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Lake Toba Attraction & Top Things To Do

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Lake Toba in North Sumatera
Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. Img: KT Kemen

The northern part of Sumatra Island, Indonesia, hosts the largest lake in the country. Lake Toba is a crater lake sitting atop an ancient supervolcano with the same name. It stretches for 100 km long and 50 m wide, comparable to the size of Singapore. Lake Toba is the result of a massive eruption from over 74,000 years ago.

The eruption also created several islands right in the middle of the lake. The biggest island is Samosir Island which occupies two third of the lake area. Lake Toba has a depth of 500 m. Some say that the water volume from Lake Toba will be able to flood the entire area of England. To a depth of one meter.

Lake Toba attracts tourists for its mesmerizing scenery and exotic culture. Whether it is boating around the lake or catching a view from the Observation Tower, there are enough activities for a couple of days.

Samosir Island, Largest island in Lake Toba
Samosir Island, the largest land in the middle of the lake. Img: Differensiasi Me

The other interesting part aside from the lake is seeing Batak Tribe. The indigenous people who’ve been settling this place for centuries. The wildlife is also worth to notice, with the lake being home for endemic Batak fish Neolisschosillus Thienemanni.

Things To Do In Lake Toba

Take a moment to immerse the grandness of this lake. Dubbed as the largest volcanic lake in the world. Lake Toba induces this feeling of insignificance with its vastness. Get lost in the majesty of nature as visitors sitting by the lakeside. Watch the stillness of the water and feel the breeze. Afar, mountains, and hills blanketed with lush forest looking as if they hug the lake.

Drive Around The Lake

Rent a scooter to drive around Lake Toba. It’s the opportunity to get more of Toba beside the nature sightseeing. Experience Batak daily life and culture. Stop by at Silalahi Batak Museum to learn in depth about this ethnic tribe. The museum displays artifacts, musical instruments, traditional costumes and many more of Batak culture elements.

Small ferry in Lake Toba
Small ferry to get to situmurun waterfall. Img: Ryan Petrucci

Lake Toba has some beaches around the area. The closest from Batak Museum is Bulbul beach. Bulbul will awe visitors for its white sandy shore. The water is as blue as an ocean, only it’s definitely not salty. Take a plunge into the chilly water for a start.

After, do some water activities available here such as kayaking, jet ski, and banana boating. Move to the west part of the lake, there’s an observation point called Tele Viewpoint. With only an IDR 7k for an entrance fee. Climb into the top of this Gadang-inspired tower.

Enjoy the bird-eye view of Lake Toba, the islands, and the mountains surrounding. When the fog hung low, it will feel like being on an above-the-cloud kingdom.

Sipiso-piso Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Indonesia
Sipiso-piso Waterfall. Img: Dwi Fadli Feruzi

Batak Cuisine & Lakeside Dining

Indulge in Batak delight which mainly consists of freshwater fish. Restaurants offer tables just by the lakeside, providing scenic view one can enjoy while dining. Order grilled goldfish or Arsik Ikan Mas. Cook with special spices mix and Batak yellow sauce, this dish spoils foodie with a flavorful and delightful taste.

Also, try Batak specialty grilled pork Saksang. The juicy and tender meat is served along with the blood sauce. Blood sauce is pork blood cooked with a special mixture of herb.

As side dishes, ask for cassava leaves curry and a bowl of pork soup bones. For dessert, try the rice flour cake with palm sugar filling called lempet.

Arsik ikan mas
Arsik Ikan Mas, the traditional Batak cuisine. Img: chan chai yin

Sipiso-Piso & Situmurun Waterfall

The highest waterfall Sipiso-Piso lies in the northern part of Lake Toba. It has a height of 120 m and has a unique formation. The water goes down to an underground river which has the same level as Lake Toba. Hike down to the bottom to get the most dramatic angle of Sipiso-Piso.

Situmurun Waterfall is the only waterfall that falls directly to Lake Toba. To reach this incredible waterfall, tourists must take a boat ride. A little rocky area under the waterfall makes it possible to land ashore. The currents around the waterfall can be strong sometimes. Make sure to go with a guide and listen to their safety guideline.

Take A Ferry To Samosir Island

Hop into the ferry and head to the Island of Samosir. Dedicate one full day alone to explore this beautiful island. The highlight of Samosir is the Batak Village Tomok with its traditional wooden houses and saddle-shaped roofs. Enjoy Batak dance performances, visit the museum, and shop for souvenirs. The whole village can be explored just by walking.

small ferry to samosir island
Small Ferry from Ajibata pier to Tomok, Samosir cost Rp15,000. Img: Yogo Voluntoro

Attraction Opening Hours

Batak Museum tickets are IDR 50k each. The museum opens every day from 8 AM to 5 PM, except on Monday. Entry to Sipiso-Piso Waterfall is IDR 5k per visitor. Prepare cash around the same amount for parking. Renting a motorcycle to get around the lake costs IDR 100k/day.

Attraction Opening Hours
Batak Museum08:00 – 17:00
Museum Entrance FeeRp50.000
Sipiso-Piso WaterfallRp5.000
Motorcycle RentRp100.000

See: Indonesian SIM Card, Where To Buy, Registration & Top Up Credit Guide.

Facilities

There is plenty of accommodation in the lakeside available for tourists near Lake Toba. Rate starts from IDR 250/ night depending on type and facilities. Restaurants, cafes, and small shop are available especially around the town of Parapat. In this town, tourists can also find facilities such as money changers, souvenir shops, and motorcycle rentals.

How To Get To Lake Toba

Lake Toba is 4 hours road journey from Medan, the capital of North Sumatra. There are several ways to go to Lake Toba from Medan’s Kualanamu Airport. Tourists can opt for taxi sharing from the airport. The fare is IDR 80k-100k per passenger. It’s convenient as people will not need to step out of the airport.

If using buses, head to Amplas Bus Terminal with public van line 38/48 (fare IDR 5k). Then take a bus heading to Parapat, Simalungun. The most recommended bus is Sejahtera Bus Company. Sejahtera bus departs from Amplas terminal every hour from 6 AM. The fare is affordable at IDR 50k and another IDR 5k for a minivan from the bus pool to the lake.

From Silangit International Airport, there is a direct bus DAMRI heading to Parapat. The bus will leave on 9 AM and 11 AM. Bus fare is IDR 45k and it takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to Parapat.

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