About Sabang (Pulau Weh)

Why Sabang

Being on the very edge of Indonesia, Sabang is relatively unknown as a tourist destination, even among Indonesian people. This makes Sabang a great holiday destination for those seeking a traditional alternative to heavily-commercialised holiday places. In Sabang you’ll find clear seawater, spectacular marine life, and affordable prices. You won’t find overly pushy vendors or traffic jam.
Billboard promoting Sabang diving in the airport of
Banda Aceh, the capital of the Aceh province,
of which Sabang is a part.
Some of Indonesia’s best snorkelling sites are in Sabang thanks to its magnificent coral reefs and pristine environment. Sabang is one of the world’s best diving destinations according to The Guardian. If your idea of perfect holiday is spying on sea turtles, swimming with dolphins and snoozing in a hammock, then Sabang is the place for you.

Check out the rest of this website for things to do, see and eat.


Sabang is a small city. To illustrate just how small Sabang is, its “CBD” is merely a short strip of shops on Jalan Perdagangan (literally means Trade Road). The city of Sabang actually consists of five islands. The main island called Pulau Weh (Weh Island – pronounced like a British saying ‘where’) is the only one inhabited. Some use Pulau Weh and Sabang interchangeably.

Sabang is only 400 kms away from Phuket (Thailand), 800 kms from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), and 1100 kms from Singapore. It attracts tourists from these neighbouring countries, as well as China, Australia and even as far as Germany. Domestic holiday makers are starting to flock to Sabang on major public holidays such as the New Year day, with hotels fully-booked and popular beaches packed.
Sabang is Indonesia's western most city (the red pin on the map)


Sabang’s population is in the tens of thousands and the people live in a sustainable manner. Fishermen fish in their little wooden boats – some only use lines and hooks! (big commercial-grade ships are banned here.) When you buy take-away food (dibungkus) it’ll likely be wrapped in paper and banana leaf. After swimming at the beach you clean yourself by drawing fresh water from a well.

People here are honest and ashamed of committing crime. You could leave your car parked overnight unlocked and no one would touch it.
Local fishermen work sustainably using a small fishing net


In World War II Sabang was used as a strategic defensive point by the Japanese. Bunkers were built in hills and coastal areas, cannon fortifications were placed along the coastline, and barricades were erected on flat coasts. Today the remains of the bunkers and fortifications can be seen scattered around Sabang. For this reason Sabang earns the nickname of Kota Seribu Benteng (Thousand Fortress City).

From 1963 to 1985 Sabang was a free port. Day-to-day items like cooking utensils and soap were imported tax-free through Singapore to be sold in Sabang and Banda Aceh. After the free port status was revoked, Sabang experienced subdued economic activities. Today Sabang is once again more vibrant thanks to growth in tourism, increased infrastructure development and the reinstatement of its free port status.

Sabang was also hit by the December 2004 tsunami. Rising water went up to the “CBD” on Jalan Perdagangan. However it didn’t suffer from heavy damage as it was shielded by big warehouses on the shoreline.
The government builds new infrastructure such as roads
and viewing platforms