7 Exciting Things You Never Expected to Do In & Around Medan

7 Exciting Things You Never Expected to Do In & Around Medan

Perfect for those looking to get out of their comfort zone.

It’s not uncommon to hear travellers flocking to Indonesia for their beautiful islands and idyllic beaches, but let’s just think about somewhere besides Bali for a minute because the city of North Sumatra has its own treasures too and believe it or not, they’re more than good enough reasons for you to book a flight here pronto! Medan, its thriving capital, is a cultural hub, culinary heaven, and fantastic gateway to the many natural hidden gems on the island. Its surrounding areas are just as worth exploring too not only do they boast lush greenery and cerulean lakes, they’re also home to many underrated natural wonders. Here’s the best part: Medan is a mere 1.5 hour away by flight, and there are multiple flights from Singapore daily!

That’s not all! Finding accommodation is not a problem at all either. We know you’re looking for a quick and hassle-free booking experience, which is why we need to share this: book your hotel in Medan and Lake Toba on Expedia and enjoy 10% off. So sit back and relax – you’ve one less thing to worry about now!

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So if you’re looking for an exciting, one-of-a-kind adventure, Medan is the place to go. Intrigued already? We’ve put together a short list to help you get started.

Here are 7 exciting things you never expected to do in and around Medan:

1. Indulge In the Best of Indonesian Cuisine

Now, here comes the obligatory point about food. Don’t look at us like that we promise these delicacies are worth it! Especially Lontong Sayur, Medan’s own specialty, consisting of a soup made from Sayur Lodeh (vegetable soup with coconut milk), tofu, Tempeh (fermented soybean), Sambal, boiled egg, Rendang, and most importantly: Lontong (steamed rice in banana leaves). Other popular must-try dishes include Bihun Bebek (duck vermicelli noodles), Mie Pangsit (Medan’s take on wanton mee), and for all you spicy food lovers: Saksang (traditional Batak cuisine made from pork)! Are your taste buds tingling yet? We suggest heading to Merdeka Walk to begin your food conquest. You’ll find other delightful Indonesian foods there and, if you need a beer to unwind, just make your way to one of the many bars.

2. Set Foot In A 17th Century Hakka Mansion

Image credit: Tjong A Fie Mansion

Feel as if you’ve been transported back in time at Tjong A Fie Mansion, a historical landmark that was once the home of Tjong A Fie, a wealthy Hakka Chinese businessman, and a gift from him to his wife. With 35 rooms and two storeys, this mansion is a must-visit for those who appreciates architecture and culture for this place features Chinese, Malay, and Art Deco influences, and a building structure observing Feng-Shui principles. Examine the 17th century furniture and Peranakan artifacts in the in-house museum, or join a complimentary guided tour of the full place for a truer experience.

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3. Learn About Medan’s Royal History At Istana Maimun

Image credit: indonesia-arab.com

Besides being helmed as one of Indonesia’s most beautiful palaces, you should visit the Maimun Palace for its collections from its royal history back in the 19th century, and stunning architecture influenced by the Dutch and Spanish. View the lavish inauguration throne in its glory, and get an up-close look at the antique furniture and interiors that have maintained Islamic culture during colonial times. If you’re down for a short yet intriguing  history lesson, don’t give this place a miss.

4. Shower In A Two-Colour Waterfall

Image credit: Ronald Tagra

Sibolangit Waterfall is not like any other waterfall: its 100-metre long cascade is a shade of greyish-white, while its plunge pool is a dazzling emerald blue a result of a unique phenomenon in which two different colours exist in the same waterfall! Picture it against a rocky cliff and calm greenery… The view is simply breathtaking. The water can be a bit chilly but if you’re game, you can dive into it! Otherwise, you can dine at the many food stalls situated along the trails while taking in the beautiful surroundings. Do remember to bring proper, sturdy footwear if you’re coming here the rocky grounds can get slippery! Make sure to head out early, too: it’s a two hour drive from central Medan to Durin Siru Gun, a village near the waterfall, and another two hours of trekking to reach the waterfall grounds.

Trust us when we say the Sibolangit Waterfall is certainly a beauty of its own, and best appreciated in person. Don’t want to miss out on this one-of-a-kind attraction? Score the best stays on Expedia now and there’s no better time to do so than with this ongoing 10% off promotion on selected hotels in Medan and Lake Toba!

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5. Soak In a hot spring & have a splashing fun time at Lake Toba

Image credit: Max Grabert

Despite being close to five hours’ drive away from Medan, Lake Toba remains as one of the most-visited natural attractions in North Sumatra. In fact, it’s the largest lake in Indonesia and the largest volcanic lake in the world! Don’t be fooled by the smooth silver-blue waters though, this lake is a paradise for fun water activities such as kayaking and boat cruising. The famous Sipisopiso Waterfall also lies on the northern end of the lake make sure to catch the rainbow floating at its base and surrounding mountainscape while you’re there!

P.s. If you’ve never been to an all-natural hot spring, here’s some good news: at the foot of the nearby Pusuk Buhit Mountain lie a few hot springs ponds (which the locals have named as Aek Rangat). These ponds contain white-gray warm sulfur water which have healing effects on the human body, and are believed to have the ability to cure skin diseases or aches! So why not spend the afternoon relaxing in this steamy waters whilst rejuvenating your body after all that exploring?

To get to Lake Toba, you’ll have to reach the town of Parapat (around a four hour drive via Jl. Lintas Sumatera from Medan) then take a 30-minute long Tuk Tuk ferry ride to Samosir Island, where many other natural attractions can be found that we’ll look at next!

6. Discover the Batak Tribe’s Culture and History on Samosir Island

A trip to Lake Toba is incomplete without exploring Samosir Island, a large volcanic island situated in the middle of Lake Toba. There’s absolutely no reason not to visit the world’s largest island within an island AND the fifth largest lake island, especially when there are many activities to do there!

Besides its naturally picturesque setting, Samosir Island is also the heart of Batak culture and history. Many traditional artefacts, houses, and graves belonging to the ethnic Indonesian tribe can be found on the island. There’s Ambarita Village, a traditional village that was once home to the Batak tribe. The tribe has a history of ritual cannibalism (and many other not-so-friendly practices) but if you’re brave enough, you can see the remnants of its morbid traditions for yourself! For instance, the Parsidangan Stone is home to a circle of large stones carved into chairs and tables, which used to be a meeting place and trial area where executions were carried out. Another popular tourist attraction would be watching a Sigale-gale ritual, where locals would demonstrate a live funeral ritual and dance performance involving a traditional doll.

Think you’re brave enough to witness the morbidity? Spend the night nearby if you’re game! There’s a 10% promotion for Lake Toba and Medan hotels on Expedia now don’t miss it!

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7. Trek Gunung Sibayak, An Active Volcano

Image credit: Palma Hutabarat

Indonesia has the highest number of active volcanoes in the world, and Gunung Sibayak happens to be one of them. The volcano, boasting a summit of 6,870 feet, is situated north of Berastagi, a small town roughly two hours drive away from central Medan – in between Medan and Lake Toba. The easiest trekking route should take you three hours at most and once you’re up there, you’ll get to see the scenic heart-shaped volcanic crater lake and the clouds of crystalline sulfur floating above it! We suggest following guided tours (which you can find in Berastagi for less than S$50) you don’t want to risk getting lost in the jungle, or wasting time and missing the glorious sunset view.

We’ve reached the end, but don’t panic these are just seven of the many things you can do in Medan and its surroundings! If you’re an explorer at heart, we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy this underrated city and all that it has to offer!

Ready to discover Medan and its hidden treasures? Us too. Which is why we’re starting our research and planning early that means checking out Expedia deals A.S.A.P.! Ready for an incredible adventure in Medan and its surroundings?

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About Author

Teri Anne Tan

If she's not binging on Korean BBQ on a night out with her friends, Teri Anne is most probably at home rewatching Studio Ghibli films or planning her next trip abroad. She loves reading, indulging in clothing hauls, and listening to hits from both K-pop and '80s British Rock. Her ultimate dream? To enjoy a mug of hot chocolate under the Northern Lights in Iceland.

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