Things to Do in Samosir Island, Indonesia: A 5D4N Itinerary For Nature Lovers

Things to Do in Samosir Island, Indonesia: A 5D4N Itinerary For Nature Lovers

Embark on a rustic getaway to Samosir Island! Paraglide across the scenic landscapes, tuck into homely dishes and take a dip in the world’s largest volcanic lake.

Imagine a rustic island surrounded by deep blue waters and the quiet energy pulsing from a blend of hilly countryside creatures and friendly locals. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it?

Enter Samosir Island (the world’s largest island within an island!), steeped in fascinating Batak cultural treasures and picturesque views. Take a step back in time as you admire the clusters of traditional houses and ancient stone monuments.

If the spirit of adventure within you is calling for a vacation away from the muggy temperatures of summer, consider putting Samosir Island on your travel bucket list. We’ve done the work for you and put together an exciting five-day itinerary. Samosir Island will certainly hold a special place in your heart by the end of it!  

Getting there  

Image credit: Andrey Samsonov

The nearest airport to Samosir Island is in Medan. You’ll then need to take either public bus, rental car or shared minivan from the airport towards Parapat. From Parapat, take one of the many ferries going towards Tuk Tuk and ask the ferry master to drop you off at the jetty nearest to your hotel or guesthouse.

While it’s recommended to bike around the Samosir countryside at your own pace, inexperienced riders should note that the roads are quite undeveloped. If you’re unsure, another great way to explore Samosir would be to hire a private driver, especially since the attractions tend to be far away from one another.


The bulk of accommodation available on Samosir is clustered around Tuk Tuk Village. Choose from a wide range of accommodation styles available to suit varying preferences. Hora’s Family Home boasts a large play area and direct access to Lake Toba for the kids. Mas Cottages offers a quieter alternative beside Lake Toba, featuring traditional Batak-style exteriors perfect for a romantic getaway for two.

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day for you, enjoy daily ala carte breakfast at Toba Sunset, where the rooms come with balconies that overlook the lake, rice fields and surrounding mountains. Those who’re looking to treat themselves can check out Zoe’s Paradise Waterfront Hotel, furnished with big clean rooms and modern facilities for maximum comfort.

Day 1: Frolic in Lake Toba, enter ancient tombs and catch the sunset at Lake Sidihoni

Image credit: Wilson Teo

Rise and shine! After unpacking your bags, the first order of business is clear. Next, it’s time to break out that swimsuit and immerse yourself in the cool waters of Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. The lakewater’s lustre also returns glorious ripples if you decide to take part in one of the many fun water activities available, such as boat cruising or kayaking.

For those looking for a relaxing way to take in the beauty of Lake Toba, boat rentals are available in the tranquil Tuk Tuk Traditional Village. You can also find a wide range of Batak handicrafts and performances during your visit.

Famished? Visit Tomok Cultural Village for a taste of popular traditional Batak dishes. Sample naniura (Batak sushi), made with freshwater fish and cooked in a special blend of herbs and spices, or the signature grilled pork dish with famous Andaliman spices.

Shop around Tomok Market for intricate souvenirs to take home if you didn’t find anything at the Tuk Tuk Traditional Village. Be sure to pick up an Ulos, which is a piece of traditional Batak garment required for your next activity.

Image credit: Bamboo Travel

Enter the highly-respected ancient tombs of King Sidabutar to discover his history and the unique structure of this complex. The tombs are built above the ground instead of beneath the soil.

Image credit: Yulin Masdakaty

End your day by trekking around Lake Sidihoni, a lake within a lake, and treat yourself to spectacular sunset views.

Day 2: Participate in a cultural dance, hike up Pusuk Buhit Mountain and chill at Pasir Putih Parbaba beach

Image credit: The Jakarta Globe

After breakfast, stop by Huta Bolon Simanindo Museum and learn how to dance the Tor Tor, a traditional dance of the Batak ethnic group. Tor Tor is a lively routine normally accompanied by ceremonial music using instruments such as the gondang.

Image credit: Johnnysiahaan

Now that you’ve worked up a light sweat, pull on a pair of sturdy shoes to enjoy a hike up Pusuk Buhit Mountain. The Teletower (peak of the volcanic mountain) is the best place around Samosir Island to get a bird’s eye view of Lake Toba and the island itself.

Rest your throbbing feet at Aek Rangat hot springs located at the base of the mountain. Touted to have healing properties, the silvery pools of water are believed to be able to relieve skin diseases or body aches.  

Image credit: Christian Advs Sltg

Make your way to Pasir Putih Parbaba Beach and chill out after a sweltering day around the island. Feel the chill of the water against your sunburnt skin or rent a canoe (only if you’re up to it!) to explore the surrounding shores.

Don’t hesitate to join the locals in a game of beach volleyball at the court available on the beach. They’re always looking for more players! 

Day 3: Scale Gunung Sibayak, marvel at Sibolangit Waterfall and learn more about the Huta Siallagan tribes

Ah, another day of mountain-trekking awakes! Make the 1.5-hour drive to Berastagi to ascend the famous volcano Gunung Sibayak, which has a myriad of routes with varying levels of difficulty.

If you’re still tuckered out from yesterday’s hike, take the easiest trekking route! It should take you at most an hour and a half to reach the peak. From the summit, observe the spectacular heart-shaped volcanic crater lake and the mysterious clouds of crystalline sulfur hovering above it. Otherwise, take on the challenge of a five-hour guided hike through the dense jungles of the mountain. If you’re craving for another hot spring treat, there’s one on Gunung Sibayak as well!

Image credit: Deep Goswami

After your hike, head down to the northern end of Lake Toba to revel in the stunning presence of the Sipiso Piso Waterfall. This long but narrow body of water drops 120 metres into a magnificent gorge below, surrounded by a luxuriant mountainscape. Be sure to snap a shot at the rainbow forming at the base of the gorge below!

Image credit: Ronald Tagra

Another waterfall not to be missed is the Sibolangit Waterfall. It’s other name, the two-colored waterfall, is for good reason. The warm milky falls that cascade into a chilly azure pool makes for an almost-ethereal sight to behold. The contrastive colours are a result of the rich sulfur which flows from Gunung Sibayak and dissolve into the pool.

Image credit: indonesia-tourism

Next, travel back in time with a visit to present-day Ambarita Village, where the last bit of ancient ethnic architecture and culture of Huta Siallagan remain. One of the highlights of this village is the historical site of the Persidangan Stone, located in front of a row of Ruma Batak (traditional houses). According to the locals, this used to be a meeting place and trial area where executions were frequently conducted.

Along with the tribe’s history of ritual cannibalism and many other morbid practices, Ambarita Village has become a tourist hotspot. Watch out for the performance of a Sigale-gale ritual, where locals demonstrate a live funeral ritual and dance performance involving the traditional puppet tied to this routine.

Day 4: Picnic at Holbung Hill and go paragliding!

If you haven’t rented a bike already, consider doing so for a breathtaking journey around the island towards Holbung Hill. Grab a picnic basket and cycle around. As you travel around the island you’ll catch precious glimpses of everyday life, be it farmers ploughing their fields with water buffalos, children horsing around with piglets and puppies or highly-skilled handicrafters hard at work.

Image credit: indonesia-tourism

Take your pick between Efrata Waterfall or Naisogop Waterfall, both located within fairly close proximity of Holbung Hills. For a short visit, we recommend the Naisogop Waterfall reachable via a one to two-kilometre walk from Urat Village. Efrata Waterfall requires more effort and stamina to reach but also makes for a peaceful camping location. You can fall asleep amidst the pastoral landscape and the rushing sound of the waterfall!

Ready? Give yourself a boost of adrenaline amidst the grand beauty of Samosir Island as you paraglide above its landscape. You will land in Partukko Naginjang, a wide flat terrain that glimmers in the butterscotch glow of the setting sun.

It’s been a long day of fun, hasn’t it? Opt for a chill night out at Brando’s Blues Bar and take to the local scene of reggae and house sets with your travel partner. With pool tables and live bands to entertain you, you’ll never leave the bar without a good time.

Day 5: Have coffee on a cliff, swing off the edge of the world and feed the monkeys

Image credit: John Fan

Begin your last day on Samosir with a dose of caffeine and the feeling of cool breeze in your hair. Curl up in the Huta Tinggi area, where locals run a number of eateries at the edge of its cliffs for a unique dining experience. Try out local snacks like goreng pisang as you soak in the last few sights of the lake.

Yearning to prolong that feeling of being on top of the world? Simarjarunjung Hill promises that and more. Relive your childhood by swinging out beyond the edge of the cliff! Other main attractions include four other treehouses to recline in and enjoy the view. Be sure to take along a sweater to keep out the chilly winds, especially if you’re heading there pretty early.

Image credit: belindo

If you’re not too keen on heights or have more time to spare, drive over to Sibaganding, home of the Sibatu Loting Protected Forest. Stroll amidst the foliage as you observe the wild monkeys, who live and breed here with little human interference. To get up close and personal with these clever creatures, request to purchase some food prepared by the keepers. After bidding goodbye to the animals, make the drive back to Medan to catch your flight home.

And there you have it, a 5D4N adventure away from the crowds in the rustic embrace of nature. All that travelling around might seem a little daunting. But for the chance to get in touch with the simpler things in life, we’d say it’s well worth it.


About Author

Alvina Chan
Alvina Chan

Alvina wishes she got a tan from lazing around the beach with a book and mango juice, but instead she’s got it from hours of outdoor sports without sunscreen. Since she's currently low on the dough, she scratches the travel itch by stalking travel vlogs and fantasising about meeting her European online pals in person. Other times, she’s just trying not to accidentally die yet again in Overwatch.