50 Unforgettable Things to Do in Lake Toba

Are you looking for some awesome things to do in Lake Toba, North Sumatra?

After visiting for 10 years and living here for more than a year, we’ve created a list of the 50 best things to do on Samosir Island for every type of traveller.

From well-known sights to hidden gems, we’ve got everything you need to create your dream Lake Toba itinerary.

 So ayok, let’s get stuck in!

Here are the 50 best things to do in Lake Toba – in no particular order.

Skip to the end to see a map of all these awesome activities!

See everything on this Lake Toba Top 50 List in our matching YouTube video!


1. Hike to Simangande Waterfall

Waterfall crashing through trees

If there has been enough rain recently, you can see Simangande waterfall from most parts of Tuktuk village on Samosir Island. After a decent downpour, it streams down the side of the steep hills near Tomok.

Walk, bicycle, or ride a scooter to the small village of Garoga near the waterfall and ask the friendly locals to show you the entrance to the walking path.

The route to the base of the falls can be quite slippery, so try to time your hike to avoid going directly after heavy rain. Heading up in the morning is a smart idea to avoid potential rainfalls in the afternoon and evening.

The hike should take you around 30-45 minutes each way.

2. Visit Huta Siallagan

Beautiful wooden houses with tradtional peaked Batak roofs

Don’t leave Lake Toba without taking some time to learn about Batak culture and history. Huta Siallagan in Ambarita is a great place to start.

Here, you can visit a centuries-old king’s house, see inside the well-preserved, rumah bolon (Batak houses) and hear about the ancient justice system of the Batak people.

Sit in the 200-year-old stone chairs where ancient court sessions were held, then go and check out the execution site where serious criminals were beheaded.

Centuries ago, the Bataks had a reputation as cannibals. At Huta Siallagan, you can find out why the ancient tribes sometimes cooked and consumed the body parts of some criminals.

Entry is 10,000 IDR per person, and if you park your scooter, you’ll also need to pay 2000 IDR to the attendant out the front.

We recommend paying a little extra for a local guide when you visit, to get the full benefit of their knowledge and insight.

3. Eat Lontong for Breakfast

Try the local go-to breakfast – lontong.

Lontong is rice compressed into a cake, served with egg, vegetables, tempe, sambal (hot tomato paste) and a coconut-based sauce.

You can buy lontong at many local warung (small eateries), usually only in the morning. Join the locals to dine in or ask for bungkus (takeaway wrapped in brown paper).

4. Kayak on Lake Toba

person in bright yellow kayak on still blue waters with steep hills in the background

Got some spare time and not sure what to do in Lake Toba? Why not hire a kayak to leisurely explore the lake.

Tuktuk village is beautiful from any angle, but there’s just something special about seeing it from the water.

Rent a kayak from a local guesthouse or hotel and take your time to soak up the vibes of the world’s largest volcanic lake.

There’s no scary wildlife to worry about – just the local lake fish and birds to enjoy!

Be wary of going too far in the kayak; it may just be a lake, but it’s a large one, meaning there are currents and breezes that can take you places you hadn’t planned on going! Plus, the weather can change rapidly here.

5. Rent a Scooter to Explore Samosir Island

Someone riding a pink scooter wearing a pink helmet down a long empty road fringed by greenery

Our best advice for Samosir Island things to do? Hire a scooter for a day (or two or three) and just go exploring!

This one may seem vague, but it’s our absolute favourite thing to do at Lake Toba. After a year, we’re still not bored with our regular scooter adventures.

Many of the best Lake Toba attractions are spread across the island and mainland, so it makes sense to hire a scooter and take yourself on an adventure.

You can hire scooters for around 100,000 IDR per day all over Tuktuk – then literally just pick a direction and go!

The main roads around the island are in good condition and not too busy, although it can get a little rocky if you explore the backroads. Make sure you wear a helmet and take it slow.

You’ll see lush green rice fields, pretty pine forests, interesting farms, gorgeous Batak villages, lake views and so much more.

If you want to go around the entire island, it’ll take you 6-7 hours. You might end the day with a sore behind, but it’ll be worth it!

6. Parhallow Coffeeshop and Viewpoint

Girl in red dress standing in wooden pagoda with bright red flowers on top. Scenic lake views in the background

What are the best Lake Toba attractions? The scenery is definitely at the top of the list. Take a short trip to Parhallow Viewpoint to enjoy the incredible views.

From Tomok, it only takes 10-15 minutes to reach this cute little coffee shop up in the hills. Order a hot or cold drink or snack on some delicious pisang goreng (fried bananas) while you soak in those epic views of the lake and villages below.

Drive another 5-10 minutes past Parhallow and you’ll come across a small waterfall cascading directly onto the side of the main road – Sigarattung Waterfall.

7. Sipira Viewpoint

Small wooden structure against a stunning lake background

Can’t get enough of those gorgeous lake views and the wind blowing through your helmet (yes, you really need to wear one!)? Visit Sipira Viewpoint.

Keep going past Parhallow for another 20-30 minutes to reach Sipira. The panoramas here are even MORE spectacular, believe it or not.

Grassy hills roll down towards the lake, and you get 180-degree views of Lake Toba below. Entry is free, but there’s a nice little shop where you can support the owners by buying drinks and snacks.

8. Danau Aek Natonang

Danau Aek Natonang is a lake in the middle of Samosir Island. This pretty lake is circled by a nice walkway and surrounded by greenery. There are restrooms and pagodas where you can relax and soak up the peace and quiet.

When we visited during the week, we were the only people there, but note that it’s probably a different story on weekends when there are likely to be local tourists out and about. 

While the lake itself isn’t that mindblowing, it is pretty – and when else in your life can you say you visited a lake on an island on a lake on an island?

It’s worth the trip for that alone.

Add Danau Aek Natonang to your list of things to do at Lake Toba. You can reach it by driving another 20  minutes past Parhallow Viewpoint, on your way to Sipira.

9. Souvenir Shopping in Tomok

Indonesian man shopping for souvenirs at a local market

Want to add shopping to your Lake Toba to do list? Tomok is the best place on Samosir Island to shop for souvenirs and handicrafts.

Dozens of souvenir shops line the main street through Tomok, but the central shopping area is tucked away up a small alleyway in the middle of the village.

You can find everything from t-shirts and sarongs to carvings, jewellery, bags, and sunglasses.

10. Experience Traditional Tor Tor Dance and Sigale Gale in Tomok

A life sized wooden doll dressed in traditional Batak clothing

While you’re in Tomok, drop into Desa Wisata Tomok Parsaoran. This small village features restored Batak houses and often offers Batak dance and Sigale Gale performances.

You can reach this area by heading to the end of the shopping alleyway mentioned above and turning right. Alternatively, follow the signs down a side road to the parking area.

Tor Tor is a traditional style of Batak dance that has been around since the 13th century. It’s beautiful to watch – especially when you see the dancers in their traditional clothing.

You’ll also notice the Sigale Gale dolls or puppets out the front of some of the houses in this village. These are often used in performances too.

Note that the dancing and Sigale Gale may not be on when it’s quieter; weekends are your best bet for catching these in action.

11. See King Sidabutar’s Tomb

One of the best things to do in Lake Toba is explore the rich history of the area – and there are plenty of places to do that!

Just a few metres away from Desa Wisata Tomok is an ancient Batak king’s tomb. King Sidabutar is said to be the first king in Tomok more than 450 years ago.

The king’s tomb is a heavy stone sarcophagus above the ground, decorated with several stone-carved heads. Next to his tomb lie those of his descendants.

This is a sacred place, so as you ascend the steps to enter the area, you’ll be asked to wear an ulos (traditional Batak scarf/sash) as a sign of respect. They have plenty there for you to use.

Entry is by donation: there is a box to place your money in as you leave.

Again, we highly recommend using a local guide to accompany you to King Sidabutar’s tomb: the in-depth knowledge they have of the meanings of all the carvings and the history of the area is fascinating.

12. Relax at Aek Rangat Hot Springs

It can get surprisingly cold when you’re driving around the hills and mountains of Lake Toba, and those muscles can really start aching after hours on a scooter!

One of the most things to do at Lake Toba is visit the natural sulphur springs at the base of sacred Pusuk Buhit mountain for some healing vibes. This mineral-filled hot water flows directly out of the mountain and mixes with fresh cool water that is funnelled into several pools.

Each pool has a different water temperature, so you can find one that suits you perfectly. In the public pools, men and women must visit separate areas, so if you want to enter with an opposite-sex friend or mixed group, you can rent a separate pool per hour.

Head to Pangururan and cross over the bridge to the mainland to find Aek Rangat. You can’t miss it – there’s a huge, grey, volcanic gash in the hills.

Entrance is free for the public pools, but only if you order food or drink from the restaurant.

13. Charter a Private Ferry Tour

This is one of the absolute best things to do in Lake Toba. Splash out on your very own colourful ferry and explore the lake in comfort and style.

For around 2 million IDR, you can rent your own private ferry. Try to get a group together to make it affordable!

Check out KM Jogi on Facebook or pop into Jenny’s restaurant in Tuktuk for more information.

If you have a little extra cash to splash, you can enjoy a fully catered lunch on board and even get your very own amazing local band to provide the soundtrack as you visit key points of interest, such as our next entry on the list…

14. Take a Trip to Situmurun Waterfall/Binangalom Waterfall

This waterfall is not so easy to get to because it plunges directly off the side of the mainland into Lake Toba.

The only way to reach Situmurun Waterfall (also known as Binangalom Waterfall) is via the lake, although it’s definitely too far to kayak!

Instead, go there on a boat trip, as we mentioned before, or hire a speedboat.

There’s a little concrete jetty adjacent to the waterfall where you can sit and relax. Or climb up the rocks to the side of the cascade and jump in – the water from the falls is deliciously refreshing!

15. Dine at Jenny’s Restaurant

Try the fresh lobster at Jenny’s restaurant in Tuktuk – or if you’re not into seafood, try literally anything else off the menu and you won’t regret it.

People rave about the seafood dishes at Jenny’s, but there’s an extensive mix of local and Western food. Jenny’s is our favourite pizza place in town!

If you’re going on a weekend evening, make sure to get there early as it can get quite packed, especially during the busy season.

If you’re looking for more great places to eat, check out our in-depth guide to the best restaurants in Tuktuk.

16. Learn about Batak Culture at Museum Huta Bolon

Around a 30-minute drive from Tuktuk lies the village of Simanindo. Here you can find a cool Batak museum located in the former home of a Batak King (yes, another one!) who had 14 wives!

The museum displays old weapons, household items, clothing, carvings and sculptures.

Museum entrance costs 10,000-20,000 IDR. If there are enough guests, there are Batak dance performances next door daily at 10:30 am.

Note that there is an extra fee for this.

17. Buy a Traditional Ulos at Kampung Ulos Hutaraja

Two women wander through a tidy Batak village full of traditional Batak houses.

Looking for the perfect Lake Toba souvenir? Buy a traditional Ulos from the wonderful women weavers at Kampung Ulos Hutaraja.

Families live in this working tourist village where the local Batak women maintain centuries-old traditions by weaving traditional garments called ulos.

Some of these ornate, colourful scarves and sarongs take weeks to create. They cost a little more than the cheap mass-printed sarongs at the markets, but it’s worth every cent to take such a beautifully created, authentic slice of Batak culture home with you.

Kampung Ulos Hutaraja is on the Northwest coast of Samosir Island, not too far from Panguruan. It takes about 45 minutes to get there via scooter.

18. Get Some Lake Toba Beach Time

Drone shot of white sand beach with crystal water

There are plenty of active things to do in Samosir, but what about if you want to just chill for an afternoon?

You’re on a tropical island, so why not hit the beach for some sunbathing and swimming?

There are some nice sandy beaches on Samosir Island to discover. If you’re looking for somewhere peaceful and secluded, head to Sibolazi Beach (Pantai Sibolazi) near Simanindo.

If you like more of a busy beach vibe, drop into Pantai Batuhoda or Pantai Pasir Putih. There will be a minimal entry fee to cover parking etc.

Of course, you can also explore the entire island to find your own favourite beach spots!

19. Try Mango Wine at Silimalombu Eco Village

A man and a woman gathering food from a buffet

Vegan or not, you’ll love the amazing food at this picturesque and eco-friendly farm.

To reach Silimalombu, drive past Tomok alongside the lake for around 45 minutes, enjoying the incredible views of rice paddies, buffalos grazing on the side of the road, and picturesque villages.

The last 15-minute stretch has quite bumpy gravel roads, so if your scooter game is not on point, consider joining a tour to visit by boat or car.

Once there, you pay only 50,000 IDR for as much as you can eat of their delicious organic, mainly vegan food.

You can also sample their incredible mango wine, but be warned – it packs a punch, so maybe buy a bottle and try it AFTER you’ve made it safely home if you’re taking a scooter.

Silimalombu also offers homestays and volunteer activities if you’re interested. 

20. Hike around Samosir

The scenery is really the biggest Lake Toba attraction, so if you enjoy hiking, why not let your feet take you on an adventure around Tuk Tuk and the surrounding areas?

Make your way to Bukit Beta, about a 15-minute walk from central Tuk Tuk. From here, you can hike through farms and villages across to Ambarita in one direction or Tomok in the other. The back road that leads along the foot of the hills is particularly stunning.

Of course, Samosir Island is enormous, so there are plenty of other beautiful areas to explore. 

21. Hire a Bicycle

Young Indonesian man riding a bicycle past a scenic lake viewpoint

If walking is a bit slow for you but you still want to be active, hire a bicycle from Tuktuk village and see the sights at your own speed.

If you like your independence, just follow your nose in whatever direction calls to you. The road alongside the lake past Tomok is particularly beautiful (and nice and flat), as are the rockier roads that run alongside the bottom of the hills behind Tomok and Ambarita.

If you’d like some company while you cycle, hire a guide to show you the sights and provide priceless insights into the history and culture of the area.

We highly recommend our friend – and experienced guide – Daniel.

Click here to contact him on Facebook

Or message him on WhatsApp: +62 813 6276 2781

22. Try the Vegan Food at Buddhas Café

Enjoy the gorgeous gardens, beautiful Buddhist statues and vegan food at Buddhas café on the lake shore.

About a 15-minute drive from Tuk Tuk (follow the road past Ambarita), you’ll find this lovely, peaceful restaurant.

The lush gardens are home to various Buddhist statues, and the peaceful location on the shore of the lake makes for a great rest stop on your adventures.

Wander the garden paths while you wait for your meal, and don’t forget to try the homemade vegan ice cream – it’s amazing! We also highly recommend the fully vegetarian Rendang (traditionally made with beef).

23. Take a Becak Tour

What to do in Lake Toba if you don’t want to ride a scooter? Take a becak tour to see the sights! What is a becak? In some countries, becak are called tuk-tuks – but that could get confusing since we’re staying in Tuk Tuk!

A becak is a motorcycle or scooter with a small sidecar that is used as a taxi. There are many all around Tuk Tuk and Tomok. Some are quite basic, while others have been pimped out to look super cool.

24. Join an Indonesian Cooking Class in Tuk Tuk

A frypan with fried rice and vegetables

If eating is one of your favourite things to do in Samosir Island, this next activity might be ideal!

Take a cooking class in Tuktuk so you can make delicious meals back home.

Indonesian cuisine is one of the most highly-rated cuisines in the world. Whether you love a simple nasi goreng (fried rice) or have recently discovered the joy of a Sumatran rendang, why not learn how to recreate your favourite Indonesian dishes?

Several places offer cooking classes in Tuk Tuk. We highly recommend taking a lesson from lovely Ibu at Juwita Café, or our friends at top eatery, Today’s Cafe.

25. Sample Tuak (Palm Wine)

A beer glass filled with tuak (light brown/cream liquid)

Try a glass of tuak from a tuak bar! Tuak is an alcoholic drink made from fermented palm sap.

More than just an alcoholic beverage, tuak is a special traditional spirit that is woven into Batak culture. Every afternoon, you’ll see men (and sometimes women too) gather in the small tuak bars in the villages to relax, drink tuak, and sing.

Feel free to join them, or ask around to find out where you can buy a bottle (or sometimes a bag) to try. The best part? If you go to a tuak bar in the evening, you’re likely to witness the incredible voices of the Batak people and the beauty of their songs.

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26. Discover the Local Markets

Woman with tattoos browsing a fruit and vegetable market

One of our favourite things to do in Samosir is to mingle with the locals at one of the colourful village markets.

Buy and sample the delicious fresh dragonfruit, durian, mangosteen, and mangoes. Grab some traditional Indonesian snacks, check out the food and drinks from the street food vendors, and do a bit of thrift shopping while you’re at it.

Ambarita has a local market every Thursday morning, and Tomok’s takes place on Saturdays and Sundays.

27. Take a Sumatra Coffee Tour

A coffee tree in the sunlight covered with green coffee beans

Go on a local coffee tour to sample Sumatran coffee and learn how it’s made.

Sumatran arabica coffee beans are famous worldwide. If you’re a coffee fan, why not go straight to the source and see what makes them so special?

The cooler climate around Lake Toba and Berastagi and the volcanic soil provide the ideal conditions for coffee to grow. Head to one of the many coffee farms and see how the magic happens.

If you don’t go on a tour, you must at least drink real Sumatran coffee at the source. Our favourite coffee spots in Tuktuk are Coffee2Go and Tabo Cottages; both make their own organic coffee from local farmers.

28. Jet Ski Across Lake Toba

Feeling the need for speed? Hire a jet ski and zoom across the world’s largest volcanic lake.

Zip across to Tomok or Ambarita or just explore the shores around Tuk Tuk in search of otters (we hear they’re around, but seldom seen!)

Jet skis are hired by the hour for around 300,000 IDR – ask at your accommodation and they’ll help sort one out for you.

29. Hire a Speed Boat or Banana Boat

Looking for some adrenaline-pumping things to do in Samosir? Hire a speedboat to get to some of the best points of interest.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart) you can get dragged behind a speedboat on one of those inflatable thingies (locally known as banana boats) and get thrown around the lake!

30. Try Nasi Bungkus

Rice and mixed vegetables on a banana leaf and brown paper

There’s no shortage of delicious local food in Lake Toba, but you can’t really say you’ve eaten local in Indonesia until you buy yourself a nasi bungkus from a small warung.

Nasi bungkus is takeaway rice, veggies, and meat of your choosing, topped with a yummy yellow sauce and wrapped in brown paper.

Of course, you can always eat there and get to know the locals! You’ll only pay around 20,000 IDR for a tasty, filling meal.

31. Enjoy the Live Music at Roy’s Pub

If you’re in Tuk Tuk on a Friday or Saturday night, don’t miss out on the live music at Roy’s Pub.

This local bar has been entertaining people since 1983 and is the absolute best place to go on Friday and Saturday nights for a drink and a dance.

Fridays are more laid back and acoustic style, while Saturdays can get pretty crowded.

The house band plays some excellent Western covers alongside Indonesian local music and is always open to requests. They do a particularly amazing rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody!

For more laid-back live music vibes, visit Tabo Cottages on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Tataring Café and Resto is also a cool spot for live music on Thursday and Saturday nights.

32. Climb to the Top of Sacred Pusuk Buhit

Climb to the top of Toba’s legendary mountain – Pusuk Buhit. This is a special place for the Batak people as it is believed that the first Batak man – King of the Bataks – originated here.

You’ll need 3-4 hours to climb the whole way, or you can cheat a little and take a motorbike halfway, then climb the rest of the way to the summit.

This majestic mountain is near Panguruan – head in that direction and you can’t miss it.

Keep in mind that this (along with many of the Lake Toba attractions listed here) is a sacred place for Batak people. Be a respectful tourist and behave appropriately (no naked, Bali-style photos please!)

33. Indulge in a Day by the Pool

A bright blue pool of water next to a Batak style pagoda

Sometimes you need a day off from adventuring and exploring, so why not park yourself by a pool, order some cold drinks, and soak in the sun?

Tabo Cottages and Toba Village Inn are our top accommodation picks for pool lovers. The pools are only for guests, so you’ll have to stay there to use them – but of course, the pool isn’t your only option for a dip!

Many guesthouses are located on the shores of Lake Toba, which is excellent for swimming in. Our top recommendations for Lake Toba accommodations with great lake access are Reggae Guesthouse, Romlans, and Laster Jony’s, but there are plenty more to choose from.

Looking for the perfect place to stay in Lake Toba for your trip? Read our Best Hotels in Lake Toba blog.

34. Daytrip to Tele Tower (Menara Pandang Tele)

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of June/July 2023, Tele Tower is under construction for repairs! We’ll let you know when this is back up and running again. 

Tele Tower is a popular observation point on the side of the road offering gorgeous 360-degree views of the lake from three different levels.

From here, you can see Pusuk Buhit Mountain, dramatic valleys and pine-covered hills. There’s also a little warung where you can buy snacks and drinks, so this is a nice little stopover on a road trip. You’ll pay a small fee to access the tower.

The views on the way to this area are spectacular, so it’s worth heading this way even if you skip the tower visit!

35. Stroll across Bukit Holbung

Visit Teletubby Hill! Sadly, there are no actual Teletubbies here, but there are very picturesque green, rounded hills that make you feel like you’re in Teletubby land.

The real name is Bukit Holbung. Park your bike and take the walking trail across the hills in search of Tinky Winky and Lala.

You’ll need a scooter or car for this one, as it’s located on the mainland side of the lake (approximately two hours from Tuk Tuk), but if you combine it with some of the other things in the area you can have a fun day out.

Once again, you’ll pay a small fee to access the area.

36. Take Selfies at Bukit Sibea Bea and See the Jesus Statue

A towering statue under construction with green hills in the background

Bukit means hill, and here’s another popular one where many people go to take selfies and see the enormous statue of Jesus nearby (note: As of June/July 2023, this statue is still under construction, but it’s still cool to see the progress). Again, this one is on the mainland, so add it to your day trip along with the other landmarks in the area.

The road winds back and forth in hairpin turns down Bukit Sebea Bea, creating a great backdrop for selfies above the lake.

The Patung Jesus (Jesus statue) is still under construction (as of June 2023), but it’s set to become one of the most famous Lake Toba attractions when it’s done!

This 61-meter-tall statue of Jesus Christ will be twice as tall as the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio di Janeiro! In fact, from what we can find on Google, this will be the highest statue of Jesus Christ in the world.

A word of warning: this is already a popular local tourist attraction, so expect it to be quite busy on the weekends and public holidays.

37. Be Awestruck by Sipiso Piso Waterfall

Pay a visit to Sipiso Piso Waterfall (Air Terjun Sipiso Piso), one of Indonesia’s tallest cascades.

Plunging out of the rock 120 metres (360 feet) into a valley, Air Terjun Sipiso Piso is a gorgeous sight. You’ll pay around 5000 IDR for entry, and 5000 for car parking.

View the spectacle from the top, or if you have time, head to the bottom to really appreciate the power of the falls. You’ll need at least 90 minutes to get to the bottom and back.

Bear in mind that there are hundreds of stairs, so the journey back up is quite taxing!

Located at the northern tip of Lake Toba, Sipiso Piso is around 3 hours away from Tuk Tuk. Unless you have the time and energy for a very long trip there and back, it’s better to drop in here on the way to or from Berastagi or Medan.

38. Cool Off at Efrata Waterfall

Waterfall chasing is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Lake Toba, and Efrata Waterfall (Air Terjun Efrata) is certainly one of the prettiest on the list.

This pretty cascade is not too far from Tele Tower (on the mainland) so is nice to include on a scooter day-trip itinerary.

At 26 metres high and 10 metres wide, this waterfall doesn’t seem to dry up, from what we can tell.

This was once a hidden treasure but has become more popular in the last few years. Now, there’s an entry fee of about 10,000 IDR, a row of warung to buy refreshments at, and a bit of infrastructure on-site.

If you’re hoping to get it all to yourself for some great photos, aim to visit during the week.

39. Step Back in Time at the Megalithic Ruins

An old stone sacrophagus with a human face carved into it

Pagar Batu is a lesser-known site where you can explore the ruins of an ancient Batak village.

Tucked away in the woods, there are no vendors or signs here – just old sacred carvings and the fascinating remnants of a time long gone.

To reach Pagar Batu, drive past Tomok along the coast for around 30 minutes. It’s not well signposted, so you’ll need to use Google maps to find it, or stop and ask the friendly locals.

This is another spot where we think you’d really benefit from bringing a local guide familiar with the site along. There are very significant carvings and features of this site that are fascinating to learn about.

If you want a glimpse of what Pagar Batu is like, check out our YouTube video here.

40. Sample Indonesian Street Food

A scooter with a box on the back filled with fresh tropical fruit - all under a rainbow coloured umbrella

Eat street food served from the back of a motorbike! When you’re travelling around Lake Toba (and Indonesia in general), you’re likely to pass a variety of different street food vendors who carry their goods around on the back of a scooter – they’re like food trucks but way smaller and way cooler!

We’ve eaten bakso (meatballs) or tofu grilled on the side of the road, gorengan (fried bananas, tofu and veggie fritters), rutang (an Indonesian fruit salad with a spicy sauce), donuts, and even ice cream cones!

Keep an ear out for the call of “bakso bakso” or musical chimes, and don’t be shy to wave one down if you pass them on the road. The food is cheap and tasty.

41. Relax with a Traditional Massage

A sign displaying massage, laundry and rooms.

All that hiking, cycling, or sitting for hours on a hard scooter seat can lead to some very tired muscles. Why not treat yourself to an incredible traditional massage?

There are numerous places that provide massages around Tuk Tuk at very reasonable prices. We’ve heard particularly great things about the massage services provided by Tabo Cottages.

42. Try Delicious Batak Food

A plate filled with cooked fish in a yellow curry sauce

The culture of Lake Toba is unique, as are some of the popular dishes in the area.

Batak food often includes generous servings of ginger and Andaliman peppers.

Try a spicy fish dish called arsik, chicken Napinadar, saksang (made with pork or buffalo meat) or babi panggang (bbq pork).

Many local restaurants offer Batak food on the menu, so you’re spoiled for choice!

43. Stroll around Tuk Tuk Village

While staying in Tuk Tuk, make time to walk around the “Tuk Tuk” loop. The main road that circles the village is around three kilometres long and will take you about an hour to walk around at a gentle pace.

Sure, scooters are fun, but you notice so much more when you’re taking it slow. There are plenty of places to stop, rest and get a cold drink when you need to – plus, you’re much more likely to get a chance to chat with the locals this way.

Say hi to the village cats and dogs, check out the souvenir shops, buy some fresh tropical fruit, and enjoy life in this idyllic village.

44. Zip Around in an Electric Mini-Car

A compact car that first two people,

Why not make some of your things to do in Samosir eco-friendly? Look how cute these little electric cars are!

Although you can’t leave the island, they have enough power to take you around for an hour or two.

You can rent these eco-friendly cars for 88,000 IDR per hour. Go to the offices near Lekjon or Mariana Hotel to get started.

45. Go Birdwatching on Samosir Island

A heron flying in the distance with a gorgeous yellow sunset background

It may not be the jungle, but there’s still some beautiful wildlife to see on Samosir Island – particularly the birdlife.

Find a quiet spot near the lake or up in the hills, take a bird book and a good camera, and see what you can find.

You’re likely to see egrets, herons, bittern, brahminy kites, various eagle species, doves, kingfishers, the gorgeous bright yellow black-naped oriole, bulbul, sunbird and dozens more!

We found this handy local bird-watching list here.

46. Learn Woodcarving from a Master Craftsman

An Indonesian man carving figures into a long piece of wood

Woodcarving is a treasured Batak skill that is passed down through generations. 

All throughout Lake Toba, you’ll see a wide array of wooden carvings and statues for sale – from curvy geckos to intricate miniature Batak houses and figures.

Instead of buying one of these as a souvenir, why not learn how to carve from one of the talented artists on Samosir Island?

Not only will you learn a cool new skill, but you’ll hear about the meaning of the various designs and how they are signifcant to Batak culture. 

47. Visit the Beautiful Church in Ambarita

Drone shot of a tall church with gothic red spires against a cliff backdrop

There are so many picturesque churches around Lake Toba, but the one we stumbled across just outside of Ambarita village is extra special.

For some reason, this Disney-esque church was never completed, but it’s still so cool to look at.

It’s a mix of castle/gothic/Batak architecture, with towering spires and a gorgeous mountain backdrop.

This isn’t a formal tourist attraction, and there is an active church next door, so if you do drop in, be respectful of any services that might be in progress.

48. Watch the Sunset from Reggae Guesthouse

Before we lived in Lake Toba, we always stayed at the stunning Reggae Guesthouse, so it has a special place in our hearts.

This family-run guesthouse has some of the most spectacular views in the village, and the sunsets here are out of this world. Head here at 6pm to grab a cold Bintang, sit on the deck, and think about how amazing the world is.

While you’re here, you might as well stay for dinner – Ibu Lucky is an exceptional cook.

We have a full video review of this special place on YouTube.

49. Join a Singalong

Two Indonesian men playing guitar

One of the best things to do in Lake Toba, according to the locals, is to sing – and they are exceptionally talented.

It would be a crime to leave Lake Toba without listening to the locals singing! Batak Toba people are famously musical, and the Batak songs – both traditional and more modern – are gorgeous to listen to.

As well as the live music venues around Tuk Tuk, you’re likely to catch groups of men (and sometimes women) hanging out at the tuak bars and coffee shops in various villages to chat and sing together.

Generally, if you’re friendly and ask to join, they’ll be happy to pour you a glass of coffee or tuak and let you join in. Alternatively, some of the guesthouses aimed at backpackers have casual singalongs in the evenings. 

50. Say Hi to Agung and Carly!

A western woman and Indonesian men waving with a backdrop of large lake

Tuktuk is a small village, so there’s a good chance that you’ll bump into us if you spend time here. We’ve already been fortunate enough to meet so many tourists that know us from our website or YouTube channel.

If you see us, please say hi – we’d love to meet you! If you’re planning to head this way and would like to connect, send us a message on our socials or email us.

We feel so lucky to live in such an incredible place, and love sharing it with you all.

Horas – Welcome to Lake Toba!


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Lori

    Such a fabulous, in depth blog, tons of detail and awesome photos – making me even more excited about my visit in August! Can’t wait!!! Thanks so much for taking so much time to put this and your other blogs together – much appreciated.

    1. Carly

      Thank you so much Lori! We’ve been wanting to make this one for so long but had to wait until we had done a bit more exploring! Still so much to see, but this is a great start. We are really happy to hear that you appreciate the work that went into it. Big smiles for us – can’t wait for you to experience Sumatra!

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