8 Great Places You Can Visit in North Sumatra from Medan

Medan is the gateway to the rest of North Sumatra, an underrated tropical beauty offering lush rainforests, waterfalls, mountains and lakes.

Tourism in North Sumatra is still under-developed, but this is the exact same reason why you can expect to appreciate the charm in all its natural glory; free from over-commercialization and human tampering.

If you’re still considering whether or not you should visit Medan in your next trip to Indonesia, these 8 underrated attractions will woo you.

1. Lake Toba

Lake Toba, Tongging, North Sumatra, Indonesia

[Image Credit: Bangbeni]

A supervolcano erupted violently 70,000 years ago, leaving behind a massive crater lake twice the size of Singapore. More than that, an island called Samosir began to form in the middle of the lake. Toba Lake is a world-class attraction which looks beautiful from any angle, but my personal favorite is from its far northern end, in a small fish-farm town called Tongging.

2. Berastagi Highland

Mount Sinabung, Berastagi Highland, North Sumatra, Indonesia

[Image Credit: Tom Casadevall]

Berastagi is Medanese’ favorite weekend getaway, a rural retreat into the town that offers never-ending supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables. Berastagi also boasts the scenic twin beauty of Mount Sibayak and Mount Sinabung. For adventurous travelers, these two mountains are excellent hikes. I have personally ascended Sibayak before; it was not too hard yet the view was stunning.

3. Sipisopiso Waterfall

Sipisopiso Waterfall, Tongging, North Sumatra, Indonesia

[Image Credit: Ronald Tagra]

From a rock opening 120 meters above a magnificent gorge in Kabanjahe, flows one of Indonesia’s tallest waterfalls. I’ve only been there once, but it was a great fun day drenched with splashes of water. If you’re lucky, you may also catch a rainbow glimpse at the bottom!

4. Sibolangit Waterfall

Sibolangit Waterfall, Sibolangit, Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, Indonesia

[Image Credit: Ronald Tagra]

This one is lifted directly from your magical dreamworld. It’s two-colored waterfalls! Flowing down into the cold crystal blue pool are warm azure white falls. Such is the case because the rich sulfur that flows down from Mount Sibayak gets dissolved into the pool. This one’s certainly on my bucket list!

5. Tinggi Raja

Bukit Kapur Kawah Putih Dolok Tinggi Raja, Simalungun, North Sumatra, Indonesia

[Image Credit: Jelajah ACSU]

This is North Sumatra’s best kept secret: I didn’t even know this exists until today! Similar to Turkey’s Pammukale, Tinggi Raja is a natural hot spring that have hardened to form terraces of “warm snows” made of calcium carbonate deposits.

6. Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang, Gunung Leuser National Park, North Sumatra, Indonesia

[Image Credit: Tbachner]

This one’s for lovers of eco-tourism. Peek inside one of the world’s richest tropical rainforest ecosystem, in which you’ll find a small tourist town nearby Bohorok River doubling up as the largest animal sanctuary for semi-wild Sumatran orangutans.

7. Tangkahan

Buluh River, Tangkahan, Gunung Leuser National Park, North Sumatra, Indonesia

[Image Credit: Michael Hoefner]

Tangkahan takes eco-tourism another step further. It’s farther to reach, but you’ll eventually find yourself immersing inside the heart of Gunung Leuser National Park. Visiting Tangkahan means exchanging the comfort of city life for a few days of tarzan-like life: elephant riding, jungle trekking, river rafting, venturing into bat caves, etc. That’s exactly what my trip a few years back felt like.

8. Danau Linting

Danau Linting, Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, Indonesia

[Image Credit: GoIndonesia]

Here’s another one I just discovered today. This tosca green lake is located in between three villages at Deli Serdang regency. Completely off-the-beaten path, the lake’s beauty is as natural as it gets. For a perfect afternoon shelter between the trees grove.

What is your favorite among the 8 great destinations in North Sumatra? Did I miss anything important? Sound it out in the comment box below.

[PS. Read other posts about Medan here. If you enjoy what you read and would like to be kept updated with my future posts, please like my newly-created Facebook page here. =)]


15 Comments Add yours

  1. Only just stumbled across this blog post. Nice one, I had never known of most of these. I have visited Berastagi, Bukit Lawang and Danau Toba, but the others?…I doubt I will get the chance now.


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Those 3 are the main highlights though, so at least you got the important ones covered. =)


  2. mimazohds says:

    Great sharing, million thanks!


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Thank you for your kind comment. =)


  3. adrian says:

    very happy there are blogs that discuss tourist places in the city of Medan, North Sumatra. I also want to provide additional information, in addition to the places that you have mentioned, there are many more places that are not less interesting, I also created a blog that talks about it. There are 25 sites that can be visited, please if you want to know more clearly, they can visit back to my blog. Thank you.


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Thanks for sharing, Adrian! Great list you have there. Feel free to share more in the future. =)


  4. Gemma says:

    Hi Good Day! how far the lake toba to Tinggi Raja. Is it possible to go there for 1 day tour?


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Hi Gemma, I have yet to visit Tinggi Raja personally. However, it depends on which side of Lake Toba you’re referring to. Tinggi Raja is around 3-4 hours of driving away if you depart from the city of Parapat. Or 4-5 hours away if you depart from Tongging area. The road is small, hilly and not very good, so expect to encounter turbulence and move slower—especially during rainy weather. Most people go with motorcycle instead of car. As a day trip it’s possible, but only if you have an experienced local driver with you ’cause the road can be a little tricky.


  5. Hi Andrew: where would the best base camp be if I wanted to do a week vacation to Northern Sumatra so that and visit all of the sites above without having to travel too far for any of them? At first I was thinking it would be best to stay in a hotel in Madan, but then I thought maybe it would be better to stay at the resort located at Lake Toba. Do you think that would situate me closer to everything so that I’m doing less driving each day?


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Hello, it actually wouldn’t be very possible to base yourself in just 1 place to visit all the destinations above. If you base yourself in a resort around Lake Toba, it can help you to reach Lake Toba, Berastagi Highland and Sipiso-piso Waterfall. Sibolangit Waterfall may be possible but could get a little tired, keeping in mind the trek to the waterfall itself is at least 3 hours per way and that’s excluding the driving time to the Sibolangit region. You need to base yourself in possibly three places: Lake Toba, Berastagi and Tangkahan/Bukit Lawang area. Tinggi Raja is the farthest from the route and may be a challenge to squeeze in a one-week visit.


  6. I blog often and I really thank you for your information. The article has really peaked my interest.
    I am going to take a note of your website and keep checking
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  7. Thank you so much for writing this! I’m planning a month cycling in Java and Sumatra & your blog has been so helpful! I love that you go all of these cool hideaway places the hordes of grammers haven’t found yet. ❤️ Spectacular


  8. Fast Car says:

    You always do the best work on the Internet. Keep it up!


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