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Asia > Southeast Asia > Indonesia > Sumatra > North Sumatra > Medan

Medan

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Medan is a city on the north coast of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, and the capital of North Sumatra province.

Understand[edit]

Medan skyline

Medan is the fourth-largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta, Surabaya and Bandung. With a population of about 2 million people, it is the largest city outside of Java. No ethnic group forms a majority; the largest ethnic groups are the Chinese, Javanese, Toba-Batak, Minangkabau, Mandailing Batak, Karo Batak, Southern Indians, and Northern Indians, and there are many more ethnic minorities.

Each ethnic group contributes to thousands of tasty, mouth-watering dishes found in every corner of Medan. They offer to locals and tourists dozens of food streets and hawker centres to suit their appetite at any time of the day. From the sweet Javanese cuisine, to delicious Batak grilled pork, 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 is quite well known for "food-tourism", especially amongst other Indonesians.

It's interesting to contrast the old, Dutch style green areas, with parks, lawns, and huge old Dutch houses (now turned into government offices or commercial business) and the hundreds and hundreds of newer, shoddy shophouses sprawled together by the hundreds in the commercial areas along with a few modern style malls.

Look out for the motor becaks! A sort of motorized rickshaw, they are a common sight throughout Medan, spewing black smoke everywhere.

Medan isn't a tourist destination, but it's a convenient stepping stone to other places like the 'weekend getaway' Berastagi, the island of Penang, Malaysia, and the popular, beautiful crater lake, Lake Toba.

Get in[edit]

Medan's Kualanamu International Airport and Belawan sea port are visa-free and visa-on-arrival points.

For more visa information, see the Indonesia page.

By plane[edit]

Medan's international airport, 1 Kualanamu International Airport (KNO IATA), is located in Deli Serdang, about 45 minutes from the city. It handles domestic and regional international flights.

After arrival, ATMs are quite easy to find in the interior of the airport. An information desk is also available.

International[edit]

There are direct international flights to/from Penang (for around US$70 return) and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Singapore, and Bangkok.

Popular routes are Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Domestic[edit]

For destinations within Indonesia, there are some regional airlines and LCC that serve Medan to other cities, mostly around Sumatra island.

Public transport[edit]

Train service is provided by Railink, a joint venture between Angkasa Pura II and Indonesian Railway. It is the first integrated airport rail link in Indonesia, city check-in and electronic tickets are also available for passengers' convenience.

The airport train runs up to 21 trips (including one facultative trip) a day in each direction with the first trip from 2 Medan Main Train Station besides the Merdeka Square on Balai Kota street at 04:00 and the last trip from the airport at 22:00. It is the fastest way to get from the airport to central Medan, taking 31-41 minutes. Ticket can be purchased either from the ticket vending machine or from the ticket counters or by online only from D-30 to D-1. A one-way ticket costs up to Rp100,000. A promotional ticket can be purchased for Rp55,000 with limited seats through online, travel agents and external channels only (not from vending machines and ticket counters), no schedule change allowed and not refundable. Most updated schedule, pricing and booking can be checked in here or from Mobile Application Railink. Payment can be done by Klik Pay BCA, Click Pay Mandiri, Visa or Mastercard debit/credit cards.

Buses operated by state-owned bus company DAMRI connect the airport to two destinations in Medan, Jl. Gatot Subroto next to Plaza Medan Fair and Amplas bus terminal. The bus takes 60-90 minutes to reach the airport, the bus ticket is a lot cheaper than the airport train.

Service Destination Fare
Kualanamu Airport Bus
Damri Amplas Bus Terminal Medan Rp10,000
Damri Plaza Medan Fair Medan Rp15,000
ALS Binjai Super Mall Binjai Rp30,000

Taxis are Rp130,000-150,000 for the ride to the city center, but will leave immediately, arrive quicker and be more comfortable than the bus. There is a Rp10,000 surcharge to all fares for airport pickup on top of the metered rate.

Do not use online transport services like Grab or GO-JEK; both are banned from entering airport. Even if you try to book one, chances are no one will accept your booking.

By bus[edit]

The central station for all larger buses in Medan is 3 Amplas Bus Station (not located in the center of the city though). This is where a lot of the smaller minivans go, and where travelers need to go to make connecting buses to further cities. Many of the large air-conditioned buses perform overnight routes.

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).

  • Trans Mebidang. A bus rapid transit system operated by the state-owned transport company Damri that serves various places around Medan, Binjai, and Deli Serdang. There are two lines that stops at various designated bus stops. Operating hours are 6AM-10PM. Fixed price:
    • Medan - Lubuk Pakam line: Rp7,000
    • Medan - Binjai line: Rp6,000
  • Makmur/Halmahera, Jl. Sisingamangaraja Km 6,7. Large buses (AC or non-AC), runs daily (usually overnight) to major cities in Riau province.
  • ALS (Antar Lintas Sumatera), Jl. Sisingamangaraja Km 6,5. Large buses (AC or non-AC), with route to southern part of North Sumatra, Padang, Bukit Tinggi, Pekanbaru, Palembang, Kerinci, and major cities in Java island (Jakarta, Malang, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Bandung).
  • Sempati Star, Jl. Asrama. Luxury double-decker bus with toilet, entertainment screen on board, pillow & blanket, serves several cities in Aceh province. As per 2017, price range from Rp180,000 (Patas Executive) - Rp430,000 (First Class).

By car[edit]

The Trans-Sumatran Highway that connects the whole island crosses Medan's city center. Toll roads exist but only as far as Binjai to the north west and Tebing Tinggi to south east.

By boat[edit]

Medan is not located by the sea but nearby Belawan is a major port. The passenger terminal is called 4 Bandar Deli.

To/from other parts of Indonesia: Domestic routes are served by Pelni, it links Belawan with various ports in Sumatra and other Indonesian islands.

By train[edit]

Medan is connected by rail to other conurbations on the eastern coast of Sumatra, such as Tanjung Balai, Rantau Prapat, Pematang 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 Rp5,000 (economy) to Rp120,000 (executive). Online booking is available at here.

Get around[edit]

Medan city is swamped by becaks and taxis (the preferable choice to get around). There is also a form of public transport known as the angkot (small minivan).

By becak[edit]

Also known as trishaws or pedicabs. You have to be a good negotiator if you want to ride on becaks, with price ranging between Rp5,000-20,000 depending on the destination (near or far). Too far, and the driver may refuse to take you.

Beware of scam artists who quote you one price to lure you in, even by showing a physical note to show you how much it'll cost, and then demand 10 times that amount when you arrived at your destination. Somehow, it's always 10 times: for example, 3,000 becomes 30,000, 5,000 becomes 50,000.

An audio and video recording of their license card in the becak and the conversation about what was agreed would be a useful defense.

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.

By taxi[edit]

Try to pick taxi from a reliable place such in front of malls, shopping centers or airport. Many taxi drivers will resist the use of a meter and want to bargain. Taxis with meters may put them on, but then say there is a minimum charge.

Try to avoid the use of taxis other than Bluebird or Express and always use the meter as they are the two most reliable taxi companies in Medan, this is a general rule that applies throughout the regions of Indonesia where either of these two taxi companies are available.

  • Express Taxi ☎ +62 61 455 2211. White taxis (usually Toyota Vios), they can usually be found around Medan, especially around central city and mostly use meter. Call in advance and they will come in time too (minimum fee by call is Rp25,000).
  • Blue Bird Taxi ☎ +62 61 846 1234. Blue color taxis, the newest taxi company to start operate in Medan. Friendly drivers and always use meter. Minimum fee by call is Rp20,000.

Medan is also served by online transport. You book them via their app from smartphones. Payment can be by cash, card or electronic wallet. The fee is calculated by app, so no need to bargain. Regularly offer promotions.

  • Grab The most popular choice and has the largest operated fleets.
  • GO-JEK Famous for its bike fleets, but also start offering car services.

There have been cases of online transport cars being attacked in a few places like the airport and train station when picking up passengers. Consult your driver for pick-up point to avoid trouble.

By bus[edit]

Public transport is not reliable, though they have fixed price from one destination to other destinations. Small minivans (called sudako or angkot by locals) have painted numbers (1 to 267 in Medan) that signify their routes, which even locals don't have memorized. If you speak 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 Indonesian so they know where to tell the driver to stop, unless you have a local friend who can take you around. Standard fee (per 2018) is Rp 5,000/trip. One easy route is Minibus #3 from the great mosque (at the side of Yuki Simpang Raya mall) to the Medan Mall.

Talk[edit]

All locals will be able to speak Indonesian. However, the ethnic Chinese can often be heard speaking a localised variant of Hokkien known as Medan Hokkien, which is almost identical to Penang Hokkien spoken across the Strait of Malacca.

Medan has a very high level of education and many younger people speak English very well. Those over 50 or 60 also tend to speak English and some even Dutch. If you find yourself stuck just tell the person you need someone who speaks English to help and there will be someone there in a matter of minutes. Speaking English well is a highly regarded skill by the locals so anyone who does so is well known and can be found quickly.

The locals will really appreciate your efforts to learn Indonesian, and please not be offended if they will laugh loudly with you too. It is not a mocking expression.

See[edit]

One of Medan's numerous mosques, with tiled minaret and domes visible.
A tiny random portion of the many impressive rooms of taxidermy at the Rahmat International Wildlife Museum and Gallery.
Entrance to the Chinese Daoist temple of Vihara Gunung Timur.
View toward the main hall with incense burner at left. Chinese Daoist temple of Vihara Gunung Timur.
Street view of Perhimpunan Shri Mariamman, a Tamil Indian Hindu temple.
Tjong A Fie Mansion, the command center of the local Chinese community at the turn of the 20th century.

Many tourists choose to use Medan as a quick through-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 Sumatrans are still unjaded by westerners.

Medan hosts a great lot of very nice Art Déco buildings from the Dutch colonial era, like the Old City Hall, the Post office, the Great Mosque and many business buildings in and around Jl. Ahmad Yani. Some of them are in horrible shape, but most of them maintain their old splendour.

Other attractions include:

  • 1 Gunung Timur Temple (Vihara Gunung Timur), Jalan Hang Tuah. A Daoist temple of significant scale located about 500 m from Sri Mariamman Temple. It contains a large paved area with an impressively scaled incense burner, two covered badminton courts, a very large main hall and is partly surrounded by a moat and walls. It is particularly crowded with worshippers on Chinese New Year and Cap Go Meh. Free.
  • 2 Great Mosque of Medan (Masjid Raya Medan or Masjid Raya Al Mashun), corner of Jalan Masjid Raya and Jalan Sisingamaraja (5 mins walk to the east from Maimoon Palace, across Yuki Simpang Raya department store). Built on 1906 and completed on 1909, the mosque was designed by a Dutch architect mixing Morrocan, European, Middle Eastern and Malay styles. One week prior to Idul Fitri, the whole Jalan Masjid Raya is closed to hold a night market where food and merchandise are sold. Women can visit, too, but they have to enter the central hall through a separate door and stay behind a provisory wall that separates the hall in two. Around the mosque is a graveyard for the broad sultan's family. Free.
  • 3 Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni, Taman Sakura Indah, Jalan Sakura III No. 10 Tanjung Selamat. Catholic Shrine with Tamil Hindu-style architecture, devoted to Our Lady of Good Health. Free.
  • 4 Maha Vihara Maitreya, Jl. Boulevard Utara No. 1, Cemara Asri. Open most the times. One of the biggest Buddhist temple complex in Medan, the temple is decorated with various statues of mythical Chinese creatures like dragon, kirin and phoenix. To the left wing is a pond housing koi fish, while in the right wing houses a playground, souvenir shop, a vegetarian canteen and a coffeehouse. The main hall houses statues of Buddha Sakyamuni, Bodhisattva and the Bodhisattva Satyakalama Avolokitesvara. As this is a holy site, always obey the regulations stated by the temple. Free. Maha_Vihara_Maitreya on Wikipedia Maha Vihara Maitreya (Q24896590) on Wikidata
  • 5 Maimoon Palace (Istana Maimun), Jalan Brigjend Katamso (5 mins walk from Great Mosque). A royal palace of Sultanate of Deli, built by Sultan Makmun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah in years 1887–1891, the palace covers 2,772 m² and has 30 rooms. It has unique interior design, mixing elements of Malay cultural heritage, Islam, Spanish, Indian and Italian style. Only a small number of rooms can be visited, with a history of the sultan family and a few artefacts, portraits and photographs. Quite busy and popular place with locals and tourists. Free.
  • 6 Rahmat International Wildlife Museum & Gallery, Jalan S. Parman No 309, +62 61 456 9964, e-mail: . Opened in 1999 and is chiefly the most incredible global taxidermy collection you could imagine. This place has to be seen to be believed - it's the sort of thing that could only happen in Asia! A veritable treasure-chest, it features numerous critters of sea, land and sky as well as the collected flotsam of the eccentric founding Afghan's life hunting big game, fishing, hob-nobbing and generally getting around the world. An obvious labour of love by Doctor Rahmat himself, who has since been installed as the chairman of the Indonesian Museum Association, this place is a small stay against the sea of Sumatran rainforests being destroyed and poached every year. Worth supporting against ill-contrived zoos otherwise found throughout the region. Rp50,000. Rahmat International Wildlife Museum & Gallery on Wikipedia Rahmat International Wildlife Museum & Gallery (Q18393164) on Wikidata
  • 7 Sri Mariamman Temple (Kuil Shri Mariamman). A Tamil Hindu temple. Beware: there are two of these! This one's the one on the corner not so far from town. The other one is down a long alley and is closed up. Featuring many brighty coloured statues of all the major gods from the Tamil Hindu pantheon and a few naga stones, this temple is testament to the reach of the ancient Tamil maritime empire and the age of the Tamil community in Sumatra. Events regularly take place at this temple. Free.
  • Sikh Temple. Located in the old Chinese school 50m to the right of the Shri Mariamman Tamil Hindu Temple, opposite the maternity hospital. After you walk in to the impressive grounds, turn to the left and walk behind the stairway. The humble temple hall is located to your left. Note: Do not enter without both permission and proper attire! There is supposed to be a larger one elsewhere in the city. Free.
  • 8 Tjong A Fie Mansion (Rumah Tjong A Fie), Jalan Ahmad Yani (Ten minutes' walk south of the train station, across Tip Top restaurant). The former mansion of the leader of the local Chinese community of Medan (then Deli) who succeeded in ingratiating himself with both the Indonesian Muslims and the Dutch colonial authorities. No mention is made of his relations with the local Indian community. He became very rich on the profits of his hard-working countrymen, importing them as labour for Dutch plantations and shipping them off when they became destitute or impoverished through overwork, old age or opium. This colourful and ornately decorated building tells his story and that of his descendants, as well as filling in some details about the city's past. Rp35,000.
  • 9 Tirtanadi Water Tower (Menara Air Tirtanadi), Jalan Sisingamaraja No. 1 (intersection of Jalan Sisingamaraja, Jalan Pandu and Jalan Cirebon). One of Medan's icon, the water tower was built by Dutch government on 1908 with height of 42 m. Currently it's state owned by PDAM Tirtanadi. Free. Tirtanadi Water Tower on Wikipedia Tirtanadi Water Tower (Q19746232) on Wikidata

Do[edit]

Theme parks[edit]

  • 1 Pantai Cermin Theme Park & Resort, Sales office : Jalan D.I. Panjaltan No. 153, Theme Park : Dusun 1 Desa Pantai Cermin Kanam, Kec. Pantai Cermin, Kabupaten Serdang Bedagai, +62 61 4510956 (Sales office), +62 61 4562893, fax: +62 61 4520922. weekdays 11AM-5PM, weekends and public holidays 9AM-6:30PM. The only water theme park in North Sumatra, located in Cermin Beach, Serdang Bedagai. The theme park is organized by a Malaysian investor and the local government. Swimming, sun bathing and kayaking. To go there, take a rental car, private car or mini bus (sudako) at Jalan. MT. Haryono (in front of Medan Mall) and stop at Perbaungan city. Then take a machine trishaw to the beach. The whole journey may take about 1-2 hours. weekdays: Rp40,000 (adult), Rp20,000 (children); weekends and public holidays: Rp60,000 (adult), Rp40,000 (children).

Spa[edit]

Although Sumatra does not have the same international reputation as Bali or Thailand for massage, it still forms a significant part of local culture. In rural areas, there will usually be a masseuse available for low cost, if you ask around, while Medan itself offers true 'spa' facilities, which are highly recommended for anyone seeking a spa experience away from the hustle and bustle of the city at a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.

Mostly hotels also have their own spa. You can contact your receptionist for further info.

  • Quan Spa, JW Marriott Hotel 17th floor, +62 61 455 3333, e-mail: . Daily 10AM-9PM. Located on the 17th floor of the JW Marriott has full 5-star hotel spa facilities, with a one hour massage from Rp250,000 for 1-hour massage, more for more elaborate rituals. This is of course a very expensive fee in Indonesia. From Rp250,000 for 1-hour massage.
  • Zengarden, Jalan S No. 22/272 Parman, +62 61 4519306, +62 61 77029845, e-mail: . Weekdays: 10AM-10PM, weekends: 9AM-9PM. Located in the heart of Medan. Skillful, clean and very affordable by local standards. Reservations are recommended. Rp150,000-280,000.
  • Eucalyptus Spa. There are two branches of Eucalyptus Spa in the city, one at the Travellers Suite hotel. Prices there are lower, from Rp120,000 for 1 hour.
  • De'Spa, Jalan Malaka No.136, +62 61 4148416.
  • Ocean Spa, Cemara Asri.

Family karaoke[edit]

  • H.o.M.E Family Karaoke, Jl. Pattimura, +62 61 4536567.
  • Inul Vizta Family Karaoke, Jl. Multatuli.
  • Karaoke Keluarga (K2) Family Karaoke, Kompleks Multatuli, +62 61 4575055. 11AM-2PM.
  • NAV Family Karaoke, Jl. Raden Saleh and Jl. Palang Merah.

Buy[edit]

Though Medan doesn't have many super malls like Jakarta or Surabaya, it does have plenty of medium-sized malls. Many new malls have been built, with more under construction.

  • 1 Cambridge City Square, Jalan S. Parman No 217 (intersection of Jalan S. Parman, Jalan Gajah Mada & Jalan Zainul Arifin (5min walk from Sun Plaza along Jalan Zainul Arifin), +62 61 455 4999. Daily 10AM-10PM. Cambridge City Square consists of office spaces, a mall, condominium and the Grand Swiss-Belhotel International linked together. The mall is less than a quarter of the size of Sun Plaza, but houses many restaurants and cafes like Nelayan Jala-jala (dim sum restaurant), Starbucks Coffee, Grand Duck King (Chinese restaurant famous for their duck cuisine), Es Teler 77 (Indonesian street food), Pepper Lunch (teppanyaki restaurant), Haagen-Dazs, and Jittlada (Thai cuisine). A small supermarket, Berastagi Supermarket, is located in LG floor. There are also several boutiques which sell knock-off "branded" items.
  • 2 Centre Point, Jalan Timor (behind the train station). Daily 10AM-10PM. Largest upscale-mall after Sun Plaza, Centre Point aims to combine mall, apartment, hotel and office into one big integrated complex. As of 2018, the apartment were still under construction. Has Lotte Mart (hypermarket), Cinema XXI (movie theater) & food court in top floor, Parkson (department store), and many more retailers of brand-name items. If you take a train from airport, after exiting train station, you can cross the street into the mall.
  • 3 Grand Palladium Mall, Jalan Kapten Maulana Lubis No. 8. Daily 10AM-10PM. Mediocre mall adjacent to Hotel Aryaduta in the city center. Has Matahari (department store) and some good restaurants. Be sure to try Tiong Sim Noodle & Hong Kong BBQ (open until 2AM daily!): Their roasted pork and noodles is very famous locally. No international brands for clothing, shoes and accessories. Sun Plaza is be a better destination - it's about a 10min drive from here.
  • Hels, Jalan Sei Batang Serangan No 39/54, +62 61 4573166, e-mail: . Complete design services in graphics and fashion. Rp10,000-120,000.
  • 4 Medan Mall, Jl. MT Haryono. Daily 10AM-10PM. A must-go place for shoppers where you can find almost everything from fine jewelery, clothing and food to groceries. The adjacent Olympia Mall is a wholesale market. There is also a wet market located just behind the Central Pasar that operates only in the morning and a dry market that operates only in the evening.
  • 5 Plaza Medan Fair, Jalan Gatot Subroto No 30. Daily 10AM-10PM. One of the major malls in Medan renowned for selling electronics and gadgets. Has Transmart Carrefour (hypermarket), Matahari (local department store), Ayam Kalasan (Indonesian restaurant famous for its roast chicken), etc. Slightly cheaper than Sun Plaza. On the top floor, you will find almost all outlets selling gadgets or PCs and accessories.
  • 6 Sun Plaza, Jalan Zainul Arifin Nomor 7 (intersection of Jalan Zainul Arifin & Jalan Diponegoro). Daily 10AM-10PM. Located downtown in the Central Business District area, just at the border of kampung keling (Little India), surrounded by major international banks. It is one of the largest high-end shopping mall in Medan. Plenty of food choices from western to eastern. There is a hypermarket chain, Hypermart, on the top floor, which stocks almost anything. Has more luxurious goods than other malls in town; however, many of them are knock-off branded products. The products can range from C to AAA grades. It is highly advisable to bargain. Some good buys include Mont Blanc pens which can be purchased for just IDR 100,000 to 200,000 apiece, complete with gift box and warranty card. Also has Cinemaxx (movie theater), Sogo (department store), Gramedia (largest book store chain in Indonesia), Ace Hardware, etc. Very crowded especially on weekends or public holidays. Sun_Plaza_(Medan) on Wikipedia Sun Plaza (Q12517712) on Wikidata
  • 7 Thamrin Plaza, Jl. Thamrin. Daily 10AM-10PM. One of the oldest mall with large Matahari (department store), Timezone arcade, top-floor food court and limited international brand stores. Located near the Chinatown. There's a wholesale market beside Thamrin Plaza called Pasar Rame that opens from 9AM-5PM daily. Look around for dried fruit with sugar.
  • 8 Yuki Simpang Raya Shopping mall, Jl Sisingamangaraja XII (over the street from Masjid Raya), +62 61 7354027. Daily 10AM-10PM. a small old mall that sells mostly local brands clothing with a large arcade and playground in the top floor, small supermarket in the lower ground, and a bowling avenue at 3rd floor.
  • Masindo Jewellery, Jalan Gwangju No 30, +62 61 4519101. In the center of the city. Various jewellery including necklaces, bangles, bracelets, earrings, men's and women's rings, pendants in 24K gold which are structured by pearls, and a diversity of gemstones. Designed by an expert designer. A branch known as D'On Jewellery specializes in diamonds.
  • Pasar Petisah. central market, sells vast array of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables
  • TauKo Medan, Jalan Sei Batang Serangan, +62 61 4573166, e-mail: . Merchandise including t-shirts. From Rp65,000.
  • Tondi Gallery, Jalan Keladi Buntu No 6 (close to Jalan Sriwajaya and University of Dharma Agung). M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Contemporary art by local, national and international artists.

Eat[edit]

With diverse ethnic races, Medan truly is a heaven of culinary. You can find a combination of Chinese food, Western food, Indonesian food, etc all around the city. Common sights are mie pangsit (a variant of wonton noodles, sometimes without wonton - commonly pork, but beef and chicken version exist), nasi padang or nasi minang, kwetiau/bihun/mie/nasi goreng (fried noodle/kway teow/vermicelli/rice), bakso (meatball soup served with/without noodle) and sate padang (satay with spicy yellow sauces origin from West Sumatra).

Budget[edit]

  • Apek's Coffee House, Jalan Hindu, Kesawan. Historic coffee house with excellent Lintong Coffee served up by 79-year old Apek. This place was set up by Apek's father in 1922. Serves roti srikaya (kaya toast). Contains stalls with Indian roti cane bread with goat curry and martabaq and Malay soto soup. Outside are Malay fried rice and Chinese kwetiau noodles. Piece of Medan history.
  • Bollywood Food Centre, Jl. Muara Takus No 7 (behind Sun Plaza), +62 61 453694. This is nice place for real, homely Indian food.
  • Cahaya Baru Indian Restaurant, Jalan Teuku Cik Ditiro. The North-Indian restaurant is one of Medan's best kept secrets, which recently has been featured in Kompas newspaper as the only restaurant in Medan which serves a wide range of authentic North-Indian cuisine. Visit the restaurant for its endless choices of delicious vegetarian and curry dish!
  • 1 RM Garuda, Jalan H. Adam Malik, +62 61 453 7346, e-mail: . 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 maintains its status as one of the first local restaurant who expands itself by franchising. Has many branches including RM Berjaya
  • Kwetiau Kerang, Jl. S Parman no 22.
  • Lontong Sayur Kak Lin, Jalan Teuku Cik Ditiro. Serving tasty and cheap lontong sayur (rice cakes in hot vegetables curry), this humble eatery is not much to look at for the uninitiated. 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.
  • Mansyur Avenue. 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.
  • 2 Mie Aceh Titi Bobrok, Jl. Setia Budi. 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 irresistible 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.
  • 3 Pagaruyung Alley. Located at Medan's "little India" or referred as kampung keling by locals. They offer, of course, Indian and Indonesian cuisine. Begin their business when the sun sets till 2AM. They are well known for satay (chicken, lamb, liver, intestine, etc.), fried rice and martabak telur (egg pancake topped with diced potatoes, and onions, often served with curry).

Mid-range[edit]

  • 4 Koki Sunda, +62 61 4533282. As the name implies, serves tasty Sundanese food and beverages such as Nasi Liwet and Es Delima. Located at the heart of the city at the corner of S.Parman and Hasanuddin makes it a place hard to miss if you travel around the city. Its reasonably priced and wide array selection of delicious food is well known to the locals and visitors. Koki Sunda now opens in Tanjung Morawa and Pekan Baru.
  • 5 Gelato Bar, Jalan Pattimura No 66, +62 61 453 3166. Su-Th 10AM-10PM; F-Sa 10AM-midnight. Italian gelato dessert and many popular pasta dishes are available. It's a good place to hang out and relax. Also open on Centre Point.
  • 6 Merdeka Walk (just across the train station.). A complex of restaurants and food stalls with a variety of Asian and western food. It is a landmark of Medan and quite a happening place at night.
  • Jalan Selat Panjang/ Sumatra/ Semarang. This is where some of the oldest Chinese eateries in Medan serve their renown cuisines, such as mie pangsit tiong-sim (noodle served with stuffed dumplings), kwetiau goreng (wok-fried Chinese rice-fettuccine), 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.
  • 7 Tip Top Restaurant, Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani no 92 A-B (across Tjong A Fie Mansion), +62 61 4514442, e-mail: . Used to be the restaurant in Medan, this unique restaurant can trace its history back to the Dutch colonisation. The food has a nostalgic taste clinging on every bite, 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 chair on the verandah. Also famous for its cake.
  • 8 Ondo Batak Grill. A unique Batak restaurant where you can find the gems of Batak dishes, without all the germs. Cafe-like ambience with non-stop jazz music. Serves a reasonably-tasting saksang (a pork dish cooked in pork blood), babi panggang karo (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).

Splurge[edit]

  • 9 Roland's German Restaurant, +62 61 8214379. The only German restaurant in Medan, located at the main entrance to Taman Setia Budi Indah complex.
  • 10 Taipan Restaurant, Capital building, 1st Floor, +62 61 4556333. Serves mainly Chinese style menu. Dim sum is served usually for breakfast and lunch only. Try their coconut Thai dessert or specialty tofu dish.

Others[edit]

Durian is one of the most famous fruits of both 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 and Perbaungan. Get Medan durian at Jalan Sumatera, Jalan Semarang, Jalan Adam Malik, Ucok Durian, and more. Rp5,000-50,000 each depending on size and season. The whole Jalan Majapahit on Petisah area (across Cambridge City Square) got lot of stores selling home made cakes and juices where you can shop selectively. Most stores also allow sampling before buying. Try the local specialty bika ambon (spongy-texture cake with pandan flavor) or marquisa (passion fruit) juice.

  • Bolu Meranti, Jl. Kruing, Petisah. The home-made roll cakes with variety of tastes, such as cheese, blueberry, mocca. The most famous roll cakes in town.
  • Dewi Plaza Bakery, Jl. Lampung No.8B, +62 61 7344272. One of the best cake shops in Medan
  • Medan Home Dairy, +62 813 9703 3540. They have European-style "best natural yogurt in Indonesia". Located at TASBI Complex. They are producing many kinds of goat and cow milk cheeses, as well. For the goat milk products they are using fresh, pasteurised (twice) organic goat milk.
  • Zuki Bakery, Jl. S.Parman No.103. Bika Ambon, spekoek, prunes, roll cake (Bolu Gulung), breads. They bake items fresh every day and also make their on syrups, including marquisa syrup, terong belanda syrup and kietnah syrup.

Drink[edit]

There are several clubs, pubs and karaoke joints to visit at night in Medan.

  • 1 Bistronomix, Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan (just across JW Marriott Hotel). Popular especially with youngsters
  • Corner Cafe Raya, 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. This is right in the heart of Medan's backpacker area and you are likely to meet other travellers and a few die hard expats here. Be careful, drugs may be offered here and undercover police often frequent the place.
  • Equator KTV & Pub, Hongkong Plaza.
  • Jet Plane KTV, Plaza Medan Fair.
  • 2 Harbour 9, Forum 9 building ground floor (near Lapangan Benteng). Offer outdoor seating just beside Deli river, but many mosquitoes at night.
  • Healy Mac's, Centre Point complex Blok M. The only branch of Healy Mac's in Indonesia. Nice food. Priced reasonably.
  • 3 Hollywings, Jl. A Rivai. One of the newest pub in Medan, with good food and reasonable priced drinks. Live music usually starts from 9 PM. Occasionally may hires famous singers.
  • Medan Club & Pub, Jl. Kartini (behind the Governors office, just down from Sun Plaza). This is now the go to place for the expats of Medan. Beer is relatively cheap and food is passable, but the company and the source of local info is the reason to come here.
  • New Zone Entertainment, Jl. Kolonel Sugiono.
  • Retrospective Entertainment (Retro), Jl. Putri Hijau, Capital Building 6th Floor.
  • Shoot Pool Lounge & Sports Bar, Jl. Kapten Pattimura 423, +62 61 453 1884. A pool bar with big screen playing sports channel (football games on the weekends) accompanied by regular live bands and DJ performance. It was expanded and renovated in June 2008 and introduced a more spacious and more relaxing venue. It also has a large collection of wine from all over the world.
  • Sky Club, Jl. Kumango 1A (near Kesawan Square and Merdeka Walk). This friendly Karaoke Bar has good cold beer, Chinese style food and friendly service. You can participate in the singing, request to watch satellite news or sports, talk to the locals or just sit and relax in this friendly atmosphere.
  • Stroom KTV, Selecta.
  • The Tavern Pub, Hotel Danau Toba. Was once one of the most popular going out pubs for expats in the city, but now is a little run down and attracts a sleazier crowd. It features live music from local bands. It's fairly small, fairly popular and is crowded on the weekends with groups of friends, couples, and some rather friendly girls hanging out. A bit expensive for the standard.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Blue Angel (Ponduk Wisata Angel), Jl. Sisingamangaraja No 70. Very popular budget backpacker place with a cafe attached. Free Wi-Fi in the lobby/restaurant. Rooms small, basic, clean. Windows and door handles provide doubtful security, better not leave valuables in your room. single room Rp80,000, double room Rp130,000, dorm bed Rp90,000.
  • Dzhong Backpackers Hostel, JL Muara Takus (near Sun Plaza.), +62-822-7309-3888. Check-out: 12 noon. a/c single/double rooms. free wifi. free lockers. bring your own lock single Rp 100,000, double Rp 125,000..
  • Hotel Residence, +62 61 7760 0980. Budget accommodation next to the Grand Mosque. It is reasonably clean and central. Unmarried couples are not allowed to sleep in the same room. Rp80,000-160,000.
  • Hotel Zakia, +62 61 732 2413. Budget accommodation next to the Grand Mosque. Includes breakfast. It is reasonably clean and central. Rp55,000-120,000.
  • Trav-fella Homestay, Jalan Sisingamangaraja No.66 (50 m from the Grand Mosque Al-Mashun), e-mail: . Clean, friendly people, good information. Located in the heart of the tourist area Single from Rp35,000 and double room up to Rp80,000.
  • Wisma Wahana Daya Pertiwi, Jalan HM Yamin (a short walk from the railway station). Owned by the railway company, clean, decent, cheap. Restaurant Permata DSM is acceptable. Superior rooms Rp135,000/night, suites Rp250,000.
  • Yap Hostel, Jalan Kelapa No 8-C (From Jl. Putri Hijau traffic light in front of Deli Plaza, turn left to Jl. Guru Patimpus, go straight after you pass the bridge. Jl. Kelapa is the 2nd street on the left side (after Jl. Sei Deli)), +62 81 2609 4203, +62 81 165 4865, e-mail: . Check-out: noon. Budget backpacker accommodation for women only. Very clean and well maintained. Very near to Airport Railink station and Airport Bus Terminal to catch early morning flights. Free Wi-Fi, hot shower, air conditioned room, personal power points, lockers. Rp70,000/person.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 1 Antares Hotel, Jalan Sisingamaraja No 84 (on same street and near Hotel Garuda Plaza and Hotel Sumatera), +62 61 732 4000. Discounts on weekends. Breakfast buffet included in the price. SatTV with HBO, Star Sports, Discovery Channel, CNN. A/C. Clean, but room doors not properly noise-proofed, so you will hear anything and anyone walking the corridor on their way from the elevator. Bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper. There is a children pool on the 3rd floor. Rooms from Rp229,000 (about US$25).
  • Candi Hotel, Jalan Darussalam No. 124, +62 61 4536 888, e-mail: . From Rp275,000.
  • Citi International, e-mail: . Check-in: 2pm, check-out: noon. Clean, no-frills modern hotel with hot & cold shower, air conditioner and WiFi in rooms and cafe. Provide free shuttle to train station. Start from Rp242,000 per night for Standard Room.
  • 2 Jalan Sun Yat Sen No. 77, +62 61 736 3479, fax: +62 61 7324 857.
  • 3 Jalan Palang Merah No 112A, +62 61 736 3479, fax: +62 61 7324 857.
  • 4 Garuda Plaza Hotel, Jalan Sisingamaraja No 18 (south of Tirtanadi Water Tower, about 5min walk), +62 61 736 1234, +62 61736 1111, e-mail: . Check-in: 10AM, check-out: noon. 4-stars, 250 rooms in the city center with free Wi-Fi in public areas, rooms, meeting facilities; swimming pool, major local bank ATM, shuttle bus, etc. From Rp350,000 per night.
  • 5 Grand Swiss-Belhotel Medan, Jalan S. Parman No. 217 (adjacent to Cambridge City Square), +62 61 457 6999. 5-star hotel with 246 guest rooms in the CBD. Adjacent to the Cambridge condominium and city square. Rooftop dining at the " Edge Restaurant" or chill out while listening to live music at the " View Music Lounge & Bar" on the 26th floor. From Rp350,000.
  • 6 Hermes Palace Hotel, Jalan Pemuda No 22 (southeast of Tjong A Fie Mansion, about 10min walks), +62 61 4515 777, fax: +62 62 4515 999, e-mail: . 3-star hotel with 106 rooms, offer shuttle service to train station, 24-hour room service, cafe & bistro, fitness center, etc. From Rp530,000.
  • 7 Hotel Danau Toba International, Jalan Imam Bonjol No. 17 (5min walks west from Sun Plaza, the same street with Vihara Borobudur), +62 61 4157000, e-mail: . Pleasant 5-stars hotel with 311-rooms, free Wi-Fi, professional staff, a large swimming pool and excellent, inexpensive Indonesian food available on 24-hour room service (international options are available but perhaps less impressive). Sometimes takes tour groups. Popular music venue The Tavern. Fromrom Rp500,000 per night.
  • 8 Hotel Soechi International (Novotel Soechi), Jalan Cirebon No 76A (across the Tirtanadi Water Tower), +62 61 456 1234, e-mail: . 4-star hotel in the city center, attached to a mall. Has a pub (3rd floor) and karaoke club and WiFi on 8th floor for Rp75,000/day. Provide airport transfer. From Rp275,000.
  • 9 Santika Premiere Dyandra Hotel, Jalan Kapten Maulana Lubis No 7 (Across Lapangan Benteng), +62 61 451 1999, e-mail: . Club Premiere Sky Lounge on 10th floor. From Rp 650,000.
  • Hotel Deli River and Restaurant Omlandia, Jl. Raya Namorambe No. 129, +62 61 7032967, e-mail: . Check-in: 10AM-8PM, check-out: 1PM-2PM. Charming oasis of a hotel in the suburbs south of Medan, on the route to Berastagi. There are 14 cottage-style rooms and the service includes breakfast in the restaurant and free Wi-Fi. There is a swimming pool for guests. Owners and staff are very friendly and helpful. Watch out for the geese in the hotel grounds! around Rp725,000.
  • 10 favehotel S. Parman Medan, Jl. S. Parman No 313A (Just besides Rahmat International Wildlife Museum & Gallery), +62 61 8881 5929, e-mail: . Opened on May 2017, the 131-rooms hotel is easily recognized by its distinctive exterior architecture with purple color. Part of favehotels chain. from Rp 350.000.

Splurge[edit]

  • 11 The Aryaduta Hotel Medan, Jalan Kapten Maulana Lubis No 8 (adjacent to Grand Palladium Mall), +62 61 457 2999, e-mail: . 5-star hotel opened in 2007 located in near business and government district. Resort style swimming pool, Pool Cafe, the Lounge and the Kitchen restaurant. From Rp900,000.
  • 15 Grand Mercure Maha Cipta Medan Angkasa, Jalan Sutomo No. 1 (across University of HKBP Nommensen), +62 61 4555 888, +62 61 7664 5588, e-mail: . Previously Grand Angkasa Hotel, now taken over by Accor group and the place was renovated. A 5-star hotel with 266-rooms, free Wi-Fi, personal safety box and a choice of smoking/non-smoking room. Its location is a bit far from shopping center or other landmarks, so you need to take taxi to go somewhere place. Beware though, the student from across university have been renown to cause violence when there are strikes. Just stay in the room should a strike happens. From US$89.

Stay healthy[edit]

Medical services are easily obtained in Medan. Pharmacies litters around and generally open from Monday to Saturday (usually 9 AM till 9 PM, some may open until 5 PM), the same with clinics. On Sunday, most pharmacies and clinics are close, but there are several 24/7 pharmacies called K-24.

Most hospitals open 24/7 and have Emergency Department and ICU. Hospital fees range from medium to expensive. Not all hospitals accept insurance - check before admitting. Generally, locals have little confidence with hospitals and their medical staffs performance. Locals prefer going to Malaysia (Penang, Kuala Lumpur or Malacca) or Singapore to treat chronic or acute conditions. Such perception has improved considerably in recent years, but skilled medical staffs are still few. If you are in doubt, avoid government-owned hospital and opt for private hospital instead.

Connect[edit]

Free Wi-Fi is offered in most cafes & restaurant; just ask the staffs. Otherwise, plenty of internet cafes sprawl around the city, especially in rural areas. SIM card with internet quota also is very affordable and can be easily obtained. Area code for Medan and surrounding is 061.

  • 6 Pos Indonesia, Jl. Pos no 1 (main office) (across Merdeka Walk). State owned postal service that is quite reliable. Has many branches around the city. The main office is easily distinguished by its architectural style from the Dutch colonial era. Parcels services is slow compare to local private-owned services like TIKI or JNE. Not recommended for shipping parcels internationally. Pos Indonesia on Wikipedia Pos Indonesia (Q4273095) on Wikidata
  • DHL Express. Largest logistic company in the world, very reliable and fast, especially if shipping internationally. Serves local shipment as well, but you can use cheaper alternatives. DHL_Express on Wikipedia DHL Express (Q489815) on Wikidata
    • 7 Jl. Sisingamangaraja No 27/39 (Hotel Garuda Citra).
    • 8 Jl. Cemara No 29.
  • 9 TNT Express, Jl. Cemara No 8. Subsidiary of FedEx. TNT_Express on Wikipedia TNT (Q1105744) on Wikidata
  • TIKI. One of the most popular logistic services used by local, it's reasonably cheap, fast and reliable. Several drop-off point around cities, just look for store with TIKI logos. Be sure to insure your parcels if you ship valuable items.
  • JNE. The other most popular alternatives for JNE. Offer same advantages and roughly same price. Several drop-off point around cities, just look for store with JNE logos. Be sure to insure your parcels as well if you ship valuables.
  • J&T Express. Coverage is lower than JNE or TIKI, but price is very competitive. Drop off points are still few, but you can ask for collection.

Consulates[edit]

  • Japan Japan Consulate General, Wisma BII, 5th Floor, Jl. Diponegoro No. 18, +62 61 457-5193.
  • Norway Royal Norway Consulate General, Jl. Ir. Juanda I No. 24-O/38, +62 61 457-0012.
  • Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Honorary Consulate, Jl Putri Hijau Dalam 4 FG, +62 61 4144777.
  • Thailand Royal Thai Honorary Consulate, Jl. Cut Meutia No. 6, +62 61 415-2425.

Go next[edit]

  • Berastagi - a beautiful mountain resort, about 1.5 hours' drive from Medan; popular among Medan people for weekend getaways. When it is deemed safe, you can hike the two nearby volcanoes, Sinabung and Sibayak. Check with the local authorities before hiking, as the volcano recently erupted and is considered to be still dangerous.
  • Kabanjahe - the capital of the Karo Regency. You can observe and experience the life of Karo people by visiting the villages around Kabanjahe. Kabanjahe is also a convenient post to climb Mount Sinabung. If you wish to spend the nights in the villages of Karo people, go to Gumagaba Youth Hostel located on Jalan SM Raja Simpang Amplas, Medan for information..
  • Bukit Lawang - A 3 hour journey from Medan, the latter half of the journey being a rather bumpy and pot-holed ride. A little village on the edge of Gunung Leuser National Park that was once home to an Orangutan rehabilitation center, which is now closed. However, regular feeding sessions take places at the feeding platforms. Jungle treks can be arranged or you can just relax by the river.
  • Lake Toba - one of biggest fresh water lakes in the world. Formed by volcanic eruption. Has a large island, Samosir, in the middle. It is an absolute must see, a really magnificent place full of Batak culture on the shores of a mesmerizing lake. The food is wonderful, accommodation is cheap and the climate is perfect, it seems to be 25°C all the time. Rent a scooter to explore Samosir.
  • Pulau Weh - Garuda Indonesia operates three weekly flights to Sabang (Indonesia) on Pulau Weh, where some of Indonesia's finest diving can be found.



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