Medan, Sumatra

Medan is located in Sumatra, is the largest city in Indonesia. Located in Northern Sumatra, it serves as the main hub and gateway with its Polonia International Airport and Belawan. It is the fourth largest city in Indonesia and the largest city outside of Java.

It is not much of a tourist destination but it is where tourists normally fly into get to Lake Toba and Bukit Lawang or some even took off to Penang, Malaysia.


What to do


Tjong A Fie’s Mansion – a two-story mansion built by a Hakka merchant, for those who are interested in old architecture of the past.
Medan Grand Mosque (Mesjid Raya) – this Morrocan style mosque is worth a quick look
Marian Shrine of Annai Velangkanni – an Indo-Mogul style church that is fascinating for history and spiritual buff


How to get there

Map @ Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

Map of Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia


Medan’s International airport is Polonia International Airport, located about 15 minutes from the city. It has both international and domestic flights. International airlines serving this airport are:

Firefly Airlines – from/to Penang and Subang (KL)
AirAsia – from Kuala Lumpur
Garuda Indonesia – from/to Kuala Lumpur (MAS)
Indonesia AirAsia – from/to Penang, KL, Bangkok and Hong Kong
Lion Air – from/to Penang
Malaysia Airlines – from/to Penang and KL
SilkAir – from.to Singapore
Mandala Airlines – from/to Singapore
Swriwijaya Air – from/to Penang
Valuair – from/to Singapore

Mountain View @ Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

Mountain View @ Medan

For domestic flights there are many choices flying from various points in Indonesia with several airlines.

Take note of airport departure tax – domestic departures require 35,000 Rp tax while international departures are 75, 000 Rp.

To get to the city, you may take a taxi for around 40,000 Rp and if you scout a bit more, you can bargain down to 20,000 Rp.

If you’re coming via the sea, the nearest seaport is Belawan, with both domestic and international boat and ferry services.

Bus @ Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

Bus @ Medan


Where to stay

As you would be here for a quick get through to other places, you are most likely to need a place to put up for a night or two. This city is not exactly a backpacking sleep so do not expect much. If you are willing to splurge you will find many hotels that are up to city standards. Else there are a few budget homestays, bed & breakfasts or hostels to choose from.


Where to go nearby

Head out to the famous Lake Toba for a good chill and relax by the largest volcanic lake, 4 hours drive away by land.

For a quick getaway at Berastagi, famous for locals, about 1.5 hours drive away. You can hike out to the two nearby volcanoes, Sinabung and Sibayak.

Explore the village at the edge of Gunung Leuser National Park about 3 hours drive away, where you can do treks, hikes or just chill by the river. The main attraction here is Bukit Lawang, famous for the Orangutan Trekking and its Orangutan Viewing Platform.

Becak @ Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

Becak @ Medan


Photo credits from top: Burmesedays, SK Ding, NYC-MetroCar and NYC-MetroCar

Related Articles:
Sumatra Travel Guide
Going Local in Sumatra: Berastagi and Lake Toba
Lake Toba




Author: Rachel

Fascinated by Indonesia, Rachel hopes to bring the best Indonesia Travel Guide to independent travelers so that they can enjoy what Indonesia has best to offer. Being an independent wanderer herself, Rachel knows what it takes to make a good, fun-filled yet responsible independent traveling. So let’s join her to discover wonderful Indonesia together. Google+

5 thoughts on “Medan, Sumatra”

  1. Wanna ask if there is any safety issue on the ferry crossing to Samosir Island for example life jackets availability etc?

  2. Hi. I would like to know if there’s a ferry to/from Medan, Indonesia – Penang, Malaysia? How long is the trip? Would you know the price range (cheaper than air travel?) & ferry schedule? What about the safety issue? Thanks.

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