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Latitude: 3.56, Longitude: 98.67
Medan's Polonia International Airport and Belawan sea port are both visa-free and visa-on-arrival points.
For more visa information, see the Indonesia page.
Medan is not located by the sea but nearby Belawan is a major port with domestic and international boat and ferry services. Belawan is listed as a visa-free and visa-on-arrival entry point (see the Get in section of the Indonesia page).
To/from other parts of Indonesia: Pelni boats link Belawan with various ports in Sumatra and other Indonesian islands. The comfortable MV Kelud departs from Belawan every Tuesday. The full sailing schedule is on www.pelni.com.
To/from Malaysia: Ferries run to/from Penang, Malaysia. Operated by Langkawi Ferry Services, Tel: +62-61-4521666/4527555 in Medan; +60-4-2642088 in Penang. Check the schedule ahead of time as they are NOT daily.
Since March 2007 there is a ferry from Medan to Lumut (Perak/Malaysia). It's RM100 one way and RM180 for a return ticket. The ferry leaves on Friday and Monday at 10:00AM from Medans port Belawan and on Wednesday and Saturday at 10:30AM from Lumut. As schedules changes check the schedule before (Indonesia office: email@example.com +62-6261-7320421 in Medan, Malaysia office: firstname.lastname@example.org, +60-5-6056804000 in Lumut).
Larger, non air-conditioned buses and large luxury buses (often Mercedes) that are air-conditioned (some have toilets on board, though they are squatting toilets that are difficult to use when the buses are moving, given driving habits and road conditions throughout Sumatra). The central station for all larger buses in Medan is Amplas Station Central (not located in the center of the city though). This is where a lot of the smaller minivans go as well, and where travellers need to go to make connecting buses to further cities. Many of the large air-conditioned buses perform overnight routes, with prices varying by location served. As an example of prices from August 2005, expect to pay around Rp.50,000-80,000 for an 8-10 hour overnight luxury bus (without toilet saves about Rp.10,000+) trip, as in to Duri, Bukit Lawang, or Lake Toba (Danau Toba). Such buses provide a small snack and sometimes have televisions on board. While seats are very comfortable by Sumatran standards, all rides are swervy/bumpy and drivers often play stereos quite loud during the entire trip (unless a movie is available). Also, many buses have smoking sections in the back, and sometimes, smoking occurs in the front of the non-smoking section by the driver if the driver is so inclined. Earplugs are good accessories. Furthermore, while the large luxury buses have ample stowage above seats, keep valuables safe while you sleep.
Medan's international airport is known as Polonia International Airport (MES) and is located about 15 minutes from the city. Domestic departure taxes from Medan is Rp25,000, while international departure tax is Rp150,000.
Medan currently is in progress to finalise the new Bandara Udara Kuala Namu Internasional Airport due to open sometime in 2009, although as of July this year there was still no official word as to when this might happen, most locals suggest later in 2010 if they are lucky. Be prepared though as this new airport is a long way from the middle of the city and taxi transfers will be much more expensive.
Getting there: A Taxi into town sets you back around Rp40,000, unless you walk past the taxis in front of the terminal and proceed towards the exit. There are more taxis towards the exit, and if you bargain well, you can get a taxi for only Rp.20,000. (although this is not easy to do as the road is quite bumpy and you are likely to get run down walking along the exit road, strongly suggest you negotiate with the taxi drivers at the terminal). If you know the public bus number for your destination, it is Rp.3500 per person, but those unfamiliar with the Indonesian language are encouraged to get taxis for their first transportation.
There are direct international flights to/from Penang (for only around $70 return), Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Ipoh in Malaysia, Singapore and Phuket. Several discount airlines service Medan, Air Asia, JetStar Asia, Firefly to name but three. All of them are LCC so you get what you pay for.
Silk Air flies twice daily from Medan to Singapore, as does JetStar (trading in Indonesia as ValuAir). ValuAir is usually cheaper, though you have to pay for checked baggage, and if you have a connecting flight in Singapore, they won't forward your luggage.
For those flying from outside Asia, both Malaysia and Singapore Airlines sell through tickets to Medan, transiting in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively. These tickets are typically little more expensive than a ticket to KL/Singapore alone; it's worth considering also 'open-jaw tickets', for instance Singapore Airlines flying in to Medan and out of Bali (or vice versa).
Medan city are swamped by Becak and Taxi (the preferable choice to get around)
Also known as trishaws or pedicabs. You have to be good negotiator if you want to ride on becaks, with price ranging between Rp.5,000 to Rp.10,000 depending on the destination (near or far).
Very few becak drivers speak more than a few words of English, but a map and lots of pointing will get you to the right place, even if it takes twice as long as you thought.
As you can get a hotel taxi for Rp35,000 to almost anywhere in Medan, paying more than Rp15,000 for a longer ride is probably not a good idea. Local taxis are now Rp30,000 to almost anywhere. They will not bargain much with tourists or visitors (people from Java!). The only difference I could detect between the becak and the taxi was that the taxi kept you dry when it rained, not much difference apart from that.
Public transport is not reliable and not suggested for travellers, though they have fixed price from one destination to other destinations.
Small minivans have painted numbers (1 to 267 in Medan) that signify their routes, which even locals don't have memorized. If you speak Indonesian, just ask where people are standing by the roadsides which "bus" number corresponds to your location and what the price is in advance. When a van with the appropriate number approaches, flag them down as they don't make scheduled stops (just drive along a given route and drop off passengers when told or pick up new passengers when flagged). If you are a westerner, be sure to confirm the price before getting in. This type of transportation should only be braved by those with a point-to-point knowledge of Medan and a working knowledge of Indonesian so they know where to tell the driver to stop, unless you have a local friend who can take you around.
One easy route is Minibus #3 from the great mosque (at the side of yuki mall) to the Medan Mall, which is Rp 2,000
All sudako or angkot (minibus) are now Rp 3,000 per ride.
Medan is connected by rail to other conurbations on the eastern coast of Sumatra, such as Tanjungbalai, Rantauprapat, Siantar and Binjai. Executive, business and economy class trains are available, but if your budget allows, take the better class trains, which are faster and more comfortable. Tickets cost between Rp.9,000 (economy) to Rp.70,000 (executive).
Taxi cost anywhere in central Medan should be 20,000 rupiah (lower than this, the drivers don't want the fare). However drivers may ask for 25,000rp, and it's fine to settle for this. Higher fares are only justifiable for longer distances, such as to Pinang Baris bus station, about 10km, which should cost no more than 50,000rp.
Try to pick taxi from a reliable place such in front of malls, shopping centres or airport. Most taxi drivers won't use a meter and want to bargain. Taxis with meters may put them on, but then say there is a minimum charge, 20,000rp or 25,000rp - the metered fare will usually be far lower. One taxi company that always uses a meter is Express. They are white and can usually be found around Sun Plaza and Tasbi residential complex. Call 4552211 if you want to order. (Agreed that calling Express is a good idea, they will come on time and charge you per meter these days_). There are many Bluebird lookalikes in Medan now too, so be careful and ask the driver if he is using meter or not. Most drivers are pretty reliable these days but it always pays to ask first.
Some countries maintain consulates in Medan, and the addresses of some of the consulates are listed below: