Medan City Guide
Medan Travel & Tourist Information
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Some Explanations on Medan:
Medan is the third largest city in Indonesia. Located in North Sumatra ( Sumatera Utara ) of Indonesia with a population of 2.5 millions residents. It is said that during day time, the population of Medan City will grow to about 4 millions with people coming from suburbs.
Some times you will see or hear the word Kota Medan, “Kota” means “City” in Bahasa Indonesia hence Kota Medan means Medan City.
North Sumatra may also be written in Bahasa as Sumatera Utara
The Indonesia Achipelago is spread over three time zones.
- Western Indonesia Standard Time, which covers the islands of Sumatra, Java & Madura, West and Central Kalimantan is 7 hours ahead of GMT;
- Central Indonesia Standard Time covers East and South Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara, and is 8 hours ahead of GMT; finally
- Eastern Indonesia Standard Time, which covers Maluku, and Irian Jaya is 9 hours ahead of GMT.
Medan Sumatra timezone is +7 GMT
The current time in Medan is
Medan Polonia International Airport is 15-30 minutes from city center. However, the airport will be moved soon to Kuala Namu International Airport scheduled to start operating by end of 2009, which is about 2 hours drive from Medan city center
More news updates on Medan Airport
International Flights to Medan include:
From Singapore: Silk Air , ValuAir
From Kuala Lumpur and Penang: Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Lion Air
Domestic Flights include:
Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Air Asia, Batavia Air, Linus Air, Jatayu Airlines, Sriwijaya Air, Riau Airlines, Mandala Airlines, Merpati, Kartika Airlines
Sea – Boat
Medan is not located by the sea but there is a port nearby known as Belawan about 45 minutes from city center. Belawan port is a major port with domestic and international boat and ferry services. Belawan is listed as a visa-free and visa-on-arrival entry point.
Medan To and from Batam and Singapore:
A cheap popular way to get to Medan from Singapore is to take a ferry from Singapore to Batam and a ferry from Batam to Belawan – Medan. Many Medanese also use this route from Medan – Belawan , Batam to Singapore to avoid Fiscal payment ( a pre-tax fee Rp1.000.000 around USD 100 that Medanese are required to pay on departing Medan ). By traveling to Batam, Medanese can avoid this fee as Batam to Singapore is a fiscal Free zone.
However, this is not a popular route anymore since the budget airlines operates in Medan.
Medan To and From other parts of Indonesia:
Pelni boats link Belawan with various ports in Sumatra and other Indonesian islands. The comfortable MV Kelud departs from Belawan every Tuesday. The full sailing schedule is on www.pelni.com
Medan To and From Malaysia ( Penang ):
Daily ferries run to/from Penang, Malaysia. Operated by Langkawi Ferry Services, Tel:+62-61-4521666/4527555 in Medan; +60-4-2642088 in Penang
Since March 2007 there is a ferry from Medan to Lumut (Perak/Malaysia). It’s RM100 one way and RM180 for a return ticket. The ferry leaves on Friday and Monday at 10:00 am from Medans port Belawan and on Wednesday and Saturday at 10:30 am from Lumut. As schedules changes check the schedule before (Indonesia office: firstname.lastname@example.org +62-6261-7320421 in Medan, Malaysia office: email@example.com, +60-5-6056804000 in Lumut).
All visitors traveling to Indonesia must be in possession of a passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival and have proof of onward passage.
Visas are not required for nationals of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Ice land, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom (Great Britain), United States of America, United Emirate Arab and Venezuela.
Visa free entry is also allowed for registered delegates attending a conference which has received official approval For those not belonging to the above categories, tourist visas can be obtained from any Indonesian Embassy or Consulate.
Holders of a Certificate of Identity (CI) from Hong Kong can obtain visas for group travel, with a minimum of 5 persons, from the Consulate General of Indonesia in Hong Kong for visits not exceeding 30 days.
Customs & Excise
Indonesian Customs allows on entry a maximum of two liters of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco and a reasonable amount of perfume per adult. Cars, photographic equipment, typewriters and tape recorders must be declared to Customs upon entry and must be re-exported.
Prohibited goods from entry are TV sets, radios, narcotics, arms and ammunition. Advance approval has to be acquired for carrying transceivers and all movie films and video cassettes must be censored by the Film Censor Board. Fresh fruit, plants and animals must have quarantine permits.
There is no restriction on import or export of foreign currencies. However, the export or import of Indonesian currency exceeding Rp.50,000,000 is prohibited.
Dress is normally informal in Indonesia due to the warm, humid climate and clothing of light fabrics are recommended. However, if you are traveling in highland areas such as Brastagi & Lake Toba which is noticeably cooler. A light sweater or jacket can be useful.
Accepted attire for men is a shirt and long pants. A jacket and tie are required for official calls or for more formal occasions. Long sleeved batik (Indonesia traditional shirts) or handwoven shirts are acceptable for evening functions.
For ladies, dresses, blouses, and long pants are appropriate. Shorts, halters or tank tops should only be used at sports facilities or on the beach.
Business offices are usually open either from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm or 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, with a break for lunch between 12.00 noon and 1.00 pm. Do note that on Saturday many business offices are closed earlier 12.00 pm or 3.00 pm or may even entirely closed.
Government office hours are from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm from Monday to Friday and on Saturday many Government offices are close.
Normal banking hours are from 8.00 am to 2.30 pm from Monday to Friday. Some bank branches in hotels, however, keep longer hours.
Medan has several international banks like Citibank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, OCBC, UOB, Commonwealth, Standard Chartered which one can withdraw US dollars in their ATM machined.
Money can also be changed at hotel cashiers, and authorized money changers. Daily exchange rates are published in newspapers.
The US dollar is the most readily accepted currency. Most major tourist destination areas have foreign exchange facilities, but for travel to remote areas, it is advisable to change money and travelers cheques in advance. Credit cards are acceptable only at major hotels, restaurants and travel agencies.
Currency used is Indonesia Rupiah, indicated as IDR, you can use the currency conversion tool on the right bar. Current conversion rate is USD 1 = Rp 9200 (July 2008) see below for latest exchange rates or use the currency converter on the bottom right.
Currency notes are:
Rp1.000 ; Rp5.000; Rp10.000; Rp20.000; Rp50.000; Rp100.000
Rp25; Rp50; Rp100, Rp500; Rp1000
some low denomination coins like the Rp25 and Rp50 are difficult to find so you may not get the exact change for your purchase (best to use credit card in this case)
The table below for Indonesia Rupiah Exchange Rates:
There is a Money Changer right across the street from the airport at Petronas Petrol Station. The money changer is inside the convenience store.
If not, you will have to go to:
- King’s Money Changer – Jl.Brigjen.Katamso
- Istana Valas – Jl.Ir.H.Juanda Baru
- Deli Mega Valutindo – Jl.Jen.Ahmad Yani No.94
Main Language is Bahasa Indonesia, a little similar to Malaysia’s Bahasa Melayu.
English is spoken in more developed areas, city center and Shopping Centers, and of course the Hotels. There are many international schools and hotels in Medan now hence you do find English speaking Medanese round and about.
Hokkien ( a Chinese Dialect ) is widely spoken by the Chinese Community in Medan compared to other parts of Indonesia. I remember my friend who was visiting from Jakarta found it surprising about this. Similar to Penang – Malaysia where Hokkien is also widely used.
Mandarin and Cantonese dialects are also spoken by some of the Chinese community.
We have prepared some basic Bahasa Indonesia and its translation to English to help you get by in Medan
Power supply is usually 220 volts/250 cycles in large cities, but 110 volts is still used in some areas. Normal outlets are plugs with two rounded pins. It is advisable to check electricity supplies before using any appliances.
Be informed that Medan has electrical supply shortage in the city and you may experience blackouts from time to time including in hotels and shopping malls. Most major hotels and shopping malls will have a backup supply of electricity using generators but it can take several seconds of blackouts for electrical supply transfer.
Local calls can be made from public phones using coins or pre-paid cards. International calls can be made from public phones with card phone facilities or at any Telkom offices. You may also find independent telephone operators around the city known as Wartel that provide telephone services charge by the minutes which you can make international calls.
You may also purchase pre-paid GSM mobile operator cards in Medan for use with your mobile phones. Some major operators include, Simpati (Telkomsel) & Mentari (Satelindo).
Internet & Wifi
You will find many internet cafes around Medan, many hotels also provide in room internet service or wi-fi services which are chargeable. Internet services at small internet cafes are relatively cheap at less than Rp5.000 per hour.
Read our list of Free Internet Wifi Access in Medan
Yahoo! Weather - Medan, ID
Yahoo! Weather for Medan, ID
Conditions for Medan, ID at 1:29 pm WIT
Smoke, 90 F
Wed - Thunderstorms. High: 85 Low: 76
Thu - PM Thunderstorms. High: 87 Low: 75
Fri - Scattered Thunderstorms. High: 86 Low: 75
Sat - Thunderstorms. High: 86 Low: 75
Sun - Thunderstorms. High: 87 Low: 75
Full Forecast at Yahoo! Weather
(provided by The Weather Channel)
Kantor Polisi Pamong Praja Kota Medan
Jl. Pinang Baris No. 114-A Medan
Telp. +6261-8453192 ; +6261 4520971
Emergency Call: 110
Health & Hospitals:
International health certificates for smallpox and cholera are not required, except from travellers arriving from infected areas.
There are many hospitals around in Medan. But we cant be sure if they can all speak English for your communication. The more reputable ones are, Glenni International Hospital and Medan Medical Centre
Gleni International Hospital
Jl Listrik 2 A
Medan Medical Center
Jl KH Agus Salim 5
International Hotel Chains:
Aryaduta ; Grand Swiss BelHotel ; Grand Aston International ; JW Marriott
Grand Angkasa ; Emerald Garden ; Garuda Plaza ; Soechi International (ex Novotel) ; Asean International (ex Best Western) ;
More information and news updates on Medan Hotels
Also known as trishaws or pedicabs. You have to be good negotiator if you want to ride on becaks, with price ranging between Rp.5,000 to Rp.10,000 depending on the destination (near or far).
Inflation seems to have hit the Becaks in Medan (Jan07). Most drivers wanted Rp30,000 which came down to Rp15,000 when spoken to in Bahasa Indonesia. Locals can still get short becak ride for Rp5,000 to Rp10,000 but Rp15,000 is standard for longer (10 minutes or more) rides.
Very few becak drivers speak more than a few words of English, but a map and lots of pointing will get you to the right place, even if it takes twice as long as you thought.
As you can get a hotel taxi for Rp35,000 to almost anywhere in Medan, paying more than Rp15,000 for a longer ride is probably not a good idea. Local taxis are now Rp30,000 to almost anywhere. They will not bargain much with tourists or visitors (people from Java!). The only difference I could detect between the becak and the taxi was that the taxi kept you dry when it rained, not much difference apart from that.
Cost Rp.20,000 (2005) to go anywhere around the city (close or far). Be careful of picking up a taxi. Try to pick taxi from a reliable place such in front of malls, shopping centres or airport. Better taxis can be hailed from shopping malls, but not hotels apparently. Suggest use hotel taxi rather than street taxi. Most taxi drivers won’t use a meter and want to bargain. One taxi company that always uses a meter is Express. They are white and can usually be found around Sun Plaza and Tasbi residential complex. Call +6261-4552211 if you want to order.
Angkot – Mini Vans Public Transport
Public transport is not reliable and not suggested for travelers, though they have fixed price from one destination to other destinations.
Small minivans have painted numbers (1 to 267 in Medan) that signify their routes, which even locals don’t have memorized. If you speak Bahasa Indonesia, just ask where people are standing by the roadsides which “bus” number corresponds to your location and what the price is in advance. When a van with the appropriate number approaches, flag them down as they don’t make scheduled stops (just drive along a given route and drop off passengers when told or pick up new passengers when flagged). If you are a westerner, be sure to confirm the price before getting in. This type of transportation should only be braved by those with a point-to-point knowledge of Medan and a working knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia so they know where to tell the driver to stop, unless you have a local friend whom can take you around.
One easy route is Minibus #3 from the great mosque (at the side of yuki mall) to the Medan Mall, which is Rp 2,000
All sudako or angkot (minibus) are now Rp 3,000 per ride.
Larger, non air-conditioned buses and large luxury buses (often Mercedes) that are air-conditioned (some have toilets on board, though they are squatting toilets that are difficult to use when the buses are moving, given driving habits and road conditions throughout Sumatra). The central station for all larger buses in Medan is Amplas Station Central (not located in the center of the city though). This is where a lot of the smaller minivans go as well, and where travellers need to go to make connecting buses to further cities. Many of the large air-conditioned buses perform overnight routes, with prices varying by location served. As an example of prices from August 2005, expect to pay around Rp.50,000-80,000 for an 8-10 hour overnight luxury bus (without toilet saves about Rp.10,000+) trip, as in to Duri, Bukit Lawang, or Lake Toba (Danau Toba). Such buses provide a small snack and sometimes have televisions on board. While seats are very comfortable by Sumatran standards, all rides are swervy/bumpy and drivers often play stereos quite loud during the entire trip (unless a movie is available). Also, many buses have smoking sections in the back, and sometimes, smoking occurs in the front of the non-smoking section by the driver if the driver is so inclined. Furthermore, while the large luxury buses have ample stowage above seats, keep valuables safe while you sleep.
Medan is connected by rail to other conurbations on the eastern coast of Sumatra, such as Tanjungbalai, Rantauprapat, Siantar and Binjai. Executive, business and economy class trains are available, but if your budget allows, take the better class trains, which are faster and more comfortable. Tickets cost between Rp.9,000 (economy) to Rp.70,000 (executive).
For more information, please contact train stations:
- Medan Train Station: +6261-4514114
- Rantau Prapat Train Station: +62624-21617
- Train Ticket Reservations: +6261 4148666
or browse more news updates on Medan Transport
Train Schedule in Medan
source: Harian Analisa
Hawkers, Street Food for local dishes
Selat Panjang & Semarang – a lot of the local Medanese that moved to Jakarta will surely return to this street for their local favorites
Merdeka Walk – popular with younger generation, open air organized center to hang out at night
Padang Food: where all the dishes are brought to your table for you to choose
Garuda, Restoran ACC and Simpang Tiga
International Chains of Restaurants in case you have trouble with local food:
Mc Donald, KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut
More information and news updates on Medan Food
Medan has several shopping complexes, supermarkets and department stores where prices are fixed. Shops are usually open all week including Sundays.
Shopping hours are usually between 9.00 am and 10.00 pm for department stores and supermarkets in cities with shorter hours on Sundays. In smaller cities, shops may be closed between 1.00 pm and 5.00 pm.
Bargaining is customary in small shops and markets, the art of which is to start at half the asking price and slowly increase your offer until a compromise is reached. Remember it helps to smile while bargaining.
Shopping Centers in Medan:
Cambridge Mall City Square for many up-scale dining choices, cafes, gym, Supermarket, kids play area
Sun Plaza for more upscale products, cinemas, furnitures, Hypermarket, Department store
Medan Fair for more local shops, IT, mobile phones, restaurants, Hypermarket, Department Store
Grand Palladium for small local shops, mobile phones, Hypermarket, Department Store, Cinema
Medan Mall for local shops, wholesale products at the rear of building, Supermarket, Department Store
Medan Plaza local shopping
Thamrin Plaza & Yang Lim Plaza for local shopping
Plaza Millennium for mobile phones retail and wholesale
Grand Deli City (to be open) – Currently under renovations, Deli Plaza is open and will be renovated to become the Grand Deli City
More on news updates on Medan Shopping
Major hotels usually add a 10% service charge to bills. Some restaurants do add 5% service charge to bills too. Where service charge is not included, a tip of between 5% to 10% of the bill or Rp5.000 – Rp20.000 would be appropriate if the service is satisfactory.
Tipping in small coffee shops and food stalls are not neccessary.
Airport porters published rates is Rp2.000 per bag although some may request up to Rp5.000.
Tipping taxi and hire-car drivers is not mandatory, but if service has been satisfactory tip is sufficient for a taxi driver, Hire-car drivers would normally expect a larger tip.
Read more about Tipping in Medan
The most popular sports in Indonesia are soccer/football, badminton, and table tennis. Indoor soccer known as Futsal has also been increasingly popular in 2008. Billiard or snooker are also available.
Wu Shu (Chinese Martial Arts) is also a popular sport that won several medals for Medan in national and international competitions.
Golf is becoming more and more popular for more business or retired people, including many young well educated residents. A number of excellent golf course can be found in Medan. Golf course charges are relatively cheap compared to international standards and there are many tourist that come to play Golf in Medan.
Other sports include, tennis, bowling and most major hotels have their own tennis and squash courts, swimming pools, health clubs.
Traditional sports in Indonesia include bull races, bull fights, rowing, and unique ram fights, all of which are held as part of special festivities. Silat, a martial art, can be performed as a dance or an exercise and is comparable to Karate or Kung Fu.
When EXIT Medan
The Government of Indonesia has officially abolished the exit permit required for people leaving the country, effective from August 17, 1992.
However, KITAS & KIM-S permit (work, long stay permit) holders will need to apply for exit permit. Exit permit comes in single exit permit which is valid for 6 months or multiple exit permits which is valid for 1 year, the permits can cost Rp700.000 and Rp1.200.000 respectively.
Airport tax levied on passengers for international travel for travel within Indonesia regional variations occur.
Map of Medan
Please see the special Google Map we develop as Map of Medan
Medan Media Koran
Local newspapers include:
Harian Analisa, Medan Bisnis, Medan Weekly, Aplaus, SIB, Harian Global, Waspada, Mimbar Umum, Garuda
and of course not to forget! The only English Media for visitors to Medan:
Consulates in Medan
All consulates in North Sumatera are located in Medan and many of them are honorary consulates. The consulates in Medan (in alphabetical order):
Jl.RA.Kartini No.32;Tel: +6261-455 4504; Fax: +6261-415 6820
Jl. Letjen.Jamin Ginting No.459;Tel: +6261-821 0559
Jl. Hang Jebat No.2;Tel: +6261-415 3020; Fax: +6261-453 8384
Jl. Letjen.Jamin Ginting No.459;Tel: +6261-821 0559
Jl. Hang Jebat No.2;Tel: +6261-415 3020; Fax: +6261- 453 8384
Gedung Bank SUMUT, 6th Fl. Jl.Imam Bonjol No.18;Tel: +6261-456 6100; Fax: +6261-456 4228
Jl. Karim MS No.4;Tel: +6261-/Fax. 453 7108
Jl.Uskup Agung No.19;Tel: +6261-453 1308; Fax: +6261- 453 1319
Wisma BII 5th Fl. Jl.Diponegoro No.18;Tel: +6261-457 5193;457 4560; www.embjapan.or.id
Jl.Diponegoro No.43;Tel: +6261-453 1342; Fax: +6261-453 4681
Jl.Mongonsidi No.45T;Tel: +6261-456 9853; Fax: +6261-453 6130
Jl.Ir.H.Juanda No.24-O;Tel: +6261- 457 0012; Fax: +6261- 457 0024
Has moved to Pekanbaru;www.mfa.gov.sg/jk
Jl.Hang Jebat No.2;Tel: +6261- 4153 020; Fax: +6261- 453 8384;
Jl. Cut Mutia Medan Sumut 20152; Tel:+6261) 415-2425 Fax:+6261) 457-6214
Jl.Dr.Mansyur No.122/124;Tel: +6261-821 2981; Fax: +6261-821 2983
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