Flag down an Angkut (mini van) and tell them "Loket Sejahtera" (Sejahtera bus station), It's fun to ride on this mini-van, it will take round parapat and to the bus station for IDR2,000.
Again, take a Sejahtera bus to Medan, this time, the bus is not that crowded and we have room to move my legs plus a bonus sleeping, no tv to put on the dangdut songs. Peace at last.
We paid IDR50,000 for 2 person, 5 hours of long and hot journey.
At Permatang Siantar, the bus stop for 20mins for the driver's rest and pick up more passengers.
So the bus will stop at Amplas Bus Station, then find our own transport to Hotel..
We took the Bechak this time...the most awesome ride in Medan.
From Polonia Airport, we took a taxi for IDR40,000 to Loket Bus Amplas (Amplas Bus Station) to catch the bus to Parapat. It's quite a long trip to the station, lucky we didn't take the Becha, I don't know how it will be like, very hot, humid and dusty, plus dangerous in medan road traffic.
There are two bus services to take you to Parapat - Sejahtera and Indra. Its best to take Sejahtera, the bus will take you up to Tiga Raja Harbour. Indra bus will stop at P.Siantar and you will have take other bus to Parapat, troublesome.
Quickly catch the bus and find yourself a seat. Man will come to collect payment later when the bus move once there are enough of passengers. A trip to Parapat cost IDR25,000. The trip will takes about exactly 5 hours with one stopping for the bus driver to take a break and pick up more passenger at Permatang Siantar. The bus got no air-condition and get ready to listen full blast of Indonesia Dongdut songs. We were sweating like pig - hot, we tried to sleep but we can't of the music. But all the tiredness gone once you see the lake..wahhh...cantik (beautiful).
Inform the bus driver where you want to stop. We stopped at Tiga Raja Harbour, and got confused with so many Danau Toba Hotel, where is our hotel????
Got some help from the hotel staff to introduce their friends to drive us around in Medan and to Danau Toba. We paid about 700,000 rupiah for the day trip to Danau Toba using a Toyota Kijang, two very nice drivers Khairul and Komerk, Komerk is a much better driver as he knows how to pull down the handbrake and Khairul drives with the full handbrake. My God, lucky we all come back alive. Hehe..
Anyway, two of them are very helpful, taking us to shop at local stores, eat at locals, hmm..just nice.
We used the service of Sumatra Reizen, and were directly welcomed at Medan airport by Ewan, the manager of the company. Ewan is speaking english,
We drove in a clean car until Toba, it took us about 4 hours from Medan airport.
The price was 650rb for drop from Medan to Toba, for a very good service and guides willing to make us discover this part of sumatra, and the Batak culture.
They are also offering tours all over Sumatra, we will most probably contact Ewan again, to climb up the kerinci and lauser.
From Medan, Terminal Amplas take a Sejahtera Bus to Parapat (it goes about every hour in the daytime to the ferry pier in Parapat, no aircon and 5 seats in a row), Rp 22000, 4-5 hours.
For more comfort take a Kijang/shared taxi maybe Rp 65000.
Ferry to Tuk Tuk from 7 am every hour, Rp 7000
Renting a motorbike is good for exploring the small trails; the problem is that there are no detailed maps of the area around Samosir, and it is good to rely on people who know the area; so I decided to travel with a young driver and his friends, and for 50.000 Rp I had a nice afternoon, exploring the western shores of Lake Toba.
Another good thing having a driver is that you do not need to concentrate on driving, and have your hands free to make a few pictures while you are moving. . . . Here are a few pictures I made with a small compact camera, while sitting on the back seat of a motorbike; in order of pictures, kids on the roadside, somewhere between Parapat and Motung; driving through high grass, on the way to a small lake; lake in the hills, above Parapat; I am not sure where, not far from Lumban Julu, you can also drive on small trails between swamps, and come back on “bigger roads”. . . Well, just driving around and looking!
For exploring Samosir Island, or the area around Lake Toba on the mainland, the best is to hire a motorbike; whilst it is possible to hire motorbikes on Samosir and drive them yourself, I did not find the same service in Parapat, and had to travel with a driver; but this last option is also interesting, as the guys know the area, and they can find places you would not have thought of!
On Samosir, you can rent bikes in Tomok: you go to a service station, or to what looks alike and inquire. . . people will take you to the right person who hires bikes; the bikes are in good condition, try them if you have a doubt, but also, do not expect nec plus ultra bikes; you will not have helmets, not have to sign any contract, not have to leave a deposit, etc. . . it is just honest commerce and a handshake, once agreed, is the contract! Renting a bike costs 50.000 rp for the day (negotiate the price!) on Samosir.
In Parapat, next to the beach (Pantai), I found young guys who offered to drive me around on their bike for 50.000 rp one full afternoon; I have seen a lot that afternoon.
The motorbike is interesting as it can take you quickly to places you cannot reach by car, and there are plenty of interesting places to see, by this mean.
Public transportation is quite easy in Parapat: you have to make a sign to one of the komilets (local name for minibus) passing by, and if they are more or less following a fixed route, they either make a detour or tell you the line number or colour of the minibus which goes to that destination. I came back late evening from “downtown” (restaurant) to the hotel located high above the city, several times and always found one of the minibuses, for me alone, and had to pay an extra price so they took me “home”; price was 5000 Rp, half a US Dollar, quite worth it!
So, easy to go around, and going to the harbour or on other places near the lake was easy! And when you take popular transportation means, you have a chance to meet people and it is always interesting to watch locals..
The easiest way to chill around this area is to rent a botorbike for as less as 50.000 Rs a day.
With this kind of transport you will be free to drive and go wherever you want, up and down, right and left!
....take just care on the way of driving....Leftside!
Wherever you are coming from,to reach Lake Toba in Samosir Island where I was, you gotta drop in a boat, that every half an hour is crossing the lake.
Is a pretty confortable and cheap transportation, but I would tip you to take care once you are dropping off....
Usually a guy is dropping off as first, then he’d take a rope and would try to keep the boat as near as possible to the land point...then easily you would have to jump....
This is a pretty easy action to do when you do not carry anything, but believe me, when you carry your own backpack, plus a daily bag and some other stuff...it gets complicated....
Lake Toba and Samosir Island are not so well connected to the rest of Sumatra, or better say, the streets are so in bad conditions, that every connection is so in delay and the rought is so long...
But this could also be seen in the “adventure point of view”.
I took a night bus from Lake Toba to Bugittingi, that should be expected to arrive in 10 hours (ultra super duper delux) but at the end I spent 15 hours to get there.
The “Super duper bus” was wwith aircondition and I was wearing a shorts, after let’s say a couple of hours, the aircond became cold water and it starts to fall form the roof to my head...it was sooooo unbelievebale...
But what you wanna complain?! Com’on...
Moreover when the bus driver takes a stop around middnight to let us smoke a cigarette in the middle of the rain forest!
It was simply bneautifull, no one light, no one sound, only peace!! It was great!
I could suggest you this agency, altough it is easier to walk through the viollage and check them out (also the GH are able to issue the tickets...easier but a little bit more expensive...):
Pt. Dolok Silau
Tour & Travels services
Parapat – Lake Toba
Road access to lake Toba can be time consuming because of the poor road conditions. Arriving from Bukittinggi it will take about 15 hrs by bus to Parapat where there are frequent ferries to Samosir Island. If you're heading north you can better cross the like by boat from Parapat to Haranggoal and catch a bus from there to Berastagi and further to Medan.