Getting there & away
Medan is Sumatra’s main international arrival and departure point.
There are two major bus terminals in Medan: Amplas, serving southern destinations, and Pinang Baris, serving northern destinations. For long-distance travel, most people deal directly with the bus ticketing offices located outside of the terminals.
Amplas bus terminal is 6.5km south of the city centre along Jl SM Raja. Almost any opelet heading south on Jl SM Raja will get you to Amplas (3000Rp). Bus ticket offices line the street nearby at Km 6 and include the following:
ANS (7867603) Serves Bukittinggi (air-con/executive 110, 000/190, 000Rp, 20 hours).
ALS (7866685) Also serves Bukittinggi – same details as ANS.
Kurnia (7016417; Jl SM Raja, Km 6) Runs buses to Jambi (air-con 220, 000Rp, 24 hours) and Palembang (250, 000Rp, 36 hours).
Pinang Baris bus terminal (Jl Gatot Subroto), 10km west of the city centre, serves northern destinations. Get there by taxi (25, 000Rp) or by opelet 24, 37 or 64 (5000Rp).
Although there are buses to Banda Aceh from here, it is easier to get to the Pelangi ticket agent near Amplas.
A minibus departs at 8pm daily for Singkil (70, 000Rp, 10 hours), the departure point for boats to the Banyak Islands. Buses depart from Singkil Raya (081 26560739; Jl Bintan), past the caged bird warehouses. Take opelet 53 from Jl SM Raja to Medal Mall.
Chauffeur-driven car rental can be arranged through most of the major hotels. National Car Rental (4157744, ext 766; Deli Raya Hotel, Jl Balai Kota 2) rents self-drive cars for 100, 000Rp per day within Medan city limits.
Rail services are very limited, with just two trains a day to Tanjung Balai (business class only, 30, 000Rp). There are four trains daily to Rantauparapat (business/executive 50, 000/70, 000Rp).
High-speed ferries (140/210 Malaysian ringgit one way/return; five hours; 10am daily) depart from the port of Belawan, 26km from Medan, to the Malaysian city of Penang.
There is a 30, 000Rp surcharge for harbour tax and a bus transfer to Belawan from Medan. Tickets can be bought from agents on Jl Katamso or Jl SM Raja. Buses depart Medan at 8am.
Pelni ships sail to Jakarta and Batam. The Pelni office (6622526; Jl Krakatau 17A) is 8km north of the city centre, but it is much easier to buy tickets and check schedules from the agencies on Jl Katamso.
Medan’s Polonia Airport is 2km south of the city centre. Remember that there is an airport tax for departing flights.
There are daily international flights from Medan to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Domestic flights connect Medan to Jakarta, Banda Aceh, Pekanbaru, Padang, Batam, Pontianak and Gunung Sitoli. See the Sumatra Airfares map for sample fares.
The following airlines have offices in Medan and serve the destinations as listed:
Karitika Air (4522433; Jl Katamso 37) Banda Aceh, Batam.
SMAC (4551888; Jl Imam Bonjol 59) Simeulue, Gunung Sitoli.
Sriwijaya Air (4552111; Jl Katamso 29) Pekanbaru.