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What To Do

Catch a glimpse of colonial era Indonesia

There’s a higher concentration of old-style architecture in Medan than anywhere else in Indonesia (and most places in Asia, for that matter) and for most visitors to the city, the interesting blend of styles leaves a lasting impression. There are officially 600 old buildings in Medan of all shapes and sizes, which the local tourist board has recently moved to protect from demolition. The “must sees” include the iconic Tirtanadi Water tower, which is often seen as a monumental mascot of Medan; the City Hall, complete with a bell appropriated from the old residence of Tjong A Fie, a Chinese industrialist who transformed Medan in the 19th century; and the grand old Post Office building in the city centre, decked out in orange and white.

Try some religious tourism

Industry and religion are the two pillars on which modern Indonesia is built and Medan is no different. The wealth of places of worship add to the impressive architectural tapestry, including the Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni Catholic church, which looks more like a Hindu temple and the octagonal Great Mosque of Medan, designed in a Moroccan style by the Dutch architect A.J. Dingemans. Completing the trifecta of denominations is the oldest Taoist temple in Medan: Vihara Gunung Timur, which is usually bustling with worshippers.

Get some thrills

Medan is home to a number of theme parks, including the largest in Sumatra, Hillpark Sibolangit. Located in the mountains outside the city, it costs about US$5 to enter the park, which is divided into three themed areas: Lost City, Toon Town, and Heritage. Attractions include the traditional Ferris Wheel and haunted house, a 4D theatre and go-karts and the biggest rollercoaster. Other theme parks at Pantai Cermin and Fun Land are nearer the city centre, but smaller and less busy.

What to do in Medan - See the largest volcanic lake in the world

See the largest volcanic lake in the world

A trip to the cool mists of Lake Toba is a favoured escape for both locals and tourists in Medan. At 1,145 sq km in diameter and 450 m deep, Lake Toba dwarfs any other volcanic lake. Tour operators such as Tri Jaya Tour & Travel offer package day trips to the lake, where you can hike, swim, and sail. Dotted around the lake’s surroundings are glimpses of the traditional Toba culture: old tombs and ritual dances, primitive villages and ancient buildings. It’s a great and revitalising place to spend a day or two.

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