Basic Info for Travelers to Lake Toba
Location & Airports
Lake Toba is in northern Sumatra, the most western island of Indonesia. Medan is the lake’s nearest big city, a 1-hour flight north west of Singapore. Two airports serve as gateways to Lake Toba, i.e., the Kualanamu International Airport in Medan (5 hours by car to lakeshore) and the Silangit Airport at Siborongborong (30 minutes to lake shore).
Weather & Seasons
Lake Toba has a tropical rainforest climate with the dry season from April to October and raining season during November to March. The heaviest rainfall takes place between December and March. The local temperature ranges from 17° to 29° Celsius (63° to 84° Fahrenheit), and the average humidity rate is around 85%. Parapat is the biggest town on the lake.
Weather: Current and Forecast
Best Time to Visit
If you are interested in nature and wildlife, the best time to visit Lake Toba is between May and September, i.e., during the dry season and when the weather is mostly clear. If you are interested in culture, the best time to visit is when there are events that you want to see (for a schedule, see Events on Lake Toba). There are many events between May and September so this time frame should be perfect.
Lake Toba and Medan are 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), i.e., similar to Jakarta and Bangkok. Singapore is one hour ahead. Indonesia and Singapore do not observe any daylight saving time.
Lake Toba is a remote area in Indonesia. It is mostly surrounded by hills and mountains, averaging 700 to 1,250 meters (2,300 to 4,100 ft) above sea level. Road conditions are fair in residential areas, but less than so in rural locations. Minivans should handle the rides to most destinations. A 4-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicle or motorbike may be required to access particular points of interest. To the extent we have the information, our pages that discuss the relevant sites will note the requirement accordingly.
Money and Currency
Rupiah is the official currency on Lake Toba. Prominent merchants such hotels and resorts also accept US Dollars, Australian Dollars, Singapore Dollars and Euros but they only convert your money at unfavorable rates. They also take Visa and MasterCard and charge you in the local currency. Smaller merchants such as shops and homestays do not accept foreign money or credit cards. For more details, see Money & Banks on Lake Toba.
Security and Safety
Traveling with family to Lake Toba is safe. Beware of pickpockets in crowded areas such as souvenir markets. Airports and hotels have dedicated guards, but other places do not. Avoid traveling alone if possible.