The capital of North of Sumatra and the third largest city of Indonesia, Medan, is where one can notice the perfect blend of quite a few ethnic groups and cultures. Medan has a very important harbour from where one can go to Penang, Malaysia very easily. Medan has a large population and it is a very exotic spot to be visited especially if one loves flora and fauna and is the gateway to Bukit Lawang or Lake Toba.
There are two main seasons over here - the wet and the dry. November to May is the rainy season whereas May to October is summer. Medan can easily be reached via airways as international flights land here on a daily basis.
What to see in Medan
In Medan, tourists will find quite a few interesting places to visit. For example, the Maimoon Palace, Mesjid Ray, the Museum of North Sumatra, Kesawan Square, the famous crocodile farm, the zoo, the Old City Hall, the Post Office Center, the Water Tower, Titi Canutary.
The finest building in the city is the Maimoon Palace which dates back to 1886. The Dutch had built the Mesjid Ray in 1906. It is of a dome shape. The color is black and it looks just wonderful. It is an example of the Moorish style. The material with which the building was build had been imported back in time. The glass came from China, the chandelier from Amsterdam and the marble came from Italy.
The military museum situated in Medan has got a collection of antique weapons that was used during the war of independence. Anyone studying the history of the war of independence will find this place to be a very interesting visit for sure. The crocodile farm is the largest of the region and here one can see the hatching of a crocodile egg. There are about two thousand species of crocodiles that can be seen inside the farm. People who find interest in most life forms would gather precious experience as they visit a farm of this sort.
The Kesawan Square was established in 2002. It is the newest open air food court in Medan. Lake Toba is also located very near Medan. It is the largest inland water body of South East Asia and therefore a favorite tourist spot. The high court building and the bank of Indonesia are great examples of European architecture and can be seen here in Medan.
History of Medan
The history of the city of Medan is very interesting as well. Medan is a place that is visited by tourists from all over the globe. Very few people leave Indonesia without coming to Medan at least once. The diversity that this place offers is its main attraction. The various groups of people to be seen here, the various cultures that blend here and the development of so many types of art - everything makes this place very rich in originality. The jungles, rainforest, rice padding, mysterious volcanic lakes and exotic beaches add up to the attraction of the place. These are the reasons why Medan is so popular among tourists.
Accommodations in Medan
You can stay in Medan at many hotels or guesthouses. The starting rates for rooms are 100,000 Rupiah's.
The Indonesian city of Medan is situated on the Northern coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and today is recognized as being the capital of the North Sumatra Province of the country.
Medan by far the largest city in Indonesia other than Java, in fact it is the 4th largest city in Indonesia following behind the cities of Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung. The population is approaching 4.2 million people residing in what is described as a tropical rainforest climate with no proper dry weather to be anticipated, though it does have months which are both wetter and drier than others.
Ethnicity in the city of Medan tends to be very diverse with the Chinese probably making up the largest single ethnic group, and not surprisingly is heavily involved in business activities. Other groups consist mainly of native Indonesians, Malays, Javanese, Toba-Batak, Minangkabau, Karo-Batak, and both Northern and Southern Indians.
The boundaries of Medan city comprise simply of being surrounded by the Del Serdang Regency to the East, West and South, and by the Straits of Malacca to the North. It stands threatened by the Sinabung Volcano which after lying dormant for 400 years decided to erupt in 2013.
It is said that the original inhabitants of Medan came from the Malay Peninsular in days gone by, and it is conjectured that the name Medan was derived from the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. However others maintain that the name Medan more likely came from Indian sources such as the Indian Hindi language word ‘Maidan’.
Travel and Getting around Medan
Due to the recent closure of the Polonia Internatiional Airport, all international flights arrive at the new Kuala Namu International Airport which is served by a modern rail service operating between the airport and Media. You can expect to pay about 80.000 Rp for the 40 minute journey by rail.
Within Medan you will find the Bus station located at Amplas Station Central though nit within the city center. There are both air con and non aircon buses available with the more comfortable type being more luxurious and sometimes fitted with a kind of squatting toilet. Typically you can expect to pay Rp 50,000-80,000 for an 8-10 hour journey.
Medan is connected to other major cities located in East Sumatra like Rantauprapat, Siantar, and Binjar. On one of the luxury class trains you will pay about Rp 120,000 for a ride from Medan to Rantauprapat, which may sound a lot but equates to about $13 US.
The most common method of getting around Medan is by the ubiquitous becak, trishaw or pedicab as they are often called. You will have to be prepared to haggle your price, but can expect to pay Rp 5,000-10,000 for a ride to a destination within the city.
Travel by taxi offers another way of getting around, but make sure that you use only the Bluebird or Express Taxi services, the others are unreliable and prone to overcharging. The taxi should also have the meter on since you will be asked to pay about Rp 20,000 over the top in any unmetered cab.
Things to do and see in Medan
There are a number of fine buildings which you can see darting back to the Dutch colonial times such as the old Post Office, the old City Hall among many other older business premises.
The Great Mosque located in the Ji Ahmad Yani district is worth seeing as is the Maimoon Palace close by the Mesjid Raya Mosque.
A place not to miss seeing in Medan is the magnificent Vihara Maha Matreya Buddhist Temple which is the largest in S.E Asia. Apart from the Temple there is a nature pool inhabited by many lovely birds, a great view of the dying sun in the evening time, and a large restaurant offering vegetarian food if you are feeling hungry.