Here’s why lake life at Lake Toba is better than beach life
At a time when the region’s world-famous tourist destinations are becoming overrun with tourists from across the world, lake life in Southeast Asia has never been better. Unlike swarmed beaches, lakes are often as peaceful and tranquil as advertised. You still get the beaches, and the water fun, but in a real scenic setting with more than enough to keep you entertained. This is largely why, not only in Asia but also North America, the best lakes are where the in-the-know travelers go. In Southeast Asia, there’s arguably no better place to have a lake adventure than Lake Toba.
Surrounded by mountains on nearly all sides, it’s lush grounds are peppered with all kinds of attractions (from little Dutch-style towns to romantic flower fields and sulfur baths) but still spread out enough to remain intimate. The lake also sits 900-meters above sea level, elevating it above the harsher, smoldering climate typical of Indonesia.
How to Get There
Flights from Jakarta to Silangit International Airport (on the lake’s southern side) can get as low as B3,000 on Sriwijaya Air if you book at the right times (but they can be hard to find).
Fly from Jakarta to nearby Medan (from around B7,400, but much easier to come by) run nearly non-stop. From Medan, take a tourist bus to Parapat (from B150) a town in Lake Toba territory.
Once at Lake Toba, a visit to Samosir Island is a must since most of the hotels and restaurants are there. Catch the ferry from Parapat (B40), which leaves every three hours, and lands you at the town of Tuk Tuk (yes, that’s a place!).
What to do
What you end up doing on your stay most of the time will likely depend on where you end up staying (the place is huge, after all), but there are a couple must-sees for all travelers.
Hike up Bukit Holbung
This is affectionately called “Teletubbies Hill” after its lush greenery, sloping hills and incredible views. Wait for the sun to rise in the morning and you basically have the opening sequence of the Teletubbies TV show.
Another one of those “oh my god” sights in Lake Toba. Sipiso-Piso Waterfall, one of the tallest, most slender waterfalls you’ll find, sits smack dab in the middle of a massive canyon. With hiking trails overtop and below, this is as good Instagram fodder as you are going to find anywhere.
(Credit: Trip Canvas)
Visit the ghost town near Sinabung Volcano
Abandoned towns are not everyone’s cup of tea, but we think a trip to the ghost town near Sinabung Volcano shoule be on everyone’s itinerary. It used to be a farming village until the nearby volcano became active and the government declared it off limits. It’s safe to visit (and worthy of your Instagram feed). It’s also the best place to take in views of the big mountain itself!
Eat at Jenny’s Restaurant
Jenny’s is a seafood mainstay in Tuk Tuk (and a must visit if you take the boat there from Parapat). Take in the riverside views, crack a cool beer, and dive into some grilled catch of the day (you can get burgers and other western food here, but go for the first instead). This is a bit of a tourist hangout, so it’s a nice place to meet others and set-up adventures around. Inside, large wood beams made out of real trees and creaky floors give the place a distinct Jack’s Bar vibe.
Where to Stay
You’ll likely be staying in Tuk Tuk until you brave one of the other small towns scattered around the island.
Saulina Resort (from B900/night) - Clean rooms with TVs, free WiFi and included breakfast.
Zoé’s Paradise Waterfront Hotel (from B1,224/night) - Nice boutique hotel in Tuk Tuk. Rooms are comfy and nicely decorated. Right next to the lake so the view are great and you can take a dive in the lake or the natural swimming pool out back.
Tabo Cottages (from B900/night) - A beautiful estate filled with traditional houses that still have very modern amenities. The Western food at the restaurant is quite good. These folks even roast their own coffee and sell it at an on-site cafe.
Sidabutar Homestay (from B500/night) - a 70-year-old traditional Batak family house. Stay here to get a real taste of local culture and way of life as you help out with daily activities on the family farm (like harvesting vegetables). Accommodation is still cozy (comfy beds, mosquito nets, Western toilets).
Experience the 5 Natural Wonders of Indonesia
Nature, Scenic Landscapes & Wilderness
In this tropical country, explore the magnificent white sandy beaches, great volcanoes or colourful marine treasures. One lifetime would not be enough to explore Indonesia’s natural wonders.
Culinary & Wellness
This is where to spoil your senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. Explore the many flavours Indonesia has to offer by taking a bite out of some local delicacies or delighting in traditional spa treatments.
Arts, Culture & Heritage
Indonesia is a huge nation comprised of hundreds of cultures derived from local regions, making it one of the most diverse countries in the world. Explore the unique culture and heritage of each region in Indonesia!
Recreation and Leisure
A nation is often measured by how advanced its technology is. Indonesia’s major cities adopt modern lifestyle that is complete with stunning skyscrapers, vibrant nightlife and technologically advanced offices.
One would never get bored exploring Indonesia. Plunge into thrilling caving adventures, exotic diving escapades, challenging volcano climbs, intriguing jungle treks and many more!
For more information, visit: www.indonesia.travel