|Climate chart (explanation)|
A small town in the main road connecting Medan with Karo highland and Lake Toba, it's a popular weekend getaway town for locals from Medan. It is also home to two famous volcanoes, Sibayak and Sinabung, the latter of which has been erupting quite frequently since 2013. The town is located in the Barisan mountains (Bukit Barisan), the longest mountain range in Indonesia extending from Aceh to Lampung. With a height of about 1300 meters above sea level, the annual mean level temperature is about 23° C. In the rainy season, fog may occur frequently and wind may get chilly. A light jacket or windbreaker may help. You might check the market for second hand jackets.
Medan's Kuala Namu International Airport is connected to the city by a fast, modern but expensive train (Rp 100,000), and cheaper buses to various towns in the area. The Damri buses from the airport to Medan are Rp 30,000 to Plaza Medan Fair and Rp 25,000 to Amplas bus station. The driver will stop to let you off along the route, if you ask. Buses also go right from the airport to Kabanjahe/Berastagi (Rp 40,000) and Binjai or Pematangsiantar.
Renting a car is expensive, but if you are short of time and plan to continue your journey beyond Berastagi, it's a viable option. Motorbikes are also available to rent in Berastagi.
By public transport
Buses service many of the surrounding villages as is the case in the rest of Indonesia. Prices are similar to those elsewhere in Indonesia. You may get to ride on the roof of local minibuses. Many run along the main road all the time. Central market is main stop.
Berastagi is a small city and walking around is possible if you stay at the city. You can cover the whole city in less than an hour. Walking to surrounding villages, though, is not recommended.
The tourist info is very helpful. However, booking trips is cheaper with local agencies, for example Losmen Sibayak Guesthouse (in the center, next to BRI bank).
- 1 Bukit Barisan National Forest (Taman Hutan Raya Bukit Barisan), Jl. Letdjen Jamin Ginting. Popular among locals for picnicking and camping, especially on weekends. The forest is poorly managed and in poor condition, though.
- 2 Gundaling hill (Bukit Gundaling), Jl. Gundaling, Berastagi. A small hill that give panorama view of nearby Sibayak and Sinabung. Sadly, it's packed with many small stalls around. You can take a picture with Sinabung with its volcanic plume as your background on a very clear day. Or you can ride a horse or horse carriage around Gundaling.
- 3 Taman Alam Lumbini, Barus Jahe, Brastagi (Turn left on oranges monument after National Forest. After a gas station, enter an unmarked gate with unpaved road to the right.). A large Buddhist temple complex and park. The main temple is a replica from Shewadgon Pagoda in Yangon. Dress code is applied; alcohol and cigarettes are forbidden to bring inside, a security checkpoint will ensure visitors comply before entering. Food stalls sell only vegan foods. Free.
- 1 Lau Debuk Debuk hot springs (Pemandian air panas Lau Debuk Debuk) (From Berastagi, catch a yellow KT minibus on the main drag, but ask to make sure it's going all the way there. Rp 6k. It's also possible to walk to Lau Debuk Debuk in about two hours, but it's a jungle path that is frequently unmaintained and overgrown. Only go with someone who's been over it recently.). At least some of the pools are open all hours, though minibuses back to Berastagi stop around 7pm.. Take a dip in the hot springs on the foot of Gunung Sibayak while enjoying the view of the mountain. Feels so good, especially after having just climbed the volcano. There are so many hot springs around that it may confuse you, but just pick one which is clean. You can purchase a small pack of sulfur powder and rub it in your skin before dip inside. The powder is supposedly very good for skin. In late afternoon the springs become crowded with local families. There are also several hotels in the hot springs town with prices from around Rp 150,000. Entry price varies, around Rp 5,000 - 10,000, and you can stay as long as you like..
- 2 Sibayak (Gunung Sibayak). A climb of Gunung Sibayak is a must. A guide is definitely required unless you are an experienced trekker as the path is very slippery, steep and confusing in some areas. The guides will also probably know many alternative paths to the top depending on the weather and your fitness level or time. There are two common starting points - Pertamina power plant at Lau Debuk Debuk (Semangat Gunung village) from the south east or pos Lestari from the west. Easiest route is from pos Lestari as it starts from attitude about 1000 meters and 1-1½ hours to the crater. The climb will go through forest trail about 15-30 minutes before changing to rocky path all the way to crater rim. Possibility to get lost on this route is very low as the path is very well defined. The more adventurous route is from the Pertamina power plant. The trail involves forest trail, which is very slippery and many branches exist that you may get lost, especially if you climb at night. After the forest trail about 2-3 hours, you will emerge in the rocky trail for final push to crater rim that takes about 1 hour. This route is more rewarding as you can get a splendid view of Berastagi town and Lau Debuk Debuk valley from the rocky section. In a very clear morning day, you even can see all the way to Lake Toba. The crater is filled with rocks that tourists have inevitably made into all sorts of shapes and words. On rainy season, the crater may be filled with water to form a volcanic lake. If you love camping, the area around crater rim are splendid spot to pitch a tent. Beware of the strong wind and very chilly night! There are three summit if you dare to climb them - Puncak Antena, Takal Kuda and Pintau. Puncak Antena is the lowest summit of all three and so called because of the government seismic monitoring built at here. If you climb from Pertamina, your climb will emerge on the ridge connecting to Puncak Antena on your right. Takal Kuda is the second highest summit and the most believed highest summit by locals. Takal Kuda means "head of horse" in local language and it's easily recognized by a single tall granite on the top. The highest and true summit is Pintau, which can't be seen from crater and rarely climbed and even known by locals. It is located just behind Takal Kuda and to see it, you have to climb Takal Kuda or Puncak Antena. It is not recommended to climb Pintau unless you are a very experienced climber, as the route is very treacherous.
- 3 Sinabung (Gunung Sinabung). You can also climb Gunung Sinabung. The easiest way is to take a minibus to Danau Kawar (a lake at the foot of the volcano) and then hike up (you should ask for directions as the beginning is not obvious). After the initial pass through the farms the path is impossible to miss (although the usual stories about lost/dead tourists exist and are listed at the tourist information office in Berastagi), so no guide should be necessary. Good views from the top and excellent walk through the jungle (the walk up to Sibayak is not quite so pleasant). As of April 2018, Gunung Sinabung still on high alert status due to eruptions. The area around Gunung Sinabung (including Danau Kawar) may be a no-man zone. Consult with local authority before heading to there.
There are several waterfalls around, some can be reached with car/motorcycle, but some required trekking for several hours.
- Two Colors waterfall (Air Terjun Dua Warna). This waterfall's source origin from Gunung Sibayak and to reach it will need long trekking through rainforest. Guide is necessary. Start point trekking usually is from Sibolangit camp, but several other routes exist. The waterfall is uninspiring, but the trekking is quite adventurous.
If you bring kids, you may want to visit the theme parks.
- 4 Hillpark Sibolangit, Jl. Letdjen Jamin Ginting, Sibolangit (Down the main road till you see the big Ferris wheel), ☏ , (marketing), ✉ email@example.com. 10:00 to 18:00 (weekend), weekday closed except for school holiday period. Smaller theme parks at Sibolangit, about halfway between Medan and Berastagi. Attractions are not a lot and are less packed then Mikie Funland. Most attractions are geared towards children, with only few attractions categorized as "extreme" that is more suitable to adults. Rp 90,000 per ticket for all games pass (some attractions extra); Rp 50,000 per ticket for non-playing pass; free for children under 90 cm tall and senior citizens over 60 years old.
- 5 Mikie Funland, Jl. Letdjen Jamin Ginting, Berastagi (About 5 km before Berastagi city), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:00 to 18:00 (weekend), weekday closed except for school holiday period. The largest theme parks with many varieties of attractions. Always packed full with people, especially on weekend. Check for promotion. Rp 100,000 per ticket, free for seniors above 55 years old and child with height under 90 cm.
If you want to experience a local narcotic, try betelnuts from the market. You buy the leaves, a paste, tobacco and a red nut. All are mixed on the leaf, rolled and chewed. The paste is lime so it has a kick to it.
Karoland coffee is very nice, and may be purchased in shops all over town.
- 1 Fruit market (Pasar buah) (from Medan after reaching small roundabout of Heroic monument, turn to right, across gas station). 8AM - 6PM daily. The Berastagi area supplies Medan and in part also Singapore with local fruits and vegetable. The wet market is famous for selling fresh fruits, vegetables, potted flowers and decorative shrubs. Prices are generally acceptable. Haggle is recommended.
- 2 PIMS (Putra Indo Mandiri Sejahtera) (Gundaling Farm) (There are 2 way to go here - enter the road beside Hotel Sibayak until a Y junction with sign mention to left is to Sibayak volcanoes, turn right and follow the road about 500 meters. The farm is to the right side after a small chapel and may be hard to see the entrance. The other way is from main road Medan - Berastagi, after National Forest and Y junction, continue the road about 200 meters until you see a road to the right. Enter the road and continue about 15 minutes until you see the entrance to the farm to your left.). A dairy farm that sell fresh pasteurized-milk and yogurts. Come early as it sold out very fast. Rp25,000 per liter for plain milk; Rp30,000 per liter for flavored milk.
There are two banks with ATMs: Mandiri and BRI.
Chinese restaurants in the main street have some good eating options and hot food.
Food tents are set up along the side of the main street after dark. Many types of Indonesian foods are available, like 'Ikan Bakar' (Grilled Fish). They also sell a spicy tea called Bandrek, which is perfect on a cold mountain evening. Best with milk (Bandrek susu).
There are now several cafes along the main street. Ask to try the local coffee. Sumatra coffee is world class, and Karoland coffee, though not yet famous, is as good as it gets.
Samudera Bakery on the main street has nice bread.
For an adventure try the local specialty called babi panggang karo or BPK (grilled pork served with spicy pig blood and cooked cassava leaves), saksang (pork/beef/dog meat in a special sauce) or ikan mas arsik (sauteed goldfish with spices).
- 1 Ingot Babi Panggang, Bandar Baru, ☏ . Specialty is BPK, options are lemak (pork belly, very juicy!) or merah (loin or leg, without the fat). If you want mix of both, just ask for campur. Served with cooked cassava leaves and pork soup. Rp100,000 for 1 kg roasted pork.
- Wisma Sibayak, Berastagi (at the city center, near the road to Lake Kawar), ☏ . Western dishes. They use mainly fresh ingredients. They have also European quality natural yoghurt. Be prepared to wait as it takes time to prepare meals from fresh ingredients.
- Raymond Restaurant, Jln Veteran, just south of Wisma Sibayak (On main street, just after the giant cabbage (tugu kol)), ☏ . A backpacker favorite for decades, this friendly source of banana pancake trail eats is not to be missed. It's moved around the town several times over the years, but Raymond's is still dishing up huge portions of delicious food for Westerners and locals. They also rent motorbikes, have a small book nook, and Juli is a great source for info on the local area.
Try the palm wine known as tuak at a local tuak house. Don't be surprised if someone breaks out a kecapi and starts singing. You can also snack on snake, monitor lizard, and dog meat.
Very good quality coffee is grown in these highlands, though it's not yet well known outside of local cognoscenti. Ask for it!
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under Rp 300,000|
|Mid-range||Rp 300,000 - Rp 700,000|
|Splurge||Over Rp 700,000|
- 1 Hotel Citi Holiday StoomVaart, Jl. Letjen Jamin Ginting, Berastagi, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Located at the historic site of Djakarta Lloyd resort house (old Dutch colonial resort), dated from 1922. It is nestled on top of a small hill with nice view and breezy wind. Next to old Bukit Kubu park. This hotel is excellent for budget traveler. Usually only open on weekends and public holidays. Will also open for group booking on weekdays. Rp 160,000/night (non-peak season).
- Guest House Talitha, Jl Kolam Renang 60B (15 minutes walk north of the center), ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. Single/double room with breakfast. Rp 100.000.
- Hotel Mexico, Jl. Veteran no.18, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel with a restaurant. Services provided by the hotel include free Wi-Fi, hot shower, car rental and tourist information. Better not eat there, food does not taste at all. Rates start at Rp 150,000.
- Losmen Sibayak, Jalan Veteran 19, ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. Double room with shared bathroom. Rp 90,000; Rp 150,000 with warm shower in room.
- Sunrise View Guest House, Jalan Perwira Atas 5, ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. Double room with own hot water bathroom. Rp 150,000.
- 2 Wisma Sibayak Guest House, Jl. Udara No 1, Berastagi (Southern end of the Berastagi main street near a giant cabbage sculpture (tugu kol)), ☏ . Check-out: noon. Decades running budget favorite, well run, well maintained, and friendly. Cheaper rooms are in a quiet courtyard, with shared toilets/cold showers. Hot showers are available for Rp 10,000. There are also new motel style rooms with inside facilities. Wifi, restaurant and tourist info. Rp 60,000 and up.
- Green Garden Hotel (A few turns above the center of Berastagi on the road to Medan.), ☏ . A large hotel by Sumatran standards, with one main building facing the main road (reception and restaurant are here) and three detached buildings encircling the swimming pool. 3-star plus. Rooms have hot showers. No AC in the ground-floor room, but there was a TV set with several Indonesian programs. Large dining hall; seems to be popular for family parties and group meetings. A rather basic breakfast is included in the room price.
- 3 Rudang Hotel (Formerly Horison Hotel), Jl. Letdjen Jamin Ginting No. 16, Berastagi, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 72 rooms equipped with Wi-Fi, mini-refrigerator, sofa and table. The hotel has a swimming pool, restaurant and bar and provides room service on request. Start from Rp 650,000.
- 4 The Hill Hotel & Resort, Jl. Letdjen Jamin Ginting Km. 45,3, Sibolangit (Across Hillpark theme parks about 100 meters), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Most expensive hotel around Berastagi with a swimming pool, a mini zoo, large parks, bamboo forest, and ponds. Hillpark is the only nearest attraction. To Berastagi town will need about 30 - 45 minutes, nearest Bandar Baru village is a viable option for local cuisine. Start from Rp 950,000.
- 5 Hotel Sibayak Internasional, Jalan Merdeka, Berastagi, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A four-star property on the road leading up to Gundaling Hills which is the scenic point for viewing the two volcanoes : Sibayak and Sinabung. The hotel has 112 rooms divided into several types including cottages. Facilities include heated swimming pool, restaurant, lounge, pub, karaoke and business center with internet access. The decor is mostly wooden with ornamental colours of the local Batak tribe. It is the only starred-hotel within walking distance ( 5 minutes ) of the traditional fruits and vegetables market of Berastagi. A good discount on the already low published rate is readily given if you ask for it, barring peak holiday seasons of Muslim New Year or Christmas-New Year. Start from Rp 700,000.
- 6 Grand Mutiara Hotel, Jl. Peceren No 168, Berastagi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A big five-star hotel just besides Mikie Holiday. It's a complete opposite of bustling Mikie Holiday (due to its nearby Funland), the mood here is peaceful. If you want seclusion, this is the place. Start from Rp 800,000.
- 7 Mikie Holiday Resort & Hotel, Jl. Letjen. Jamin Ginting (10 minutes from Berastagi, near Funland amusement park), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Offers 172 rooms in categories of superior, deluxe, family, 4 theme rooms, 4 floral theme rooms, 2 suites and a presidential suite. All rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi access. Also serves international and local food. The resort provides a heated pool, a game room and private karaoke rooms. If you stay in the hotel, you can enter Funland free. Start from Rp 750,000.
Consult with your hotel if they provide free Wi-Fi hotspot. If you need an internet cafe, Berastagi city center has several. Do not expect blazing speed - you can get by for browsing and e-mail, but streaming movies will need a lot of patience.
Although in mountainous region, cellphone coverage is very good except if you find yourself in the middle of forest! Phone internet may be limited to around town only, with surrounding villages offering only 3G or lower coverage, at best.
Area code for telephone is 628.
Public transport to Lake Toba/Parapat is possible but involves 3 minivan changes and takes around 5 hours. Easier to charter a taxi/minivan from the guesthouse and get there in 4 hours than whole day or Taxi Trans for Rp 500,000 (private van); like firstname.lastname@example.org/+6285261492668. You could also stop at the waterfall on the way; Bukit Lawang seems to be best reached via Medan.
For public transport:
Frequent ordinary buses to Simpang Kuala/ Simpang Pos on Jln Ginting in Medan are Rp 10,000. From there you can get minibuses into central Medan for around Rp 5,000.
-Walk to the bus station south of the roundabout in central Berastagi and take the next bus headed towards Kabanjahe - 20 min, Rp 5,000 (you can tell the driver you're going to Parapat and this message may be passed along to the other drivers making it slightly easier to communicate).
-In Kabanjahe grab the next bus going to P. Siantar and ask to be dropped off at Sinpong Dua - 3 hours - Rp 25,000
-When dropped off at the Sinpong Dua junction, you'll need to cross the road and walk south a few minutes (just ask any local where the bus stop to Parapat is) Big bus costs Rp 15,000 and takes about an hour - drops you off right near the ferry to Samosir Island/Lake Toba
Total time takes about five hours or so including transfer time and it's best to leave Berastagi by about 10:00 in order to leave plenty of time to catch the ferry to Samosir (as of August 2015).
July 2012: For transport to Lake Toba (Rp 130,000/person; leaves at 13:30 or 14:00 and arrives in time for last ferry to TukTuk - as of August 2015) , Medan and Bukit Lawang, seats in one of the tourist buses (minivan 5-7 persons; PT Bagus Holiday's Taxi) can be arranged through the local tourist agencies. This is much quicker and easier than public transport and just a little bit more expensive.