How to put this in the nicest way possible. Medan is not a city that we would ever include in any must-see lists for Indonesia. In fact this city of 2 million in North Sumatra - or Sumatera Utara - is inches from being put on our don't-go-there list.
Medan is one of those places that combines the chaos and pollution typically found in Indonesian cities with a list of sights that is just a tad too short to make it all worth your while. Something else that is quite short is the list of good hotels, while decent nightlife and restaurants are just as hard to come by. In short, tourist infrastructure is lacking somewhat in Medan. Did we mention yet that parts of the city have open sewers running through them and the toilets we encountered here were some of the worst in the country? Yeah.
Medan's most spectacular sight is the quite unremarkable Great Mosque of Medan, while other attractions include Dutch colonial architecture and a Buddhist or Hindu temple here and there.
But perhaps it is all a matter of what point of view you take. If it is indeed the polished Indonesia experience (five star Jakarta hotels, rice fields, volcanoes and kratons) that you are after, Medan is honestly probably best omitted. But if you for some reason crave a more of a genuine Indonesian city experience in a diverse ethnic and cultural place that isn't overrun with tourists, you can check out Medan. In the end there is a bit of beauty in the rough, not to mention that if you head to places like Lake Toba you will quite likely have to touch down here anyway! [Review by travelindicator]
- Medan is a city in Indonesia's region of Sumatera Utara. It has a population of 2,097,610, is situated at an altitude of 75ft and the best airport to fly into is MES (Polonia, Medan)
- The main spoken language here is Indonesian, and the average English skill is low
- The currency used in Indonesia is the Indonesian rupiah (IDR)
Historical average maximum temperature per month (℉):
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More Medan travel resources
This list of 16 reasons to visit Medan sees to focus quite heavily on things to see outside of the city. We rest our case. Someone else found Medan unexpectedly interesting while others called it literally the worst city ever. Indonesia'd has some remarks on the city and as always you can rely on Lonely Planet and Wikitravel.
Medan Attractions (Foursquare)
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