Medan is located on the northern part of Sumatra Island, and is the capital of North Sumatra.
Medan is the third largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta and Surabaya. It is also the largest city outside of Java Island. The population of Medan city is about 2 million people (according to census in year 2000).
Medan is recognized for its multi-cultural society that lives in harmony, creating a unique culture blend. The population is mainly made up of Batak, Javanese, Chinese, Indian, Minang and other ethnic minorities such as Sunda and Madura.
Each ethnic group contributes to thousands of tasty, mouth-watering dishes found in every corner of Medan. They offer to locals and tourists alike dozens of food streets and hawker centres to fulfill their appetite at any time of the day. From the sweet Javanese cuisine, to hot Padang dishes, from savoury Chinese noodles, to spicy Indian curry, this varied cuisine is available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. It is obvious why the locals are so into food. The city itself is quite well known for "food-tourism", especially amongst other Indonesians.
Medan's Polonia International Airport and Belawan sea port are both visa-free and visa-on-arrival points.
For more visa information, see the Indonesia page.
Medan's international airport is known as Polonia International Airport (MES) and is located about 15 minutes from the city. Domestic departure taxes from Medan increased on 15 August 2005 from Rp15,000 to Rp25,000, while international departure taxes remained constant at Rp100,000. The domestic terminal is nicer than the international terminal (a new terminal is scheduled to open in 2007), and there is no moneychanger for currency other than USD. ATM machines are located only at the domestic airport. Bags are checked by customs upon departure, unless you have friends at the airport. Domestic flights out of Medan do not check IDs (sporadically, they check passports at check-in) at security checks (only tickets).
Getting there: A Taxi into town sets you back around Rp40,000, unless you walk past the taxis in front of the terminal and proceed towards the exit. There are more taxis towards the exit, and if you bargain well, you can get a taxi for only Rp.20,000. If you know the public bus number for your destination, it is Rp.3500 per person, but those unfamiliar with Bahasa Indonesian are encouraged to get taxis for their first transportation.
There are direct international flights to/from Penang (for only around $70 return), Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Ipoh in Malaysia; Singapore. Several discount airlines service Medan, though the only one with reliable Internet booking (in July and August 2005) is AirAsia, with fares sometime below US$50 return if purchased in advance.
- AirAsia  to/from Kuala Lumpur
- Kartika Airlines  (Tel: +62-61-4522433) to/from Penang and Ipoh
- Malaysia Airlines  to/from Penang and Kuala Lumpur
- Garuda - the most popular in domestic flights
- SilkAir (Singapore Airlines)
- Valuair - budget airlines flying to Singapore
- Lion Air  (Garuda Plaza Hotel, Jalan Sisingamangaraja No.18. Tel: +62-61-7351168 or 7351169) to/from Penang
For destinations within Indonesia, there are direct flights to/from Jakarta, Pekanbaru, Batam and other cities.
- AirAsia  to/from Jakarta
- Kartika Airlines  to/from Batam and Jakarta
- Lion Air  to Jakarta and Banda Aceh
Larger, non air-conditioned buses and large luxury buses (often Mercedes) that are air-conditioned (some have toilets on board, though they are squatting toilets that are difficult to use when the buses are moving, given driving habits and road conditions throughout Sumatra). The central station for all larger buses in Medan is Amplas Station Central (not located in the center of the city though). This is where a lot of the smaller minivans go as well, and where travellers need to go to make connecting buses to further cities. Many of the large air-conditioned buses perform overnight routes, with prices varying by location served. As an example of prices from August 2005, expect to pay around Rp.50,000-80,000 for an 8-10 hour overnight luxury bus (without toilet saves about Rp.10,000+) trip, as in to Duri, Bukit Lawang, or Lake Toba (Danau Toba). Such buses provide a small snack and sometimes have televisions on board. While seats are very comfortable by Sumatran standards, all rides are swervy/bumpy and drivers often play stereos quite loud during the entire trip (unless a movie is available). Also, many buses have smoking sections in the back, and sometimes, smoking occurs in the front of the non-smoking section by the driver if the driver is so inclined. Earplugs are good accessories. Furthermore, while the large luxury buses have ample stowage above seats, keep valuables safe while you sleep.
Medan is not located by the sea but nearby Belawan is a major port with domestic and international boat and ferry services. Belawan is listed as a visa-free and visa-on-arrival entry point (see the Get in section of the Indonesia page).
To/from other parts of Indonesia: Pelni boats link Belawan with various ports in Sumatra and other Indonesian islands. The comfortable MV Kelud departs from Belawan every Tuesday. The full sailing schedule is on www.pelni.com.
To/from Malaysia: Daily ferries run to/from Penang, Malaysia. Operated by Langkawi Ferry Services, Tel: +62-61-4521666/4527555 in Medan; +60-4-2642088 in Penang.
Since March 2007 there is a ferry from Medan to Lumut (Perak/Malaysia). It's RM100 one way and RM180 for a return ticket. The ferry leaves on Friday and Monday at 10:00 am from Medans port Belawan and on Wednesday and Saturday at 10:30 am from Lumut. As schedules changes check the schedule before (Indonesia office: [email protected] +62-6261-7320421 in Medan, Malaysia office: [email protected], +60-5-6056804000 in Lumut).
Medan city are swamped by Becak and Taxi (the preferable choice to get around)
Medan is connected by rail to other conurbations on the eastern coast of Sumatra, such as Tanjungbalai, Rantauprapat, Siantar and Binjai. Executive, business and economy class trains are available, but if your budget allows, take the better class trains, which are faster and more comfortable. Tickets cost between Rp.9,000 (economy) to Rp.70,000 (executive).
Also known as trishaws or pedicabs. You have to be good negotiator if you want to ride on becaks, with price ranging between Rp.5,000 to Rp.10,000 depending on the destination (near or far).
Inflation seems to have hit the Becaks in Medan (Jan07). Most drivers wanted Rp30,000 which came down to Rp15,000 when spoken to in Bahasa Indonesia. Locals can still get short becak ride for Rp5,000 to Rp10,000 but Rp15,000 is standard for longer (10 minutes or more) rides.
Very few becak drivers speak more than a few words of English, but a map and lots of pointing will get you to the right place, even if it takes twice as long as you thought.
As you can get a hotel taxi for Rp35,000 to almost anywhere in Medan, paying more than Rp15,000 for a longer ride is probably not a good idea. Local taxis are now Rp30,000 to almost anywhere. They will not bargain much with tourists or visitors (people from Java!). The only difference I could detect between the becak and the taxi was that the taxi kept you dry when it rained, not much difference apart from that.
Cost Rp.20,000 (2005) to go anywhere around the city (close or far). Be careful of picking up a taxi. Try to pick taxi from a reliable place such in front of malls, shopping centres or airport. Better taxis can be hailed from shopping malls, but not hotels apparently. Suggest use hotel taxi rather than street taxi. Most taxi drivers won't use a meter and want to bargain. One taxi company that always uses a meter is Express. They are white and can usually be found around Sun Plaza and Tasbi residential complex. Call 4552211 if you want to order.
A Chinese Temple under construction
Public transport is not reliable and not suggested for travellers, though they have fixed price from one destination to other destinations.
Small minivans have painted numbers (1 to 267 in Medan) that signify their routes, which even locals don't have memorized. If you speak Bahasa Indonesian, just ask where people are standing by the roadsides which "bus" number corresponds to your location and what the price is in advance. When a van with the appropriate number approaches, flag them down as they don't make scheduled stops (just drive along a given route and drop off passengers when told or pick up new passengers when flagged). If you are a westerner, be sure to confirm the price before getting in. This type of transportation should only be braved by those with a point-to-point knowledge of Medan and a working knowledge of Bahasa Indonesian so they know where to tell the driver to stop, unless you have a local friend whom can take you around.
One easy route is Minibus #3 from the great mosque (at the side of yuki mall) to the Medan Mall, which is Rp 2,000
All sudako or angkot (minbus) are now 2,500 per ride.
Many tourists choose to use Medan as a quick thru-point to travel elsewhere in Sumatra, but the city offers a glimpse of a large Indonesian city still unfrequented by western tourists, and shouldn't be quickly dismissed. However, Medan is more chaotic and has a bit more litter than Jakarta or Denpasar and open sewers abound. Furthermore, not as many people speak English in Medan as in other large Indonesian cities, but even a short list of useful expressions goes a long way, and Sumaterans are still unjaded by westerners.
- Maimoon Palace
- Vihara Borobudur (Buddhist Temple)
- Vihara Gunung Timur (Chinese Temple)
- Mesjid Raya Mosque
- Kesawan Square
- Merdeka Walk (5 mins from Kesawan Square)
There are several Club, pubs and Karaoke to visit at night in Medan. There is an entertainment complex located in the heart of the city in Medan, call Capital building located close to the Post office at Jalan Putri Hijau.
Capital Building's activity
- Taipan- Silver service chinese restaurant, with excellent interior decor
- Snook Pool Bar
- Classical - exclusive KTV Karaoke room
- Retro- PUB
These are the well known clubs in Medan , such as :
- Millennium Three ( M3 ) Discotheque , located at Thamrin Plaza 8th floor
- Kristal Discotheque , located in Perisai Plaza
- Iguana Discotheque , Medan Baru Plaza
- Jet Plane KTV , Plaza Medan Fair
- Equator KTV & Pub , Hongkong Plaza
- F1 Discotheque , located at Jalan Wazir / Jalan Kolonel Sugiono
- Tropicana KTV
- Stroom Bistro , located at Jalan Listrik
- Medan Mall. one stop place where you can find almost everything from jewellery, clothing, food, and groceries. The mall attached to Central Pasar that sells everything in bulk where the big retailers are. There is also wet market extended located behind the Central Pasar which is operating in morning time.
- Carrefour stores stock food as well as electronics and clothing. The clothing section includes many namebrands at very low prices (ex: Diesel t-shirts for Rp.15,000, or about $1.50 USD). Many western food items can be found as well, at fairly competitive prices. These supermarkets cater to the middle/upper classes and are one of the few stores in Medan that accept credit cards.
- Sun Plaza, located in central city. Big plaza and lots of happening in Saturday and Sunday. Plenty of food choices from western to eastern. Has a big supermarket, named Hypermart which offer the equal style of shopping like Carrefour.
- Medan Fair Plaza, city center. Has a big Carrefour supermarket, so if you need something you will be able to find them in Carrefour. Lots of eating options also.
- hels, provide issues about anything to make concept design in fashion, the local clothing store with price range Rp.10,000 - Rp.120,000 (USD1 - USD12), the place call hels at Jl. KH. Wahid Hasyim No.48 Medan 20154, +62614520749, [email protected]
- Macan Yaohan Supermarkets, there are 8 branches located around Medan for your grocery shopping. Find more information and locations at http://www.Macan-Group.com
- TauKo Medan, provide the memorable things from Medan, t-shirt (Rp.50,000), at Merdeka Walk.
- Toko Mr. Ben, sells imported western food all sorts at reasonable prices, e.g frozen New Zealand beef and lamb. It is a small, Chinese-owned shop, all expatriates know it.
- Bolu Meranti located Jl. Kruing, near Jl. Meranti, on Petisah area. The home-made roll cakes with variety of tastes, such as cheese, blueberry, mocca etc.
- Bika Ambon & Marquisa located at Jl. Majapahit, on Petisah area. With numbers of shops along the street there, you can do the selection.
- Dried fruits with sugar on Pasar Rame, a famous morning till afternoon market, beside Thamrin Plaza.
- Obonk Steak Restaurant located on Krakatau Street & Pattimura Street . It serves lot varieties of steak,salad and fried rice. , beside the price is also affordable.
- Merdeka Walk the hottest hangout place in town, cafe, resto, exhibition, entertainment at Lapangan Merdeka.
- Kesawan Square is located along Ahmad Yani street, before Merdeka Walk. It offers unique atmosphere for pleasure. Open only @ 6pm til' 1am everyday. Numerous vendors provide various kinds of cuisine, the majority of which are Chinese. Each vendor has "halal" or "non halal" label on their stand. However, the toilet facilities provided in the area are abysmal.
- Mansyur Avenue, used to be a hang-out place for USU students, the avenue has developed in recent years into one of the hottest hangout place in town, lining with new cafe and restaurants which serves great food with student price.
- Tip Top Restaurant, used to be THE restaurant in Medan, this unique restaurant can trace its history back to the Dutch colonization. Located in Ahmad Yani street, the food has a nostalgic taste clinging on every bites, such as the ox-tongue sandwich and the bitter-ballen, but the best experience you could have here is watching the buzz of Kesawan Square from your rattan chairs in its verandah.
- The Traders serves great food at reasonable prices (for westerners). Classy atmosphere and tasty wine.
- Selat Panjang , Sumatera Streets and Semarang Streets is where some of the oldest Chinese eateries in Medan serves their reknown cuisines, such as mie pangsit tiong-sim (noodle served with stuffed dumplings), kwetiau goreng (wok-fried Chinese rice-fetucinne), pokpiah (Singapore-style vegetable-stuffed dumpling) and many more. If you want to eat halal, of course you should beware of the pork content in the dishes, but you could always ask for a no-pork version of the dish and a different wok to cook your food in.
- Mie Aceh Titi Bobrok, which has been dubbed by one of the Indonesian lifestyle magazines as the most popular local dish in Medan. A simple dish of noodle served with chili sauce and crab, rumour has it that the secret ingredient which make the Aceh-style noodle irresitistible is a dash of Acehnese marijuana, which is the commonest drug that could be imported illegally from the region. But that, of course, only heightened the mystery and the notoriety of the delicious Mie Aceh.
- Ondo Batak Grill, is a unique Batak restaurant where you can find the gems of Batak dishes, without all the germs! Set in cafe-like ambience and accompanied by non-stop jazz music, the new Batak restaurant in town serves a reasonably-tasting saksang (a pork dish cooked in pork blood), panggang (Batak/Karo-style chopped roast-pork) and arsik (Batak-style fish dish). Don't forget to taste the hot pora-pora (a dish of sauteed papaya and cassava leaves cooked in coconut gravy and rawit chili)!
- Garuda, never forget to visit the famous local Padang restaurant. Well known for its rendang (Padang-style beef dish cooked slowly in coconut gravy and chili) and ayam pop (Padang-style chicken dish cooked in coconut gravy), Garuda also mantain its status as one of the first local restaurant who expands itself by franchising.
- Lontong Sayur Kak Lin, serving tasty and cheap lontong sayur (rice cakes in hot vegetables curry), this humble eatery in Cik Di Tiro Street is not much to look at for the uniniatiated. But judging from the crowd that line in queue to buy their breakfast and lunch here, you can be sure that you have met the darling of Medan local dish.
- Cahaya Baru Indian Restaurant, the North-Indian restaurant is one of Medan's best kept secrets, which recently has been featured in Kompas as the only restaurant in Medan which serves a wide range of authentic North-Indian cuisine. Visit the restaurant in Cik Di Tiro Street for its endless choices of delicious vegetarian and curry dish!
- Pagaruyung Alley , located at Medan's "little india" or refered as "kampung keling" by locals. They offer ,of course, Indian and Indonesian cuisine. Begin their business when the sun sets till 2 a.m. They are well known for satay (chicken, lamb, liver, intestine, etc.) , fried rice and Martbak Telur (egg pancake topped with diced potatoes, and onions, often served with curry).
- Organic Goat Milk Yogurt , located at TASBI Complex. If you are an expat or just a tourist who are staying in Medan for more than few days, - a healthy home-made organic plain goat-milk yogurt is something you would like to taste after the unhelathy but tasty food you found and ate at Medan's food stalls and restaurants. Call 081-370-905-130 to order your healthy goat-milk yogurt.
Durian is one of the most famous fruit in Medan and North Sumatra. Get the best price and taste when the season comes, which on July and December. North Sumatra has a lot of durian fields like; Sibolangit, Brastagi, Langkat, Sidikalang ,Siborong-borong, Tarutung, Sibolga, Nias, Padang Sidempuan, Lima Puluh, Perbaungan, etc.Get Medan Durian at Jalan Sumatera, Jalan Semarang and Jalan Adam Malik.Price start Rp.5000,- to Rp.15.000,- per each
- Vintage Wine shop Want to enjoy wine in medan? Located at Grand Angkasa Hotel Lobby at Shopping Arcade. Enjoy the jazzy environment with a glass of wine or accompanied by a bottle of wine chossing from the wine rack with ranging more than 200 different brands.Telephone order at (061)4577750. or purchase online at http://www.wineindonesia.com
- Corner Cafe Raya is on Jl. Sipisopiso, next to Mesjid Raya (The Grand Mosque), one of the few tourist attractions in Medan. Its proximity means that you will get deafened by the call to prayer several times a day should you be sat on the terrace. However this should not put you off; you can withdraw inside to the non-smoking, air-conditioned interior and continue your enjoyment of the cold and inexpensive draught beer, the good Western & Indonesian food and the friendliness of the staff. Mark, the Australian landlord and his Indonesian wife are a great source of information, as are the resident expats. Good mix of people and cultures. +6281370143120
- The Fleet A traditional English pub bizarrely situated within the grounds of a shopping mall (Deli Plaza) making it rather difficult to find. A destination for the British expats with little in the way of atmosphere. However it is professionally run and the food is supposed to be good and value for money. Rumour has it (Dec 07) that the complex in which it is situated is soon to be rased and replaced by a hotel.
- The Aryaduta, Jl. Raden Saleh. 5-star hotel opened in 2007 located in city centre. 210 rooms.
- Citi International Hotel by CitiInn Group, ☎ +62-61-7363479, . www.citi-hotel.com is a clean, no-frill & modern hotel, perfect for business & budget travellers, located in the heart of Medan. Has the an excellent Internet connection and Wi-Fi hotspot in rooms and cafe. Credit Card is accepted. CitiInn Hotels also have rooms in Berastagi. Check out the website for more details.
Citi International Hotel at Palang Merah. Close to airport. Sun Plaza, Gleaneagles Hospital, entertainment center & food center are all within 5-minutes walking distance. Standard Room is Rp 220,000 (around 23 USD) per night. Located at Jl. Palang Merah No.112A, Medan. Tel. +62-61-4554787.
Citi International Hotel at Sun Yat Sen (New), just recently did a soft-opening. Currently the highest building and hotel in Medan. Try the Sky Cafe at Floor 17. You can check out hotel photos and videos here - CitiInn Sun Yat Sen @ citi-talk.com. Current promotional rate is at Rp 270,000 (around 29 USD) for Superior Room. Free Internet. Tel. +62-61-7363479.
- Grand Angkasa Hotel http://www.grand-angkasa.com/, the only 5-star hotel in the city has rates around $89USD for from online or Medan travel agents. Close to the airport but not convenient for city-centre shopping. The night club Soccer is in the basement.
- Novotel Soechi http://www.novotelmedan.com/, 4-star hotel in the city centre, attached to a mall, available for around $70USD/night via travel agents. Has a pub (3rd floor) and Karaoke club. Wi-Fi Internet on 8th floor (75000Rp per day).
- Danau Toba http://www.hoteldanautoba.com/, Cheaper 3* hotel, in need of room refurbishment, with large swimming pool (and many mosquitos). Prices $40/night. Popular music venue Tavern.
- Wisma Wahana Daya Pertiwi. Owned by the railway company, clean, decent, cheap, located a short walk from the railway station on M. Yamin Street. Superior rooms Rp. 135,000 per night, suites Rp. 250,000. Restaurant (Permata DSM) is acceptable.
- Hotel Zakia is a budget option right next to the grand mosque (so don't go there if you are bothered by the Iman calling for prayer at 5am, but if that is the case, you're in the wrong country anyway...). Rooms range from Rp. 35,000 - 50,000 including a breakfast. It is reasonably clean and central. Tel.: +61/7322413
- Antares Hotel, ☎ +62-61-7324000, . Rooms from Rp. 229.000 (about USD25). Air-conditioned, clean, but room doors not properly noise-proofed, so you will hear anything and anyone walking the coridor on their way from the elevator. Bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper. There is a children pool on the 3rd floor. Address: Jln. S.M Raja No. 84 Medan 20152 (on same street and near Hotel Garuda Plaza and Hotel Sumatera). Tel / Fax. 6261-7324000 / 6261-7323000. Rp. 229.000.
- Angel Guesthouse. Just around the corner from Zakia and close to the grand mosque. Better rooms and friendly people. Rooms Rp. 45.000. Address: Jalan Mahkamah no. 26.
Airport Alert: For some reason, that nobody can explain, you are required to fill in a form at the Fiskal Check counter stating that you are not an Indonesian citizen or KITAS holder. This is not required at Jakarta or Denpassar and no amount of asking why it was necessary resulted in a logical answer from the Fiskal man. So be prepared to fill in a very small form with your name and passport details stating that you are not a citizen or holder of KITAS, it is a mystery what happens to these pieces of paper as they were all over the floor behind the counter. (Note: this is because citizens are required to pay an additional tax for leaving the country. Citation needed.)
Also be prepared to have your passport and boarding pass checked by any number of people, many standing right next to each other, and not letting you pass until they have all had a long look at your passport. Do not expect any friendliness from the airport officials here either, listen carefully to all announcements, and then ask a local what is going on, it is the only way to find out how many hours your flight is being delayed.
There is nothing to do in the departure area. If you have a morning flight on the weekend there will be do traffic so allow 10 minutes from your hotel to the airport. Check in and passport control is 10 minutes. So dont leave your hotel any more than 90 minutes before your flight, less is better. Take some fresh water and wait, and wait and wait...
- Berastagi - popular mountain resort for weekend getaways, for Medan locals. About 1.5 hours drive from Medan.
- Bukit Lawang - A 3 hour journey from Medan, the latter half of the journey being a rather bumpy and pot-holed ride. Beautiful little village on the edge of the Leuser National Park and home to an Orang-utan rehabilitation center where you may get up close and personal with some of the inmates. Jungle treks can be arranged or you can just relax by the river. The village was devastated by a flood in 2003, making it a little less pretty than it once was. But please don't be put off! It's still a wonderful place to visit and the residents are still trying to pick up the pieces of thier lives since their disaster and rely on tourism to do just that.
- Lake Toba - one of biggest fresh water lake in the world. Formed by volcanic eruption. Has a large island, Samosir, in the middle.
- Pantai Cermin Themepark - the first and only water theme park in North Sumatra, which located in Cermin Beach, Serdang Bedagai. The theme park is organized by Malaysia Investor and Local Government. Open on Mon, Wed, Thur and Fri (11.00 - 18.00) Sat, Sun and public holiday (09.00 - 18.00). Close on Tuesday, except public holiday. With admission fee: Mon, Wed, Thur and Fri ->Adult Rp. 40000,-Child Rp. 20000,- (below 1,1 meter)and Sat, Sun and public holiday Adult Rp. 60000,- Child Rp. 40000,- (below 1,1 meter). We can do Swimming, Sun Bathing, Kayaking, etc at there also. To go there, we can choose by: Rental Car, Private Car. Or take Mini Bus (sudako) at Jl. MT. Haryono (in front of Medan Mall) and stop at Perbaungan city. Then take Machine Trishaw to the beach.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!