Commute from Medan to Danau Toba

MEDAN, INDONESIA – After my scuba diving trip in Pulau Weh, Banda Aceh, I decided to check out Medan and Danau Toba.

From Banda Aceh, it was a 12-hour bus ride to Medan. I was able to get the front seat of the bus since a local, my new-found friend Thulus was the one who booked it from the terminal.

It was an overnight bus with an attached toilet so stopovers were very minimal. I tried to sleep all through out this land travel. There were rough road sections during the night that awaken me every now and then.

I have read in some blogs about the taxi drivers of Medan ripping you off. When I reached the terminal in Medan, I found out I have no choice but to negotiate with one of them. The bus terminal was on the outskirt of town. I need to go to Sun Plaza Mall where Thulus and I will meet. He will be taking a domestic flight that morning to Medan. To make the story short, when the taxi reached the mall, the driver asked 3x the fare he initially quoted.

I was able to have lunch in the mall. I stayed in a coffee shop and was able to check some work emails while waiting for Thulus. Blackberry Messenger was quite useful in communicating with Thulus. When he arrived, we went ahead to his friend’s house. Made new friends with Gucci and Lipi. Again, I was not expecting this Indonesia hospitality. I was very thankful to them for letting me stay in their house for a night. I was also able to taste some of the local food sold by vendors in the street. The cake with beef toppings was very interesting.

Commute from Medan to Danau Toba

The next morning, we went to the bus terminal to Pematangsiantar. This will be the start of our commute from Medan to Danau Toba via bus and then van.

Thulus’ family is in Pematangsiantar. His mother was working in a community hospital. It was an amazing experience to see their local hospital. Definitely not the same setup with what we have in the Philippines. His mother was very friendly. After some pleasantries we went next to his sister’s house. I really felt I was part of the family already. Finally after Thulus said some goodbyes we went ahead to the main highway. The wait inside the van was quite long. We were waiting for other passengers to fill the old van before we could start our journey to Parapat. This is the main port going to Samosir Island. This island is biggest island inside Danau Toba (Lake Toba).

When we arrived at the port, we hopped in inside a transfer boat to Samosir Island. This was just less than an hour boat ride. There were a lot of resorts lining the coasts of Samosir Island. Passengers can disembarked on these resorts if they have available jetty. At this point I was just relying on Thulus on where to go. Hence I was not able to research before hand where to look for our accommodation. When we disembarked, it was already around 4 in the afternoon. We saw some restaurants and lodges while searching for a place to stay. We agreed on a room overlooking the lake. It was an okay choice.

Danau Toba/Lake Toba/Pulau Samosir Island hotels/accommodations you can check out:

  • Toba Village Inn
  • Saulina Resort
  • Pandu Lakeside Hotel Tuktuk
  • Samosir Cottages
  • Anju Cottage
  • The lodge has a small garden fronting the lake. This will be my favorite spot while resting under the shade of a tree while reading a book.

    For our dinner we went to the restaurant beside our lodge. I was a bit pricey but the food was nothing spectacular.

    Danau Toba: Home of the Batak people

    For breakfast, we tried a local food stall. Very small but felt very authentic. I ordered some local noodles paired with hot coffee. Our plan that day was to swim in the lake and rent a bike and visit Tuk Tuk.

    The lake was clear and clean. There were certain parts that were just shallow. I have just noticed that there were a lot of seaweed in the lake. But nonetheless I was able to join swimming in the lake.

    We rented a motorbike to visit the main tourist area in Tuk Tuk. Samosir Island is home to the Batak people. We were able to see native Batak houses, their leaders burial grounds, Sigale-gale and the Batak Museum.

    There could be a bit of a crowd, mostly Chinese tourists along the pathway in this area. Souvenir shops were also many. I have bought a Batak sarong made from sandalwood fiber.

    We have just rented the motorbike for two hours hence we decided to go back to the lodge. It was also our time to check out. When we have arrived in Parapat we decided to have late lunch. This where we have to go on our respective way. He will be going back to Pematangsiantar while I will be traveling straight back to Medan. I cannot thank Thulus enough. From Banda Aceh then to my commute to Medan to Danu Toba, he has helped me, a complete stranger, to complete my solo Sumatra journey.

    I hope to visit him again or return the hospitality when he visits the Philippines.

    May van ride back to Medan took me around 6 hours. I told the driver to drop me off my hotel: Wisma Sederhana Budget Hotel

    Staying in Wisma Sederhana Budget Hotel

    I have booked this hotel while in Danau Toba via Agoda. The place was near the China town area of Medan. The room itself was small but clean. It was a fine room for an overnight stay. Went outside after to withdraw cash and buy some food for dinner.

    Other Medan hotels options:

  • Grand Swiss-Belhotel Medan
  • Emerald Garden Hotel
  • Garuda Plaza Hotel
  • Swiss-Belinn Medan
  • House of Zaza
  • Travel back to Kuala Lumpur

    Wisma Sederhana‘s breakfast was a set of noodles, bread, fruits and coffee.

    I have asked the hotel for a taxi to the airport. I have already paid for the taxi voucher from the hotel to avoid further discussion with the driver.

    I bought some Gudang Garam in the airport.

    Once in Kuala Lumpur, I will stay in Sepang and visit Putrajaya.

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