A trip to Sumatra, or Indonesia , will be complete with a visit to the beautiful and world’s largest volcanic lake – Lake Toba. That is why the land is fertile and the temperature is nice in the night a little bit cold but in the midday is warm , flash of blue lake shine make people stay here longe than they had plan , can be a month or years . Long time around the lake Toba mountains could be found many big trees but since the pulp factory in Porsea opened the trees get reduced then .

the bataksAround lake Toba is home land of Batak people who keep strong their geneology record that the same family tree name can not marry each other because has the same blood . They like singing , dancing , playing guitar and always friendly to every body .Except the beautiful scenic of  lake Toba , the unique traditions like family grave or Tambak is a clan grave where the death buried in one big grave but after being buried under the ground for few years then people hold ceremony to move the bones to Tambak . So no public graveyard in lake Toba , people build their Tambak on their field . Batak ancient belief is called Parmalim , believe in God , calling God as 'Ompung Mula Jadi Nabolon" : 'The first who exist ,  the biggest and the holiest' . malim means holy , clean and discipline ,  Parmalim never cut the tree without preparing the substitute because it is breaking his/her holiness so we are  very lucky to have people like them but many people regard their belief  as animism to discriminate them . Most of them live around Balige , Porsea and Bah Jambi . Their leader was Sisingamangaraja XII , the latest and the biggest leader of Batak land also as the latest land who defeated by the colonist among Indonesia while other land already under occupied , some since the century 15 like Java  but Batak land defeated by Dutch after Sisingamangaraja XII died in 1902 as Indonesia National hero .

batak houseHow to get to Lake Toba?

From Medan you catch bus to terminal bus Amplas , many buses go to Parapat like Sejahtera , Intra , etc . it takes around 4-5 hours on way , from Parapat you cacth ferry to Tuktuk .

You choose boat tu Tuktuk cos there are 2 boats on the harbour 1 goes to Tuktuk i goes to Tomok, if you want to stay in Tuktuk choose the boat to Tuktuk, if you have book your hotel the crew can drop you to hotel where you have book (if wharf is available) .

In Tuktuk you can find the hotel with Rp75.000/night and the lu room around Rp500.000/night but in Tomok i don't know the price , the room is just standart.

From Berastagi , you take public mini bus to loket Sipadan in Kaban Jahe ( near kantor Bupati /resident Office)  to Simpang Dua ( on the way to pematang Siantar )  , you cross the main street to catch bus , many public mini buses will call you to Parapat like Bagus Sharing Taxi, KBT, Sejahtera,  Karya Wisata, you say to Parapat, Lake Toba.

But public bus in Indonsia leave after the passenger is full if can they pack the people in a cramped seat for two persons but not like in India film where people allowed on the roof of the bus. Smoking is allowed on public transportation making the trip potentially very uncomfortable. Buses drop you off at the ferry departure point in Parapat wharf . Ferries depart every  hour to the different hotels in Tuk Tuk depend on hotel where you stay just inform the assistant of the crew or tell the crew where do you want them to drop you . The last ferry is around 6:00 pm, so if you arrive too late you will have to stay in Parapat. Fortunately there are also plenty of nice hotels in Parapat .

So , if you need comfortable transportation , you just dial 087807544149 or email to for a private car with AC  and driver just Rp

800.000 . 

BRI bank on Samosir Island is in Ambarita with an ATM and Tomok but only accept Maestro and Master Card . There is a BNI and BCA branch in Parapat which accepts most major cards ,  just walk about  15-20 minute walk to the ATM from the ferry terminal.

There are several money changers in Tuk Tuk like Toba money changer near by Tabo cottage , but their rates aren’t as good as in Medan .

Hotels and accommodation in Lake Toba

Many big hotel with bed and break fast in lake Toba even no five star hotels  but most of them are comfortable , good service and extremely well priced with friendly staff and owner who would like to help you with information around .  Except for Christmas and New Year’s , Moslem , China New Year holiday, price can be higher than usual about 10 % also the flight ticket . During those big holiday if you can not find hotel , you can stay in the villager house but keep all the expensive things close to you like your wallet, passport, credit card because in Batak sociality friend can enter and exit friend house as many as time they want .

HOTELS ( see the map below page ) :

Most hotels are scattered around the beach and close to each other on peninsula of Tuk-tuk  like :
Bagus Bay,  performan live Batak music and traditional dancing every Wednesday and Saturday nite at 8.15pm.




Batak Toba bride

Those material was used around the body in the past  but now only for ritual ceremony , in party only used on shoulder  .This  traditional material woven called "ulos " . This ulos has function as songket in Malay tradition in ceremony , given to some body for blessing . The high value of ulos can be over 1 million per piece because took long time in process of making and high art value in pattern but the simple for daily use can be only Rp25-50.000 .Ulos has it kinds according to its function : there is ulos for wedding , harvest , birth , and death or for daily use .

Getting around

Becak/carriage with 3 wheels is un or traveling i you don't like to ride motorcycle 1 day trip around 120,000-150,000.

Have you done kayaking around Lake Toba?  jet skiing is also fun .

 Most people rent a motor cycle for the day or take a tour with one of the many tour operators on the island. The cost for renting a motor bike is around 80,000 rupiah for one day . Jet skiing is also fun . When jet skier is on the lake you just wave your hand and  call them to come if you want to rent the jet ski .

Some hotels rent out  bike or motor bike if  not they can call its for you. There is not a lot of traffic on Samosir Island, but the roads do get hilly in places and be careful on sandy road can be slipped  , when there is sandy road turn low your speed. If you hire a motorbike to travel around Samoris Island ride carefully as often dogs, chickens and school children dart across the roads as well as water buffalo on the side and often on the road. When meet sandy road drive slow because can be slip off.

Eating out and restaurants

 The main hotel area on Samosir Island ( around lake Toba ) is Tuk Tuk , people offer  Batak, Indonesian and western food . All of the restaurants are family run and have a unique home style cooking taste .

Some of the Batak dishes you should try when visiting Lake Toba but must order in advance because need many ingredients to prepare for it except for mie gomak:

1.      Mie Gomak or Spaghetty Batak , served like vegetable curry but add some other ingredient : ‘andaliman to make it special taste, you can find this menu in Lilis coffee shop every morning , near Art centre in front of rumah makan Lomak or Ando coffee shop in front of Rodeo guest house . 

2.      Naniura is fresh fish cooked on lime with some roasted herbs as paste , take lemon juice from around  lemons ,apply the fish with paste and soak it with lemon jusice.

3.      Arsik is fish cook in Batak style, other people can cook it but less bumbu make less original taste, a kind of curry but sour and hot andaliman is mixed with candlenut together to make special taste.

4.      Babi Panggang – Babi Panggang literally means “roasted or grilled pork” and is one of the most delicious Batak dishes serve with sambal Tombur.

5.      Saksang – Saksang is meat served in Batak style, a kind of gravy dark sauce with andaliman .

6.      Grilled fish – Many restaurants in Tuk Tuk have barbeques out the front used for cooking fresh fish straight from the lake. Sometimes the fish will be cooked in banana leaves and is usually served with a spicy sambal sauce.


Most hotels and guesthouses have a restaurant which at least serve some simple European and Indonesian dishes and most of them will be closed at 10pm.

Try the ready local food if your stomach has been intimated with ready food in tropical place like in rumah makan Lomak and  rumah makan Sandro near the Art centre building , clean and delicious foods, they serve Sak-sang and Arsik every day  . Sandro can cook also your favorite local food but must order in advance. Sandro serve tuak every day from 4 pm , tuak is local fresh palm wine.

The noodle house in front of Health centre can be open till 11pm , they serve kinds of fried noodle and mie pansit ( noodle soup in Chinesse style ) , to buy fresh fruits at : Iwan shop ( 2 houses to the right of health centre ) or Hesty  just near Catolic church ( to the right ) or ca be anywhere but not many types .

Attractions and things to do around Lake Toba

Tuk Tuk

Most hotels are located in Tuk-tuk . It is a pleasant place for walking around shopping and admiring the views over Lake Toba. Chat with the local people who always welcoming you with warm smile because they want to practice English with you , they will tell you any information you need about  trip or their culture.

 Juwita cafe open cooking traditional food course and in front of Juwita cafe “Central carving “ also open carving tradional course.



Tomok is about 5km from Tuk Tuk on Samosir Island. Many souvenirs shop and  local food cafe on the street . In Tomok you can see the sarchopagus of King Sidabutar . He was the first Batak King who convert to Christian in this island , his general was from Aceh .

The sarchopagus here is extremely high art if concerning to the earthquake from active Toba volcano that often shaking but from long time ago it cover never fallen or just changed position . Other places around lake Toba you can find many sarcophagus just the same only  different in carving style but the oldest one with vase shaped ( look up the map of megalitic site ) .

Batak House

Batak house can be found around the street on  the island and around Batak land.

Typically  no nail to erect it, it is just jointed to each other , and the paint is natural paint that lasting for hundreds even thousand year usually there is lizard carv on the wall. Lizard is simbolyze batak ancestor, Raja Odap-odap ( son of God Mangala Bulan,God who control under earth world) ,he has shape half human and half lizard marry with Siboru deak Parujar the angel from the sky daughter of God Batara Guru ( spirit of God who give wisdom and answer). So lizard carvig asking for father to protect the house and has pledge;'whom ever come to bring the good shall receive the best,whom ever come to bring the bad shall receive the worst'

House with carving usually belongs to the rich. Carving is describing hope and pray according to the house owner pray and hope.

The king house usually has carving of has 4 breasts  and lizard. four breasts shown the highest rank of hadatuon means he already can control invasion from  4 wind directions but has pledge to the earth mother'whom ever come for begging/asking for something he shall no return without gain what he ask/beg'.

Due to the water in the lake can tide up and down so our ancestor build the Batak house so easy to move when water up.

the Batak house also symbolize the equality of 3 worlds ; sky world for the up side,the main house for the earth world and downs side for under earth world.

In the past the stranger who ame to visit us stay down side not allowed to enter the house, don't know why now the cattle stay there. maybe due to the invasion of colonist they might worry the cattle will stolen so they keep it under their house

Siallagan stone stalk

The man who led  the court was an oracle , able to see what  people had done  in far distance in the past then people asked him to find out who did harm to them hiddenly or had stolen their belonging . After long interogation and presecution  then delivered to the officer for  punishment accordingly. 

Located  2 km from Tuktuk on the way to Ambarita, 10m after reached Tuktuk Timbul guest house to the left side of the road you can find the stone stalk,  court for magic criminal. No document information about how it held the court just mute witness by the stone art decorations for court but quite unique more than in Ambarita.

Siallagan stone

Ambarita, old court with stone cairs

Ambarita is famous for the “stone chairs” and Batak ancient housings , it is a kind of court was held  to decide the fate of  law of criminals. Serious crimes were executed to die harshly . The criminal was beheaded and the body thrown into Lake Toba.

On other site I read a story about blood and some meat of the criminal was eaten by the king and the villagers. No body knows this truth or not because his story said just meet contrary to each other like after the body thrown to the lake for  a week later they didn’t do anything in the water because the water is stained by evil in the body of the criminal then why they ate some meat of the criminal body because his body was stained by evil , right? 

It was propaganda of our ancestor to frightened the other people to enter Batak land that is why Batak land is the last to defeated by the agressor/colonist during the colonialism era .
Batak people did not want other people to come to Batak land to bring modernization thst might can culture.
It is seen in the shape of Batak house , no nail to erected , our ancestor used sap to colour it and its color lasting for hundreds year.

Do you know when the lake Toba be in the world map? on the century 18th, right? Even Marcopolo in century 14th sailed to Barus , Batak international seaport in Sibolga   he never enter Batak land just on the seashore and hearing people talking about the inland eat man flesh already made him so so afraid .

Yet Ptolemy who enter  Barus  in century  4th  also the same just standing on the seaport heraing the  issu of Batak cannibalism , right?  Batak people did not want other people enter Batak land because oher people considered as colonist, man trafficking , sell man in slavery market so when foreigner want to meet the king they will  try to make  them lost in jungle then desparated and  return so they never see the native Batak and Batak land till the missionaries from Englnd and America persuaded them.

Pagar Batu megaliths site .                                                                                

batak sarcophagyIt is a worth visit if you like Arkeology ,  about  9km from Tuk-tuk , when you have passed Tomok you will meet two junction , follow the juncion below which written as Lontung village then go till you find SMP ( junior school ) in desa Parmonangan . In this village  you can see the megaliths of ancient Batak people and modern village system in the past . This place has high value history inside like : fine made mortar paddy so the paddy no spill out , stone box funeral ( sarchopagus )  is just in a stone that carved a little and has hole and cover , this tradition tomb also same the box funeral like in North Sulawesi which called Waruga and Kalamba  .

Ancient Sarchopagi in Pagar Batu

ancient Batak mortar

Waterfal Stone Breathing .

When you meet the junction after passed Tomok just follow the main road about 4 km more than you will see this waterfall just on the right side of the road , this stone some time breath so loud maybe from the movement of the volcanic below but the view is spectaculer .


ancient Batak mortar for herbs Simanindo .

A visit to the museum is a must for anyone wanting to explore Batak culture and tradition. There are some good examples of traditional Batak houses. There are Batak dancing performances held from Monday to Saturday at 10:30 am. Audience participation is more than welcome!


Hot springs

The hot springs located around 40km from Tuk Tuk , we ofteen go to the first three juntion of hot spring area up to let side , on the top the owner is friendly , no fee entry , just order some drink or food , they have public bathing also there are swimming pool for woman , swimming pool for man .  If you arrive around 11.30am till 2 pm  it is extremely hot , it is water mixed with the sun shine...hahhahhah..

Many guest house around here and if you still have much time you and back to the istmuth brigde where there is 3 junction , turn to the left about 3 km more to see ‘seven taste water ‘ or ‘Aek sipitu dai ‘ after 2 km there is a 2 junction then turn right , go down to the left side of the road about 5m the 7 taste  water, real strange, real mineral water.

ancient batak fencePusuk Buhit , megalith stone box .

Batu Hobon is a megalith stone carved by grandson of Siraja Batak named Saribu Raja where he kept his sacred weapons that can not be open even with high technology lifter or any magician . This site situated on gunung Pusuk Buhit ( Mount Pusuk Buhit (1981m) which is Overlooking to the hot springs . Gunung Pusuk Buhit is sacred to the Batak people . Batak man is believed to have descended from heaven onto this mountain.

Saribu Raja also have many sacred weapons from his goddes wife Nai Mangiring Laut, he hidden the sacred weapons in order to not being found by his siblings who tried to kill him because he did incest with his twin till having  baby , he already marry his twin and pay his punishment according to Batak tradition and asked forgiving to God then why they still want to kill him? That was why he hide its .

Many people had tried to lift it up with high tecnology , tried to open it but never succeed, when visit this place please no careless/not polite speaking or mock the stone cause many strange and danger things came to person who mock or speak careless to the site . And people who tried to blast it, to open it roughly already died in sudden terribly way .

Long white sandy beach , around 20 km from Tomok .

Swimming in Lake Toba

Lake Toba is great for swimming , the water is a little cold but as they say , it’s fine once you get in because the Toba volcano below is still active  so the water is warm , this is mineral water good for therapy for the traveller after long day  trip  . The water is deep , but a few hotels have created their own swimming areas in the lake to make it safe for people with young children .

Diving ,
No diving center here because the panorama on the water is less below for the lake is too deep but ancient things can be found but difficult to find guide who knows the map of the village which sank before the water getting higher / deeper than it is now . Around Carolina beach was a village too  , people said the Batak house below the water and cooking tools from clay are still in good condition . Once there was a diver from Dutch start to dive from a village near Parapat found a cooking pot from clay , the villager said he had the map of the village below the lake before it is getting its level now .

mapp of Tuk-tuk

map of Samosir island