Date: 10 Jun 2018

Wilianto, R.

Research scope

A creative agency was working on a marketing brief for one of the largest regional airlines, highlighting their flight routes to Indonesia. This research helped the client identify key local attractions for video shoots in Medan, Indonesia. This report summarises top tourist attractions and activities in and around Medan that are marketing campaign-worthy. Client has requested that the list of activities fall within three main themes: what to try, first experiences, and local engagement.

Key findings





List of Activities

Istana Maimun (Maimoon Palace)[1]

Istana Maimun holds historical importance in Medan as an architectural relic from the Sultanate of Deli in the 1600s. Besides being a popular tourist attraction, the palace is also a museum that houses royal artifacts and furniture. Visitors may visit and have their pictures taken in the traditional outfits worn during the era of the Sultanate of Deli.

Tjong A Fie Mansion[2]

An architectural jewel of Medan, Tjong A Fie mansion is an art-deco building that is built under the influence of the Chinese and Malay cultures. The mansion follows feng-shui principles and was commissioned by a merchant from China by the same name. The building is rumored to be the most haunted building in Medan.

Danau Toba (Lake Toba)[3]

Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world and is located around 4 hours from Medan by car. Lake Toba is a major tourist attraction boasting various iconic destinations and sights such as Batu Gantung (the Hanging Stone), Sipisopiso Waterfall, hot springs, and the largest island lake, Samosir. Activities in and around Lake Toba includes visiting the local Batak houses (rumah adat Batak), taking a day trip to Samosir, and enjoying grilled corn cobs and local coffee overlooking the lake. Foodies should give saksang (described below) and horse milk a try in one of the Batak villages.

Pulau Samosir (Samosir Island)[4]

Samosir is one of the biggest lake islands in the world. At 630 sq km, it measures slightly smaller than the neighbouring island country, Singapore. Tourists can immerse themselves in the local Batak culture, feasting on the local cuisines while enjoying authentic traditional dances and music. Samosir is also a great place to engage with the locals through activities such as Ulos-making and experiencing living in the Tomok village. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy a hike up Pusuk Buhit or a swim in the nearby Binangalom waterfall.

Morning Jogs with Locals

Medan locals spend their early mornings exercising and jogging as a community at various locations in the city. Volunteers offer to lead exercise classes, such as Zumba, while neighbours and strangers join these pre-sunrise activities in droves. Several popular locations include Medan Fair, Asia Mega Mas, and Lapangan Merdeka. Locals wrap up their morning exercises with group breakfasts at local markets.

Try Kue Bika Ambon (Honey Comb Cake) and Kue Lapis Legit (Thousand Layer Cake)[5]

Bika Ambon and Kue Lapis Legit are Medan’s signature dessert cakes. Visit Jalan Mojopahit, where dozens of bakeries serving these pastries are located. Popular brands include Zulaikha and the first Bika Ambon bakery, Bika Ambon Ratna.

Try Saksang[6]

Saksang is a local delicacy made with minced pork (or, very rarely now, dog meat) famously stewed in its blood amongst other spices and ingredients. Saksang is popularised by the Bataks, but restaurants serving this dish can now be found in the inner city. Popular locations include Saksang Asan (Jalan Wahidin) and Saksang Goreng Apau 59 (Jalan Deli Serdang).

Visit Jalan Semarang for supper[7]

Jalan Semarang is a popular supper destination for the locals. Most stalls serve their meals outdoors and offer a diverse selection of cuisines. Some popular dishes here include bihun ikan (fish with vermicelli noodles), nasi bebek hai nam (Hainanese duck rice), nasi sayur (mixed rice), and mie hokkien (Hokkien noodles). Adventurous foodies will also be able to find a more eclectic selection including frog stews, snake meats, fried monitor lizard, and bat soups.

Try Sate Padang (Padang Meat Skewers)[8]

Sate Padang is one of Sumatra’s most popular dishes. Skewers of grilled beef or chicken lathered in thick spicy sauce with a side of rice cakes can be found at various hawker stalls in Medan. Locals usually enjoy Sate Padang as an afternoon snack or for supper. Favorite locations include Sate Padang Afrizal Amir (Jalan Brigjen Katamso) and Sate Padang Triadi. 

Try Babi Panggang Karo (Karo Barbeque Pork)[9]

One of Batak’s legendary dishes, Babi Panggang Karo is definitely one of the local’s favorite dishes. Tourists in Medan should not miss this delicacy, which originated from the Batak Karo tribe. The most popular restaurant to enjoy this delicacy is RM OnDo Grill Batak.

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[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maimun_Palace

[2] http://tjongafiemansion.org

[3] https://www.tripzilla.com/lake-toba-things-to-do/56624

[4] https://indonesia.tripcanvas.co/sumatra/guide-to-lake-toba/

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bika_Ambon

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saksang

[7] https://wisatatempat.com/tempat-buka-puasa-di-medan-rekomendasi-makan-enak-murah-favorit/

[8] http://www.medanfoodblog.com/2016/01/sate-padang-yang-enak-dan-wajib-dicoba.html

[9] https://www.qraved.com/journal/blog/kelezatan-menu-babi-di-6-lapo-legendaris-di-medan