Medan is the capital city of North Sumatra Province. The city is the largest in the island of Sumatra. It is also the busiest and most visited city. There are many kinds of purpose for people to visit Medan. Some come to do some business as the city is the center for economic and commercial hub in the regions.

Meanwhile, some other comes to travel around and enjoy the tourism. As Medan has a lot of attraction such as Samosir Island, it makes enough sense that the number of tourists is quite high.

The Iconic Monument of Medan City (Source: Flickr. Credit: 0193926494)
The Iconic Monument of Medan City
(Source: Flickr. Credit: 0193926494)

How to Get There

Being a major destination for business and tourism, the city of Medan surely has easy access and wide choices of transportation. You can get to the city either by land, by water, or even by air.

The most popular and quickest option is by air. Medan has FfKualanamu International Airport, a new airport that replaces the old Polonia Airport. Kualanamu International Airport is located on the regency of Deli Serdang, which is about two hours away from the city.

The airport serves international flights from Penang (Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Singapore, and Colombo (Sri Lanka). For domestic flights, you can get the ones from Jakarta City, Surabaya City, Makassar, Batam, Aceh, Bandung, Pekanbaru, and more other cities and towns in Indonesia.

The next popular option of transportation to reach Medan city is via water. Belawan Port of Medan is very large and busy. It accommodates both cargo ship and passenger ships. Passenger ships to Medan are available from Malaysia, Jakarta, and many other places.

Belawan Port of Medan (Source: Flickr. Credit: Frenkiwijaya)
Belawan Port of Medan
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Frenkiwijaya)

You can also get to the city by bus, if you are not in a hurry. There are plenty public buses in Medan that travel passenger from and to various cities and towns. The longest route of bus is Jakarta – Medan. This bus will travel pass Palembang and Pekanbaru along. To get this bus, you will only need to pay for $29 for non-AC bus and $36 for AC bus.


Where to Stay

To accommodate all the businessmen and tourists from all over the world, the city of Medan also has ranging variations of accommodation; from cheap hotels for backpacker and starter staffs, to luxurious hotels. Here are several examples of hotels you can book in Medan city:

  • Tiara Hotel Medan
    • Location : Jalan Cut Mutiah, Medan
    • Phone : +62 61 4574000
    • Website :
    • Room Rate : around $82.5 to $495
  • Hotel Inna Dharma Deli
    • Location : Jalan Balai Kota 2, Medan
    • Phone : +62 61 29222827
    • Website :
    • Room Rate : around $30 to $45
  • Hotel Syariah Grand Jamee
    • Location : Jalan Ringroad (Gagak Hitam)92, Medan
    • Phone : +62 61 8440788
    • Website :
    • Room Rate : around $16.5 to $25.
  • Hotel Cherry Red
    • Location : Jalan Sei Martebing 1, Babura, Medan
    • Phone : +62 61 4145545
    • Website :
    • Room Rate : $13.5 to $21


Historical Background

At the ancient times, Medan was ruled under Deli Empire, an Islamic empire from Aceh. The empire conquered this place after a huge battle with the previous leader. This huge battle marked a huge change in the history of Medan as the city started to grow better. The word “Medan” itself means “battle field” as a remembrance of that big day. During the era of Deli Empire, Medan was a humble village filled with traders and seafarers that formed a harmonious community.

Around 18th century, the Dutch started to see the potential of this place. They took over the place and started colonializing it. European capitalists started investing there and agriculture business started to increase significantly. Most commodities in this business are tobacco, rubber, oil palms, and tea.

This is when Medan gradually changed from simple village to busy city. As the business grew, people started coming to Medan. This explains how the city has various races of populations. This variation of ethnicities then created various cultures in the life of Medan.

The Remaining of Dutch Building in Medan (Source: Flickr. Credit: Arif Suryadi)
The Remaining of Dutch Building in Medan
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Arif Suryadi)

In 1945, Indonesia earned its Independence after hard and long struggle. The city of Medan became a part of the country. Deli Empire was not dispersed. It still exists even up until today. But it doesn’t have political power anymore. It is there to maintain the harmonious living of the people as well as preserving the local culture and wisdoms.


Historical and Cultural Tourism

In the city of Medan, you could still find many evidences from that history. The most popular one is Maimun Palace. This was the palace of Deli Empire built in 1888. The architecture of the palace was thickly influenced by Malayan and Islamic architecture.

Going inside the palace, you will see many collections that proof the glory of Deli Empire such as photographs and the thrones of Deli King. Maimun Palace is easy to access as it is located at a main road of Jalan Brigden Katamso, the district of Sukaraja, Medan Maimun regency. The palace opens daily from 08.00 to 17.00 with entrance fee only $0.6.

The Thrones of Deli Emperor (Source: Flickr. Credit: Henk Kosters)
The Thrones of Deli Emperor
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Henk Kosters)

As Deli Empire was an Islamic empire, a great mosque surely existed. Located only 200 meters from the Maimun Palace, you will find a great mosque named Masjid Raya Medan. The mosque was built about 8 years after the Deli Empire succeeded in conquering the city. The building looks very majestic with octagonal shape and five huge domes. Now, the mosque is considered as one of the largest and the most beautiful mosque in Indonesia.

Islam and Malay were not the only culture that developed in Medan. The Chinese culture is also rooted strongly at this city. During the ancient times, many Chinese traders come along to the island for the agriculture business. Most of them didn’t return to their home country and built a community there in Medan.

Tjong A Fie Mansion is the one tourism object that you can visit to witness the Chinese culture in Medan history. Tjong A Fie was a rich trader that led the Chinese community in Medan. His house has unique architectural features dominated with Chinese architecture and influenced with Malay and Europe architecture as well. A Chinatown is also available in Medan on Jalan Sutomo.

The Gate to the Mansion (Source: Flickr. Credit: herman)
The Gate to the Mansion
(Source: Flickr. Credit: herman)

There is also a community of India and Pakistani ethnicity in Medan. You can visit their village on Kampung Keling or Kampung Madras. The village is like a Little India of Medan. Coming inside the village, you will be surprised with the amount of Indian people dominating the place. On the village, there is also a golden shrine where people would come and pray.

If you pay a visit to Taman Alam Lumbini, you will find other cultural remains of Medan history. At that park, there is a great pagoda with similar shape to Shwedago Pagoda in Manila. The pagoda in Lumbini is the tallest, the biggest, and the most sophisticated pagoda in Indonesia.


The city of Medan is not just about a strong history and all the remains of it. The city is also rich in nature’s beauty to explore and other attractive things to enjoy. Kindly keep reading on our next article where we would provide more information regarding the tourism of Medan.