Global Rate : 17.47 /20
Ratings by criteria :
Ratings by backpackers :
Description : The biggest caldera lake in the world, the biggest lake
in SE Asia (1265 km2, twice the size of Singapore !), the
cradle of the civilisation of the Batak people, one of the most outstanding
sight of Sumatra.
The island in the middle (Samosir) is the most touristic area, in particular
around Tuk-Tuk Siadong.
What to do ? Refresh yourself : it is cool at an altitude of 900m / Follow
the crowd : visit the GH, restaurants and shops of Tuk-Tuk Siadong / Start a
collection of Batak handicrafts / Tour traditional Batak Houses or a big Royal
House hosting a museum / Watch Batak dances / Make sand castles / Swim in
the clear water / Trek the island / Go up for a great view / Visit markets
/ Relax in Hot Springs / Pay respect to King Sidabuar on his tomb / Go round the
island on motorbike / Learn Indonesian cuisine or wood sculptures / Go to church
on Sunday hear the gospel : most Tobo Batak are religious / If rich, play water
ski or catamaran / Listen to horror stories about former prisoners
What you may not like ? The business and bizyness / The
size of the place, making bicycle too slow / Some theft problems in the
rooms / The poor exchange rates on the island / The disappointing Hot
Springs / The not too clear water at some spots / Some bad bridges, making
transport at night adventureous / Discovering that Samosir is not really an
island as connected to the mainland at Pangururan / Some greedy guides / The
lack of English of the locals : that's adventure !
How long ? Three days at least !
Where to stay ? Most accomodations are located on the
Tuk Tuk Peninsula. Going anti-clockwise, from south to North :
Bagus Bay (41481), in the south, first stop of the ferry / Dorm (6) w.
shower 5000, small Sgl 7500, Dbl 10000, Dbl w. shower & MN in Batak House
15000, Trpl w. HW shower 20000 / Restaurant / Go there for the nicest dorm, the
friendly atmosphere, the activities (volleyball, badmington, basketball, ping
pong, mini golf, pool table), the daily English newspapers,... / What you may
not like : the water from the lake is not too nice (seaweed) at this location
Tabo Cottages (0625) 41614, e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org,
east of the above / Budget Trpl w. shower 15000, Sgl w. HW shower & private
veranda 25000, Dbl w. the above plus view on the lake 35000, Loft Batak (3) w.
also fan, mini bar and panoramic view 45000, Villa Batak w. king size bed
(another bed for 2 upstair), HW bathtube, etc 100000 / Add. bed 10000 / Prices
negotiable depending of the season / Restaurant, internet (55000 to 125000 depending on the time !), massage, laundry,
video,... / Go there for a bit of luxury
Linda's GH (0625) 451223, up the hill from the above / Dbl by the lake w.
shower 10000, Trpl w. HW shower 15000 / Restaurant, motorbike, video
& satellite / Friendly family atmosphere
Horas' Homestay, south of the above / Dbl w, shower 5000 (1) or 6000 (2)
/ Bicycle (15000) & Motorbike (45000) / Restaurant / Go there for the
cheapest rooms, the intimate size (4 rooms), the friendly family, the clear
water and to listen to the guitar. But of course, the rooms are basic.
Elsina GH (0625) 451067, south of the above / Trpl w. shower
10000 / Common HW shower / Restaurant, motorbike / Same as above (6
rooms only) without the guitar but videos and a nice view
Vandu's GH (0625) 451082, south of the above / Trpl (2 mattress
+ Sgl bed) w. shower 5000, Dbl w. shower 7000 / Same as above (6 rooms), the
cheapest Trpl and the opportunity to learn Indonesian cuisine
- Carolina Hotel (0625) 41520, fax 41521, second
stop for ferry / Dbl w. shower 20000, same but new 30000, same but on the
"beach" 40000, w. HW shower 50-60000, w. bathtube & minibar
65-75000, Family room (4) w. living room & on the beach 180000 / Add bed
20000 / A nice hotel with garden & greenery for relaxation, clear water for
swimming and video + satellite for westernization.
Sibigo GH (0625) 451074 / Dbl w.
HW shower 15000 / Restaurant, motorbike, video, laundry,... / Go there
for the correct rooms (10 in all), the garden, the clear water and the family
Pizzeria Rumba, north of the above / Very basic rooms w. shower 3000 / The
cheapest room but those are not it's strongest point / Pizza for Rp15000 +
Rp1000 per topping / Musical & friendly atmosphere / Organize boat tours to
the surroundings for 50000 (min 7 people)
Merlyn's GH, north of the above / Trpl (dbl bed + mattress) w. bucket shower in
batak house 8000, Dbl w. shower 15000 / Restaurant, video, live batak music,
clear water and intimate size (4 basic rooms)
Matahari GH, north of the above / Dbl w. shower 10000 / Restaurant, nice garden
and clear water but basic rooms (9)
- Bernard's GH, north of the above / Big room w. HW shower and lake view 20000 /
Special price for groups (16 rooms)
Hisar's GH (0625) 41506, north of the above / Dbl w. shower in basic
Batak House 10000, better 15000, w. HW shower 25000 / Go there for the family
atmosphere (10 rooms), the nice little garden, the nice view and the clear water
- Maroan GH, north of the above / Dbl w. bucket
shower or in basic Batak House 10000, w. shower and near the lake 15000 / Canoe
(Rp100000, Tube (Rp3000), Mountain bike & Motorbike / 38 rooms /
Restaurant, big garden and clear water
Romlan GH (0625) 41557, north of the above / Batak House w. Dbl
(Rp10000) plus one Sgl dowstairs (Rp5000), common shower next to the house /
Batak House (2 beds) by the lake w. bucket shower & MN 15000 / Nice Dbl by
the lake w. shower 15000, w. HW shower 25000 / Restaurant, nice little garden
with trees, nice view, free canoe, video, play station, motorbike,
books,... / Go there for one of the best deal in town, in a secluded place with
its private jetty
Hotel Sumbar Pulo Mas, north of the above / Dbl w. shower 10-15000 / No
restaurant / Friendly welcome but rather for the locals.
Tarian's GH, north of the above / Dbl by the lake w. shower 7000 /
Restaurant / Go there for the very intimate size (2 rooms) and the good quality
- Rodeo, north of the above, center of the
Peninsula / Dbl w. shower 15-2000 / Restaurant, mountain bike &
Panorama GH & Cafe (0625) 451120, north of the above / Nice Dbl w. HW
shower but expensive at Rp69000 / Restaurant, nice view, clear water, video,...
/ Go there to play water ski (Rp120000 per hour) or catamaran (Rp160000 for 2
hours) / 3 rooms only
Lekjon GH (0625) 41578, north of the above / Dbl w. shower 10000, w. HW
shower and facing the lake 15000 / Restaurant, Batak music & dances on
Tuesday & Saturda, video, music, motorbike (45000) / Go there for the good
quality price ration (24 correct rooms) and the good atmosphere
Popys GH, north of the above, after Gorkon Library / 6 basic Dbl w.
shower 7000 / Restaurant w. noce view / Go there for the good price, to cook and
to learn how to cook. Also possible to buy old Batak Houses
- Juditha GH (0625) 451265, north of the above / Dbl w. shower 10000, w. HW shower
15000 / Motorbike / No restaurant but can cook by yourself
Anju Cottage, (0625) 451265, north of the above, same family as the above /
Correct rooms w. shower 10000 (LS) or 20000 (HS), w. HW shower 15000 (LS) or
25000 (HS) / Restaurant,
video, mountain bike (expensive at 20000), motorbike, canoe (70000)
Samosir Cottages (0625) 41050, fax 451170,
north of the above / Big Dbl w. HW shower 20-35000 dpending on the view,
small flats w. two bedrooms and living room 60=70000 / Restaurant, video,
ping pong, motorbike, internet (50-150000) / Go there for one of the nicest resort, the
good quality price ratio, the friendly team, the nice view & clear
- Abadi (0625) 451195, west side of the
peninsula, 400m from the above / Dbl w. shower 7000, Sgl w. HW
shower 12000, Dbl w. HW bathtuce 15000 / By the lake
- Tony's GH (0625) 451209, south of the
above / Dbl by the lake or in a little garden w. HW shower 15000, Trpl in
garden w. HW shower 20000 (2) or 25000 (3) / Restaurant, nice view &
- Sibayak GH (0625) 451186, south of the
above / Dbl in basic batak house by the lake w. shower 7000 (2), w. HW
shower 15-20000 / 10 houses / Nice view & friendly team
Yogi's GH (0625) 451232, a bit outside
of the peninsula, in a less touristy area / Dbl in basic batak house w. MN
but outside shower 7000, Dbl by the lake w. shower & MN 8000 / Go there
for the quietness, the family atmosphere (family meal), the possibility to
cook & learn how to cook and to learn wood sculpture (Rp10000 per day)
Nina's GH (0625) 451150, 300m North of the above / Basic batak
houses by the lake 5000 per person / Restaurant w. vegetarian menu, video /
Go there for the relative isolation, the nice view & clear water and to
learn how to cook with friendly Nina.
Where to eat ?
Plenty of places so you won't starve ! Leo's jazz blues restaurant & cafe
(near Elsine GH & Hora's Homestay) offers video, pizzas & happy hour
from 18:30 to 21h30. Reggae bar (near Samosir & Anju cottages) boost a pool
table. Much more places all around : test them !
Bike or Motorbike ? Mountain Bike Rp15000 (sometimes down to Rp10000).
Motorbike Rp 45.000.
Internet ? At Samosir Cottages or : Rp50000-150000 Rp
depending on the time (cheapest after 11pm and on Sunday) or at Tabo
Cottages : Rp55000-125000 / If you need to write a novel to your friends,
you can go to Khim's internet gateway (0622) 24372,
No55, Jl Merdek at Siantar-Sumut. Rp60000 only but you need to take a local bus for Rp2500
(1/2h-1h to go to Parapat, then 1h to Siantar)
Change Money ?
Better to change in Parapat : poor exchange rates on the island !
How to reach the island ? Ferries leave Parapat
to Tuk-Tuk on the island every 30mn (at least in HS) from 7:30 to 19:30 (but
sometimes only until 18:00). It cost Rp1500. Different stops at different GH are
possible, tell the boat guys where you wishes to go before paying. From Tuk-Tuk
back to Parapat, boats every hour from 7am to 5pm. A few boats are also
available to Ambarita
Around a great lake ?
180km South of Medan, Danau Toba boosts impressive
statistics : 90km long, 285km of coats, average deepth of 450m but as much as
800m ! It is the result of a volcano collapsing on itself after an eruption
100,000 years ago.
A few places worth visiting :
- Ambarita (5km North of Tuk-Tuk) : traditional Batak Houses (Rp1500 plus a
negotiable guide if you wish) are the main attractions of this interesting
village. The guides will tell you about an execution ground (not too
insteresting : a few stones chairs around a table) where decapitated prisoners
were eaten by the cannibalistic villagers. There are also numerous souvenirs shops, several sandy beaches and a
little market on Thursday. It is also the
start of treks to the summit of the island (5 to 7 hours) with some
lodging available. Ferries to Parapat only
in the morning Ferries for Tongging (in the
north of the lake, 30km before Berastagi) also available.
- Simanindo (16 km North of Ambarita) : the big King's House
now host the Huta Bolon Museum. Batak dances are performed daily
at 11am. The market is hold on Saturday.
- Tomok (4 km South of Tuk-Tuk) : the main village of the east
coast boost the Tomb of King Sidabuar [LP ecrit Sidabatu. Je n'y suis pas aller mais ca doit
couter entre 1000 et 2000 Rp. C'est quand meme un peu ton "boulot" de
tester les attractions... Non ? Evites ce genre d'imprecisions !] plus
more souvenirs shops. You can also start a trek to Pangururan, with a possible
break at a Forest House
- Pangaruran (45 km from Tuk-Tuk,
on the west of the island, where it connects with the mainland). This is the
economic and administrative center, with a market every Wednesday. 3km away on
the mainland, the
hot springs aren't too exceptionals. 22km away, a
tower offers a great panoramic view over the Lake
It is possible to go round the island by motorbike in about
7hrs. Better to start by heading
South as the road is worse.
Backpacker's Tips : Sahat Manihuruk, USA
«It's also possible to take a bus from Medan to Samosir by travelling by road to the west side of the lake and crossing on the land bridge. It cost me Rp4000 for the 6 hours drive by minibus - and was worth it
all ! Also, under "What you may not like" on this page is listed, "lack of English of the locals." If someone travelling in North
Sumatra doesn't like the fact that the locals don't speak English, then perhaps that person would be better served by a vacation in Ames, Iowa. That way they won't even really have to deal with any discernable accent. Don't miss Pangururan on market day...It's a big weekly social event as well as a time to get some work done for the residents of the surrounding area.» Note
from Passplanet : I certainly agree that traveling is not about expecting
the same as home. But depending of places, English is more or less widely
spoken. This is probably what Matthieu meant.
Backpacker's Tips : Stephanie
Thullen, Mexico (Aug 01)
«Be careful if you go on motorbike or by foot across Samosir island. We believed the guidebook saying that trails are well marked, but that is far from the truth! We ended up getting lost by taking a wrong turn, and were lucky to make our way back, although in the wrong direction, about 5 hours later!
/ The hot springs at Pangururan are not worth the effort getting there. It is full of rubbish and not much to see.»
Buses around ? Regular buses go round the island. It
cost Rp2500 to go from Tuk-Tuk to Pangururan or Rp1500 for Simanindo.
Bus Schedules :
||50-65K / 70K / 100-115K
||AC / mini / luxe
(1) Minibus with Tobali Tour & Travel / By
public bus to Berastagi : from Parapat to Siantar (Rp3000), then to Kabanjahe
(Rp3500), then to Berastagi (Rp500)
Backpacker's Tips :
Bonnie Fournier, Canada (Nov 01)
« There are very few tourists travelling in Sumatra these days. Because
of this the tourist bus to Lake Toba and from Lake Toba to Bukittinggi is not running anymore. Options
are to take the luxury bus 135,000 with a/c and bathroom (book at least 2-3 days in
advance) 12-17 hours depending on road or the mini bus for 90,000 (usually unsafe, many breakdowns) or
to fly from Padang to Medan 491,000 one way.»