9 awesome places to see in indonesia outside of bali

Medan to Lake Toba – 6 Day Itinerary 2022

From Medan to Lake Toba – 6 Day Itinerary 2022

Lake Toba in Sumatra is an incredibly beautiful place, but it’s not exactly easy to get to. That’s why we’ve made this handy guide to help you!

We started our year with exploring a new place. So this month we ventured off of Bali and headed to Sumatra

It’s not easy to get around and there’s not much information online, so we made a full and complete list of everything, from bus tickets to hours, transfers and more.

Here it is, our complete 6 day itinerary from Medan to Lake Toba for 2022.

DAY 1. How To Get from Medan to Lake Toba

From Medan to Lake Toba, it’s a bit of a journey. More exactly, it’s about a 6-8 hours drive.

With that in mind, we decided to stay first in Medan for three days to explore the city, but I think 2 nights maximum are enough to see it.

We stayed in a cheap Airbnb called Vivo Stay (around $15 per night) in the city centre, close to Medan Mall and walked in town to Merdaka Walk, one of the main streets with lots of restaurants.

Skip to the practical advice for getting from Medan to Lake Toba.

Day 2. Exploring Medan City

We had a coffee at Merdaka Walk at Srikandi cafe and took a Grab to the Maimun Palace.

A coffee here is about the same price as everywhere in Indonesia, roughly 10k- 40k rupiah depending on what order.

Once we arrived at the Maimun Palace, we decided to do the touristy thing and have fun dressing up as royalty!

Maimun Palace, Medan

Entrance fee: 10.000 IDR/person
Visiting hours: 8 AM – 6 PM
Cost Dress-up: from 80.000 IDR/person

We went on to visit the Great Mosque of Medan, an impressive, beautiful building. The prayer was on, so we didn’t go in, but you can if you want to. You will have to wear a scarf to cover your head (for ladies) and a skirt for men. There is no set entrance fee, but donations are encouraged.

The Great Mosque of Medan
Entrance fee: free (but donations are encouraged)

At the end of the day, we went to Sibolang Durian to try the famous fruit in Sumatra. As you may know it is also the smelliest of all fruits!

It cost about 90.000 IDR for 2 kg, and if you haven’t tried it, we definitely recommend it.

There’s many other restaurants next to Sibolang Durian that serve Durian, so plenty of choice!

Day 3. Trying Nasi Padang

Our last day in Medan, out of our 6 days itinerary to Lake Toba, was all about food!

We spent the morning looking for a good Western coffee shop to do some work – which unfortunately we didn’t find – and siended up going to the Centerpoint mall.

Then we went on to try Nasi Padang at the Garuda restaurant, because it was the only one we could find in our area.

Nasi Padang is a traditional Sumatra dish and consists of steamed rice with a range of pre-cooked meals, similar to warung food, but they bring it all out to you on different plates and then you pay the plates you ate from.

It was an amazing meal and definitely something to try while in Medan!

DAY 4. From Medan to Lake Toba: How To Get There

The journey takes about 6 – 8 hours.

You can book a transfer from the accomodation you’re staying at, which at the time was around 120.000 – 200.000 IDR/person. You might get a private car or a shared minivan.

However, they usually start the trip at 11 AM, which will lead to you arriving quite late in Lake Toba.

We decided to go the “cheap” and local way, and headed to the bus station. It was far away from the city center so had to get a Grab till there.

The bus station we went to is called Amplas bus terminal station.

From Medan to Lake Toba
Bus station: Bus Terminal Anugerah & Pusaka
Jl. Gajah Mada No.51, Babura, Medan Baru, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20112
Ticket price: 40.000 IDR/person

From Amplas Terminal Bus Station to Samosir Island

The reviews online said the bus station was terrible and you shouldn’t go for it.

We went there at 8 AM, it was quiet, the bus was there, and the man pointed us to the bus for Lake Toba.

He cut us two tickets for 40.000 IDR and we were off! At first, we had plenty of leg space but then it got pretty crowded. No Aircon, but all windows were open, so not much of a biggie.

About 6 hours later, we arrived to Parapat.

From Parapat, you have to wait for the boat to Samosir Island.

The boat goes each hour, the last one is at 7.00 PM each way. It also stops at all accomodation, just ask and you can get off right at your guesthouse.

Parapat to Samosir: 08.00 AM – 7.00 PM
Samosir to Parapat : 08.00 AM – 7 PM
Boat ticket price : 15.000 IDR

Where To Stay in Lake Toba

We stayed at Tabo Cottages, which you can also find on Airbnb. It’s probably the most luxurious around, has a stunning pool and view and is right on the lake.

Rates here are around 60£/night, but you can find guesthouses with as cheap as 5 or 10 USD / night, such as Mas Cottages. We stayed there after and it was lovely, each view had big windows overlooking the lake and the food was great.

Where To Eat in Lake Toba

There’s not much choice around Lake Toba, if you’re looking for something more western (pizza,pasta,etc), there are a lot of really local places, but they were all pretty empty, so we decided to go eat at our guesthouses’ restaurants. A good restaurant we found was the one from Bagus Stay.

Bagus Stay restaurant: traditional show every Wednesday and Saturday and great chapati.

This place also has options for Western food for really low prices.

Mas Cottages: great chapati for 20.000 IDR and amazing breakfast
Tabo Cottages: more pricey but good food especially the curries!

DAY 5. Samosir To Bukit Holbung Viewpoint

We rented a bike for 4 days (about 80.000 IDR/day) and headed to Bukit Holbung.

To get there, you need to go all along Samosir island, cross the bridge towards Singkam or Tele Samosir. The Tele is a good viewpoint, and you can stop along the way in one of the local warungs with a view and sip a coffee or a juice with just 10.000 IDR.

The road is very steep, and not for beginners. We suggest driving a bike along Lake Toba if you are a more experienced driver. If not, there are many tours you can hire with a private car that can take you anywhere.

Bukit Holbung is a beautiful spot, lots of green hills around and a good opportunity for a hike. The hike to the top takes about half an hour, but you can choose to go further up the hills.

DAY 5: From Samosir Island to Sipiso Piso Waterfall

There is a boat that goes from Ambarita to Tigaras, which would make the journey shorter. So we took the 7.15 AM boat from our accomodation (Mas Cottages) to Ambarita, as the boat was supposed to be at 8 AM. However, they said it’s going to be at 9.30 AM, so we decided to just bike from there

It took us about 4 hours to get to Tongging, the roads are really windy, but the scenery is stunning.

I would suggest to add the Sipiso Piso waterfall on your list if you’re looking to do an itinerary around Lake Toba.

Where to Stay in Tongging

Tongging is a really small town/village, and not many people come here to stay. The last guest in our accomodation was in November 2018!

After checking out the accomodation, we found the most reasonable one for 200.000 IDR a night. It’s called Sibayak guesthouse.

We checked in and biked back up the hills to Sepiso Piso Waterfall.

This is one of the tallest waterfalls in Indonesia, 120 m high and one of the most beautiful. Its name means “like a knife”, maybe it comes from its weird shaped hole at the top from where the water springs.

The hike took about half an hour down and half an hour up, and the views are impressive. We were glad that we added this on our 6 days itinerary Lake Toba.

The next day we returned to Samosir by biking to Tigaras, it was shorter than the way we drove from Ambarita, took the ferry from Parapat to our accomodation.

From there, we decided to go to Bukit Lawang, and you will see our itinerary in the next post!

Medan to Lake Toba Guide

That concludes our itinerary for traveling from Medan to Lake Toba.

Let us know if you’ve been or if it’s on your travel plans!


  1. OMG! Thanks for your write up about trip Medan to Lake Toba. BTW, I’m going to Medan in July with my friends. So, it’s really gonna help us to plan for our trip soon.

    1. Grand Situmorang says:

      There is so much fun place to travel in Medan such as Toba Lake, Berastagi, Bukit Lawang, and Tangkahan, you have to visit that place if you are coming from another country who have plan for visiting Medan. 😊😊


    Woah, great blog with great content too. Amplifies and concurrrent with your yt channel. You guys are great artisan. Never stop vlogging bever stop blogging. Indonesia needs someone like you to help us encouraging our nature beauties. There are some national tv shows like MTMA (My Trip My Adventure), Jejak Petualang and so on, and in my opinion they are really need your help on how to film better. I bet you guys would make a great colab 🙂 As always A+ for the cinematography and hard work editing Jord & Olivia, Your sincerely

  3. Hi! Love to hear that you ventured to Lake Toba. It’s such a fabulous place! We have spent so much time there in the last few years it has become our second home. If you ever head back there, I suggest checking out Jenny’s Restaurant – they have an excellent range of local and western food – and the pizza is to die for!

  4. Martin Kráľ says:

    You should visit also Dwi Warna Waterfalls between Medan and Lake Toba. I can only recommend.

  5. Hi Olivia, thankyou for sharing your trip, this is amazing i’ve been to Lake Toba several times but yeah i just can’t get enough, i want to visit again and again. 🙂 have a great day!

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