Medan is Indonesia's fourth largest city and like the others has acquired a reputation of hot, dirty, overcrowded and full of traffic. This being said Medan has its charms in its early twentieth century colonial architecture and numerous temples scattered throughout the city.
You can arrive in Medan by Plane, Bus or even Boat.
Most people though, will arrive in Medan through Polonia Airport and thanks to the superstition that noise carries away evil spirits it is rather close to the town! Expect to pay around Rp10, 000 by taxi to get to the centre.
Another popular way of reaching Medan is through Belawan Harbour ( 25 Km north of medan). The boats here serve Penang in Malaysia and other outlying islands in Indonesia's archipelago.
Medan is a great base to set off on your Sumatran Adventure with most people heading south to the Orang-utan orphanage of Bukit Lawang to the highlands of Berstagi and then onto the tranquil waters of South East Asia's largest Lake - Danau Toba.
If you find yourself in Medan for a few days there are a few places of interest mostly in the south of the city where the concrete jungle becomes rather pleasant green parks and tree lined streets.
The museum of North Sumatra is an interesting place where you will be told the story of North Sumatra from prehistory to modern day. You can find the museum on Jalan Joni number 51 at the southern end of the Bukit Barisan cemetery, which in its own right becomes an interesting place to see. The museum is open from 8:30am – noon and 1:30pm – 5pm Tuesday through to Sunday. It is a great place to learn more about the Batak tribe.
Medan was one of the first towns in Indonesia to convert to Islam and a must see is the Mesjid Raya, which is located very close to the North Sumatra Museum. It is one of the most recognized buildings in Sumatra so you won't find yourself strolling by it. The Mosque was built in 1906 and has a certain Moroccan, Turkish feel to its style.
Food in Medan is a mix of Chinese and Indian with both cuisines offering fine restaurants around the city. The best place however to try the local food is in the warungs and public squares where you will find groups of people sitting on makeshift stools, benches or mats all devouring the local delicacies. Head to Taman Rekreasi Seri Deli where you will find such a place just north of the Mesjid Raya.