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“Awesome lake toba!”
Review of Lake Toba

Lake Toba
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Private Tour: Karo Highlands and Lake Toba from Medan
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6 Day North Sumatra Highlights - Jungles Orangutans Lakes and Volcanoes
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Reviewed January 5, 2013

We did a long weekend in lake toba and loved it. We flew into Medan airport, recommend you organize a private taxi in advance it will avoid hassles of finding a taxi driving and being ripped off. Our hotel recommended a taxi company. We flew in on a Friday night and we decided to head straight to our hotel in Parapet. We were told to allow 4 hours for the trip from medan to parapet however it was hari raya weekend and it took us 8 hours! We stayed in Parapet the first night as the boats to Lake Toba stop running in the evening. The hotel will direct you to the local ferry terminal and boats left every half hour or so to LAke Toba. We stayed at Bagus Bay huts, we told the driver of the boat where we were staying and he dropped us off in front Bagus Bay. The accomodation are huts with fan only. Our hut was clean, beds were comfortable (not rock hard like I have experienced in many times traveling Asia) there was an ensuite with western style toilet and warm shower. we booked via email, i did however take a couple of weeks to respond to our email and confirm our booking if you don't have a couple of weeks to wait best to ring. Bagus Bay have a restaurant with delicious local and western food. We hired motor cycles from across the road and went exploring for a day, lake toba has a beautiful countryside with moutains and waterfalls. we checked out the hot springs it was about a hour and half drive from Bagus Bay. There was 7 of us and It cost us S$1.20 to hire out a private hot spring for one hour. The hot spring we went to was a titled pool and the water was super hot - very relaxing thou. Within a short walking distance from Bagus Bay there is are plenty of local restaurants serving cheap and yummy local dishes. There are also water activities and trekking to do. You can arrange for a massage from Bagus Bay from memory it cost S$6 for one hour. Lake toba is very relaxed place and we saw very few tourists.

2  Thank Ozzylivingabroad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 3, 2013

Many ppl say great or nice experience about lake Toba. Yeah... I have to admit that when I looking at the lake with the mountains arround, I see a breathtaking view..a magnificent God's creation. Very worth visit, especially when you stay a week or longer at the hotel beside the lake. There are so many hotels or bed and breakfast or homestay, in parapat or in tomok or in tuk tuk. Sleeping in ur room in the morning with the lake as your view is something priceless. If you stay in tuk tuk or tomok, you can visit, pasir putih beach,hot spring at pangururan, Batak museum and Batak dance, sigale gale, sidabutar king cemetery. But the very worth of all attraction is the lake it self. As an Indonesian I have to admit that the atractions are not well maintained from local government, so sad. When you want to get back to Medan to reach polonia airport, take the road via simanjarunjung where you can see the lake from other side and visit sipiso piso waterfall. And also stay one night in berastagi to visit taman lumbini or visit mount sibayak before get back to Medan. In Medan do some culinary, the food in Medan are worth a try. Lake Toba or Tao Toba in Batak language are worth visit... Even though it takes 4 hours ride from Medan. You can take the taxi from the airport or take local taxi like paradep taxi, karya agung and etc. ;)

2  Thank Sari T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2012

Most staff cannot speak English;
Cook tried to cater to guests' special dietary requirements.
Scenery at Tea house cafe was beautiful. One can see Mt Sibayak from there.

Thank ShirleyHoon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 24, 2012

The simple beauty of this wonderful place is just breathtaking. You really have to be there to experience. I've been there twice, once in the 90's and this Oct. Really hasn't changed much. It's just the peace and quiet that is really enchanting. Although to get to the main island is about 4 hours drive from Medan airport but the scenery along the way makes up for it. I strongly suggest a private car as a public transport will Really be uncomfortable. Make sure to stay at Samorsir and not the main land.
I suggest to take about 6 days for a comprehensive trip. You should start directly to Lake Toba first. Stay for about 2-3 days. Then go the Brastagi for 2 days. Then stay in Medan before flying back.

4  Thank damianteh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 21, 2012



FIRST DAY. Arriving to Medan’s Polonia International Airport. Polonia International Airport is visa-on-arrival point. Citizens from 63 countries are eligible to apply for the Visa-on-Arrival. The maximum stay permitted is 30 days and visa’s fee is 25USD. You can also pay equivalent amount in Indonesian Rupee (IDR). Airport itself is quite old but an advantage is close location (about 15 minutes) to the city. The airport's surprising name Polonia actually means Poland in Polish as it was constructed on plantation area once belonged to the late Pole, Baron Michalski…

We arranged transfer «Polonia Int. Airport – Medan» by taxi and then to Parapat ("Tiga Raja" harbour/jetty) by minivan. The roads leading to Parapat (Lake Toba) is adventurous and need to be especially mentioned. The local drivers think Michael F Schumachers all of them and race like if they are in an F1 court. Cars draft perilously close one behind another, overtaking in blind corners, completely disregarding for speed limits. They do tend to use the horn more often then drivers in other countries. Our trip took around 4 hours and it was really horrendous feeling…. Once you are near Lake Toba, everything changes. Traffic is still horrible but a picture of huge contrast compared to the scenes we saw along our journey to Parapat. No more humble houses and meek little shops, but the scenery turned into absolutely spectacular scene with views onto 500 meter cliffs dropping into the blue-green water of Lake Toba, surrounded by steep and pine-covered slopes. Sumatran tropical pine forest with the dominant Sumatran Pine deserves itself to pay attention.

Prapat is the main town on Lake Toba and the principal embarkation point for ferries to Samosir. After arriving at the "Tiga Raja" jetty, visitors have to take a boat/ferry to Samosir Island. The boat takes about 30 mins to reach the island within Lake Toba and gives one just an impression of how massive the lake and island within the lake really is.
Toba Lake was formed during a volcanic eruption about 73.000-75.000 years ago. Formed by a stupendous prehistoric volcanic explosion, the lake is the largest in Southeast Asia (100 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide) and one of the deepest and the highest in the world (906 meters above sea level with an average depth of 450 meters).

Most visitors stay on the peninsula of Tuk Tuk on Samosir. We stayed on Tuk-Tuk in Silintong Hotel for 3 nights. It looks like we were the only guests in this hotel that time. This “two star” rated hotel has a good location (Tuk-Tuk Siadong) and easily accessible from Parapat with boat: upon request the boat fetch you or pick up from private hotel’s pier. The hotel has a beautiful setting on Lake Toba with a lovingly tended garden between the hotel and the lake. Garden is kept with lots of flowering plants, especially orchids of various types.Our twin «moderate» room was not fancy but large and comfortable with a small patio opening out to the garden with set of megalith Idols.

This evening we had our fist dinner in Jenny's Restaurant. «Jenny's» is definitely one of the best around Samosir. It has a simple, but cozy décor with nice view over the lake. Jenny’s serves both Indonesian/Batak and western cuisines. Try fresh lake fish Tilapia, grilled or steamed, with sweet-and-sour or special peanut sauce; western-style food such as schnitzel (breaded pork) or roasted pork. It is simply delicious and really fresh. Fish is always cooked to perfection. During our stay in Tuk-Tuk we had one lunch and three dinners of the finest island cuisine here. It’s really great place to spend a couple hours enjoy good food in a great atmosphere.


SECOND DAY. This day we arranged minivan for one day trip around Samosir (40 USD) but as alternative option you could find almost everywhere offer for rental motorbikes and bicycles. One of the most interesting place is Hutasiallagan museum notable with its 300-year-old stone chairs of King Hutasiallagan-Ambarita (ancient court); the museum's guides in detail (!) tell you how in the past offenders were bound, blindfolded, sliced and rubbed with garlic and chilli before being beheaded and eaten. Huta Bolon Simanindo is another museum of traditional Batak houses, former home of Batak king Rajah Simalungun, where cultural performances of the Naposo dance (a marriage dance) and Sigalegale dance can be seen. Especially Sigalegale dance is very nice to watch. A wooden puppet representing a deceased son is moving by strings. The road from Tomok to Pangururan is scenic itself, and on the way to the western part of Samosir we enjoyed greens of rice field, multi-storey graves decorated with Batak-style house and numerous Batak villages with traditional wooden houses.

Nearby Pangururan (on the western part of Samosir, where a bridge connects Samosir island to mainland) we found «Mata Air Panas» or hot springs that the locals are proud of. We walked up to see the springs and some beautiful sulfuric crystals. The water is very hot. There are swimming pools, so you can take a dip. My advice to book private family pool (kolam renang) in «Edis Dayanto - Restaurant & Accommodation» (Aek Rangat, Pangururan, Samosir) that was reasonably clean.


THIRD DAY In the morning we enjoyed swimming off the stone wall as the sandy beach was choked with lake plants and not really suitable for swimming. The water in the lake is refreshingly cool. If it is enough clear you can even enjoy watching colourful freshwater fish like Gourami and Guppy, the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species in the world.

This day we walked to another main attraction of the island – the tombs of the ruling Sidabutar clan in Tomok. To get there, we walked southeast of Tuk Tuk, then onwards to a sideroad where there are many souvenir shops and Batak woodcarvers on both sides. Tomok was once the home to the Siallagan kingdom and the tombs of the ruling Sidabutar clan are the main attraction of this place. The tombs are decorated with carvings of Singa, mythical creatures with grotesque three-horned heads and bulging eyes. Tomok is also the final resting place of King Ompu Sonbuntu Sidabutar, one of the last Batak animist kings who embraced Christianity.

On the way back we tried to reach waterfall but unfortunately one hour later forced to change our mind as totally lost our way. Waterfall is one of the most beautiful sights and even visible from the spectator area located at the food and souvenirs stalls.


FOURTH DAY Drawback of this place was mosquitoes. There were so many that I was covered in bites after staying there and finally got Dengue fever coming back to Malaysia (that coincided with the incubation period 4–7 days, time between exposure and onset of symptoms). Definitely I cannot say that got Dengue fever in hotel area as actually mosquitoes were everywhere around Tuk-Tuk (including in hotel area).
The half of day we spend on the way back to Medan


FIFTH DAY In Medan we stayed in Grand Sakura Hotel for one night (check-in 13 Dec. 2011) and paid 261,000.00 INR (29.00 USD). Location is far from the city centre, general shopping and the couple of tourist attractions in Medan, but it seems to be not a problem as transportation in Medan is very cheap. House-keeping is very good, room is big and very clean. Overall it is good hotel, deserves its “three stars” and definitely it is good value for money.

Actually one day is enough to visit main attractions in Medan (Mesjid Raya Mosque, Maimoon Palace, Tjong A Fie Mansion, Lapangan Merdeka, Art Déco buildings from the Dutch colonial era, like the Old City Hall and Post office). Hotel shuttle bus to Polonia International Airport (Medan Airport) is 50,000.00 INR and upon request they can arrange pick up from airport and transport to Lake Toba.
The tricycle motorized rickshaw (“becak”) to Mesjid Raya Mosque and Maimoon Palace is about 15,000.00-20,000.00 INR. From Mosque/Palace to Tjong A Fie Mansion is about 10,000.00 INR.

Afternoon we departed back to Kuala Lumpur.

P.S. Some calculations from our budget:
• Visa fee on arrival at Polonia International Airport – 25 USD
• Transfer Polonia Int. Airport – Medan – Parapat ("Tiga Raja" harbour/jetty) by taxi+minivan is 100,000 IDR (per person)
• Boat trip from Parapat to Samosir Island 7,000 IDR (one way/one person)
• One day trip around Samosir (40 USD/per car) /have a talk directly with driver of minivan as it is more expensive in hotels or tourists offices (around 55 USD)/
• Admission fee to Hutasiallagan museum 10,000.00 IDR + for guided tour 20,000.00 IDR.
• Admission fee to Huta Bolon Simanindo museum is 30,000.00 IDR
• «Mata Air Panas» or hot springs (private family pool); fee for 1 hour/one person is 80,000,00
• Transfer Parapat ("Tiga Raja" harbour/jetty) – Medan (Grand Sakura Hotel) by car/minivan is 65,000 IDR (per person)

27  Thank Dr_Igor_1971
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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