskandar Muda urea fertilizer industries. Sightseeing around the region of Lhokseumawe includes the historic town of Samudera Pasai, Blang Kolam Falls and Ujung Blang Beach.

Linge Isaq Hunting Park

The Linge Isaq Hunting Park is located 50 km to the south of Takengon. A 80,000 hectare tract of wild inhabited by various species of wildlife, especially wild boar and deer.

Museum Negeri

Worth visiting, this museum provides a glimpse of the culture and history of Aceh. Filled with antiques, among the exhibits is a big clock, a gift from the Emperor of China and brought to Aceh by the famed Admiral Cheng Ho in 1414.


Takengon, located in Central Aceh is a pleasantly cool holiday resort, at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level. Central Aceh is one of Sumatra's foremost producers of high quality coffee.

Taman Sari

During the time of the Aceh Sultanate, the palace was surrounded by a park named Taman Sari, through with the Krueng Daroy River flowed. The only structure left of the old palace is the Pintu Khop, which was the gateway connecting the palace with the park. Not so far from the gateway is an odd structure in the resemblance of a small mountain, appropriately named the Gunongan.


Handicrafts, basketry and jewelry.

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