The fourth-largest city in Indonesia, and comfortably the largest on Sumatra, Medan is an exciting place to spend time. Bursting with energy, it’s a city that offers historical sights, great food, nightlife, and access to the famous rain forests of the island. These are things “What To Do in Medan”:
1. Feel The Serenity
Vihara Maha Maitreya is the biggest non-historical temple in southeast Asia and one of the most popular destinations in all of Medan. The temple was completed in 1991 and acts as both a tourist attraction in Sumatra as well as a place of worship for local Buddhists. The complex is divided into three rooms, two for worship and one that acts as a reception banquet hall, though the structure remains open and free from extra adornment, helping to add to the temple’s sense of sacred calm.
2. Be Sultan For A Day
Step back in time with a visit to the luxurious tropical Maimoon Palace located across from the Masjid Raya Al-Mashun Mosque. The palace was constructed in the late 19th century by Sultan Ma’mun Al Rashid Perkasa Alamyah and realized by Dutch architect Theodoor van Erp. It is popular not only for its historical nature but also for its unique blend of multicultural interior decor, featuring elements of Malay, Indian, Islamic, Spanish, and Italian furnishings. Maimoon Palace is the official residence of the Sultan of Indonesia, though today it functions mainly as a museum dedicated to the history and culture of Indonesia.
3. Take The Plunge
Get outside of the city for a day of fresh air and visit the stunning plunge Sipisopiso waterfall in the Batak highlands! Located just 100 kilometers from Medan, Sipisopiso is the highest waterfall in Indonesia and attracts thousands of visitors a year. The water comes pouring out from a small river inside the Lake Toba caldera, dropping some 120 meters into the lake below. There are several vistas which offer the best views of the falls to grab that perfect travel photo.
4. Join The Throng
Grab some local produce alongside locals at the largest market in Medan, situated near Centre Point Mall and the Hotel Karibia. Medan is famous throughout Indonesia and southeast Asia for having some of the most diverse and delicious food due to it’s expansive immigrant population. Here you can buy fresh ingredients to try cooking yourself, or grab some ready prepared food from local stalls. Whatever food takes your fancy, make sure to try to durian fruit, which is grown locally in North Sumatra!
5. Give Something Back
Visit the newly established Integrated Mangrove Tourism Village, the first ever mangrove tourism village in the world, for a more sustainability-focused tourist activity. Mangroves are indigenous to Indonesia and are primarily used for export-quality products, though they also serve as a coastal barrier and shock absorber for huge tsunami waves. The tourism village project, which started in 2013, aims to both educate the public about the importance of nature conservation while also providing jobs to help stimulate the local economy. Spend a few hours walking around the fields and talking with enthusiastic locals to learn how you can get involved in similar conservation projects back home.