The booming city of Medan, capital of North Sumatra, is an economic hub and commercial centre for the region. This is the largest city in Sumatra attracting residents from all over Indonesia who come here to do business. For visitors, Medan is best known as the gateway to North Sumatra with many travellers flying into the city and setting off from here for adventures in the cool highlands of Lake Toba or the wild Sumatran jungle. This is a busy and sprawling metropolis so you’ll need to be patient as noisy minibuses and becak compete with taxis and motorbikes for space through the crowds and heat.
In Medan you can choose from public bus, taxi or becak to get around. The local minibuses or sudako are basic and cheap. Only use these if you have a bit of Bahasa Indonesian up your sleeve as they can be difficult to navigate otherwise.
The noisy becak is a tiny two stroke engine vehicle which is a cheap, though often nerve racking way to get around. Decide on a price with the driver before you get in.
Taxi’s are a cheap and convenient way to get around. Make sure you use a metered cab or if not, agree on your destination and price before getting in.
The city of Medan is connected by air through the Kualanamu International Airport. Located in the Deli Serdang Regency, about 2 hours drive from Medan, the Kualanamu Airport was opened in 2013 to replace the 85 years old Polonia Airport, that was getting too close to the city.
You can also get to Medan by sea from Penang (Malaysia). Passenger ships also operate between Medan and Jakarta.