10 Things to Do in Lake Toba

10 Things to Do in Lake Toba

The spectacular natural sights includes menacing volcanoes, underground hot springs and powerful waterfalls!

Lake Toba owes much of its mythical status to the stunning attractions that surround this vast expanse of water. The spectacular natural sights includes menacing volcanoes, underground hot springs and powerful waterfalls. The Samosir Island, which can be found in the lake itself, is a hub of cultural activity and packed with activities for the discerning traveller.

Stop and smell the roses at Sapo Juma Tongging Garden

The Sapo Juma Tongging Garden is ideal for impressing that special someone, grabbing some Insta-worthy snaps or simply taking in the vast amount of flora that abounds here. What sets this estate apart is that it boasts panoramic views of the Lake from atop the Tongging Village. Take your time meandering through this peaceful plot and truly appreciate the scale of Lake Toba.

Delve into Batak heritage at Tomok Village

Nestled on the Samosir Island is the Tomok Village, home to the Batak people. It’s the perfect place to learn all about Batak culture, visit the unique Batak dwellings and learn about their intricate rituals.

things to do in lake toba

Image credit: Dan Lundberg

Explore Lake Toba by kayak

Paddling around Lake Toba in a kayak is the perfect way to experience the natural beauty of this incredible destination. You’ll be rewarded with dramatic views of the surrounding volcanic peaks while gliding over the glistening blue waters. Make it a full-day affair by hopping off at Samosir Island for a quick bite before resuming your tour. If you’re averse to self-powered water travel, consider taking a tour in a fisherman’s boat.

Conquer the peaks of Pusuk Buhit

The Pusuk Bihit mountain is a sacred symbol of Batak culture, said to be the birthplace of the Batak tribe. The 5-hour hike is manageable even for novices, offering some breathtaking panoramas of Lake Toba and the surrounding villages from almost 2000 metres above sea level. If you’re interested in learning more about Batak culture and the history of this active volcano, consider hiring a local guide to act as an interpreter between you and the local tribespeople.

Kick things up a notch with a Lake Toba cruise

This Lake Toba cruise is as authentic as it gets, with the ship said to be a relic from a Samosir ruler and crafted in a traditional Batak style, replete with pointed wooden roof. All along this 22-metre-long ship are intricate Batak engravings which tell a story of a forgotten era.

things to do in lake toba

Visit the Batak Museum

The Batak Museum is a treasure trove for travellers interested in learning more about the native tribes of the Lake Toba and surrounding areas. What makes this site special is the fact that it was once home to a Batak king, and has since been remodelled into a museum. If you’re lucky, you can catch the traditional Batak dancers perform in the morning at 10:30. Admission is $3 and it’s fairly easy to find, located in the town of Simanindo.

Unwind at the Pangururan hot springs

Hot springs are always a treat for wearied travellers and the Pangururan springs won’t disappoint if you’re looking to relax. Choose from either man-made swimming pools or natural rock pools for a more authentic touch. This is the perfect way to unwind after hours of trekking around for that perfect shot of Lake Toba.

Get lifted at Lake Toba’s most famous viewpoint

Menara Pandang Tele is one of three viewing towers located on Samosir Island. Each of the three floors on the tower will give you slightly different, yet equally impressive vantage points of Lake Toba and surrounding peaks like Pusuk Bihit. You’re definitely best off visiting early on a cloudless morning as the sunrises are nothing short of spectacular.

Entrance fee: Rp. 2,000 (Approximately USD $0.14)
Operating hours: 7:30am to 5:30pm daily

Learn about the ancient court of Ambarita

While you’re ambling about on the Samosir Island, why not make a stop at Ambarita? This ancient village is infamous for its stone chair courtyard where accused criminals were adjudged to be guilty or innocent. Legend has it that if they were found guilty, they ended up as fish fodder.

Visit King Sidabutar’s Batak tomb

The story behind the ancient Batak tomb of King Sidabutar is one of unrequited love. It is here that the King is buried, with his face carved alongside the woman whom he loved but didn’t love him back. The sarcophogi with their elaborate engravings are sight to behold. These tombs can be found in Tomok Village, around 5km outside of Tuk-tuk.

About Author

Stuart Hendricks
Stuart Hendricks

Being a street photographer and travel writer, Stuart is always searching for the perfect shot that tells a story. He's got his heart set on adventuring around Asia using South Korea as his base and creates content to help aspiring photographers document their own travels through the continent.


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