Medan: North Sumatra

Being one of the biggest islands in the world, Sumatra is an excellent island to visit for travellers whether they are adventurous, culturally minded or those who just like to explore. The third largest city in Indonesia is Medan and is the capital of North Sumatra. The city is home to many ethnic groups, cultures and customs and its diversity in arts is impressive. Because it is easily reached from South-East Asia by sea Belawan Harbour is an important trading centre. Medan is an exotic and mesmerising place to visit and with a population of over two million friendly people, the city is a pleasure to explore and experience. I prefer walking when around any city or place that I visit but if this is not to your liking then motorized becaks are to be found everywhere in Medan. Besides these there are taxis and buses.

Medan is more chaotic and has a bit more dirtier than Jakarta or Denpasar and open sewers abound and even though this can be a deterrent there is also the stifling heat and dust but, it is a city in Indonesia not to be quickly dismissed from your itinerary. Not as many people speak English in Medan as in other large Indonesian cities but one can easily get around the city and if it makes you feel better then learn a few phrases of Bahasa Indonesia to help you along. If you travel to Medan then use common practice travel awareness.

Medan has some fabulous places to visit and here’s just a few of the best:

Maimoon Palace: Although in a reasonably bad state of disrepair, this palace was built by the Sultan of Deli in 1888.

Mesjid Raya Mosque: A beautiful black-domed structure, the Moroccan-style mosque is ornately decorated and even has Italian marble and stained glass windows from China. This is a perfect and interesting example of global fusion.

Kesawan Square: This is a perfect place for those interested historical and cultural buildings as there are numerous colonial buildings centred round here.

Tjong A Fie Mansion: Former residence of a Chinese merchant, this magnificent place fuses Victorian and Chinese architecture.

A lot of travellers and tourists tend to use Medan as a kind of by-pass city only used as an entry point to other places in northern Sumatra. Medan is a city not to be missed and it is a fantastic place to explore not only for its culture and arts, but also the incredible architecture to be found there.

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