As the largest archipelagic country in the world with over 17,000 islands, there is so much more to Indonesia than Bali. Boasting rich flora and fauna, diverse culture, and hospitable people, the country’s tourism industry is never short of resources for attractions and destinations that you can add to your bucket list. Recently, the government launched the 10 New Bali Project, which aims to introduce more tourism hubs in the country! One of them is Lake Toba.
Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world is located in the province of North Sumatra on the island of Sumatra. It is home to the Batak ethnic group. The enormous lake is surrounded by seven regencies: Samosir, Toba Samosir, Simalungun, North Tapanuli, Karo, Dairi, and Humbang Hasundutan.
There are two gateways: Silangit International Airport and Kualanamu International Airport. If you are coming from Manila, there’s no direct flight to either airport, so you need to do a stop or transit at Jakarta. Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta connects the capital city to many other cities in Indonesia. Arriving at either Silangit or Kualanamu, you must go to the town of Parapat in Simalungun Regency, located on the edge of the lake and the usual jumping-off point to Lake Toba, providing the shortest eastern link to Samosir Island.
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From Silangit Airport
Silangit Airport is located in Siborong-borong, North Tapanuli, North Sumatra. The airport is undergoing renovations and development to further serve the area, especially Lake Toba.
- From Silangit Airport, there are limited transportation services as of the moment, but Damri Bus covers tourism routes around Lake Toba including a service shuttle to Parapat. Other options are booking a private transfer or taking a GrabCar service. Note that when you book a private transfer, give the company or the driver a heads up if there are changes in your flight schedule. The travel time to Parapat from the airport is more or less 2 hours. The fares are around IDR 25,000 (PHP 93, USD 1.7, EUR 1.6) for local buses and around IDR 350,000 (PHP 1300, USD 25, EUR 23) for taxis.
- If you like to go to Samosir Island, located right in the middle of Lake Toba, go to Port Tiga Raja (also Simalungun Port) in Parapat and take a ferry. The fare is IDR 15,000 per person (PHP 55, USD 1, EUR .97). The ferries can take you to different points on the island including Tomok Village, Tuktuk Village, and Ambarita Village. The travel duration is 30-45 minutes.
From Kualanamu Airport
Kualanamu Airport is located in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra. It serves North Sumatra’s capital, Medan, which is over 160km from Parapat. To reach Parapat, you have two options: train and bus. Unless you are a big group, taking a taxi or booking a private transfer is quite expensive considering the distance. If you plan to explore Medan before going to Lake Toba, other transportation options from the airport to the city center is Grab and GoJek.
- From the airport, there’s an airport rail link. This conveniently links the airport to the Medan Main Station. The fare is IDR 80,000 (PHP 296, USD 6, EUR 5). The travel duration is 30-35 minutes.
- From Medan Main Station, take the Siantar Ekspres Train (U58) to Pematang Siantar Station. Note that there is only one trip scheduled daily at 2PM. It’s better to be there an hour early. The fare is IDR 22,000 (PHP 82, USD 1.5, EUR 1.4). The travel duration is around 4 hours.
- From Pematang Siantar Station, take a bus to Parapat. The fare is IDR 20,000 – 40,000. Travel time is about an hour or two, depending on the traffic condition.
- If you are planning to visit Samosir Island, go to Port Tiga Raja and take a ferry for IDR 15,000 per person. The travel duration is 30-45 minutes.
- Via Amplas Bus Terminal. From the airport, take the Damri Bus to Amplas Bus Terminal in Medan. The fare is IDR 15,000. Travel time is around an hour or two, depending on the traffic condition. From Amplas terminal, get on a bus to Parapat. The fare is IDR 45,000 (PHP 167, USD 3, EUR 2.9) and travel time is approximately 4 hours. You can take a ferry from Tiga Raja Port if you are visiting Samosir Island.
- Via Paradep. At the airport (Sutomo St), take this bus to Pematang Siantar for IDR 55,000 (PHP 204, USD 4, EUR 3.5) per person. Then take a bus or shared taxi to Parapat for IDR 20,000 – 40,000. The total travel duration is approximately 4 hours. Take the ferry at Tiga Raja Port if you plan to go to Samosir Island.
- Via Nice Trans. At the airport (Sutomo St), you will find this direct service to Parapat. The charge is IDR 450,000 (PHP 1670, USD 32, EUR 29), good for three pax. Travel time is about 4 hours. If you are staying in Samosir Island, take the ferry at Tiga Raja Port.
Top Hotels and Resorts in Lake Toba
Here are the best-reviewed accommodations in Lake Toba as scored by Agoda users.