All You Need To Know About Attractions in Medan

The City of Medan

what to do in Medan

A bustling town in the North of Sumatran Island of Indonesia. It holds hundred years of culture, history, and home to the thick jungle and fascinating flora, fauna. Most people when talking about Indonesia, they always mention Bali. Medan however, gives a different view of multiracial and multiethnic Indonesia and waiting to be explored. So what can you experience here, scroll down for top attractions in Kota Medan compiled by Kokonutlist.


The Historical Sites

Istana (Palace) Maimoon

everything you need to know about medan
The hall of Maimoon Palace

Also known as the Palace of Deli Sultanate, it was built in the 1890s. The central throne is open to the public to explore. The architecture is a blend between Malay, Moghul Indian and the Islamic influence on this region with a massive chandelier on top, a gift from the Dutch Government to the Sultanate. The Palace name derived from Sultan Ma’moen Al-Rashid Perkasa Alam who built it. They striking yellow color of the palace resemble the color of royalty in most kingdoms in the Malay Archipelago.

The Deli Sultanate was an expansion of Sultanate of Aceh Darussalam during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda (1607-1636). The Seripaduka Tuanku Gotjah Pahlawan helped command the war and won. In 1632 Sultan Iskandar Muda appointed Seripaduka Tuanku Gotjah Pahlawan as His Vice to rule the former territory of Aru which later passed on to his son, Tuanku Panglima Parunggit and he changed the name to Deli with its capital in Labuhan.

Panglima Gotjah Pahlawan was a sailor of Indian origin from the Hindustan kingdom of Shindi. His ship landed in Pasai, Sumatra. During his stay, he helped Sultan Iskandar Muda in war and expanded the territory of Deli Sultanate. He was also recognized by the four kings of Batak Karo from Batak Highlands. A complete history of this region can be found on the Palace itself.

In some days, there will be traditional Deli cultural performance and music with the audience invited to dance on the verandah. The cultural and pantun performance is very similar to the Malays in Peninsular Malaysia.

Entrance Fee: IDR 5000

Opening Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM



waht to see in Kesawan Medan
Lonsum colonial building in Kesawan: Pic Credit

Located in the west side of Medan city, it is home to Medan’s old quarter and Chinatown and filled with historical building mainly from the Dutch colonial era with a little bit of British influence. One of the most prominent areas along Kesawan Street (now known as Jalan Ahmad Yani) is Kesawan Square, which is also a street food area at night. Among the fascinating buildings here are Bank Indonesia, Medan City Hall, Lonsum, Medan’s Post Office and Tjong A Fie.

Entrance Fee: N/A

Opening Hours: N/A


Tjong A Fie Mansion

Chinese heritage in medan
The center of Tjong A Fie Mansion

Tjong A Fie was originally from Guangdong, China. He settled down in Medan or known as Dutch East Indies back then until his last breath. He received honor titles from the Dutch for his contributions to the Medan society in general. The mansion was built in 1895 and a gift to his lovely wife. This historic building is also called “a historical jewel in Medan”. It has 35 rooms, 2 storeys and is one of the most famous heritage and historic building in Medan. It is a blend of Chinese and Malay architecture with strong feng shui elements. In the center of this mansion is an open courtyard known as ‘Well of Heaven’. It was built as a twin building with Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang, Malaysia.

Entrance Fee: IDR 35,000

Opening Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM


The Temples

Mesjid Raya

Medan great mosque
Mesjid Raya Al Masyun

The iconic Mesjid Raya al Masyun was built around the 1900s by Sultan Ma’mun Al Rashid Perkasa Alam of Deli Sultanate and designed by the Dutch architect, Van Erp. The mosque was part of the Maimoon palace in the beginning. The architecture style combines the Middle Eastern, Spanish and Indian elements. A 6 pointed star is part of the interior design of this mosque, which is uncommon for a Muslim prayer hall. The stained glass was brought in from China and not to forget the Italian marble.

Do note that as this is an active prayer house, suitable attire to cover the head, shoulder and the legs are a must. The mosque does provide headscarves for tourist at the front door.

Entrance Fee: Donations are welcome

Opening Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM


Sri Mariamman Temple

temples in medan
Sri Mariamman Temple: Pic Credit

This Hindu temple with Dravidian architecture was built in 1884 by a group of young Tamil workers in Sumatra. People of Indian origins are rare in Indonesia, except in Medan where their forefathers settled down during the age of Tamil maritime empire. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess of Mariamman and Her children Ganesha and Murugan. It is now a famous landmark in Kampung Madras or known as Little India of Medan.

Entrance Fee: Donations are welcome

Opening Hours: 8 AM – 12 PM and 4 PM – 6 PM


Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni

top attractions in medan
Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni

Located in Tanjung Selamat, this incredible church was built in Indo-Mogul style on 2005 inspired by Father James Bharataputra for the Tamil Catholic community of Medan. Monsignor Alfred Gonti Pius Datubara officially inaugurated it. The name Annai Velangkanni, Our Lady of Good Health came from The Shrine of Annai Velangkanni in India. It marks the devotion of the Catholic community towards Mother Mary. The architecture that combines Hindu and Islam with a curved walking bridge makes it unique.

Entrance Fee: Donations are welcome

Opening Hours: 7 AM – 8 PM


Vihara Gunung Timur

temples in Medan
Vihara Gunung Timur

A temple dedicated to Taoism and also the largest Chinese temple in Medan. Located in Jalan Hang Tuah on the side of Babura river, it was built in 1962. There are more than 80 God statues in it. The entrance is carved with statues of lions in black and white and a Pagoda in red and gold on the side. The smell of incense filled the temple hall with prayers chanting by devotees. It celebrates Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Meh and Hungry Ghost Festival every year.

Entrance Fee: Donations are welcome

Opening Hours: 9 AM – 9 PM


Vihara Maha Maitreya

temples of Medan
The prayer hall of Vihara Maha Maitreya

Also known as Vihara Cemara Asri, it was built in 1991 and one of the largest temple in Indonesia. Located in Jalan Boulevard, it teaches universal love to the Buddhist. Aside from the calmness, golden Buddha statues and vast hall inside the temple, there are also Pond with Koi fish swimming and an open Bird park. These garden birds are migratory birds that make this temple as their shelter. The main building of this temple is General Baktisala a place of worship for Buddha Sakyamuni, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and Bodhisattva Satyakalama. On the right side of this building are Avalokitesvara park, Auditorium, A vegetarian restaurants, and souvenir shops. The multi-purpose hall is located in the second building which is also known as Maitreya Baktisala.

Entrance Fee: Donations are welcome

Opening Hours: 6 AM – 10 PM


The Museums

North Sumatra Museum

the museums of sumatra
Museum of North Sumatra

Located in Jalan H.M Jhoni, it is the largest museum in North Sumatra and also known as Museum Gedung Arca by the locals. The actual origins of mankind in Sumatra is shown here. The museum also portrays cultural heritage of Indonesia as well as art and crafts from various ethnic groups in North Sumatra such as exquisite stone and wooden carvings by Nias people, the scrolls of Batak and the Malay dagger (Keris) collections. Apart from that, the history of civilizations of Hindu and Buddha in this region is also explained in details. The period of Islamic expansion and Dutch colonial era are also presented in this museum. The building itself is built in a traditional Sumatran architecture.

Entrance Fee: IDR 3,000

Opening Hours: 8.30AM – 5 PM


Rahmat International Wildlife Museum & Gallery

the museums of sumatra
Species in Rahmat Gallery and International Museum: Pic Credit

The museum dedicated to natural and wildlife history, completed in 2007 it is located at Jalan S. Parman and is the first wildlife gallery in Southeast Asia. With the collection of more than 2500 species and 5600 specimens, it boasts the title of education and conservation. The collections ranging from insects to large mammals mainly from dead animals of authorized hunting, various parks, zoos, and jungle. Apart from that, Night Safari is also offered here.

Entrance Fee: IDR 50,000

Opening Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM


The Food


durian in medan
Durian Pelawi

Durian is a fruit with the pungent gas smell and taste’s sweet, it is native to southeast Asia especially Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. The skin in thorny and the meat is bright yellow. It comes at several types and prices. Medan is well known for its Durian and 2 famous places to eat this is Ucok and Pelawi.

Durian Ucok

Located at Jalan KH Wahid Hasyim Nomor and by far received the most visitors due to its wide range and cheap price. Even the current Indonesian president came here to give it a try. They sell various type of Durian products such as frozen, ice cream and pancake for those who do not prefer the actual fruit. You can even order via WhatsApp and get it delivered to your hotel if you want.

Price Range: IDR 50,000 – IDR 200,000

Opening Hours: 24 Hours

Durian Pelawi

Pelawi is the area where the Durian came from. The store is located at Jalan Kutilang and received tonnes of visitors per day. The taste of Durian varies from sweet to mild bitter. Durian byproducts such as pancake and frozen are also offered here. Aside from that, you can even eat it with a sticky rice called pulut, a traditional Southeast Asian delicacy. Should you love it so much, you can also ask them to courier it to your doorstep for a fee!

Price Range: IDR 40,000 – IDR 100,000

Opening Hours: 24 Hours


Merdeka Walk

eateries in medan
Merdeka Walk at night

A bustling street with food vendors and outdoor eating restaurants at night in the heart of Kesawan, Kota Medan, Jalan Balaikota to be exact. From local food like Ayam Penyet and Satay to other Asian food like Sushi and Dim Sum to fast food like McDonald’s, all can be found here. The youngsters of Medan love to hang out here at night and take a walk at a park in the center of this square.

Price Range: IDR 20,000 – IDR 70,000

Opening Hours: 10.30 AM – 12 AM


Jalan Semarang and Selat Panjang Food Street

eateries in medan
Jalan Selat Panjang food stalls

Selat Panjang is known for its status for the best Indonesian Chinese food street in Medan, they sell varieties of food from chicken rice, noodles to dim sum. For the locals, this place is considered as food heaven for Chinese eateries. Some of the most famous food is Bakpao, Hainanese chicken rice, and Mie Tiong Sim.

Jalan Semarang is next to Jalan Selat Panjang and popular as ‘Medan Chinatown’. The night market here is filled with various Indonesian cuisine makes it the place that you can find any type of street food you want. Barbeque, noodles, bakmie and traditional Kue is a few of the food that is offered here. Some most popular dishes among the locals are Martabak dan Wokfen.

Price Range: IDR 5,000 – IDR 70,000

Opening Hours: 4 PM – 10 PM


Tip Top Restaurant

vintage restaurants in medan
The interior of Tip Top Medan: Pic Credit

Located near Tjong A Fie Mansion in Kesawan area, Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani to be exact, it is a restaurant and bakery with colonial style building and decoration. Established in 1934, dining here will take you back to that age in Medan. The original name of the restaurant in 1929 is Jangkie and it was used during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia.  It serves authentic and original Indonesian, Oriental and western cuisines. One menu that attracts tourist to this vintage restaurant is their old Dutch colonialism style ice cream that differs from modern ice creams. In some parts of the night, they have live music accompanying the guest.

Price Range: IDR 6,000 – IDR 50,000

Opening Hours: 8 AM – 11 PM


Bika Ambon

delicacies of sumatra
Rita Bika Ambon pandan flavor

Bika Ambon is a traditional delicacy of the Medanese. It is a cake with a different texture came in original and pandan flavors. The main ingredients are Tapioca flour, Eggs, Coconut Milk, Sugar, and Yeast. Another type of traditional cake is Lapis Legit that have layers of different flavors in one bite. Both of this mouthwatering dessert is popular among the locals. Two stores that gain lots of attention in Medan serving it is Zulaikha located in Jalan Mojopahit and Rika located in Jalan Sekip. For those who would like to bring back the Bika Ambon to their country, they will pack it properly for you. But the best is to eat is when it is still hot.

Price Range: IDR 70,000 – IDR 90,000

Opening Hours: (Zulaikha) 6 AM – 9 PM

Opening Hours: (Rika) 7.30 AM – 6 PM


Warung ‘Aja’

where to eat in kualanamu
Warung ‘Aja’ near the Kuala Namu Airport

A restaurant with a lot of branches around Kota Medan. The nearest is at Jalan H.O.S Cokroaminoto and the farther branch located at Jalan Kualanamu near the airport or Bandara. It serves favorite Sumatran Indonesian food such as ayam penyet, chicken taliwang, fried rice, and soto. Very popular among the locals, the food is authentic and served traditionally with banana leaves and woven Asian pines.

Price Range: IDR 20,000 – IDR 90,000

Opening Hours: 10 AM – 10 PM


The Shopping

Pasar Hindu

where to shop in medan
Pasar Hindu

It is one of the smallest markets in Medan located in Hindu street, Kesawan. Contrary to its name, the stalls here are owned by Indonesian of Chinese descents. Few shops here such as Apek serves some of the best Chinese traditional coffee since 1923. Aside from coffee, fresh fruits, flowers, and vegetables also being sold here. The row of the colonial building along this road is one of the main attractions for tourist including a mosque named Masjid Bengkok built in 1874, one of the oldest mosque in Medan. A few shops outside Pasar Hindu sell unique textiles called batik and songket in large varieties. A few other sells handicrafts and leather products made by locals. Be sure to haggle for best price.

Price Range: N/A

Opening Hours: 6 AM – 12 PM


Pasar Ikan Lama

where to shop in Medan
The row of shops at Pasar Ikan Lama Medan

The names translate ‘fish’ but it is rows of shops selling mostly fabrics, lace and other textiles product. Carpets and house decoration can also be found here abundantly. The locals refer to it as Pajak Ikan Lama since initially, the area was a small jetty for barge or canal boats to send in fish from Belawan port via Deli river. However, the river can’t no longer accommodate the barge, hence the place was transformed into a textiles center. The price of textiles here can be incredibly low and haggling is allowed. It is a perfect place for fashion designers and textiles importer. The varieties of fabrics and quality range are something that makes this place stand out.

Price Range: N/A

Opening Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM


Jalan Perniagaan

where to shop in Medan
Textiles and Fabrics at Jalan Perniagaan

Located 350M outside Pasar Ikan Lama, this street is a continuation of the textiles market. Apart from fabrics, shops for beads, clothing, kitchenware, and shoes are open along this street. The price is affordable and bargaining is a must. The stores here are bigger and more comfortable as it is less pack from Pasar Ikan Lama. The varieties of items sold are wide.

Price Range: N/A

Opening Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM


Your trip to Medan will be incomplete without the visit to the greater part of Northern Sumatra. Explore Lake Toba, Brastagi, Bukit Lawang and Gunung Leuser in our next article!