North Sumatra

North Sumatra. Indonesia’s most populous province outside of Java, stretches from the Indian Ocean in the west to the Straits of Malaka in the East, and from Aceh in the north to west Sumatra in the south. It is thick with virgin rainforest, jungle-covered hills, terraced rice fields, mountain rivers, beautiful waterfalls, and volcanic lakes and peaceful while beaches.

The people of the region can be can be divided into five main ethnic groups: the Coastal Malays, living along the Melaka Straits, the Bataks, consisting of the sub-tribes around Lake Toba and Samosir Island, the Pesisirs along the Indian Ocean coast, the Mandailings of southern Tapanuli, and Nias Islanders off the western coast of the province. These groups each have their own dialects. Religious beliefs, arts, costumes and cultures. Several ethnic groups live in Medan and other towns of Non ¼ Sumatra, tittle largest of these being Chinese and Indian. Other arts of the archipelago arc represented notably the Acehnese, Lake Toha Minangkabau and Javanese.

The diversity of arts and cultures make this region a treasure chest for social scientists and culture seeker. Ancient carved-stone graves of Batak kings, the megalithic culture of Nias, unique dances, ceremonies, arts and crafts are just waiting for you to discover. North Sumatra is also one of the richest provinces in Indonesia for flora and fauna. And of course the jewel of North

Sumatra. Lake Toba, the legendary birthplace of the mountain-dwelling Bataks and the largest inland lake in Southeast Asia. The region tiers more than 30% of Indonesia’s export commodities, making it a vital cog in the economy. Tobacco, palm oil, tea and rubber are produced in large quantities, particularly around medan in the north of the province.

Other places of interest:


Medan is the capital of North Sumatra Province, a trading center and important harbor. Once part of the Deli Sultanate, the Mesjid Besar (Grand Mosque) and the Palace of the Sultan of Deli have been restored there past grandeur. Medan’s harbor, Belawan, is the sea link to Penang, Malaysia. Regular flights to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Jakarta arc available, as well as destinations in Sumatra.

Crocodile Farm

Medan has the largest crocodile farm in Indonesia at Asam Kumbang, 5 km from the heart of the city, with nearly 2000 crocodiles of different sizes and species.


Berastagi is a lovely tourist town in the Karo highlands on the way from Medan to Lake Toba. Berastagi is famous for its flowers, vegetables and fruit, most famous of which is the "Marquisa" passion fruit. The local markets are swarming with activity and scenes from traditional Karo life. Days are extremely pleasant and nights can be quite cool. Gundaling Hill provides a clear view of Mt. Sibayak and Mt. Sinabung volcanoes. There is a pleasant colonial-style hotel with a golf course, as well as a range of other hotels and accommodations.

Jangga Village

This relatively unchanged Batak village has traditional ornamentation, and is a often visited by domestic and foreign tourists. Visitor's ca watch young girls and old ladies weaving the beautiful 'ulos' cloth, their principal means of a livelihood other than agriculture. There are monuments of King Tainbun and King Manurung, traditional houses, cultural and other historical remain left by Batak Kings centuries ago.

Lingga Village

Located some 15 km from Berastagi, this is a unique Batak Karo village where traditional houses are still well preserved and inhabited today. Five to six families live in each house and for a small donation will give you a tout of the house.

Lake Toba - Parapat

Lake Toba is the heart of Batak country, the largest lake in Southeast Asia with a surface area of about 1,145 sg. Kilometers, and the deepest lake in the world, over 450 meters deep. The town of Parapat is the main tourist resort and lies on the shores of the lake. The Batak Toba and Batak Simalungun peoples of Parapat are happy, easygoing people, known for their lively and sentimental love songs.

Recreational sports in Parapat include swimming, water skiing, motor boating, canoeing, fishing, and golf. The climate is cool and dry, an ideal place to relax. There is a plethora of hotels, bungalows, villas and guesthouses. Parapat is 176 from Medan and can be reached in 4 hours by bus.

Samosir Island

The island of Samosir, in the middle of Lake Toba, is accessible by regular ferries from Parapat. The original home of the fierce Toba Bataks, the island has many sites of stone tombs and traditional villages. The villages of Tomok, Tuk-tnk, Siallagan and Ambarita are noteworthy. Transportation can be arranged through your hotel or rent a motorcycle for a day’s adventure on the island. Accommodations of various styles and standards are readily available.

Great Bukit Barisan Forest Park

Located at Tongkoh, 59 km from Medan. The arboretum was established in 1916, and renovated and renamed Great Bukrit Barisan Forest Park 1989.


For the adventurous, a trip to Sumatera’s inland wilderness, crossing rivers and climbing steep, jungle-clad hills is a must. Soul Ii of the Mount Leuser National Park, the Rehabilitation Center for Orang-utans at Bohorok is open to the public.

Sipiso-piso Waterfall

Located on the north side of Lake Toba, the 360-foot waterfall is visible from a gazebo near the food and souvenir stands.

Pandaan Beach

A seaside resort with white s and beaches and a fishing village 11-km from Sibolaga, Pandaan boasts magnificent views of the Indian Ocean and fishermen sailing to the open sea. The restaurant feature grilled fish as fresh as it gels! Sibolga is the port town to catch a local ferry to the island of Nias.

Nias Island

Just a bit smaller than Bali, Nias lies only 125 km off Sumatra’s West Coast. Bypassed hr the Indian, Islamic and European influences that swept through most of the archipelago the people of Nias have lived for centuries in virtual isolation from the outside world. Australian surfers in search of the perfect wave were among the first to ‘discover’ Nias, home today to the Indonesian Open Surfing Championship. Despite a growing infrastructure and tourist industry the traditional culture of Nusa has remained quite intact. Villages are laid out around a central plaza and arc still primarily made up of tradition houses. War dances and the famous ‘stow Jumping’ are still part of daily life, but are also performed for tourists. There are daily flight serving Medan and Nias Island.

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