Lifestyle

Ultimate Medan Travel Guide

Samosir Island Medan
Written by Town & Tourist

Medan is the capital of Indonesias North Sumatra province and is Indonesias third largest city. Medan is the dark horse when it comes to travel in Indonesia….but are you missing out by not visiting this hidden gem.

Is Medan Worth Visiting?

Absolutely, although Medan isn’t on the coast and is a very industrial city, it offers its own unique urban character, which is great for sightseeing, nightlife and restaurants.

In addition, it is just a short drive away from pristine wilderness like Lakes (Lake Toba), Hot Springs  (Semangat Gunung) and even the Tallest Waterfall in Indonesia (Sipiso-Piso).

Overall, Medan & surrounding areas offer a unique authentic atmosphere like no other city in Asia. Medan is a cultural landmark but also is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature…by driving out to the surrounding areas.

Fun Fact: Sumatra is the 6th Largest Island in the world. 473,000km^2.

Is Medan Safe? 

Over 250,000 tourists visited Medan in 2014, according to the Medan tourism agency. It is considered a relatively safe place to visit.

How to Get to Medan?

Kualanamu International Airport is an international airport serving Medan, Indonesia. The airport is  Deli Serdang regency, 23 km east of downtown Medan.

Kualanamu is the third largest airport and the fifth busiest airport in Indonesia in 2017.

Little India in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Medan, Indonesia –Little India in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Source: iStock/NOW!JAKARTA. Source: Medan, North Sumatra’s Hidden Charm | NOW! JAKARTA

Flights from Singapore? 

Flights from Singapore to Medan take just 1.5 hours and run daily. Air Asia offers great flight deals on these.

Map of Medan Things to Do/Places to Eat:

18 Incredible Things to do in Medan: 

To experience the very best nature in Medan, you will need to drive out a little, I suggest renting a car or using a low cost taxi to experience natural delights such as the hot springs, lakes and waterfalls.

If your planning on staying around the city, there are plenty of cultural landmarks to get your teeth into.

1. Museum of North Sumatra

Located in a traditional colonial building, you will find a captivating collection of artifacts, such as stone carvings, spiritual scrolls and even carved wooden dragon coffins!

Each of the relics stems from early North Sumatran  Civilisations which includes Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic influences. In addition to military & dutch colonial history.

museum-of-north-sumatra-medan

museum-of-north-sumatra-medan

Fun Fact: Be sure to check out the keris (ornamental dagger) collection.

It’s a short way southeast of the city centre.

Where is it?

The Museum is located south east of Medan City Centre.

Address: Jl. HM. Joni No.51, Teladan Bar., Kec. Medan Kota, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20217, Indonesia

 Tel: +62 812-6551-291

2. Tjong A Fie Mansion

Tjong A Fie Mansion is the former home of the wealthiest resident in Medan, a Chinese merchant who died in 1921.

This Mansion is an iconic example of pure opulence & luxury, it includes hand painting frescos on the ceiling, furniture embedded with marble & pearl, a ballroom upstairs and even a Taoist temple. The Mansion comprises of 35 rooms with unreal architecture.

tjong-a-fie-mansion-medan 1

tjong-a-fie-mansion-medan. Source: The great travelnotes.com

How much does it cost?

Tjong A Fie Mansion costs Rp.35,000 (~S$3.5) and includes a guided tour.

Where is it?

Jl. Jend. Ahmad Yani No.105, Kesawan, Kec. Medan Bar., Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20111, Indonesia

Tel:  +62 813-7516-0031

Opening Hours: 9AM – 5PM

3. Maimun Palace

Maimoon Palace was built by the Sultan of Deli in 1888 and is another example of pure opulence.

Walk into the main room and you will find a full sized royal THRONE and a ornamental dagger collection (Keris). This area is open to the public and you can even dress up in a traditional Malay Costume & have a photo for just 20,000Rp ($1)

istana-maimun Palace-medan-Sumatra

istana-maimun Palace-medan-Sumatra

Where is it?

Jalan Sultan Ma’moen Al Rasyid No.66, A U R, Kec. Medan Maimun, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20151, Indonesia

4. Sipiso-Piso – Indonesias Tallest Waterfall

Drive a few hours out of Medan Centre and you will come to TALLEST WATERFALL IN INDONESIA! Sipiso Piso is a 120 metre high waterfall famed for it’s magical double rainbows in the morning!

Sipiso-Piso - Indonesias Tallest Waterfall 1

Sipiso-Piso – Indonesias Tallest Waterfall. Source: www.indonesia-tourism.com/

Where to Stay?

The waterfall is located in Tongging and is just 20 mins drive from Taman Simalem Resort. 

5. Berastagi Highland

If you fancy a weekend getaway from the hustle & bustle of Medan then head to the Berastagi highlands. Here you will find a rural town which is guarded by tow gigantic mountains, Mount Sibayak and Mount Sinabung.Perfect for a hike! If your feeling adventurous take a hike up these two mountains

Berastagi Highland 1

Berastagi Highlands

6. Mount Sibayak

Mount Sibayak summit is 2,212 m high but the hike is fairly, easy but offers breath taking views from the top.

This Mountain (gunung) is actually a Volcano and although it’s last eruption was in 1881, you can still see plenty of thermal activity such as the hot springs & thermal pools.

Mount Sibayak Volcano

Mount Sibayak Volcano. Source: Pinterest.

7. Semangat Gunung Hot Springs

After trekking Mount Sibayak, relax in the public hot springs at the base of the volcano. Here you will be capitivated by Mountain views as you relax in this magical spring.

Fun Fact: The natural spring water here is great for the skin and healing as it’s filled with healthy minerals.

Semangat Gunung Hot Springs 1

Semangat Gunung Hot Springs

How much does it cost?

Entry costs between Rp.5000 – 7000 (less than $1)

8. Two Colored Water Fall (Sibolangit Waterfall )

Close to Mount Sibayak you will find the magical two colors waterfall! The white falls flow into the turquoise blue waters beneath. The color change is caused bu the sulfur which flows from Mount Sibayak!

Two Colored Water Fall (Sibolangit Waterfall ) 1

Two Colored Water Fall (Sibolangit Waterfall ). Source: rainforesttours.com

Couples Favourite – Instagrammable Photo location

Where is it?

 Bandar Baru, Sibolangit, Deli Serdang Regency, North Sumatra 20354, Indonesia

9. Our Lady of Good Health Church – (Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni)

As we mentioned in our article on Jakarta, Indonesia: Is it worth Visiting?  Sumatra is mostly muslim but does celebrate religious diversity with a variety of stunning architecture.

This 17th century church is the perfect example, the curved bridges leads to the entrance where you will find a unique blend of asian decor.

Gereja_Velangkani_Medan

Gereja_Velangkani_Medan. Source: Justgola.com

Where is the Church?  

Our Lady of Good Health Church is located just 8km southwest of central Medan.  Taxi costs around 60,000Rp ($5) , using the Grab Taxi app.

Address: Jl. Sakura III No.7-10, Tj. Selamat, Kec. Medan Tuntungan, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20135, Indonesia

Tel: +62 61 8201943

10. Sri Mariamman Temple

Built back in 1884, Sri Mariamman is Medans oldest hindu temple and a place of worship to the Hindu goddess of rain. It has a colorful, ornate decor and is used by many religious people to pray & burn incense.

Sri Mariamman Temple 1

Sri Mariamman Temple 1. Source: Justgola.com

Where is it?

Jl. Teuku Umar No.18, Petisah Tengah, Kec. Medan Petisah, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20151, Indonesia

Tel:  +65 6223 4064

11. Mesjid Raya (Grand Mosque)

The awe inspiring Grand Mosque was commissioned by the Sultan of Deli in 1906. It is a Moroccan style building with Spanish, Italian and chinese styles. The Marble is from Italy while the Stained glass is from China. The entrance is stunning and inside you will find capacity for over 2000 people to worship.

Mesjid Raya (Grand Mosque)

Mesjid Raya (Grand Mosque)

Address: Jl. Sisingamangaraja No.61, Mesjid, Kec. Medan Kota, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20156, Indonesia

12. Tosca green Lake (Danau Linting)

The Tosca Green Lake is located between threee villages at Deli Serdang regency. It’s a true off the beaten path gem, offering a natural lake with rope swing and which many locals use for fishing.

13. Tinggi Raja Hot Springs/White Crater – Hidden Gem! 

Tinggi Raja Hot Springs is hidden gem in North Sumatra. Very few people know this Hot Springs even exists which means your likely to have the place to yourself! Marvel at the “White snows” which are calcium carbonate deposits which have built up over millions of years.

Tinggi Raja Hot Springs:White Crater 1

Tinggi Raja Hot Springs:White Crater 1 Source: /mimzee24.blogspot.com

Insider Tip:

The roads are really bumpy great getting there, so it’s better with a 4×4 or local guide.

Where is it?

14. Medan City Hall

This is an iconic Dutch colonial building which was built back in the early 1900s.

15. Lake Toba

Over 75,000 years ago a supervolcano erupted and left a gigantic crater lake behind which is twice the size of Singapore! This is a stunning place to visit and bucket list attraction if in Medan or Sumatra.

Lake Toba Medan

Lake Toba Medan. Source: Travelcontinuously.com

Insider Tip:

Head to the far north end where you will find a quaint fishing town called Tongging

16. Samosir Island

Samosir Island (Pulau Samosir) is the LARGEST ISLAND IN THE WORLD with a Volcano! At over 640 square kilometres (Just under the size of Singapore (719 sqaure kilometeres) you will find this iconic island.

Samosir Island Medan

Samosir Island Medan. Source: Image credit: Wilson Teo/Flickr

Stay on the island to really experience Lake Toba, up close & personal.

Fun Fact: The local residents who live on the island are of Batak Descent & speak a unique dialect.

17. Tangkahan Town (Eco Tourist heaven)

Tangkahan is a hidden paradise which borders with Gunung Leuser National Park. The small town takes eco tourism to the next level! At  Tangkahan you can visit elephant sanctuaries, take part in Jungle treks, river rafting and even explore bat caves.

Elephant camp  – Is a popular elephant retreat nearby, I didn’t go there myself but have heard mixed reviews with regards to ethics. You can wash, feed and ride the elephants. Either way I would urge you to attend & let us know at Town & Tourist if it was ethical or not…we will feature your story! 

Location: Green Lodge areaTangkahan 20133, Indonesia) 

18. Tree Swing at Bukit Indah Simarunjung!  – Photo heaven! 

This is an interesting area which has a variety of wooden sculptures you can interact with from a giant wooden hand, tree swings, free hanging table & chairs, and even climb onto suspended tree house platforms. Views of Lake Toba can be seen from the platforms.

Bukit-Indah-Simarjarunjung-Lokasi-Wisata-Selfie-Hits-di-Sumut-cover

Bukit-Indah-Simarjarunjung. Source: the great Travelinguk.com

Insider Tip: 

Check out: Simarunjung Rest house nearby Try their banana fritters (goreng pisang) strong ginger tea with health benefits.

Bukit-Indah-Simarjarunjung

Bukit-Indah-Simarjarunjung. Source: nativeindonesia.com

Where to Eat in Medan?

After so taking part in so many unique activities in Medan, you must be feeling hungry. Check out our top spots for some epic local food.

Si Bolang Durian

The infamous Durian is the world smelliest fruit! You may see signs in hotel lifts saying “No Durians” all over south east Asia. But it’s one of those unique local fruits you have to try!

I suggest heading to Siboland Durian, this neon lit open air eatery dedicated to the notorious fruit. Its located on the Main strip in Medan and you will smell it before you see it!

Si Bolang Durian Medan food

Si Bolang Durian Medan food

Insider Tip: 

You pay by weight and prices can be steep out of season (December to June)

Where is it?

Address: Jl. Iskandar Muda No.75 C-D, Babura, Kec. Medan Baru, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20152, Indonesia

+62 813-7539-4321

The Thirty Six

The Thirty Six is a stylish hangout in Medan with a vertical garden, polished floors and some fantastic mouth watering foods from white truffle fries to Seafood Mac “N” cheese and buttermilk Waffles!

Insider Tip:

Try the all day breakfast and their Signature Big R Burger.

The Thirty Six Medan 1

The Thirty Six Medan. Source: majalah.ottencoffee.co.id

Where is it?

Address: Jl. Multatuli No.36, Hamdan, Kec. Medan Maimun, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20151, Indonesia

Soto Kesawan

An unassuming food joint which has been around for over 70 years. Here you can locals enjoying some Medan speciliaties such as soto kesawan (Coconut milk with prawns/chicken and potato).. 

Where is it?

AddressJL. Ahmad Yani, Kesawan, Kec. Medan Bar., Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20231, Indonesia

Merdeka Walk

This is one of my favourite places to visit in Medan! Take a walk down this brightly lit food market, here you will find a variety of Singapore inspired outdoor eating vendors. From grilled seafood to Malaysian Style noodles and even doughnut stalls.

Merdeka Walk

Merdeka Walk

Insider Tip:

Head down after 5pm for a lively, trendy atmosphere. Open 24 hours!

Address: Jl. Balai Kota, Kesawan, Kec. Medan Bar., Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20231, Indonesia

Cahaya Baru Restaurant

Head to Medans “Little India” and indluge yourself in some tasty indian food. From Masala dosas to North Indian Curries (veg/non veg options). This is the perfect place to grab a cold beer and some tasty indian treats.

 Address: Jl. Tiang Bendera II No.84, RT.6/RW.3, Roa Malaka, Kec. Tambora, Kota Jakarta Barat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 11230, Indonesia

Tel: +62 21 6930705

Tip Top Restaurant

For a more traditional restaurant serving international foods, head to this colonial restaurant which dates back to 1934! Here you can find a selection of international dishes and white uniformed waiters giving you a accommodating experience. For more info see

The Restaurant also includes a bakery and cake shop…for those with a sweet tooth.

Where is it?

Address: Jl. Jend. Ahmad Yani No.92 A-B, Kesawan, Kec. Medan Bar., Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20212, Indonesia

Traders Restaurant 

Traders Restaurant is a classy venue which offers some of the finest foods in Medan. From Lobsters dishes to Australian Angus Steaks. With craft beers, a large wine list and cocktails this is an ideal date venue.

Medan steakhouse

Medansteakhouse

Where is it?

Address: Jl. Kapten Patimura No.423, Darat, Kec. Medan Baru, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20153, Indonesia

Tel: +62 61 4531881

Mie Tiong Sim Selat Panjang

This is a night time food stall which offers a variety of local dishes such as soft handmade noodles and wontons.

Where is it?

Address: Jl. Selat Panjang No.7, Ps. Baru, Kec. Medan Kota, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20212, Indonesia

MV Medan Vegetarian

The best place for Vegeterain food in Medan! Head here for a vast selection of dishes from mock beef rendang, satay chicken and coconut curries. I was astonished about how close they got the taste & texture to meat based dishes!

Where is it?

AddressJl. Airlangga No.23 A-25, Petisah Tengah, Kec. Medan Petisah, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20112, Indonesia

About the author

Town & Tourist

A travel resource guide that has been carefully crafted and curated by travel bloggers to help you find the best places to travel to in the USA.