Stunning Samosir Island

The island of Samosir, situated in the huge crater lake of Toba,  measures 45 km. by 20 km. The island, together with its surrounding areas is the heart of the Toba Batak culture. A visit to Lake Toba is not complete without a stay on Samosir with its many traditional villages along its shoreline. Lake Toba is around 5 hours drive from North Sumatra’s capital city, Medan.

On the east side of the island, the land rises steeply from a narrow strip of flat land along the lake’s water edge climbing to a central plateau that towers some 780 m. above the waters. Cycling up to the plateau passing many traditional villages is a pleasant experience, as from this height one can have a wonderful panoramic view on this magnificent blue lake.

Samosir Island, Lake Toba
Samosir Island, Lake Toba (Source :

Regular ferries ply between Parapat on the mainland and the villages of Tomok and Tuktuk on Samosir. As you step down the ferry at Tomok you will be greeted by a row of souvenir stalls selling an array of Batak handicraft, from the traditional hand-woven ulos cloths to Batak bamboo calendars and all kinds of knick-knacks.

Tomok itself is a traditional village, best known as the gateway and introduction to Samosir. Here is the large stone sarcophagus of chief Sidabutar. Carved from a single block of stone, the tomb dates back to the early 19th century. The front is carved with the face of a singa – a mythical creature, part water buffalo, part elephant. On the saddle-shaped lid is a small statue of a woman carrying a bowl, believed to represent the wife of the dead chief.

Beautifully painted traditional adat houses stand in a neat row, with their backs to the lake, complemented with rice barns facing the houses. The elaborate Batak designs on these houses form leaves and flowers and are typically colored in black, white and red.

An ancient Batak tomb, this one located near the lakeside in Tomok
An ancient Batak tomb, this one located near the lakeside in Tomok (Source :

Further north of Tomok is a small peninsula, known as Tuktuk Siadong,  – or simply Tuktuk – , best loved for its sandy beaches and beautiful lush scenery. Here the soft lapping blue waters of lake Toba blend with the green pastures where water buffalos graze or work the land.  Although offering beaches and opportunities for watersports, yet the air here is cool as it is located high in the mountains. No wonder, therefore, that Tuktuk has become a favorite with tourists, so that here you will find a plethora of small hotels and homestays, restaurants and handicrafts galore.

Tuktuk, Samosir island
Tuktuk, Samosir island (Source :

Further north are the villages of Ambarita and Simanindo. At Ambarita, some four km from Tuktuk are stone furniture, said to have been a place where criminals were sentenced and beheaded.

At Simanindo, 19 km. further north is the elaborately decorated house of Raja Sidauruk, which is now a museum. Here are regularly performed the sigalegale puppet performance. The human sized sigalegale puppet is believed to be a receptacle for the soul of the deceased at funeral rites.

Lake Toba itself is the largest fresh water reservoir in South East Asia stretching 1,100 km. long and is 450 meters at its deepest point. As a crater lake, the result of a mega volcanic explosion some 30,000 years, Lake Toba sits 905 meters above sea level. Seven districts surround lake Toba, they are the districts of Simalungun, Toba Samosir, North Tapanuli, Humbang Hasundutan, Dairi, Karo, and Samosir. Among these, the island of Samosir is definitely the most favored destination for visitors.

Watch the video about North Sumatera :


Because Tuktuk is popular with many international tourists, finding food is not a problem, since Tuktuk is practically up and running 24 hours a day. In the evening there are still a number of restaurants and cafes open offering Batak bands, dances, and traditional performances. The Batak are famous for their melodious music and strong vocals.

Although the majority of Batak are Christian, yet for Muslims there are restaurants offering non-pork food.

Enjoy a strong hot cup of coffee while watching the sun slowly set over the horizon.

If you are interested in learning Batak cooking, join a cooking class at Tuktuk.

Visit the handicraft center at Tuktuk with its many souvenir shops selling Batak handicrafts, such as the ulos cloth, woodcarvings, Batak bamboo calendars, a staff used by former Batak chieftains, and many more.

While, at Tomok are plenty of stalls and kiosks selling Batak handicrafts and knick-knacks.

Tuktuk has a number of hotels to homestays with rates ranging from  Rp100,000 – to  Rp500, 000 a night depending on the type.

At Tuktuk are a large number of accommodation and restaurants that also rent out bikes, motorbikes and books. You can also exchange the books with the ones you bring.

The more upmarket hotels are located along the lake’s shore with an exclusive beach for guests.  Watersports such as canoeing, jetskiing, waterbikes, or swimming and fishing are best pastimes here.

Trek up the mountain to the plateau, to the village of Tele, the vantage point to absorb the grand scenery on Lake Toba. Or watch the serene sunrise and sunset over this spectacular scenery.  You can also try paragliding from Bukit Siulakhosa, for added excitement and unforgettable photographs.

Bike or ride motorbike across the countryside around Samosir to meet the locals and wonder how that awesome eruption that occurred thousands of years ago could manage to create such a huge caldera and transform it into a lake with such a large island in the middle.

The Bukit Betha and the Open Stage at Tuktuk Siadong are also often used as arena for athletics, downhill biking, motor cross and other nature sports.


The town of Parapat is around four to five hours from Medan by private car or rented vehicles.  You can also take the train that serves Medan – Pematang Siantar, then board a bus from here to Parapat, which takes around 2 hours.

Tourist buses also take passengers from Medan to Parapat via Lubuk Pakam, Tebing Tinggi, to  Pematang Siantar. Along the route enjoy the panorama of palm oil and rubber tree plantations.

From Parapat, ferries take passengers to Tuktuk to the pier located near major hotels.


Since the weather here can be quite cool especially in the evenings, do not forget to bring some warm clothing with you.

Facebook Comments

"Photos are copyrighted by their owners."

error: Do Not Copy