The Magical Land: North Sumatra


A haven for surfers, Nias offers a string of beaches with spectacular waves. (Burufly)

Lake Toba, Samosir Island, Nias, the island’s stone-jumping ceremony, Bukit Lawang with orangutans inhabiting its hills, Arabica coffee of Mandailing, and many more are the bounties of nature and culture of North Sumatra.

The capital city Medan is a multicultural port town with a significant role during the heyday of Malacca Strait. Start exploring from there and be ready to experience a sublime journey of crossing borders – marvel in the friendliness of the locals, taste the traditional delicacies, and bask in the lushness of tropical rain forests.

The fourth biggest city in Indonesia, Medan houses are surrounded by many interesting historical buildings, landmarks such as Masjid Raya (Grand Mosque), Maimun Palace, the old post office and a European-style city hall building – now operating as a hotel.

Also fascinating is the mansion of Tjong A Fie, Asia’s richest tycoon who lived in early twentieth century. The perfect way to get around and see the city’s attractions is by using the ubiquitous motorbike called ‘becak’. Hop on and set off for a fantastic culinary trip.

The various cultural influences are responsible for Medan’s mouthwatering authentic dishes. Check out the classic Chinese menu in Pasir Putih Restaurant, try Titi Bobrok’s Mie Aceh with crab, sit for dinner at Tip Top Restaurant that has been around since the Dutch era and have durian pancake dessert at the legendary Nelayan Restaurant.

For those who prefer a colder climate, try visiting Berastagi, a mountainous area 66 kilometers from Medan. One of the main agricultural producers of the province, Berastagi is where you can expect to enjoy the presence of heaps of fresh vegetables and climb two active volcanoes Mount Sibayak and Sinabung.

Trek further to Bukit Lawang National Park to play with the orangutans. Another lovely activity to do is to visit a rural Karo village, from where you can continue your trip to Lake Toba, one of the world’s largest lakes.

Nias is possibly North Sumatra’s diamond – its beauty is often overlooked because of the island’s distance and secluded nature. Located 100 km off-coast from Sibolga, once you step foot in Nias, you will be instantly enchanted by the striking purity of the island’s nature and culture. Everything seems as if they are untouched by modern civilization.

From Bawomatoluo village where stone-jumping ceremonies are held, see the even more remote villages of Hilisimaetano, Gomo and Hilinawalo Mazingo where the only Omo Hada, tribe chief’s house, still stands.

The traditional Nias people still duly apply their old heritage in their everyday life. This often gives tourists a new perspective on life and is a moment of enlightenment. Always a haven for surfers, Nias prides its string for beaches with spectacular waves like Sorake and Lagundri, as well as islets like Asu, Bawa and Hinako.

And yet there are still innumerable nature’s gifts that are spread out in North Sumatra’s enchanting land, to name a few are the two waterfalls Dua Warna in Sibolangit and Sipiso-piso in Merek, Marsala Island off-coast Sibolga, Tangkahan and Leuser Mountain National Park. –

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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One Response to The Magical Land: North Sumatra

  1. Anthony Flagiello says:

    It’s a shame the people of Indonesia have a group of muslims that have to cause trouble I’m talking about the miss world beauty pageant. I’ll save my opion as to I feel about these people.

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