Bus from Medan to Lake Toba,Transport for Backpackers

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Sigale-gale in Batak House in Samosir in Samosir
Sigale-gale in Batak House in Samosir

Medan is the capital city of North Sumatera Province. It is the third biggest city in Indonesia. Medan is the main gate of North Sumatera for visitors from any other city in Indonesia or from other country like Singapore or Malaysia as Medan has International Airport. Most of the travellers will stop in Medan first before they continue their journey to any other place in North Sumatera like if they want to visit Lake Toba, the most famous place in North Sumatera.

Samosir Island, an island inside Lake Toba
In Samosir Island, an island in the middle of Lake Toba.

Why do you have to visit Lake Toba.

Lake Toba is the biggest natural lake in Indonesia and the largest volcanic lake in the world which is proposed to be included in the Unesco Global Geopark. Lake Toba was created by massive supervolcanic eruption that occured 69.000 to 77.000 years ago as prediction.

Picture of Lake Toba
Lake Toba.

Beside of the unique theory how Lake Toba was created naturally, Lake Toba is also nice to visit as it has unique culture and tradition. There is an Island inside Lake Toba known as Samosir Island. Most of the people living in Samosir Island is Batak Ethnic.

Lake Toba must be your bucket list to visit while you are in Indonesia or even you are travelling in neighbour country like Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand. It is really a nice place that worth to visit.

More info about Lake Toba please visit this link.

How to go to Lake Toba from Medan

There are several options to go to Lake Toba from city of Medan. If you ask the hotel where do you stay, some of them will suggest you to rent a car or going back to airport as they have shuttle directly to Lake Toba.

As my experience, i found the cheapest way to go from Medan to Lake Toba by bus. The bus will start from Terminal Amplas. Check this in Gmaps.

There is no exact schedule for the bus, normally they will go after getting full. And you do not have to book earlier, you can pay when you are already inside the bus and cost you IDR 40.000.

Read also : Jakarta to Yogyakarta by Bus

Read also : Transport from Yogyakarta International Airport to city centre

My Experience to go by bus from Medan to Lake Toba.

First time in Medan i stayed in Empire Inn Hostel because it was the cheapest at the time and the owner gave me permition to have early check in without additional charge. I stayed there for a night.

After check out i cancelled my plan to go directly to Lake Toba, because i want to stay more nights in Medan City. Then i moved to Uno Capsule Hotel. I stayed in Uno Capsule Hotel for two nights. This hostel has a great location in the city centre, very close to central train station. If you reach Medan by plane, you can take airport train to Medan Central Station and just walk around 600 meters to reach the hostel.

Before i checked out, i asked the receptionist how can i go to Lake Toba, and they suggested me to go to airport, then take a shuttle from airport to Parapat ( small port before crossing to Samosir Island), but i said that it will cost me more money to take a train from city center to airport then the shuttle to Parapat. And i asked if any possibility to go to Parapat in a cheaper way. And they informed me to go to Amplas Bus Terminal, and take a bus from Amplas Terminal to Parapat. So, i took the second option.

At hostel i met somebody from Finland, he is Henry. He also wanted to go to Lake Toba, so we decided to go together. From hostel to Amplas Terminal we went by online motorcycle taxi, it cost only around IDR 20.000 per person, you can download Gojek or Grab to go around Medan or any big city in Indonesia.

Finally we found the bus after asking somebody which bus is going to Parapat. The bus name is Sejahtera. After getting inside the bus, i noticed why the receptionist in hostel suggested me to go by shuttle from airport, because this is only economy class bus, without airconditioning. Not many tourist both domestic or foreign tourist going to Parapat using this bus. Only local people inside the bus. But it was okay because it just cost us IDR 40.000.

Luckily, i had a friend in my journey, i had partner to discuss. So the poor bus facility would not be a matter for us. The trip from Amplas Terminal to Parapat is around 4 hours, passing 2 cities in North Sumatera called Tebing Tinggi and Pematang Siantar.

Inside the Bus from Medan to Parapat
Inside the bus from Medan to Parapat

In Parapat we did not stop excactly in the port, we had to walk around 5 minutes to reach the port after stop. So tell the bus staff if you need to go to Parapat Port, due to the port is not the final destination for the bus.

In Parapat we met another traveller, his name is Art from Ukraine that going in the same bus with us. Next day, we go explore Samosir Island together.

Meet the other travellers on my journey to Lake Toba.

Boat from Parapat to Tuk tuk in Samosir Island.

Fery from Parapat to Tuk Tuk
Boat looks like.

In Samosir Island, there is a district called Tuk-tuk, this area is a location where many homestay available and where mostly backpackers stay in. A ferry from Parapat to Tuk-tuk will cost you IDR 15.000. It takes around 1 hour from Parapat to Tuk-tuk. It is not a modern boat, it more looks like a traditional boat.

I suggest you not to go from Medan late in the afternoon. Better you go from Medan before 12 pm, so you can reach the boat before 6 pm. I think that is the last time for the boat to go from Parapat to Tuk-tuk. Otherwise you need to stay a night in Parapat if you miss the last boat.

Homestay in Tuk Tuk

Bagus Bay Homestay
Bagus Bay Homestay.

In Tuk Tuk, We stayed in Bagus Bay Homestay. It has a great Location. Located excactly in Tuk Tuk Port. And the price per room is only IDR 70.000/night. The staffs are friendly, and there are bilyard table and volleyball court available.

In front of the homestay, there is a rent bike shop. So we can rent the motorcycle to explore Samosir Island. That is the best way to explore Samosir Island. FYI, there is not many public transportation in Samosir.


I hope this article will be useful for you guys. I am originally Indonesian. Most of my journey is sponsored by my own travel business in Yogyakarta City. Kindly please to support it by follow this IG account, jogjatour.tnt or You may please to check it on www.BorobudurPrambanan.com

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