5 Best Sights in Belawan, Indonesia

Bukit Lawang Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

At the entrance to Gunung Leuser National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site four hours north of Medan, Bukit Lawang is famed for its more than 2,500 orangutans. Take a guided orangutan trek through the park or time your visit to coincide with the daily orangutan feedings, which take place at 9 am and 3 pm. You need to buy a permit in the guide office in Bukit Lawang to attend a feeding; bringing a camera costs an additional 50,000 Rp. To reach Bukit Lawang, you can take a tourist bus from Medan (about 100,000 Rp) or hire a taxi.

Grand Mosque of Medan

Constructed in 1906, the Grand Mosque, or Mesjid Raya, was designed by a Dutch architect, and tombs of former sultans can be found on its grounds. Make sure you're properly attired before entering the mosque; women are required to cover their heads. Expect to spend about 10,000 Rp for a visit, plus a tip for the person who looks after your shoes. Impromptu guides may approach you as you enter and offer their services (whether you'd like them or not) for a fee.

Jalan Mesjid Raya and SM Raja, Medan, Indonesia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Daily 9–5, except prayer times

Istana Maimun Palace

This Medan landmark, designed by an Italian architect with Islamic, Dutch, and Malay influences, was built for Sultan Ma'mun Al-Rashid Alam Perkasat between 1887 and 1891. Though the 30-room palace is still home to the family of the Sultan of Deli (who doesn't hold any official power nowadays), visitors are welcome inside a limited portion to view the royal throne and antique furnishings, though there's not a lot of information on the history. There are also Malay musical performances held here several times a day during the tourist season.

Jalan Katamso, Medan, Indonesia
Sights Details
Rate Includes: 5000 Rp, Daily 8–5

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Lake Toba

Though it's a four- to five-hour drive to reach Lake Toba from Medan, travelers say the journey is totally worth the hassle to experience its beauty—though it's advisable to stay overnight or longer if you can. It's the largest volcanic lake in the world, resulting from a volcano that exploded more than 75,000 years ago. To reach Lake Toba, hire a driver to take you to the charming town of Parapat, on the shores of the lake, then board a 40-minute ferry to volcanic Samosir Island, which sits in the middle of the lake. Once you're there, you can take a dip in a hot spring, hike or bike the island, or simply enjoy the mesmerizing views.

Tjong A Fie Mansion

This attractive home of a wealthy Chinese businessman, completed in 1900, is worth a visit for a peek into the region's past. A guide, included in the admission price, will take you on a one-hour tour through the well-preserved mansion, explaining the history and offering insight into objects including pottery, furniture, and family photos.