Just perfect that Banda Aceh is the capital of “Terrace of Makkah”, Aceh Province located in the northern tip of Sumatera. The land experienced tsunami disaster in 2004 has been reconstructed and daily life of the people there has been recovered to be more passionate and self-confident.
Public infrastructures are excellent, people’s properties are coming back, local economy is growing, and peoples are living in harmony. Although there is only one four-star hotel, but many reasonable and good places to stay. It may be a bit exaggerated but at least it is what I can feel and see in Banda Aceh last August 2014, compared to the situation before the huge disaster. We feel safe to explore Banda Aceh and its surround without any disturbance or criminal threatening. Those who fought from mountainous area, now have been coming down and living normally in cities or their own peaceful kampongs.
“Aceh change drastically after the tsunami. It might be one of the lesson of the disaster,” said a Malaysian tourist I met in Banda Aceh.
So Banda Aceh is good destination if you like to see Acehnese who are all Muslim live in their own wish and way of life. Local autonomy and Shari ’a Law seem to be the keys of Aceh development today. People live more religiously indicated by the beauty of mosques and at any time of regular prays (Salah), I found there were more than three lines of jema’ah. Religious life in Banda Aceh is very conducive so that the famous Grand Mosque Baiturrahman becomes a point of interest not only for tourist but also for local families, especially when there are major events. The major events are periodically taken place in the historic grave area of Shaikh Syiah Kuala, a respected scholar of Aceh.
Nevertheless, Banda Aceh is vibrant till midnight by “kupi” and “mie” Aceh. The famous local coffee and noodle served in various style of coffee shop, from an open air sitting place to a more formal café. Local culinary is tasty, even its spice is specific for most Indonesian. You can also enjoy grilled fish in Lam Puuk beach located about 15 km from Banda Aceh. Cross my finger, the beach in Lhok Nga area is more beautiful and natural than Kuta Beach, Bali.
In addition, we can also feel the spirit of change at the real monuments of tsunami. Some destruction and things proving the huge disaster are kept as similar as their happening. While Tsunami Museum tells us the data and information about the disaster, Tsunami Galleries show related real things to remind us The Greatest and Powerful of Allah The Almighty. So, for your family and religious tourism, Banda Aceh as The Terrace of Makkah is a perfect place.
(from my review on TripAdvisor)