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Medan Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 2 days

Best Time: May to September Read More

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"A melting pot of diversity."

Medan Tourism

The fourth-largest city in Indonesia, Medan is one of the most diverse areas in the country. With sprawling lawns, old government buildings, the heavy traffic and glistening new malls, Medan also offers an interesting contrast between old and new. Each ethnic group contributes to Medan's wide variety of food, making it an excellent place for food tourism, and a must-visit for foodies and connoisseurs alike. Lake Toba, in Medan, is the world's largest volcanic lake and is another popular attraction in Medan. 

Usually, Medan is overlooked by tourists as a mere transition point to Malaysia or other Indonesian cities, the island of Penang or the beautiful Lake Toba, but the city in itself has plenty to offer in terms of culture, food and sights. Medan is a cultural mix of many ethnicities and religions, so its landscape is dotted with Dutch buildings, mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples, churches and many other places of worship.

With people from almost all kinds of Asian ethnicities, including Chinese, Javanese, different Indonesian tribes, Southern Indians, and Northern Indians, Medan has a vibrant culture, making it a must-visit for tourists wishing to explore Indonesia.

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Currency in Medan

IDR is the official currency of Indonesia and is exclusively used everywhere. Therefore all currency must be compulsorily exchanged, for foreign currency is not valid in Indonesia. Cash is advisable in Medan, for aside from the major establishments, credit cards are not accepted.

Shopping in Medan

Cambridge square and Sun Plaza are the most popular malls in Medan, with the whole perimeter dotted with tiny caf_s and eateries, and with stores that can sell cheap knock-offs of expensive brands. The Central Market, which is the biggest market in Medan,opens at 04:00am till 10:00am in the morning. It has a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, spices and other produce, fresh from the Brastagi highland plantation, at very affordable prices. Rame Market is another popular market which opens at 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with plenty of cloth, dry fruit stores, and Chinese fabric stores.

Nightlife in Medan

Nightlife at Medan is not complete without drinking, and Medan is home to a large variety of bars, including karaoke bars, wineries, clubs and sports bars. Wine lovers should visit establishments such as Cava Lounge and The Vintage Wine Shop, and sports fans can visit Shoot Pool Lounge & Sports Bar. Other clubs with DJs include Medan Club and The Tavern.

History of Medan

Medan is known as the Paris of Sumatra, and is the most widely known city in the area, due to colonial settles concentrating in the area predominantly. After the arrival of the Dutch, Medan started to grow fast. In 1865 tobacco was introduced and Medan became a center for rich plantations. There were planters in Medan from many countries: England, the Netherlands, USA, France, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland. During World War II, it also came under siege with the rest of Indonesia. Since then, it has modernised relatively quickly and is one of the largest cities in Indonesia.

Language of Medan

The language commonly spoken in Medan is Bahasa Indonesian, with Javanese and Chinese, due to its largely cosmopolitan nature. English is spoken commonly too, due to European residents in the merchant town. Occasionally, Indian languages are also spoken. Hello (General Greeting): •Hi. Apa Khabar'ê I am fromÄ: •Saya DariÄê Pleased to meet you!: •Senang bertemu dengan anda!ê Good morning/evening/ night: •Selamat pagi/malam/tidur.ê

Medan Customs

Medan is also quite conservative, so tourists are advised to dress modestly and respect the customs that govern the region, including the prayer timings, specially during the month of Ramzan. Tipping also is prevalent in more expensive hotels and caf_s, but not other more traditional places.

Religion of Medan

Residents of Medan are mainly followers of Islam and Christianity, with many Buddhists and Hindus also a part of the population. Medan is filled with many religions, and is characteristically diverse, with many different places of worship around the city.

Daily Budget for Medan

Excluding accommodation, travellers on a shoestring budget should not need more than about IDR 15,000 - 20,000, and travellers on a moderate budget can operate on IDR 20,000 - 30,000, while more expensive travellers may spend any amount more than IDR 40,000.

Exchanging Money in Medan

The best places to exchange money is at the airport, and at a few outlets at malls.ATMs are conveniently located in shopping centres,urban office complexes, many convenience stores as well as in areas that tourists frequent.

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How to Reach Medan

How to Reach Overview

Medan can be reached by air and by road, preferably.

How to reach Medan by flight

Kualanamu International Airport, is about 40km from the city centre and handily connected to central Medan by frequent trains and buses. The air carriers in this airport include Garuda, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and AirAsia.

How to reach Medan by road

Taxis and cabs are the best way to get around Medan, besides the becaks(bicycle carts) in the city.

How to reach Medan by train

Medan Railway Station is the central railway station of Medan, which operates all intercity railways around Medan. It also operates railways around Sumatra. It is also connected to the airport via Railink.

How to reach Medan by bus

There are two major bus terminals in Medan. Tourists can purchase tickets from ticket offices outside the terminals. Most lodgings and numerous travel agencies can arrange a space for tourists on minibuses.

How to reach Medan by waterways

Medan is not near the sea but nearby Belawan is a major port with domestic and international boat and ferry services.

Local transport in Medan

Medan can be navigated with the help of taxis, motor becaks(motorcycle-driven carts) and buses. It is advisable for tourists to accept metered taxis only, and to beware of the heavy traffic in case of becak rides or walking through the city.

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Medan, Indonesia

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FAQs on Medan

What is the local food in Medan?

One of the most famous places in Indonesia for its eclectic combination of food from all over Asia, Medan is truly a place for food tourism. Sundanese food, Javanese food, Indian food, Chinese food, Balinese food and fusion cuisine are all available in abundance. The usual Indonesian dishes like cendol and gado gado are available, along with rarer Sundanese food like Nasi Liwet ( a rice dish cooked in coconut milk, chicken broth and spices). There are also many varieties of coffee, with Malay-style noodles and rice. There is also plenty of Chinese-Indonesian fusion food, in addition to Middle-Eastern and Indian options.
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What are the places near Medan?

The top places near to Medan are Bali which is 2253 km from Medan, Jakarta which is located 1414 km from Medan, Kuala lumpur which is located 338 km from Medan, Georgetown which is located 273 km from Medan, Lombok which is located 2385 km from Medan

What are the things to do in Medan?

The top things to do in Medan are Lake Toba, Tjong A Fie Mansion, Mesjid Raya Mosque, Annai Vellangkanni, Maimoon Palace, Sri Mariamman Temple. You can see all the places to visit in Medan here

How much does a package cost for Medan?

The packages for Medan start at INR 5072 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What is the best way to reach Medan?

Medan can be reached by air and by road, preferably.
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What is the best time to visit Medan?

The best time to visit Medan is all year round as the temperature generally stays within the comfortably warm range of 20-30 degree Celsius. It also rains almost throughout the year but is the heavier during the autumn and winter months of September and December. Therefore, it is advisable to visit Medan in this time-frame, as none of the activities that are popular in the area would be possible in the rainy season.

However, humidity is predominant even during the winter months in Medan. The rain, although, is regular, it doesn’t stay for all day long and hence, it won’t be a barrier for one to travel around. One must avoid the big public holidays while planning their trip to Medan as all reasonable accommodations options get filled by that time. May to September is considered as the dry season. If one wishes to visit Medan during the warmest time, plan the trip anytime in April, May and June. The place has hot and humid weather generally but the least humid month is June and the most humid month is December.
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