Top 5 Most Visited Provinces by Foreign Tourists in Sumatra


Bali, Lombok, and Raja Ampat certainly capture the tourism spotlight. However, Indonesia boasts more collections of holiday destinations waiting to be explored. Sumatra, for instance, the archipelago’s western island offers a diverse layer of landscapes, cultures, and cuisines across its ten provinces.

Interested in the prospect of an unforgettable vacation? Let’s find out Sumatra’s hidden gems that have captivated most international tourists.

5. Aceh: The Veranda of Mecca 

Aceh, nicknamed the “Veranda of Mecca” for its rich Islamic heritage, isn’t just a history buff’s paradise. It also ranked fifth for attracting foreign visitors in 2023 (over 25,244 to be exact). The Tsunami Museum offers a powerful reminder of the 2004 disaster, but Aceh has so much more to offer. 

Iboih Beach

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Iboih Beach, explore the underwater wonderland of Rubiah Sea Garden, or trek through the mountains of Bur Telege in Takengon for some epic scenery. Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport is your gateway to all of this.

4. Riau: Nature’s Playground in Sumatra

Unlike Aceh, Riau offers multiple entry points: Sultan Syarif Kasim International Airport and Dumai International Seaport. This makes it easy for all kinds of travelers to experience the wonders of Riau. Over 40,810 international tourists flocked to Riau in 2023, and it’s no surprise why. 

Ulu Kasok, Kampar regency in Riau

Tesso Nilo National Park is a haven for nature lovers, with lush rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife. Craving an underwater adventure? Head to Ulu Kasok, also known as the “Raja Ampat of Sumatra,” for stunning coral reefs. Calling all adrenaline junkies: Riau boasts the legendary “Seven Ghosts” – powerful tidal waves in Kampar River that challenge experienced surfers worldwide.

3. West Sumatra: Beyond the Surf

West Sumatra isn’t just a haven for surfers seeking post-Bali waves in the Mentawai Islands. This diverse province boasts pristine beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and a rich cultural heritage.  Explore the fascinating traditions of the Mentawai tribe, or immerse yourself in the beauty of West Sumatra’s tourism villages – Kubu Gadang and Nagari Sijunjung offer a glimpse into authentic local life. 


Kubu Gadang Tourism Village

For a touch of adventure, take a scenic drive along the winding Kelok Sembilan road in Payakumbuh, where misty mornings create breathtaking panoramas. In 2023, over 44,000 foreign tourists explored West Sumatra, arriving at Minangkabau International Airport.

2. North Sumatra: A Land of Natural Wonders

“Horas!” is the warm greeting you will receive in North Sumatra, the second-most visited province by foreign tourists in western Indonesia.  With over 178,000 international arrivals in 2023 landing at Kualanamu International Airport, North Sumatra offers a plethora of experiences. 

Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra

Find tranquility at the majestic Lake Toba, or embark on an eco-adventure in Bukit Lawang, a riverside haven on the edge of the Gunung Leuser National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Capture stunning Instagram-worthy shots at the Sipiso-piso waterfall, a cascading marvel amidst lush greenery.

1. Kepulauan Riau: A Paradise for Relaxation 

Bintan in Tanjung Pinang, Kepulauan Riau

Claiming the top spot with over 1.3 million international visitors in 2023 (still recovering from pre-pandemic levels) is Kepulauan Riau. This island archipelago, once part of Riau province but separated since 2004 (“Kepri” is how most Indonesians call this province), entices travelers with its relaxed island vibes and focus on marine tourism. Batam and Bintan are the undisputed stars, drawing crowds with their delectable seafood and exciting water activities. 


Sumatra caters to every style of travel and vacations. From urban exploration in big cities, peaceful small villages with breathtaking nature, to the fun adventure of beaches and mountains. Start to plan your visit and pack your bags.Sumatra awaits you!  

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Andrzej Barski

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Andrzej is Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia. He was born in the UK to Polish parents and has been living in Indonesia for more than 33-years. He is a skilled writer, trainer and marketer with a deep understanding of Indonesia and its many cultures after spending many years travelling across the archipelago from North Sumatra to Irian Jaya.

His experience covers Marketing, Branding, Advertising, Publishing, Real Estate and Training for 5-Star Hotels and Resorts in Bali and Jakarta, which has given him a passion for the customer experience. He’s a published author and a regular contributor to local and regional publications. His interests include conservation, eco-conscious initiatives, spirituality and motorcycles. Andrzej speaks English and Indonesian.

Terje H. Nilsen

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Terje is from Norway and has been living in Indonesia for over 20-years. He first came to Indonesia as a child and after earning his degree in Business Administration from the University of Agder in Norway, he moved to Indonesia in 1993, where he has worked in leading positions in education and the fitness/ wellness industries all over Indonesia including Jakarta, Banjarmasin, Medan and Bali.

He was Co-owner and CEO of the Paradise Property Group for 10-years and led the company to great success. He is now Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia offering market entry services for foreign investors, legal advice, sourcing of investments and in particular real estate investments. He has a soft spot for eco-friendly and socially sustainable projects and investments, while his personal business strengths are in property law, tourism trends, macroeconomics, Indonesian government and regulations. His personal interests are in sport, adventure, history and spiritual experiences.

Terje’s leadership, drive and knowledge are recognised across many industries and his unrivalled network of high level contacts in government and business spans the globe. He believes you do good and do well but always in that order. Terje speaks English, Indonesian and Norwegian.

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Ridwan Jasin Zachrie

CFO of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Ridwan is one of Indonesia’s top executives with a long and illustrious career in the financial world. He holds several professional certifications including being a Certified Business Valuer (CBV) issued by the Australian Academy of Finance and Management; Broker-Dealer Representative (WPPE); and The Directorship Certification for Directors and Commissioners, issued by the Indonesian Institute of Commissioners and Directors.

His experience includes being the Managing Director at one of the top investment banking groups in the region, the Recapital Group, the CFO at State-owned enterprises in fishery industry and the CEO at Tanri Abeng & Son Holding. He’s also been an Independent Commissioner in several Financial Service companies and on the Audit and Risk Committee at Bank BTPN Tbk, Berau Coal Energy Tbk, Aetra Air Jakarta as well as working for Citibank, Bank Mandiri and HSBC. His last position was as CFO at PT Citra Putra Mandiri – OSO Group.

Ridwan has won a number of prestigious awards including the Best CFO Awards 2019 (Institute of Certified Management Accountant Australia-Indonesia); Asia Pacific Young Business Leader awarded by Asia 21 Network New York USA (Tokyo 2008); UK Alumni Business Awards 2008 awarded by the British Council; and The Most Inspiring Human Resources Practitioners’ version of Human Capital Magazine 2010.

He’s a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Law, Trisakti University, Co-Founder of the Paramadina Public Policy Institute and actively writes books, publications and articles in the mass media. He co-authored “Korupsi Mengorupsi Indonesia” in 2009, which helps those with an interest in understanding governance in Indonesia and the critical issue of corruption. Ridwan speaks Indonesian and English.

Per Fredrik Ecker

Managing Director of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Per is the Managing Director of the Seven Stones Indonesia (SSI) Jakarta office and has more than 25-years’ experience in Indonesia, China, and Western Europe. He previously worked in senior management positions with Q-Free ASA, Siemens AG, and other companies in the telecom sector. Over the last six years, he has been the Chairman of the Indonesia-Norway Business Council (INBC) and recently become elected to be on the board of EuroCham Indonesia.

His most recent experience is within Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS), Telecom, and other sectors within the Indonesian market. He is today through his position in SSI and by representing Norway Connect, promoting Nordic and European companies that would like to explore business opportunities in the Indonesian market. He’s also playing an active role to help create the Nordic House concept in Jakarta that will provide an excellent platform for Nordic companies entering Indonesia, where they’ll find a community that can offer support with trusted information and affordable services to enter this market.