The Guides to Balige and Asahan of North Sumatra

NORTH SUMATRA

Our journey to the region of North Sumatra continues after the intensive details of information and history of Medan City as well as Toba Caldera, Parapat, Samosir, and Simarjarunjung. In this article, Kokonutlist will explore more on Balige and Asahan region.

 

Balige

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Desa Balige by MarginalWisata

Located around 60KM from Parapat on the southeast of Lake Toba, this town is getting famous for increase tourism spot and activities. It is also the capital of Toba Samosir. Hotels and Airbnb are getting easier to find around this area especially nearby the lake.

Entrance fee: N/A

Opening hours: N/A

 

Pantai Bul Bul

lakes in indonesia
Pantai BulBul by @boywarongan

Located in Lumban Bulbul around 10KM via Trans Sumatran Highway from the center of Balige, this beach is a favorite spot for water activities such as canoeing and boating due to its calm waves. Apart from that, it is a famous spot for a picnic among locals. Sunset watching is one of the reason tourist flocking to this freshwater beach. There are a lot of homestay and restaurants surrounding this area.

Entrance fee: Free

Price range (beach activities): IDR 10,000 to IDR 30,000

Opening hours: 24 Hours

 

Tara Bunga

great hills in balige of north sumatra
Bukit Tara Bunga by tobatabo

9KM to the west of Pantai Bulbul is the hilly area of Tara Bunga. This place is known for its hilly paddy field in Tara Bunga Panorama. The paddy field like Ubud in Bali is one of the main attraction during sunrise. The Bukit Tarabunga cliff facing Lake Toba offer you with a spectacular view like no other, which is why in April every year a photography contest will be held during Toba Festival. The hillside is also the location of the tomb of few Batak historical figures. It is said that the higher the tomb is the nearer they are to heaven.

paddy meets lake in asia
Pakkodian by tempatberliburwisata

This hilly track to the west will lead to Pakkodian hill and beach that are less touristic for those who prefer calmness. Pakkodian in Meat district is a heaven for campers with a great fishing area on the lake. It is also the place where the paddy fields meet the lake and this offer a unique view.

green hills in southeast asia
Bukit Pahoda by kamanawaeman

One of the most favorite spots is Bukit Pahoda in the far east side of Tara Bunga, in the district of Lumban Silintong. It is popular, especially among the trekking and hiking lovers. The view of Toba, Samosir and Balige city is clear from this peak and surely unforgettable. On the foot of Bukit Pahoda lies several popular cafes alongside the lake. Some of the most visited are the floating restaurant, Timothy Cafe and Tobanaria Cafe. Tiara Bunga Resort is one of the main resort in this area. There is a ferry service from Pantai Bulbul to Tiara Bunga Resort for their customers.

Entrance fee (Tara Bunga Panorama, Pakkodian, Bukit Pahoda): Free

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Museum Batak Silalahi

cultural batak in indonesia
Batak Museum Balige By feel-indonesia

This museum complex is dedicated to the preservation of the cultural values of the indigenous ethnic Batak population. Located 3KM from the center of Balige city, it is one of the best museums for Batak heritage that unites all Batak clans living in Sumatra such as Toba, Karo, Simalungun and Mandailing. The center itself is named after a prominent Batak historic icon and personality, Tiopan Bernhard Silalahi who contributed to Indonesian history especially in North Sumatra.

Divided into 3 parts, the first level emphasize more on culture and sculptures. This includes language, music and the ancient concept of Dalihan Natolu. The second level main attraction is the 7 meters bronze status of The Batak King. The third level displays the valuable collections of the Batak history such as a 500 years old Ulos, a unique traditional woven cloth. Scriptures of 1800 years old are also offered for public views here alongside the tribes’ ancient weapons, utensils and farming equipment.

culture and heritage of sumatra
Batak Heritage at TB Silalahi by PULSK

Other than that the Hula Batak section located outdoor of this museum portrays the unique architectures of the Batak such as Bolon House and Batak House. The personal museum of Tiopan Bernhard Silalahi is located next to it. An additional point of this complex is it also provides restaurant offering Batak coffee and art souvenir center. The convention center in this complex also held events, festival, and theater throughout the year.

Entrance fee: IDR 50,000

Opening hours: 8 AM – 6 PM

 

Balige Traditional Market

markets in sumatra
Balige Traditional Market by travelingyuk

Also known as Onan Balerong due to its Batak architecture, it is a traditional market that sells food, handicraft, cultural cloth like Ulos and souvenirs. 6 beautiful building with different Gorga arts will greet visitors to this market. Batak heritage food such as mie gomak is one of the dishes that makes local tourist flocks here. Aside from the food, coffee from Batak highland are also serve hot. The Dutch developed the building itself in 1936 with the help of the locals. The prices of souvenirs here especially Ulos is around IDR 100,000 depending on the quality. It is a perfect place to shop for souvenirs as a memory of North Sumatra.

Entrance fee: N/A

Opening hours: 6 AM – 6 PM

 

Dolok Tolong

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Dolok Tolong by @uzinainggolan

Elevated at about 1400M, The hill of Dolok Tolong is one of the highest in Balige. It is known for its green scenery and pine rainforest facing both Balige city and Lake Toba. It is located around 7KM to the west of Balige Traditional Market. The road is accessible by car and trails are also available for hikers. A camping ground is provided for those who want to spend a night on the top of this hill. The view of Bukit Barisan mountains during sunrise and sunsets is astonishing. The hill is said to experience Majapahit settlements in Batak Highlands after they have been defeated in Malacca Straits. This incident brought the influence of Buddha and Hindu to the region and the marriage between the Princess of Majapahit and a Batak King named Tuan Sorbadibanua.

Entrance fee: IDR 5,000

Opening hours: 24 Hours

 

Siboruon Waterfall

waterfalls in sumatra
Siboruon Waterfall by @kotabalige

The waterfall located in Siboruon village is one of the stunning natural attractions in Balige. Situated 7KM from Balige city via Jalan Dr. Sutomo, the waterfall requires a bit of trekking along the river and paddy fields as it is located in the thick jungle. the starting point is in the heart of the village itself. The locals refer to the waterfall as Sampuran. The waterfall surrounding is filled with huge old trees and enormous river stones. The real reward of this waterfall is the trekking and the view that comes with it. The rough water and slippery rock are not suitable for swimming and required hikers to take extreme precaution.

Entrance fee: Free

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Sipoholon Hot Springs

hotsprings in indonesia
Sipoholon Hotspring by @yusantaavi

As Toba is a volcanic lake, hot springs can be found in several places. Sipoholon hot springs located in Tarutung, about 30KM south from Balige is a sulfurous lake and fountains with a fascinating view. Temperature is between 40’c to 70’c. The colors of the lake are blue and green due to the sulfur effect. The surrounding limestones are white, yellow, green and orange making those who visit feel like they are in Mars, a picturesque destination indeed. It is located near the main road, thus easily accessible by car. Bathing is allowed as the water is known by locals to have healing power and the facilities are up to date. Visitors may choose the public or private bath room which is offered by the local tour company.

Entrance fee: IDR 5,000

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Asahan

things to do in Asahan
Asahan Valley by geoview.info

Asahan regency is a valley known for its natural attractions and extreme water sports. Countless waterfalls and rough rivers attract people all over the world to this region. The center is a little bit far from Toba. However, visitor often comes here from Balige and Parapat.

Entrance fee: N/A

Opening hours: N/A

 

Asahan River

asahan river rafting competition
Asahan River by tobachampionships

It is the longest river in North Sumatra with 147KM long flowing through the Asahan Valley. The Toba Caldera itself is the source for this rocky rivers. The valley is home to tropical exotic birds and primates such as gibbons and monkeys. Birdwatchers can experience and study various species of native Sumatran jungle birds in this valley, especially in Tormatutung. On top of all, It is most famous for whitewater rafting and held several international rafting events in the past years. With water flow rate of 120 meter-cubic per second and 22KM long narrow rough stream, it is the 1st in Asia and 3rd best rafting spot in the world behind Africa’s Zambesi River. No doubt, this whitewater river is the perfect spot for adrenaline junkie that loves some extreme river sports. Most river sports starts at Parhitean village, 60KM from Balige City.

rafting and kayaking events in asia
Asahan River Rafting by @d_sianipar

The Asahan River Festival is one of the international rafting and kayaking events that is held here every year in November and December. The organizer offers waterfall hikes, live music and other fun activities in this dense jungle of Asahan Valley. In the other months, apart from rafting, kayaking, cycling, cliff jumping and jungle trekking are activities offered by tour operators here. Some of the most reliable are Sumatra Orang Utan Treks, Mad Mat Rafting Expeditions and Sumatera Eco Venture.

Entrance fee: N/A

Rafting fee: IDR 350,000 – IDR 1,000,000 (depending on tour company as it included accommodation and transportation)

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Sigura Gura and Ponot Waterfall

highest waterfalls of asia
Sigura-gura view from observatory deck by @batara.regar

With 250M heights, it is the highest waterfall in Indonesia. Located 50KM from Balige city via Sigura-gura road, it is the gate to the great Asahan River sourcing from Lake Toba. The scenic road to this two waterfalls across the Sumatran jungle is spectacular. The Sigura-gura waterfall functioned as a dam which generates electricity for the surrounding region and PT Inalum owns it. Thus, it is not open to the public. The dam was built in 1978 and is said to be the second largest dam in the country. Due to the construction of the dam, a green lake is formed on top of it and visitors can access this. The cliffs of Barisan range around the waterfalls and lake are home to a thick rainforest and exotic birds. It is also famous among professional rock climbers. The observatory deck called Gardu Pandang Sigura-gura provides visitors with a spectacular view of the falls and surrounding rainforest.

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Ponot Waterfall

Around 200M from it is Ponot Waterfall, and it is one of the most visited by locals. Thus, it can be a little crowded during the weekend. The water that flows here can be quite dangerous for swimming as the current can be rough. However, water rafting activities are held here although it is less popular than Asahan River. The camping site is provided for visitors who want to overnight by the waterfall. The cool breeze on the mountain with rough beautiful waterfalls is a perfect spot to end a hiking and camping trip. Visitors are advised to take precaution as the rocky structures of the waterfalls can be sharp and slippery. Most people often get confused between Siguragura and Ponot due to the near distance and same water source from Asahan river. Sigura-gura waterfall is almost dry from a man-made dam while the 2-tiered Ponot flows naturally. Both are at almost the same heights of 250M.

Entrance fee (Ponot): IDR 10,000

Entrance fee (Sigura-gura deck dan lake): Free

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Sampuran Harimau Waterfall

exotic waterfalls in asia
Sampuran Harimau Waterfall by @cullen_panjaitan

Adjacent to the area lies another hidden treasure, Sampuran Harimau waterfall. This 30M waterfall is located in the rocky mountain. This waterfall earns is name due to the tiger-like sound made by the water as it hits the rock below. The water is not as rough as before due to the Siguragura dam. However, the 215M and 90° cliffs facing the Asahan valley is a spot for extreme rock climbers. To get here require visitors to hike around 200M into the dense Sumatran jungle. Swimming and kayaking are allowed in the pond below the falls.

Entrance fee: IDR 10,000

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Sialogo Waterfall

19 things to do in North Sumatra
Sialogo Waterfall

Located only around 3KM from Ponot and Sampuran Harimau via trails, it is a little bit secluded from the main road. Thus, a bit of hiking is needed to reach this spectacular 4-tiered waterfall. The young adventurous local travelers often visited the fall during the holidays. The rough yet clear waters falling from the cliff is worth the trip. There are minimal facilities around this waterfall and the track can be a little challenging. It is a perfect trail for adventurers and those who love to explore. The rocky formation makes the water current can be unpredictable, hence precaution is needed for swimming. Nevertheless, the view itself is magnificent.

Entrance fee: IDR 10,000

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Simanikmanik Cave and Waterfall

hidden treasures of north sumatra
Simanik-manik by travel.detik

This combination of waterfalls and cave is an unusual natural formation in Asahan Valley. Also known as Alam Tani waterfall, it is located 2KM from Siguragura via trails. Tropical insects and climbing plants inhabit the cave which situated next to the waterfall. The waterfall is around 15M high with a pond of 10M deep and requires 200M hikes from the parking area. The exotic cave is only around 5M deep and decorated with stalactites and stalagmites. The surrounding rainforest is also home to long-tailed monkeys which are native to the area.

Entrance fee: IDR 10,000

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Simanimbo Waterfall

waterfalls of indonesia
Simanindo Waterfall by @hendrikpo

Located 40KM from Balige city via Trans-Sumatran highway and 10KM from Ponot Waterfall via Jalan Sigura-gura, it is one of the favorite stops among locals and foreign tourist going to Asahan Valley. This 4-tiered rocky waterfall seems like a twin waterfall due to the separation of the water flows. It elegantly flows directly into the Sigura-gura lake. The top tier of this spectacular waterfall is connected with a ladder and provide visitors with the view of Sigura-gura dam. The water flows fluctuate depending on rains. Thus, during heavy rain or monsoon season, the current can be a bit strong and extreme precaution is needed.

Entrance fee: Free

Opening hours: 24 hours

 

Important Tips:

ultimate guide to north sumatra
Asahan Valley by @hahoxz27
  • Silangit International Airport is located in the Balige district. You can fly in and out of North Sumatra to Jakarta from here without needing to go to Kualanamu in Medan.
  • Shopping in Balige market requires bargaining skills. Do bargain and check thoroughly the quality of the items you are buying.
  • The locals are friendly, do not be afraid to ask for directions or tips when hiking into the jungle and waterfalls
  • The tour company for Asahan River rafting usually included the trip to Siguragura and Ponot in the fee. Thus, do communicate with them on the itinerary. The tour usually also includes trekking to few secluded waterfalls around Asahan Valley such as Simonangmonang, Tangga and Aek Limut.
  • There are no hotels in Asahan River, however, the locals offer homestays. Do check with the tour guide on accommodation details.
  • Asahan valley is known for a lot of spectacular waterfalls located inside the vast Sumatran jungle. Thus, should you are adventurous enough and able to find a local guide, do try to visit Turunan Bolon, Jambuara Indah, Tonduhan and Niagara Sipittu Tikka. All between 50 to 60 KM radius from Asahan and Parapat.

There you go, the ultimate guide of attractions in Balige and Asahan region of North Sumatra. Previously, we have published the highlights of Parapat, Samosir, and Simarjarunjung. We have also explored Medan City. Kokonutlist will bring you deeper into the heart of Sumatra in our next episode, Brastagi, Tongging, and Siantar.