Lake Toba Travel Guide

Travel Guides > Indonesia > Sumatra > Lake Toba Travel Guide

Lake Toba and the world’s largest island within an island

Lake Toba in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia is the world’s largest and deepest crater lake. The lake has a surface area of 1,130 square kilometres and is up to 500 metres deep at its deepest points.

In the lake is the island of Samosir (Pulau Samosir), which has the distinction of being the worlds largest island within an island. The island is nearly the same size as Singapore.

Lake Toba
[Lake Toba]

Tuk Tuk is the main tourist area of Samosir, reached by ferries from Parapat. Tuk Tuk is on a small peninsula on the island and it is not over developed. If you have been in the cities of Indonesia you will notice the relative peace with very few cars and motorbikes in the town.

Tuk Tuk has a great selection of guesthouses available so the prices are good value. There are restaurants, bars, internet cafes as well as book stores and travel service shops.

If you want to explore the rest of the island there are plenty of places that rent out motorbikes for the day.

Batak Cutlure

This region of Sumatra is the home of the Batak people, and Samosir is the centre of Batak culture. The Batak population in Northern Sumatra is around 5 million and they are mostly Christian.

A feature of Batak culture is the Batak house. These houses are all over the region and have a distinct roof that curves up at each end. The house consists of three levels and range from simple farm houses to grand and ornate homes covered in intricate carvings.

Batak Houses
[Batak Houses]

Also dominant in the Batak landscape is the family tomb. These mausoleums can be seen next to the family house, by the roadside or in the rice fields.

Batak Family Tomb
[Batak Family Tomb]


Lake Toba hotels – Search for discount hotels in Samosir/Lake Toba.

Getting to Lake Toba

Tuk-Tuk on Samosir Island is accessed via passenger ferry from Parapat. Bus services from north and south Sumatra stop at Parapat.

Lake Toba Ferries
[Lake Toba Ferries]

The easiest way to Parapat is via Medan, which is five hours via bus, or four hours via private van.

Medan has domestic and international air services as well as a ferry service from Penang, Malaysia.

Travel Guides – Lake Toba – Travel information from the official Indonesian travel website.

Travelfish: Lake Toba Travel Guide – An introduction to the Lake Toba area, and Travelfish members are able to download a PDF guidebook. – A tourist guide to Lake Toba North Sumatra. How to get to Lake Toba, hotels and accommodation and what to do.

Blog Posts

Indonesia on $15 a day in Tuk Tuk, Sumatra – My cost of travel report from 2009.

Setting up shop on Samosir – My month at a lakeside cottage.

Lake Toba – An amazing place not to do anything at all –

Guide Books

Lonely Planet Indonesia (Travel Guide) – Includes coverage of Tuk-Tuk and Lake Toba, and onward travel in Sumatra.


Tuk-Tuk Photo Gallery – My photo gallery of Tuk-Tuk, the main tourist area of Lake Toba.

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