Banda Aceh

Banda Aceh is the capital of the Indonesian province of Aceh on the island of Sumatra.

The Grand Mosque

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Around 150,000 people were killed in Banda Aceh in the Tsunami of 26 December 2004. Some parts of the city became permanently submerged. Many aid agencies have been present since then to help rebuild.

The long conflict between the Acehnese independence movement (GAM) and the Indonesian army (TNI) has been solved for the time being by the peace agreement on 15 August 2005. The peace process has been quite smooth since. In 2006 the province held its first direct and democratic local elections. In 2007 the first democratically elected Governor, Irwandi Yusuf, was inaugurated.

The main terminal building of Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport, Banda Aceh

Foreigners no longer require a travel permit (Surat Jalan) to enter Aceh, but an Indonesian visa is required. It is possible to get a 30-day Visa-on-Arrival at Banda Aceh Airport. The embassy in Kuala Lumpur can sometimes process the visa in the same day if you complete all the paperwork before noon, though this is supposed to apply only to Malaysian residents.

There are non-stop night buses, with travel times ranging from 9–13 hours – from Medan to Banda Aceh. Major bus companies such as PMTOH, Pelangi, Kurnia and Pusaka have offices on Jl. Gajah Mada, Medan. Price ranges from Rp 110,000 in a regular-sized-seat bus to Rp 200,000 in a wide-seat bus.

Mini-buses can also take you to Banda Aceh from the Medan area, but journeys are generally longer. Prices are a bit cheaper than the coaches. It is also possible to travel over from Medan to Banda Aceh via Kutacane and Takengon. This will be 20 hr in total.

Airlines fly daily between Banda Aceh and either Medan, a 1 hr trip, or Jakarta, a 2 hr 40 minute trip.

  • AirAsia, Kuala Lumpur. , daily flights
  • Batavia Air, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Medan
  • Firefly, Penang, , Malaysia’s community airline now flies from Penang to Banda Aceh every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
  • Garuda Indonesia, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Medan, 3 daily flights from Jakarta and two daily flights from Medan. The Jakarta-Banda Aceh direct flight on Garuda takes 2 hr 40 min on a Boeing 737, although it is often changed to stopover at Medan without warning. Seasonal to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj season
  • Lion Air, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Medan. They have two daily flights from Jakarta and one from Medan.
  • SMAC, Blang Pidie, Meulaboh, Simelue, Takengon, Tapaktuan. Flies daily from Medan to Nias Island and Simeulue Island.
  • Sriwijaya Air, Medan
  • Susi Air, Meulaboh

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