Situated in the middle of North Sumatra in Indonesia, Lake Toba (also known as Danau Toba) is the largest volcanic lake in the world that you have got to include in your bucket must-visit list! The lake is a massive natural wonder that is formed from a supervolcano eruption over 75,000 years ago.

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Fun fact: A volcano is only considered “super” with the occurrence of at least one eruption of magnitude 8, which is the largest value on the Volcano Eruption Index (VEI). As a result, the explosion is capable of releasing 1,000 cubic kilometers of deposits!

Credit: DocBudie on Flickr

I had the opportunity to visit Lake Toba recently, and the trip left me truly in awe of its beauty – so much so that I NEED to share it with you! if you are looking for a destination for a short getaway, this 3D2N Lake Toba itinerary is your answer to a great weekend in paradise 😍

P.S. Here are 5 things you need to know about Lake Toba!

When to Visit

The best time to visit Lake Toba is during the dry months between May and September. The views are at their very best during these months as there are minimal clouds to rain on your parade (pun totally intended 😂). Do note that the golden month to visit Lake Toba is May, where the weather is perfect with comfortable temperatures – not too cold, not too warm.

Credit: Rachel on Flickr

It is also advisable to avoid visiting during Chinese New Year. This is when tourists flock Lake Toba by the dozens, and accommodation prices go up as a result. You wouldn’t want to be photobombed every now and then when you get your shutters clicking to the beautiful views along your trip, do you?

Credit: Anastassia Golitsyna on Flickr

The rainy months of winter mean grey skies and misty weather, hence making winter the low season for visiting Lake Toba. While the weather was foggy during my recent visit to Lake Toba in winter, there was minimal rain and the cooling temperature made it very comfortable to travel around. Maybe I was lucky, but I enjoyed travelling Lake Toba during the low season as prices were low (perfect for a budget trip!) and photo opportunities were aplenty!

Getting There

The most common way is to fly to Kualanamu International Airport in Medan. There are several budget airlines offering flights to Medan, so always be on the lookout for promotions to secure cheap flights for your trip 😊 The Kuala Lumpur – Medan route is popular among travellers due to the wide availability of daily return flights, making it easier to plan your trip to suit every occasion. The flight to Medan from KL only takes over an hour, so before you could settle down in your seat onboard your flight, you would have arrived!

Credit: @ngsaytar on Instagram

From Medan, continue your journey to Parapat (the closest town to Lake Toba) via a private taxi or car. The road trip will take you 5 hours, depending on traffic conditions. Your driver will drop you off at the ferry departure point in Parapat, where you can then board the ferry to Samosir Island. The island is located in the middle of Lake Toba (you read that right – an island in the middle of the lake!), so sit back and enjoy the lake breeze on your 1-hour ferry ride to your hotel.

Credit: @winniechongwieinn on Instagram

Note: Another option to get to Lake Toba is to fly directly to Silangit International Airport via AirAsia which offers a much shorter travel time to the lake. This relatively new route on AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur (launched in August 2018 before the route cancellation in March 2019, but fret not as the route will be restarting in May 2019!) offers convenience to travellers as it is now easier to reach Lake Toba! I personally took this option during my trip, and it did save me a lot of time due to the proximity of the airport to the lake. In fact, you are able to catch a glimpse of the beautiful lake from your flight upon descending! It only takes 2 hours to get to Parapat after your 1-hour flight to Silangit International Airport, so this option is a wise one for a 3D2N trip where you do not need to spend too much time on the road to get to the lake.

Day 1: Medan – Parapat (alternative: Siborongborong – Parapat)

To make the most out of your trip, choose to fly into Medan first thing in the morning. Not only is it cheaper to board the first flight in the morning, but you also have more time in your hands to explore Lake Toba when you arrive! Upon reaching the Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, make your way towards Parapat via a private taxi or car.

Along the way, request your driver to make a pit stop at the Sipisopiso Waterfall in Tongging Village. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in Indonesia with an impressive height of 120 meters!

Credit: @txarlesman86 on Instagram

The name “Sipisopiso” means “like a knife”, which came about from the cascading waters that fall onto the ground at high speeds – sharp like a knife piercing through. The water then flows into a short river that leads directly to Lake Toba. To get to the base of the waterfall, you can go down the steps but do note that it will take about an hour for you to reach the bottom. If you are not physically fit, you can opt to admire the beauty of the waterfall from the top – it is still a very beautiful sight to see!

Address: Tongging, Merek, Kabupaten Karo, Sumatera Utara 22173 Indonesia

Opening Hours: 24 hours

After taking in all the gorgeous views of the Sipisopiso Waterfall, continue your journey to your hotel in Parapat. With all the travelling you do on your first day it must be tiring, so get a good rest during your overnight stay in Parapat before you make your way to Samosir Island the following morning!

Credit: @ameliadh on Instagram

P.S. The last ferry to Tuk Tuk from Parapat departs at 7.00pm. If you are able to make it to Parapat by then, you can opt to board the ferry to Tuk Tuk in Samosir Island and check into your hotel there directly.

Alternatively, if you land at the Silangit International Airport in Siborongborong instead of Medan, you can board the DAMRI bus from the airport that will bring you directly to Parapat. The bus can be found at the parking area outside the airport compound. The ride is free, so you get to save money! As the ride only takes 2 hours (as opposed to 5 hours from Kualanamu International Airport), you can directly board the ferry to Tuk Tuk from the Tiga Raja Harbour in Parapat. Hence, do consider taking this option as it saves time and money (but you do not get to visit the Sipisopiso Waterfall as you would should you take the Medan route instead).

Day 2: Tuk Tuk – Tomok – Ambarita

Rise and shine! After a good night’s sleep, it’s time to get going on your second day at Lake Toba. Head to the Tiga Raja Harbour in Parapat first thing in the morning. The harbour is the place to be to catch a ferry to Tuk Tuk in Samosir Island. The boat runs every hour for Rp 15,000 (approximately RM4.30) per passenger. Enjoy the 1-hour ride towards the island as you marvel over the natural views of the vast lake. Remember to inform your ferry driver of the name of your hotel as he will drop you directly there!

Credit: rockaroundtheglobe on Flickr

As I travelled to Lake Toba during the low season, accommodation prices were low (thus making the budget traveller in me very happy 😂). I stayed in Romlan Guesthouse in Tuk Tuk which offered a very cheap nightly rate of RM50!

Credit: @romlantuktuk on Instagram

I occupied a double room with a balcony overlooking the picturesque Lake Toba, and the room even comes with an ensuite bathroom. Not only was my room spotlessly clean, the location of Romlan Guesthouse was also great as there were many restaurants within walking distance (it even has its own restaurant in-house!). My stay at Romlan was absolutely value for money, hence I’d really recommend the guesthouse if you are travelling to Lake Toba!

Address: Siadong 36, RI-22395, Tuktuk Siadong, Simanindo, Kabupaten Samosir, Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

Contact: +62 625 451386

Website

After checking in, it is time to rent a scooter to get around Tuk Tuk and beyond. Romlan Guesthouse offers scooters for rent, so do not hesitate to get one! Your trusty guide to get you around Lake Toba is none other than Google Maps.

First things first, head to Rumah Makan Islam MURNI for breakfast. It is situated a short 5-minute walk (or since you already have your scooter, it should only take a minute) from Romlan and offers a variety of dishes for you to choose from. Savour traditional Indonesian cuisine from gado-gado (Indonesian salad consisting slightly boiled, blanched or steamed vegetables with eggs and tofu) to mie goreng (fried noodles) at this humble halal food place!

Address: Jalan Lingkar Tuktuk, No. Kelurahan, Tuktuk Siadong, Simanindo, Kabupaten Samosir, Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

Opening Hours: 6.00am – 9.30pm, Monday – Sunday

Contact: +62 812 6499 175

Status: Muslim-owned

With your tummy well-fed from a hearty breakfast at MURNI, get on your scooter and ride in the direction towards Tomok. Your first destination is the Parhallow Viewpoint and Coffee Shop. You will ride past the Tomok village to get there, and the ride uphill towards the viewpoint is so picturesque you get to view the magnificent Lake Toba from a higher angle.

Credit: @neslohkuma_4711 on Instagram

At Parhallow, savour your cup of piping hot coffee or tea while overlooking the beautiful views of the lake. A cheap cup of delicious hot beverage with truly gratifying views, need I say more?

Address: Tomok, Simanindo, Kabupaten Samosir, Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

Opening Hours: 8.00am – 11.00pm, Monday – Sunday

Next, it is time to ride downhill back to Tomok village. Head towards the Batak museum in the village, where you get to enter the traditional house of the Batak tribe. The people of Batak have been living in Samosir Island on Lake Toba since the olden days.

The traditional Batak houses are raised and supported on a one-to-two-meter tall structure, meant to avoid floods and wild animals. Get a glimpse of the traditional Batak culture from the many artefacts and wood carvings on display in the museum! Outside of the museum, you can buy souvenirs from the many stalls along the sidewalk. Time to put your bargaining skills to test!

Address: Tomok, Simanindo, Kabupaten Samosir, Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

Opening Hours: 8.00am – 8.00pm, Monday – Sunday

After the visit to the Batak museum, it is now time for lunch! Get to Rumah Makan Padang Tomok situated by the main road of the village. From nasi soto (rice with soto, a traditional Indonesian soup consisting of meat and vegetables) to sate padang (a specialty satay from Padang made of beef) and mie ayam (chicken noodles), there is bound to be something to satiate your taste buds!

Address: Jalan Horas Desa Tomok, Parsaoran, Simanindo, Kabupaten Samosir, Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Contact: +62 853 6058 4763

Status: Muslim-owned

Now that your tummy is filled, get on your scooter and ride towards Ambarita. Trust me when I say the views along the journey will leave you in awe. Vast paddy fields on both sides of the main road towards Ambarita provide the unexpected postcard views that you will for sure make several pitstops to get your camera shutters clicking!

Credit: @winniechongwieinn on Instagram

In Ambarita, head to the Batu Kursi Raja Siallagan (Stone Chair of King Siallagan). The set of stone chairs under a big tree used to be the meeting venue of the king to discuss trials. Legend has it that prisoners found guilty at the court hearing were subsequently beheaded, mutilated to be distributed and eaten by locals afterwards, and leftovers were thrown into the lake 😱.

At the site, there are several traditional Batak houses in sight. You can even see Sigale-gale, traditional wooden puppets. It is said that spirits used to enter these puppets, causing them to move their hands to dance along to the rhythm of the margondang (the traditional music of the Bataks). Fret not though, the Sigale-gale is now operated from behind the puppet so don’t be alarmed if you see it dancing!

Address: Huta Siallagan, Siallagan-Pindaraya, Simanindo, Kabupaten Samosir, Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

Opening Hours: 6.00am – 6.00pm, Monday – Saturday; 11.00am – 6.00pm, Sunday

Contact: +62 822 2226 0098

With that, make your way back to Tuk Tuk. Time to chill and watch the sunset overlooking the ever so beautiful lake! Back at Romlan, you get to use the kayaks provided at the guesthouse for free! Make sure to practise due caution by putting on a safety jacket before you get down onto your kayak, especially if you do not know how to swim. It is important to note that Lake Toba is 505 meters deep, so things could really go wrong should you fall into the water!

For dinner, head down to Leo’s Restaurant. A must-try at Leo’s is definitely the fresh lake fish grilled to perfection. The fish is grilled on charcoal and you can taste its freshness in every bite! What better way to eat fish then to down it with delicious fruit juice? One thing to note about Lake Toba is how cheap the avocadoes are, so if you are an avocado lover (like me!) chances are you will order everything avocado in your meals at very affordable prices. I’ve lost count of how many glasses of avocado shakes I have ordered during my trip 😂.

Address: Jalan Lingkar Tuktuk, No. Kelurahan, Tuktuk Siadong, Simanindo, Kabupaten Samosir, Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

Opening Hours: 8.00am – 12.00am, Monday – Sunday

Contact: +62 813 7745 3783

Status: The restaurant has seafood options and is pork/lard-free. However, please note that alcoholic beverages are served. We advise readers to dine at your own discretion.

After dinner, head back to your hotel and chill by the lake. The cold breeze and sound of soft ripples of the waters will make you feel relaxed and comfortable!

Day 3: Samosir Island – Parapat – Medan (or Siborongborong)

It is your last day at Lake Toba 😭. After checking out of your guesthouse first thing in the morning, wait for the ferry to transport you back to Parapat for your transfer to the airport. As the ferries do not stop at the hotels along the lake unless prompted, you have to wave to the driver when a ferry comes in sight! It truly feels like flagging down a taxi, only thing is this is a ferry you are boarding instead of a taxi 😂.

Credit: DocBudie on Flickr

Note: Make sure you board the first ferry leaving Tuk Tuk for Parapat at 7.00am in order to make it in time for your flight back home. If you miss the first ferry out of the island, you will have to wait a full hour before the next one arrives! Let’s not forget the long ride to the airport from Parapat, so you really wouldn’t want to miss the first ferry. Also, if you are travelling back via the Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, do select a late evening or night flight back so you have enough time to travel to the airport from Parapat!

In Parapat, do take a stroll at the market nearby the harbour while waiting for your transfer. You can get great deals for avocados to bring back home with you! With that, you are headed to Medan (or Siborongborong, if your flight home is from the Silangit International Airport) to board your flight back home. How time flies 😢. As you leave Parapat with a heavy heart, you will come to a realization that Lake Toba is really huge that it is impossible to experience all that is has to offer on a 3D2N trip. You then make a mental note to return to this beautiful paradise again very soon to visit the many other viewpoints that offer fantastic views of the lake.

Credit: DocBudie on Flickr

It is my fervent hope that with this itinerary, I can somewhat tickle your fancy for adventure in Lake Toba! With the views so beautiful and the people ever so friendly, your trip will surely be an unforgettable one. Personally, my trip to Lake Toba is one that I will treasure for many years to come 😍.

P.S. Still not convinced? Reading this will make you book the next available flight to Lake Toba!

2 comments

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    • Atiqah Mokhtar
      Hi Hana! Thanks for reaching out. Meals can typically cost between 30,000 - 60,000 rupiah, depending on what you order (e.g. one dish meals vs. rice and side dishes), as well as what type of dishes - some of the fish/seafood dishes are often slightly pricier). Hope this helps!
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