Photo: Lake Toba is big, very big.

How to get to and from Lake Toba

Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Lake Toba.


To get to Lake Toba, most people catch a ferry from the port town of Parapat, five hours from Medan. The ferry departs regularly throughout the day with the final departure being at 19:00. Cost of the ferry is 10,000 rupiah.

From Parapat, there are a number of transport options. From the bus terminal, two kilometres east of the ferry port, buses take passengers to Medan, Bukittinggi and Berastagi (via Pematang Siantar). From the Parapat ferry port itself there are shared taxis charging in the region of 100,000 rupiah for Medan with direct connections to Bukit Lawang possible if there are enough foreigners wanting to share the same car. Sample fares include:

Bukittinggi: 16 hours, 225,000 rupiah, 17:00 (note that prices from agents in Tuk-Tuk are negotiable and cheaper still from the bus station in Parapat but advance bookings are highly recommended as buses are usually full)
Medan: 5 hours, 32,000 rupiah, regular departures
Pematang Siantar: 1.5 hours, 15,000 rupiah, regular departures (check price)

It is also possible to get to Berastagi, Sibolga and Ketambe from Pangururan on the opposite side of Samosir Island, but this requires an hour and a half long journey from Tuk-Tuk first and this added time often makes it more time consuming than just catching transport from Parapat.

Getting around
Public transport on Samosir Island is erratic and unfortunately does not pass the main road of Tuk-Tuk. It's of little use to the casual visitor, but it is possible to flag any passing minibus heading along the road which joins Ambarita and Tomok and continuing around the entire island, a 30-minute walk from most accommodation in Tuk-Tuk. Fares approximate to about 10,000 rupiah per hour of travel. It's this bus you'll catch to Pangururan for onward travel to more remote places west of Lake Toba.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Lake Toba? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Indonesia.

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