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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.