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Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

posts: 307
reviews: 10
Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

I have been asked by guests, which I met during my sunset beer in the Warung, and through PM’s to write a bit about traveling during the Super High Season and Room Rates in Tuk Tuk, so that guests are properly warned about what to expect.

Now first of all when is the Super High Season in Tuk Tuk. This is something nobody knows or can predict.

For sure it will be Super High Season just before and after New Year as well as following Hari Raja, Eid ul Fitr, the end of Ramadan.

Sometimes Christmas is Super High Season, however last Christmas was relatively quiet in Tuk Tuk, while New Year made up for that.

Normally, IMLEK, Chinese New Year, is Super High Season, however a few years ago the expected guests did not come. My feeling for coming IMLEK is that is going to be a real Super High Season. Coming IMLEK is scheduled from January 30 to Febr 4.

Regular transportation rates will go up by 10 to 20% and roomrates in Tuk Tuk may easily double, triple or even more.

Especially on Jan 31 and Febr 2 it may be very hard to arrange for private transportation from Medan or the Airport at a reasonable cost for the simple reason that all the cars will already be on the road to Parapat. On and after Febr 2 it will be the other way around, private transportation hard to arrange for in Parapat. Unfortunately this will hold also for public transportation and shared taxi seats. Trying to arrange for transportation for an off the Parapat – Medan route may become next to impossible.

Like around New Year coming IMLEK traveltime from Medan to Samosir with a private car, using the car ferry, may easily go up from the normal 7 hours to 15 to 20 hours.

Quite some guests are especially complaining about the common practice of guesthouses, accommodations and hotels in Tuk Tuk doubling, tripling or even more of the room rates during the Super High Season.

Sometimes, I am wondering whether the guest should really blame the accommodations for this practice or whether he should point the finger to somebody else.

Now let me put this ‘Practice’, in a bit of different perspective.

Generally speaking the break – even point for a hotel or first class guesthouse is somewhere around 50% accupancy.

In Tuk Tuk, where in quite some places facilities are very basic, maintenance non-existant, labour cost very low combined with an overall very low service level the break even point is much lower than the above mentioned 50 % occupancy rate. Let’s say 20% occupancy at this moment in time will do the trick.

So, how is this going to work out.

Take a guesthouse with a regular roomrate of Rp 100.000,-- per night. ( Euro 6,-- or something like US $ 9,-- per night)

With an occupancy rate of 20 % the expected, or hoped for, income from this room is minimum 70 nights at Rp 100.000,-- or Rp 7.000.000,--

Now during the really low season when most of the rooms in Tuk Tuk are empty the clever guest comes in and he going for a real tough negotiation. Using arguments like, if I stay with you for Rp 50.000,-- a night, your income is Rp 50.000,-- , if this is not acceptable I go to another place and you have nothing. And the deal is made for Rp 60.000,--

So how many real Super High Season Nights are for Sale. Let’s just say around Christmas and New Year, IMLEK and Hari Raja each 5. So 55 Low Season Nights and 15 Super High Season Nights.

It was hoped that the room would bring an income of Rp 7.000.000,--

Instead building this up regularly based on Rp 100.000,-- per night it now starts with;

55 nights at Rp 60.000,-- makes a total of Rp 3.300.000,--

To make up for the difference Rp 3.700.000,-- in 15 nights the room should bring in minimum Rp 250.000,--per night. (This in line with the normal practice of doubling or tripling the room rates during the Super High Season)

As said, sometimes I am wondering whether the guest should really blame the accommodations for this doubling, tripling rate practice or whether he should point the finger to somebody else. For example his fellow clever guest during who during very Low Season shows his exceptional negotiation skills.

HORAS !!! HORAS !!! HORAS !!! WELCOME TO TUK TUK. This week, very low season, or during IMLEK.

24 replies to this topic
Jakarta, Indonesia
posts: 2
1. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

hi there, thanks for this clarification, i'v e been searching far and wide for some info on chinese new year 2014 as it happens, it;s exactly the weekend i was heading for Toba.

I wil be in bukit lawang the week before so maybe i will stay there a bit longer over the weekend to avoid the crowding/price surge.

is the same overcrowding/price doubling apparent in bukit lawang?

any other tips on where i could go to avoid these?


any great full-blown imlek celebrations / parties i could visit in north sumatra?


posts: 307
reviews: 10
2. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

Hi Sylvandude,

At the moment it is ‘Low Season’ in Tuk Tuk and you can have your pick from rooms in any place you fancy. As far as I can see it now this will remain more or less the same till January 29. After that the fun starts.

Also as far as I know Bukit Lawang will hardly be affected at all, but anybody is welcome to correct me on this.

Don’t expect full-blown Imlek Celebration Parties in Tuk Tuk, apart from possibly some good fire works and people bringing out the BBQ’s along the street for serving Babi Pangang and Ikan Bakar to passing guests.


Jakarta, Indonesia
posts: 2
3. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

Great, thanks for the heads up.

Will the availability and pricing be back to 'normal' when I head up to tuktuk tuesday february 4th?

Thanks for the fast reply!

posts: 945
reviews: 27
4. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

i agree that bukit lawang wont be affected much with CNY as there are little local chinese visitor there. but you can expect an increase in non chinese local visitor as it is a holiday afterall.

there wont be any full blown cny celebration anywhere in sumatera, you have to head to malaysia or singapore for that. having said that if you are in medan then head into cemara asri residential complex, they will have a pretty decent fireworks show and there is a huge buddhist temple in the complex, every year they held a bazaar and there will be floating lantern

posts: 307
reviews: 10
5. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

Yes, availability and pricing will most likely be back to normal on Febr 4. Only be aware that traffic may still be affected by outgoing traffic from Samosir and Parapat.


Penang Island...
posts: 3
reviews: 7
6. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

i'm planning a trip from either 3rd or 4th feb to 7th feb

i'll be arriving in medan airport on 3rd/4th feb 9am in the morning

do you think i'll be in time to catch the last ferry to samosir if i were to travel from medan to parapat on the day i arrive?

and what are the transport options available from medan to parapat (and the costs)

thank you

posts: 307
reviews: 10
7. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

Hello Sernsern,

Yes you will have ample time to catch the last ferry to Samosir. Last passenger ferry from Parapat (Tiga Raja Harbour) to Tuk Tuk is at 19.00 h. Last car ferry from Parapat (Aji Bata Harbour) to Tomok is at 21.00 h.

For transport options and costs see the following thread, especially Post Nr 8.


Horas !!! Horas !!! Horas !!! WELCOME TO SAMOSIR

Penang Island...
posts: 3
reviews: 7
8. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

thank you for your swift reply!

posts: 307
reviews: 10
9. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

A kind of High Season in Tuk Tuk

While just enjoying my Sunset Beer in the Warung I was surprised with ‘The Parade’, the number of Cars coming in to Tuk Tuk from the car ferry. Not only the number of cars coming in to Tuk Tuk, but also the cars going the other way out again. The passengers of the cars going out having already unsuccessfully tried to find a budget place in their choice of accommodation and now searching for an acceptable still cheap alternative. Most of the cars are fully loaded and a normal Kijang Innova normally having 7 seats apart from the driver transports easily a Family of 15 or more. Quite some of those cars, the passengers being hungry after the long waiting time for the ferry, stop at Fajar Islam, just some 100 meters from my observation point, for the real Halal Food. Fajar Islam now since midday almost also operating on a 24 h a day schedule like the car ferries.

Since yesterday midday we have a new car ferry schedule from Parapat from to Samosir. It is not the regular once in 3 hour car ferry service from Ajibata Harbour to Tomok anymore but two car ferries operating non-stop 24 hrs a day. Waiting time for the car ferry at this moment June 26, at 19:00, is about minimum 5 hours which is about the same as yesterday evening at the same time. So a car arriving now at Ajibata Car Ferry Harbour, fully loaded with guests looking for a cheap accommodation in Tuk Tuk will most likely, with a little bit of luck arrive in Tuk Tuk just after midnight.

The real budget accommodations which are normally empty during this time of the year are very happily surprised and have consequently already happily doubled or tripled their room rates.

The only reason I can think of for this ‘Out of the Blue’ kind of High Season in Tuk Tuk is the combination of the School Holidays and the start of the ‘Holy Month of Ramadan’ in a few days. So local families and their children are coming from Medan, Berastagi, Tebing Tinggi, Pematang Siantar and the like for enjoying Lake Toba, the cool if not cold climate, the scenery, first class Halal Food and most exciting activities like Jet Skying and Banana Boating for the children. This afternoon, there was already a real shortage of Jet Skies and Banana Boats and families had to que up for their tickets.

This condition of course will only last till tomorrow, as all our current guests will have to report back to home in time for proper opening of the start of Ramadan.

Considering the above I would caution guests coming in to Tuk Tuk tomorrow, June 27, on a full passenger ferry from Tiga Raja Harbour, in their mind already practicing their exceptional negotiation skills in bringing down the ‘Low Season’ room rates. They may be in for a surprise, but the good news is, it will most likely be only for one night, after that ‘Go for it’.

Another part of good news: After exactly 21 days without rain, it it just starting to drizzle a bit. Let’s pray for a full Sound and Light Show, to help saving the crops of the locals, and let’s hope and pray that tonight just before the start of the Ramadan ‘The Blessings of Almighty Allah may shower upon us’.


posts: 2,174
reviews: 29
10. Re: Super High Season in Tuk Tuk, Samosir

In Bukit Lawang and Tangkahan July is very busy (starting from about now). All of the nicer guesthouses are booked up, there are no elephant rides available in Tangkahan in July. The week after Ramadan will be incredibly crowded with excessive numbers of local tourists throwing their rubbish into the river.

August is a little quieter but still very busy. By the beginning of September all will be quiet again, apart from a Sunday influx of local tourists, probably until Christmas.

In Bukit Lawang most of the tourists occupying the guesthouses are foreign, and the owners mostly do not operate low and high season prices, you pay the same price all your round.

Edited: 8:08 am, June 28, 2014
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