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Catch-your-breath-beautiful, Lake Toba is ideal for hanging out and doing nothing, but if you want more while on vacation, there’s culture. A crater lake formed by an ancient volcano with an island the size of Singapore in it, Lake Toba is the home of one of the many gregarious Batak clans. Known for their raucous beer-drinking songs and poetic love ballads, the Bataks’ reputation is for outspokenness and Christianity, particularly unusual as their homeland is surrounded by gentle, primarily Muslim ethnic groups. Base yourself either on the mainland or on Samosir Island in the heart of the lake – anywhere with a view – and be prepared for a ...

Catch-your-breath-beautiful, Lake Toba is ideal for hanging out and doing nothing, but if you want more while on vacation, there’s culture. A crater lake formed by an ancient volcano with an island the size of Singapore in it, Lake Toba is the home of one of the many gregarious Batak clans. Known for their raucous beer-drinking songs and poetic love ballads, the Bataks’ reputation is for outspokenness and Christianity, particularly unusual as their homeland is surrounded by gentle, primarily Muslim ethnic groups. Base yourself either on the mainland or on Samosir Island in the heart of the lake – anywhere with a view – and be prepared for a different sort of Indonesia than you’ll see anywhere else. Enter Sumatra in Medan, then by car or bus four hours via the direct highway or take longer and journey on the scenic route through hill stations, past coffee and vegetable plantations flanked by volcanoes. Once there, visit tombs where cannibalistic kings are laid to rest and the megalithic site of previous grisly beheadings, but most of all, relax and sing, sing, sing.

Linda Hoffman
About the Expert

Linda Hoffman is a contributing editor for five Periplus guides, including Bali (two editions), Papua, Java, Nusa Tenggara, and eight editions of Insight Guides Indonesia and the Indonesia section of their Southeast Asia guidebook.

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Linda Hoffman for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Lake Toba is a lake and supervolcano, located in the middle of the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
  • Language: Indonesian
  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Any time, if a few hours of daily rain won’t bother you.