At 1.5 hours away from Singapore by flight, Medan and its surrounding regions make an ideal getaway whether you’re looking to indulge in gastronomic adventures or breathtaking sights. Read on to uncover inspiration for your next long weekend getaway.
Living in Singapore, we’re pretty blessed that beautiful destinations are less than a 3 hour flight away. Take Medan for one, at just 1.5 hours away, it was the perfect destination to get our dose of good food, inspiring natural sights and to pamper ourselves in some of the most luxurious yet affordable accommodations.
In this list, we’ll be covering sights within Medan city as well as epic sights just a few hours drive away.
1. Indulge yourself at a JW Marriott for under S$100 a night
While a night in JW Marriott Singapore costs more than S$400, you can indulge in a luxurious night at a much more affordable rate (under S$100) in Medan. With 5-star service and amenities, there really isn’t a reason to stay somewhere else. Those willing to splurge a little more on the rooms can be rewarded with an insane view of the city.
Conveniently located in the heart of the city, JW Marriott is also close to many famous eateries in Medan.
2. Have breakfast at the locals’ favourite Duck Noodle place — Bihun Bibek Aise
Just ask any local and you’ll be wowed at the amount of food recommendations they can rattle off the top of their heads. One of the more popular Chinese eateries here is Bihun Bibek located just a 15 minute stroll from JW Marriott, we got here early to find the entire eatery packed.
Cost: Rp65,000/bowl (~S$6.5)
Opening Hours: 6:30AM – 11AM (They sell out pretty early!)
Address: Jl. Kumango, Kesawan, West Medan, Medan City, North Sumatra 202212, Indonesia
3. Satisfy your durian cravings any time of the day — Si Bolang Durian
A quintessential activity in Medan, this adorable open-concept durian joint is open 24 hours a day. Pick a bench, snap some for the gram and satisfy your cravings.
Cost: Seasonal rates
Off season: Rp.60,000 – 95,000/kg or S$6 – 9.50/kg
Peak season: Rp.15,000 – 25,000/kg or S$1.50 –2.50
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Address: Jalan Iskandar Muda No.75 C-D
From Chinese cuisine to 24-hour durian shops, you can spend an entire day eating 6 meals and you still would not have scratched the surface of food gems in this city.
4. Visit the home of Medan’s most prominent Chinese merchant — Tjong A Fie Mansion
This unassuming 2 storey mansion belonged to a Hakka merchant in the 1900s. Walk in and you’ll be amazed at the architecture and design of this century-old mansion, delicately preserved to its original glory.
There are 35 rooms altogether and one of his grandsons still lives in a closed-off section of the compounds For Rp35,000 (~S$3.50), you’ll get to tour some of the grandest rooms like the ballroom, the dining area and Tjong A Fie’s personal bedroom which is easily bigger than 3 modern day bedrooms in Singapore.
Entrance Fee: Rp.35,000 (~S$3.5), includes a guided tour
Opening Hours: 9AM – 5PM
Address: Jalan Jendral Ahmad Yani VII No.105
5. Check in to a room with panoramic views of Lake Toba — Taman Simalem Resort
At 1200m above sea level, Taman Simalem Resort makes a popular getaway for the local Medan-ese as it offers a cool escape from the warm bustling city. That aside, it’s also one of the best places to experience the beauty of Lake Toba, also known as the largest volcanic lake in the world.
The resort itself offers many activities that will make leaving its compounds a difficult mission; take a yoga-class on the hills over-looking Lake Toba, sign up for a jungle trek or just sit back and pamper yourself with a relaxing Indonesian massage or Ayurvedic treatment.
6. Catch the most beautiful sunrise overlooking Lake Toba — One Tree Hill
This one’s a real hidden gem tucked inside Taman Simalem resort itself. You can spot a distinct silhouette of the lone tree sticking out of the hill edge from far. But the tree isn’t the main attraction; it’s the view.
In fact, I dare say it’s probably one of the best places to catch the sun rising above Lake Toba. Feast your eyes as the darkness recedes to reveal the gorgeous caldera. On clearer days, you might even spot the island Pulau Samosir — the world’s largest island within an island.
7. Pulau Samosir: Explore the largest island in the world within a volcano
At 640 square kilometres, this island is often compared to the size of Singapore (719 square kilometres). Most of the residents living on the island are of Batak descent and speak a slightly different dialect. The island also caters to travellers looking to experience Lake Toba up close.
Take your pick from one of the many resorts lined on the edge of the island offering panoramic, waterfront views.
8. Spot rainbows at Indonesia’s tallest waterfall — Sipiso-Piso
This epic 120-metre waterfall happens to be the tallest one in Indonesia and you can spot rainbows easily on sunny mornings — you might even spot doubles! Located in Tongging, it’s only a 20 minute drive from Taman Simalem Resort to the lookout point on top. Take a 20 minute trek down to the base; we say it’s worth it!
9. Swing your cares away at Bukit Indah Simarunjung
A popular pitstop from Medan or Berastagi towards the ferry to Pulau Semosir is the Simarunjung Rest house. They serve pretty strong ginger tea and goreng pisang (banana fritters) but perhaps the main attraction is the installations that are perfect for photos.
Our favourite installation of all was the giant swing that hung between 2 tall trees, strategically built with a perfect view of Lake Toba.
10. Trek up smoking volcanoes of Gunung Sibayak
Located in the pleasant town of Berastagi (or Brastagi), Gunung Sibayak is a popular volcano to climb in Sumatra because the routes are relatively simple and you can reach the crater in as little as 1.5 hours depending on the route and terrain you pick.
Down by the crater, you can even dig up fresh & warm mud laced with loads of skin-loving minerals for an express facial.
11. Treat your well-worked muscles to a relaxing soak at the Semangat Gunung Hot Springs
The perfect treat after trekking Gunung Sibayak, you’ll find a handful of public hot springs at the base of the volcano. With entrance fees ranging from Rp.5000 – 7000, treat yourself to a relaxing dip while being surrounded by mountain views all around. Its water is also filled with healthy minerals that are great for the skin.
Direct Flight from Singapore to Medan
Owner of the title ‘World’s Best Cabin Crew’ by Skytrax 4 years in a row, Garuda Indonesia flies direct from Singapore to Medan in just 1.5 hours, daily! That’s hardly any time to complete a movie before the flight descends. Leave Singapore at 11:30am and arrive at 12pm (time difference for the win!), just in time for lunch before driving down to Lake Toba.
Accommodation Savings in Medan & Lake Toba
Win A Pair of Air Tickets To Medan
If this has piqued your interest in visiting Medan, here’s a chance to win a pair of air tickets courtesy of Changi Airport and Garuda Indonesia!
Head over to the My Great Escape contest page and answer why Medan is your choice of destination and you could be waking up to the epic caldera views of Lake Toba!
Written by Cherie Sim from The Travel Intern. The Travel Intern is a Singapore-based community of storytellers and explorers. Whether it’s through writing, photography, or filmmaking, they hope to inspire you to seek that new experience. It could be a country on your bucket list, a city that intrigues you, or a dish you’ve never tried. Anything that’s a new slice of the world!'