Lake Toba Oktober 21, 2008Posted by syairdunk in Tourist Destination.
Lake Toba used to be popular tourist destination but now not many tourist come, which means many services, no crowds, cheap prices and friendly locals grateful for your business. It is a great laid back place to chill out for a few days after jungle trekking etc. The location is very popular with Chinese tourists around the Chinese New Year, when availability drops dramatically and accommodation costs are known to sky rocket.
The main town is Parapat, about 4 hours by car from Medan (4-6 hours by public bus). Public Bus fee is 18,000 IDR. A scheduled and shared 7 passenger minivan costs 60,000 IDR and can be arranged by most hotels in Medan (Feb 2008 price). A private taxi costs about 600,000 IDR one way from Medan (Feb 2008 price).
Another great way to get to Lake Toba is by train. Two or three trains leave each day in that direction and you want to get off either at PT Siantar or Tebing Tinggi (note: the train stops at one or the other). The train is a wonderful way to travel. Once you are in your seat and have a stream of buskers, food vendors and friendly local passing by you will know why this is often the best way to travel overland.
From Siantar (1 hour Taxi) or T Tinggi (2 hour Taxi) you will need to hire a taxi or a bus for road transport to Parapat.
Local transportation around the lake takes the form of boats (cheaper, school boats with limited schedules and more expensive public boats that operate throughout the day).
Public Boats from Parapat and surrounding areas sail from either Ajibata or Tigaraja to Tuktuk or Tomok at Samosir Island. The fee is 7,000 IDR per trip. There is also bigger ship which transports Cars and Busses sailing between Tigaraja and Tomok.
Hire a motorcycle for a day or two and get out and about (Rp.70,000 per day inclusive of 4 litres of petrol). Take a map. There are no police checking licenses and there is not much traffic – just watch out for the big trucks, buses and diabolical bridges. A good journey to take on a motorcycle would be to travel North from Tuk Tuk around to the western shore, stopping at the tourist sites along the way such as the many and varied traditional houses and villages. The roads are very bad in the centre of the island (bumpy and washed out) and it takes half a day to cross this way (verse 1-2 hours by coast road which is more scenic anyway). You can expect to ride at least up to 100km in the day.
It may be obvious but just remember there are no taxis around Tuk Tuk. Sure you can walk the small part of the island in an hour or so but if you are heading out for the night plan ahead on how you will get back home. The locals are very friendly people. WONDERFUL PEOPLE who will go out of there way to help. However, some corners of the island are very quiet at night and you may find yourself on a long long walk.