North Sumatra 7 Days / 1 Week Itinerary – Medan, Berastagi, Lake Toba

Planning an itinerary for Sumatra can be tough as it is not as firmly on the tourist trail compared to many other places in Indonesia, for example, Bali or Java and so it can be difficult to know what to do there and where to go. Planning the itinerary for Sumatra is also no easy feat but don’t worry as our itinerary will fit in some of the must visit places in Sumatra, fitting them all in one week.

In this itinerary, you will find yourself covering the 3 main tourist locations of Sumatra that are interlinked to your convenience. They are Medan, the main city and where you most likely fly into, Berastagi, the Karo highlands of rice fields and the famous Lake Toba, the largest volcano lake in the world with arguably the best tourist facilities in Sumatra.

Here is a suggested itinerary that you can tailor according to your own preferences for your 7 days in Sumatra.

Medan

Suggested time: 2 days
Connects to Berastagi (2 hours) or Lake Toba (5 hours)

Medan is not typically thought of as a tourist destination by international travelers who used it simply as an entry and exit point to move on to other places. The domestic market in Indonesia, however, sees things very differently and Medan is known as the culinary capital of Indonesia.

Tjong A Fie Mansion in Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

Tjong A Fie Mansion in Medan, Sumatra. Photo by Pratyeka, via Wikimedia Commons

Day 1 – Medan sightseeing and food

Tjong A Fie Mansion was a relative of the better known Cheong Fatt Tze who lived in Penang and built the gorgeous Cheong Fatt Tze mansion. This is one of Medan’s few real attractions and is definitely worth a trip to see how people would have lived in 1900. It’s also near to Kesawan Square, a great option if you are looking for some authentic Medanese food.

Addres: 105 Jl. Jend. A. Yani,
Kesawan, Medan Bar, Kota Medan,
Sumatera Utara 20111;
Telephone: 0813 6120 3998.
Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm.

Soto Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

Soto Medan. Photo by Fachriazmi9, via Wikimedia Commons

Soto Kesawan is located just across from Tjong A Fie Mansion so it makes sense to combine the two. You will need to get here before 4 pm however as they shut up shop after that. This small cafe is famous for its Soto, a soup made with coconut milk and filled with juicy prawns.

Address: Jl. Ahmad Yani, Kesawan, Medan Bar,
Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara
Telephone: 20236; 061 4514518
Opening hours: 7 am to 4 pm.

Day 2 – Medan Mosques and Palaces

Mesjid Raya Al Mashun is the great mosque of Medan and is known for its great beauty and imported building materials. You will see glittering green tiles here as well as graceful black domes and pretty stained glass and marble floors. Make sure to dress modestly if you are going to visit.

Address: Jl. Sisingamangaraja, No. 1, Medan Kota,
Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara
Telephone: 20212; 061 4512555.

The great grand mosque of Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

The great grand mosque of Medan. Photo by Rolling Okie

Istana Maimun is the royal palace that used to belong to the Sultanate of Deli. Now it has been turned into a museum and you can also catch a traditional band here that play local tunes every day at 10 am.

Address: Jl. Sultan Ma’moen Al Rasyid No. 66, Medan Maimun,
A U R, Medan Maimun, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20151.
Opening hours: 8 am to 5 pm.

Istana Maimun (Palace), Medan Sumatra, Indonesia

Istana Maimun (Palace), Medan. Photo by I, Merbabu via Wikimedia Commons

Merdeka Walk – If you are looking for dinner in Medan but can’t decide what to get then consider a trip to Merdeka Walk. Here you will find a long strip that has a range of stalls selling all kinds of dishes from noodles, to rice, to soups, to desserts.

Address: Jl. Balai Kota, Medan Barat, Kesawan,
Medan Bar, Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20236.
Opening hours: Some places here are open 24 hours a day.

Moving on from Medan, you have two options:

How to get to Berastagi – Take a bus from the main bus station on Jalan SM Raja that will take you directly to Berastagi. The trip takes about 2 hours.

If you want to skip Berastagi then you can also take a bus directly to Lake Toba from Medan which takes around 5/6 hours.

Berastagi

Suggested time: 2 days
Connects to Medan (2 hours) or Lake Toba (4/5 hours)

From Medan, you can easily move on to Berastagi, home of the Karo people with just a 2 hours bus ride. One of the highlights of Berastagi is picking your own fruit like oranges and strawberries at one of the local farms, although you need to be there when the fruit is ripening so it’s best to check when you are actually in Berastagi.

Gunung Sibayak (mountain) at Berastagi, Sumatra, Indonesia

Gunung Sibayak (mountain) at Berastagi, Sumatra. Photo by swifant

Day 3 – Berastagi volcano mountain

Gunung Sibayak is a dormant volcano has a large crater at the top from which gas still erupts. There are also hot springs here where you can soak in the naturally warm thermal waters. It is about a 7 kilometer walk to the top.

Day 4 – Berastagi waterfall

Sipiso-piso Waterfall – This is one of the best spots in Berastagi and you can see all the way to Lake Toba from here. You can catch a mini bus called an angkot straight from Berastagi to the waterfall or hire a motorbike and head out there on your own.

Gunung Sipiso-piso Waterfall at Berastagi, Sumatra, Indonesia

Sipiso-piso Waterfall at Berastagi. Photo by Ronald Tagra

Moving on from Berastagi, we head on to Lake Toba.

How to get to Lake Toba – You will need to take a mini-bus to Siantar which takes about 3 hours and then another bus to Parapat which takes about 1 hour. It’s then a short ferry ride across to Tuk Tuk, the main island in Lake Toba.

Lake Toba

Suggested time: 2 days
Connects to Berastagi (4/5 hours) or Medan (5/6 hours)

Lake Toba is a gem in the region of Sumatra and has a crater lake that sits in a dormant volcano. It’s also the largest crater lake in the world and sits next to the charming island of Tuk Tuk.

Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia

Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Holmes Nainggolan

Day 5 – Enjoy Lake Toba and Tuk tuk village

Enjoy the lake – One of the reasons people come to Lake Toba is the lake, so make sure that you enjoy all that it has to offer. You can indulge in a range of water sports here and can tour the lake in a speedboat. For something a little more relaxing you can simply float here in a rubber tube.

Visit Tuk Tuk – The village of Tuk Tuk is charming and is also the home of a Batak cemetery. Here you will find amazing carved graves Batak kings which are in the shape of traditional Batak houses, so make sure to give this a miss to get an insight into Batak culture.

Batak People @ Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia

Batak Women. Photo by Marc Veraart

Day 6 – Explore Lake Toba island

Tuk Tuk is covered in a range of attractions and due to its size, you can see most of them in a day. The best option is to hire a car and driver or a motorbike to whizz around the island.

Day 7 – Back to Medan

Getting back to Medan, completing the loop of Medan, Berastagi and Lake Toba in Sumatra. Here you can choose to head onwards north to Bukit Lawang for the Orangutan trek or the interesting city Banda Aceh or go for diving at Pulau Weh.

Check out our Sumatra Travel Guide.

Related articles:
2 weeks or 15 days itinerary in Sumatra
3 weeks itinerary for Islands of Indonesia

Bali 3 Days Itinerary Blog

Bali has a magical charm that draws us to the vibrant island again and again – be it the surf-friendly, clear blue beaches, the exotic temples, the (thankfully!) sleeping volcanoes, the soothing green of the paddy fields, the buzzing nightlife, the exciting street shopping and basically the chill island vibe, and to top it off, affordable.

When I first moved to Singapore, Bali topped my rather long list of travel destinations. It became so reachable and at a good price too. The ticket fares from Singapore to Bali are somewhere between $80-$100 roundtrips.

We planned a quick extended 3 days weekend holiday in Bali and were keen to do the ‘touristy’ things on this trip. It was our first Indonesian holiday and we relied completely on Internet reviews for accommodation and what to do in Bali.

Flying from Singapore to Bali, Indonesia

Flying from Singapore to Bali

Day 1 – Airport to city and exploring Kuta

Even though we knew that transport to and from hotels will be more expensive, we took the chance and sign up with a random transportation company directly at the airport, and luckily they turned out to be extremely courteous, helpful and did not charge an extra rupiah. What surprised us instead was the traffic on our way to the hotel, a supposedly 15 minutes ride away end up taking 1 hour 30 minutes, though thankfully that was our first and last encounter with such madness. The rest of the trip was relatively smooth and traffic-free.

Our hotel – The Stones * – was everything that we had imagined. An offshoot of the Marriott chain, it upheld all the standards with aplomb. Generally, we are budget travellers but an irresistible deal through Booking.com * – for around SGD 90 per night – had us booking at The Stones Hotel. And boy, are we glad we did! The hotel was beautiful and the Kuta beach was right across the street. And the pool was to die for!

Pool at The Stones Hotel Bali, Indonesia

Pool at The Stones Hotel

We spent the first day of our trip exploring Kuta. After watching a glorious sunset on the beach, we headed towards the more happening part of the street for some shopping and beer. Bali has extensive nightlife, with loud sports bars, quaint beer pubs, romantic candle-lit pubs and a wide range of eating joints. We were spoilt for choice and finally settled for the Bubba Gump Shrimp joint, mainly because we love the movie. The last thing we did before we hit the sack was to get into a random roadside pub for a beer because the local band was so good.

Dinner at Bubba Gump restaurant Bali, Indonesia

Dinner at Bubba Gump restaurant

Day 2 – Temple run – Tanah Lot and Uluwatu plus Kecak Dance

The second day on our itinerary was for ‘temple run’. Tanah Lot and Uluwatu were the two temples we had set our eye on. Our driver advised us to head for Tanah Lot first, have lunch there and then return towards Uluwatu in time for the spectacular sunset and the famous Balinese play performed by the locals. The only problem with covering these two temples in one day was the time-consuming distance – they were at opposite ends on the island. However, since we did not have many days in Bali, we went for this mad, hectic route.

Driving through Bali, Indonesia

Driving through Bali

Driving through Bali were super smooth and we enjoyed the quintessential Balinese landscape of green paddy fields and pagoda-like local houses and temples as we snacked on chips and sodas. It was over an hour when we reached Tanah Lot. Since we managed to reach before the high tide, we could cross over the rocks that otherwise remain submerged, and to reach the temple. Although tourists are not allowed inside the main temple, we were quite happy to explore the surroundings with a stunning view and sounds of splashing waves against the rocks.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali, Indonesia

The stunning Tanah Lot Temple

After a local lunch and 200 pictures taken, we headed for Uluwatu Temple. The temple is a breathtaking sight itself, sitting majestically on a cliff top amidst the crashing waves. The colors of the ocean from high up on the cliff were mesmerising.

view from Uluwatu Temple clifftop Bali, Indonesia

The view from Uluwatu Temple clifftop

Well before sundown, the crowd had begun to crowd the amphitheatre for the traditional Balinese dance-play called Kecak Dance. It was set against the backdrop of blazing skies of a glorious sunset. Though we enjoyed the famous scenes from the Hindu tale of Ramayana, we stepped out just before the act ended, as wisely advised by our driver. Those crucial 5 minutes saved us from an hour’s worth of traffic.

Sunset at Uluwatu Temple Bali, Indonesia

Sunset at Uluwatu Temple


We ended the day with a dinner in the room as we are tired to do anything else.

Day 3 – Parasailing, deep sea diving and sunbathing

The final day on our itinerary was set aside exclusively for some beach time and water sports. Tanjung Benoa Beach is the place for water sports. As a non-swimmer who wants to experience the thrill of these adventure sports, I settled for parasailing and deep-sea walking. The package cost somewhere around Rp700,000 per person after much haggling. The aerial view from parasailing was as spectacular as I had thought it would be. Though the landing can be pretty tricky, overall, it’s a safe affair.

Parasailing at Bali, Indonesia

Parasailing at Bali

As for the deep-sea diving, after the first few daunting seconds, it turned out to be pretty amazing – to be transported amid beautiful corals and schools of colourful fish. The guides are wonderful who sense your discomfort at the slightest change in body language.

After the high-adrenaline water sports, we went in search of a beach to chill. Padang Padang beach turned out to just perfect for what we are looking for, being one of the best beaches in Bali. Clear blue turquoise water, unlike the murky blues of Kuta, greeted us, after a long, good climb down the rugged stairway, narrowing to the extent that no other person could walk alongside you. A tip is also to carry your own food because the choice is rather limited in the shacks down there. We spent the rest of the day lying under the sun and dipping in the sea. We watched the brilliant hues of the sky as the sun sank over the horizon. Sunsets in Bali are simply beautiful.

Padang Padang beach, Indonesia

Padang Padang beach

We spent the morning before our flight buying local souvenirs and an early lunch at a local Indonesian warung. We set off for the airport well before time, fearing traffic, but the roads were pretty clear early in the evening.

These three days in Bali left us yearning for more, and like all travellers, we vowed to be back. This time we actually did, within six months. And that is another tale altogether! Indonesia is truly a beautiful holiday destination, with amazing island vibes, beautiful landscapes and pocket-friendly adventures, and Bali epitomises all of these. Be careful, though, because once is never enough for Bali!

Related articles:
10 days in Bali Itinerary
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Bandung Trip Itinerary – 3 days or nights

Bandung is your one-stop destination for culinary, culture, shopping and nature. Your trip will definitely tickle your every sense with Bandung’s diverse tourist attractions and things to do. Culinary wise, you will find unique cafes in every corner and delicious local food everywhere. Culture-wise, there are the Lawangwangi art space performances while shopping wise, you will be spoilt for choices with its many factory outlets and boutiques. To top it off, get around Bandung for excursions to famous places like the Kawah Putih Crater or chill by Situ Patenggang lake or look up the legend of Tangkuban Perahu. Our Bandung Trip 3 days itinerary plan will help you to maximise your visit here!

Day One – Shopping, Cafe and Restaurant

Bandung is really quite a vibrant city and is considered a hub for retail and culinary tourism. Jalan Setiabudi, Jalan Cihampelas, and Jalan Riau are a couple of very popular areas where you’ll find the streets fill with shopping and eating opportunities!

Start the morning with a trip to Rumah Mode on Jalan Setiabudi (to beat the afternoon crowds!). This factory outlet bursts at the seams with all things retail. They also have a few eateries where you can taste local treats such as Batagor, Nasi Timbel, and Martabak, set around beautiful garden settings.

Rumah Mode at Bandung, Indonesia

Rumah Mode at Bandung. Photo by Isna On/Off

Midday head down to Jalan Cihampelas, popularly known as ‘Jeans Street’ due to the huge amount of denim sellers there. This is also a busy street with a notable lack of walking areas – so take care when moving from shop to shop! What makes this street stand out are the large cartoon statues that head some of the shops. You’ll find Rambo, Spiderman, Aladdin, Hercules, Superman, to name just a few! This street isn’t the cleanest or most organized, but it’s worth a visit if only just to see it’s unique visual appeal.

If Jeans Street tired you out, which it most certainly will, you can pop into Ciwalk Mall for a bit of relaxation with more complete, organized shops and restaurants. It’s designed in a garden walk style which makes for pleasant strolling. Gokanna serves up traditional Indonesian and Sundanese (the local food in Bandung) dishes, or there are western favourites such as Soho, Raffles, and Pizza Hut among others.

Jeans Street at Bandung, Indonesia

Jeans Street at Bandung. Photo by ann_espino

After a bit of rest, Jalan Riau calls for more shopping and an abundance of delectable cafes and restaurants. Two favourite factory outlets here are The Secret Factory Outlet and Heritage Factory Outlet. They’re both comfortable, complete, and reasonably cheap. Heritage is set in one of the old Dutch buildings that have been refurbished to suit modern Bandung, and there’s quite a good restaurant next door called Dakken Coffee and Steak, also in a refurbished colonial building. They serve tasty local and western food, recommended! Otherwise, there’s a lovely café around the corner on Jalan Progo called Hummingbird Eatery, which also has a decadent selection of cakes and cookies!

The Secret Factory Outlet at Bandung, Indonesia

The Secret Factory Outlet at Bandung. Photo by Irwandy Mazwir

If you don’t fancy settling in for dinner here around Riau, there’s a nice restaurant not too far away called Atmosphere Resort Café that has a stunning traditional décor and delectable menu.



Booking.com

Day Two – Excursions from Bandung

With shopping and eating thoroughly explored in the city, it’s time to find some nature!

Head to the south Ciwidey hills in the morning. You’ll find the temperatures drop and the natural scenery takes over. Kawah Putih Crater Lake is quite a beautiful sight! The enchanting turquoise crater, ghostly bare trees, grey hills and white mist make it a rather stunning spot for budding photographers and selfie-takers. Make sure you wear a mask or cover your nose and mouth as breathing in sulfur fumes can be uncomfortable. Nearby, you’ll find lushly green tea plantations such as Rancabali that will also take your breath away! They cover rather large areas, so crowds aren’t a worry and peaceful moments are enough for everyone. There are a few places that have thermal hot pools too, but they’re usually full of local families and can get really crowded.

-> Find the best hotel deals near Kawah Putih Crater *

Excursion from Bandung to Kawah Putih Crater, Indonesia

Excursion from Bandung – Kawah Putih Crater

Stop by Situ Patenggang lake and prepare to witness yet another sight for sore eyes. Take a small boat ride to Batu Cinta and hear the old story about this ‘Love Rock’ in the middle of the lake. This is a really picturesque lake so make sure you have your camera ready! No doubt you’ll be doing a lot of snacking on local treats around Ciwidey, but for a late lunch, there are some good traditional restaurants. Saung Gawir comes recommended, as does Sidang Reret, both boast delicious local cuisines and stunning natural scenery. They are located on the main road from which you come and go from Ciwidey area.

Situ Patenggang lake, Bandung, Indonesia

Situ Patenggang lake

In the evening, you might find yourself tired from the hectic traffic getting to and from Ciwidey. So it might be a nice idea to chill at your hotel or take an evening stroll along Jalan Braga, possibly the most unique and well-known heritage streets in Bandung that still holds it’s colonial style architecture. Here you’ll find cafes, restaurants, art shops and even a mall (Braga City Walk). On the southern corner sits Gedung Merdeka which houses the Asian-African Conference Museum that was first held in 1955, and its 60th-anniversary conference was held just recently in 2015. Masjid Raya Bandung is just around the corner in Alun-Alun. The most noteworthy mosque in the city is open to the public on Saturday and Monday. It should also be said that most shops on Jalan Braga are closed on Sundays, so a visit to this area would be best on Saturday (though very busy), or Monday.

Masjid Raya (Mosque) Bandung, Indonesia

Masjid Raya (Mosque) Bandung. Photo by Ikhlasul Amal

Day Three – Nature, art and food

Today can be a relaxing and unwinding mix of nature, art, and food.

30km to the north of Bandung lies a stratovolcano crater called Tangkuban Perahu (meaning: ‘up-turned boat’) which has an interesting local legend about love and tragedy that can be told by locals there, just ask! There are three main craters: Kawah Ratu, Kawah Domas, and Kawah Upas. The atmosphere is friendly and very local, with souvenirs, snacks, and plenty of photo opportunities. It gets pretty chilly up there so be sure to bring a jacket and scarf. Or you can buy colourful scarves and gloves on the site!

-> Find the best hotel deals near Tangkuban Perahu *

Tangkuban Perahu, Bandung, Indonesia

Tangkuban Perahu, Bandung

Beautiful view from Lawangwangi Art Space Bandung, Indonesia

Beautiful view from Lawangwangi Art Space. Photo by Riana Ambarsari

Also in the north, there are a few villas and resorts like Gracia Resort and Spa * (75,000 IDR entrance) and Ciater Hot Springs (40,000 IDR entrance) which have hot spring pools and nice restaurants. Spend a night here to experience the cool temperatures and steamy springs, and sample local delicacies in any of the cosy restaurants. Really, quite a treat! Again, the temperatures are comfortably neutral during the day but can get rather cold once night falls.

While you’re in the area, visit an art gallery and restaurant. One popular gallery is called Lawangwangi Art Space. They have alternate exhibitions monthly with both local and international artists, a café, event rooms, garden, and photogenic balcony with a beautiful view of Bandung. Another famous gallery is called Selasar which has similar features but specializes in delicious Indian dishes among other Indonesian and western flavors. Selasar tends to be a lot quieter and calmer in the atmosphere than the ever-popular Lawangwangi.

Tam Indonesia Travel Guide

Tam has lived in Bandung and traveled Indonesia for more than 6 years.
You can connect with her at Instagram

Related articles:
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Bandung Travel Guide

3 Weeks Itinerary for Islands of Indonesia

Q: I’m writing you since I’m planning to go on a trip to Indonesia in July/ August.

I might have about 3 weeks to travel. Since I want to make most of my trip, I would love to visit a couple of islands of Indonesia.

Your homepage is already very helpful! But I just wanted to ask whether you could recommend e specific route in Indonesia which involves a couple of destinations and islands (e.g. Sumatra, Bali, Lombok,…)? Can you recommend any route for three weeks?

Thank you so much for your help!

– Simone

Private Beach @ Nusa Dua, Bali

Private Beach @ Nusa Dua, Bali. Photo by sektordua

Answer:
For 3 weeks you may well cover a good number of islands in Indonesia, but do bear in mind quite a number of flying is needed as Indonesia is spread out far and wide. Try our recommendation for the highlights of islands of Indonesia from Bali, Lombok and Gili Islands to Flores at Nusa Tenggara.

Day 1 – 10

For the first 10 days of your trip, you may spend some time exploring the famous Bali and its surrounding – Lombok and Gili Islands. Bali is well known for its white sandy beaches, surfers waves, divers paradise spots, mountains to hike and rolling fields of rice paddies and rice terraces. While Lombok is about the same minus the tourist crowds. It is also home to one of the best mountain to hike in Indonesia – Mount Rinjani. Gili Islands would be your remote paradise islands, with no motorized vehicles on land and untouched seas for you to explore.

Combine our 3 days itinerary in Bali with 3 days of Lombok and then another 3 days for Gili Islands.

Check out our
-> Top 10 Must Visit Places in Bali
-> Top 10 Things to do in Bali
-> Top 10 Things to do in Lombok
-> Top 10 Things to Do on the Gili Islands

-> Find places to stay in Bali at Booking.com. Free cancellation. *

Uluwatu Temple, Pura Luhur @ Bali

Uluwatu Temple, Pura Luhur at Bali. Photo by melburnian

Day 11 – 21

For the next 10 days, do a Komodo boat trip from Lombok to Flores. This boat trip will take about 4 days through multiple dives at remote locations and a visit to the famous pink beach before ending up at Komodo National Park. There are also boat options from Gili Islands. Komodo Island is home to the elusive yet popular Komodo Dragon and is a UNESCO World Heritage site of Indonesia.

-> Check out the blog account on Komodo Boat Trip from Lombok to Flores

-> Find out where to stay in Maumere through Booking.com *

Komodo Dragon walking at the beach

Komodo Dragon at the island. Photo by Adhi Rachdia

Another route is to fly from Bali to Maumere, Flores. Maumere is an interesting quaint little town of Flroes that is well worth to explore, with fishing and weving villages, and hot springs. From here, you can continue to explore Flores, making your way towards Labuhanbajo through the not to be missed tri-colored lakes of Kelimutu. This picturesque lake has lured many travelers through tough journey just to have a view of its wonder. Finally, you will end up again at Komodo Island.

-> Find the best hotel deals near Komodo National Park at Booking.com *

After that, you may find flights out of Flores to either Bali again or Jakarta and then leave Indonesia from there.

Tri-colored Kelimutu Lakes at Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Tri-clored Kelimutu Lakes island of Flores. Photo by NeilsPhotography

If you want to explore Sumatra or Sulawesi islands, I would suggest them as another separate trip as it is in other parts of Indonesia and would definitely require more time to explore all the islands of Indonesia. Have a great trip!

Related article:
3 Week Travel Itinerary in Indonesia
10 days Bali Itinerary
Bali 3 Days Itinerary Blog