Since July 25, 2013 all flights from the new Kualanamu International Airport are serve by an airport train to Medan and airport buses to Medan, Binjai, Pematangsiantar and Kabanjahe. A bus ticket from Kabanjahe, the capital city of Karo Regency 11 kilometers from Berastagi, was Rp.60,000 as of 2013. All buses from the airport are good and convenient, so if you don't need to visit Medan, you can go directly to Berastagi.
July 2012: It is possible to go from Medan to Berastagi or from Parapat (Lake Toba) to Berastagi by tourist bus. This means a minivan for 5-7 persons, prices per person. This is more expensive than by local bus but easy and convenient and it is much cheaper than a taxi.
A traditional local bus from Medan to Berastagi 6am-8pm (15.000 rp/person; approx. 3/4 hours) leaves every 15 or 20 minutes from (Sutra Bus Station in Padang Bulan) (ca. 30 minutes from Medan city centre). You can get to the bus station by public transport or by taxi (Blue Bird is on the metre; costs between 40.000-50.000 rp).
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.
Sibayak, Sinabung mountains, Sipiso-piso Falls, Traditional Karonese House at Lingga Village, Lake Toba (Tongging).
The tourist info is very helpful. However, booking trips is cheaper with local agencies, for example Losmen Sibayak Guesthouse (in the centre, next to BRI bank).
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. Sometimes the path branches out into 2 paths and an experienced guide will definitely know which path leads to which active spot. The guides will also probably know many alternative paths to the top depending on the weather and your fitness level or time. Catch a bus to the bus terminal at the bottom of the mountain. If short on time you could get dropped off up higher as the lower part is road and not as scenic. Ask your hotel which bus (some leave from the flower market). The walk starts off by ascending sharply and really doesn't stop climbing until you reach the 2000m summit. It is a tough walk and water and snacks are a must, but those with a basic level of fitness should be able to complete this with rests along the way. Three hours from start to summit. The road is paved the entire way up and it is impossible to get lost on the way up.
The crater of Gunung Sibayak is filled with rocks that tourists have inevitably made into all sorts of shapes and words. From here, a good way to descend the mountain is to head off over the far side of the crater (3 o clock) down some very slippery surfaces. Beware though, there are some who have ended up getting seriously lost. In particular, avoid the trail that heads behind the antenna hill; you want to be heading down the opposite direction. Be extra cautious in foggy weather. Alternatively walk back the same way you came and about 45 minutes from the summit a road veers off to the right. This will bring you to Semangat Gunung, the hot springs village.
From here, transport back to Berastagi is as easy as jumping on the first bus seen, last one around 6PM. Watching the sun set over the volcano you just climbed from the roof of the bus is magic.
You can also go to 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 Berestagi), 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).
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.
The Berastagi area supplies Medan and in part also Singapore with local fruits and vegetable. A visit to the local market is interesting and prices are acceptable. They also sell many potted flowers and decorative shrubs.
- ATM (Jl Veteran). There are two banks with ATMs: Mandiri and BRI.
Chinese restaurant in the main street has some good eating options and hot food. Food streets are opened along the side of main street after dark. Many type of Indonesian foods are available, mostly 'Ikan Bakar' (Grilled Fish).
For an adventure try the local specialty called babi panggang. It's pork meat in a special sauce.
- Wisma Sibayak. 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. Location is at the city center, near the road to Lake Kawar. Tel: 0628-91104
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.
- [dead link]Hotel CitiHoliday Stoomvaart, Jl. Letjen. Jamin Ginting. 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 160000/night (non-peak season).
- Horison Berastagi, Jalan Jamin Ginting, ☎ . All 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. Rates start at 380,005.00 IDR.
- Hotel Sibayak Internasional is a four-star property located 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 centre 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.
- Wisma Sibayak is located on the Southern end of the main street near a giant cabbage sculpture and is quite suitably located. There are two classes of rooms and even the premium rooms are very basic. Toilets are operated by bucket and shower is using the same bucket. As the altitude of Berastagi is approximately 1300m, it can sometimes be very uncomfortable to shower with the cold water. The staff will be happy to boil a bucket of water for you for about Rp.5000. rooms start at Rp.150,000.
- Mikie Holiday Hotel and Funland, Jl. Letjen. Jamin Ginting (10 minutes from Berastagi, near Funland amusement park), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Offers 129 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. Rp440.
- Hotel Mexico, Jl. Veteran no.18, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Recently-built 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 150,000rp.
- Green Garden Hotel (A few turns above the centre of Berastagi on the road to Medan.), ☎ . A large hotel by Sumatran standards, with one main building facing the main road (reception and resturant are here) and three detached buildings encircling the swimming pool. Used to be a 4-star hotel, but our agency has listed it as 3-star plus. Rooms have hot showers but ours only had cold water at the sink.No AC in our ground-floor room, but there was a TV set with several Indonesian programmes. Large dining hall; seems to be popular for family parties and group meetings. A rather basic breakfast is included in the room price.
- Guest House Talitha, Jl Kolam Renang 60B (15 miinute walk north of the centre), ☎ . Check-out: 12 noon. single/double room with breakfast. 100.000Rps.
- Sunrise View Guest House, Jalan Perwira Atas 5, ☎ . Check-out: 12 noon. double room with own hot water bathroom 90.000 Rps.
- Losmen Sibayak, Jalan Veteran 19, ☎ . Check-out: 12 noon. double room with shared bathroom 90,000 rps, 125,000 rps with warm shower in room.
- Public transport to Lake Toba/Parapat is possible but involves 3 minivan changes and takes around 5 hours. Better to charter a taxi/minivan from the guesthouse and get there in 4 hours than whole day or Taxi Trans for 500,000 IDR (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:
-Walk to the bus station south of the roundabout in central Berastagi and take the next bus headed towards Kabanjahe - 20 mins, 5,000 IDR (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 - 25,000 IDR
-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 15,000 IDR 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 10am in order to leave plenty of time to catch the ferry to Samosir (All prices correct as of August 2015).
Minibuses to Kutacane (for Ketambe) come through from Medan; wait up by the tourist office rather than near the market as the latter charges 10,000rp extra (presumably some kind of commission). 40,000rp (Oct 2008), 5 hours through very nice scenery.
July 2012: For transport to Lake Toba (130.000 rps/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 busses (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.