The people of the region can be divided into five main ethnic groups and languages: The coastal Malays, living along the Malaka Straits, the Bataks, consisting of the sub-tribes around Lake Toba and Samosir Island, are Karo, Toba, Dairi, Simalungun, the Angkola or Mandailing of the southern Tapanuli, and Nias Islanders off the western coast of the province. These groups each have their own dialects, religious groups live in the Medan and other towns of North Sumatera, the largest of these being Chinese and Indian.

Tourist Events

Danau Toba Festival will be held in a week in Lake Toba and performs traditional sports, boat race, cultural attractions, horse race, watersports race and crafts fair.



Crocodile Farm at Asam Kumbang is 10km from the heart of the city, with nearly 2,000 crocodiles of different sizes and species. It is open from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm.


Tangkahan’s combination of vegetation and topography makes it a marvelous tourist spot rarely found elsewhere. The Batang Serangan and Buluh rivers, converging exactly in this zone, are typical of rainforest streams, with diverse varieties of vegetation and colorful rocks and Sumatran elephants on their banks. The clear, bluish green river water against the panoramic view creates a mystical atmosphere. Fly to Medan the capital North Sumatra Province and proceed with cars or public transport from Pinang Baris Bus Terminal in Medan to Tangkahan, located three hours from the province’ capital. The Best Season to visit is June to October every year.


Brastagi is a lovely tourist town in the Karo highlands, 70 km on the way from Medan to Lake Toba. Brastagi is famous of which is the ‘Marquisa’ passion fruit. The local markets are swarming with activity and scenes from  traditional Karo life. Days are extremely pleasant and nights can be quite cool. Gundaling Hills provides a clear view of Mt. Sibayak and Mt. Sinabung volcanoes, there is a pleasant colonial-style hotel with a golf course.


Lake Toba-Parapat is the largest lake in Southeast Asia with a surface area about 1,145 sqkm and the deepest lake in the world, over 450 meters deep. The town of Parapat is the main tourist resort and lies on the shores of the lake. The Batak Toba and Batak Simalungun peoples of Parapat are happy, easygoing people, known for their lively and sentimental love songs. In Parapat, there area facilities for swimming, water skiing, motor boating, canoeing fishing and golf. The climate is cool and dry, and ideal place to relax. There is a plethora of Hotels, bungalows, villas and guesthouses. Parapat is 176km from Medan and can be reached in 4 hours by bus.


Jangga Village is located on the edge of Simanuk-manuk Mountain, 24km from Parapat. It is famous of its weaving the beautiful ‘ulos’ cloth. There are monuments of King Tambun and King Manurung, rows of traditional houses.


Lingga Village is 15km from Bastagi, a traditional Karo village and still preserved and inhabited today.


Samosir Island situated in the middle of Lake Toba is accessible by regular ferries from Parapat. The original home of the fierce Toba Bataks, the island has many sites of stone tombs and traditional villages. The villages of Tomok, Tuk-tuk, Siallagan, and Ambarita are noteworthy. Transportation can be arranged through your hotel or rent a motorcycle for a day’s adventure on the island. Accommodation of various styles and standards are readily available.


Sipiso-piso waterfall is located on the north side of Lake Toba, 24km from Kabanjahe, the 120m waterfall is visible from gazebo near the food and souvenir stands.

9) Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang is about 3 hours by car from Medan. Its main attraction are the Orang Utan rehabilitation center, crossing the Baharok river and climbing steep, jungle-clad hills it it located at the south of the Mount Leuser National Park.