Medan is the largest city outside Java, with a population of more than two millions people. Medan is a unique melting pot with many ethnic groups forming a huge heterogenic community. This reflects to the diverse culture in the area, with so many different dialect, architecture, culinary, religions, and kampongs. This diversity in turn enrich Medan as multicultural heaven.
In term of tourism, Medan is not the star in North Sumatra, but it is highly important as a main hub. As the fourth biggest city in Indonesia, highest quality of accommodation and amenities can be expected here. However, more wonderful spots are waiting for you in North Sumatera.
Culinary Paradise in Medan
The upside of being diverse ethnically is that there are lots to offer in term of culinary options. You will not find any shortage of food choices. Chinese, Javanese, Bataknese, Indian, Acehnese, Malay, or Padang foods are available from street level to upper class restaurant. Popular snacks from Medan includes Bolu Meranti and Bika Ambon Zulayka. Don’t forget that Mandheling coffee is the specialty from the region, be sure to sip one or two cup of them. Medan also offers great nightlife experience with many nightclubs and bars.
The Amazing Toba
Medan is the main hub to reach Lake Toba, one of the icon of Indonesia’s Tourism. Toba is so large it is shared by seven regencies of North Sumatera. Toba is the center of Batak Toba’s culture. Toba, and Samosir Island, is the most popular tourist destination in Sumatera, and the central government even make this are as Special Economic Zone for tourism. Toba is approximately 175 kilometers from Medan, accessible by road. Note that around Toba, there are lots of waterfalls as well as scenic hills.
Colorful Soda Hot Springs
In North Tapanuli Regency, there is a hot spring that produces hot blue water, rich in sulfur. Some people call this water as soda spring because it allegedly tastes like a carbonated water. Sulfur water is known to have healthy properties for your skin. It’s not just the water though; the stones nearby are also a sight to behold. Sulfur gives the limestone in the spring a range of brightly colorful hues. Green, yellow, orange, and white provide a stunning backdrop for the pool. Entry to the pool is also very cheap, only IDR5000. There is also another hot spring in Simalungun; The Dolok Tinggi Raja.
Beaches in Both Coasts
Of course you can enjoy splendid beaches here too. Serdang Bedagai, just the south of Medan, has several popular beaches like Bali Lestari, Pondok Permai, and Cermin. On the western coast, Sibolga offers many wonderful beaches, some of them are on the islands nearby. Pandan, Ujung, and Indah Kalangan beaches are located in Sibolga. There are other exotic spots scattered on the islands like Mursala, Pasir Putih, Putri, Poncan Gadang, and Poncan Ketek.
How to Get There and What to do in Medan
Medan is easily accessible by air at Kualanamu International Airport that is connected with most big cities in Southeast Asia. Belawan port is served with ships from Penang (Malaysia) and Jakarta. Getting around the city is a bit tricky, though. The easiest and safest way is by renting a car or motorcycle, as you can freely roam the city. If you want to go around on public transport, be sure to learn a bit of Bahasa Indonesia.