To get to Sumatra from Bali, meant a 1 hour 40min flight from Depensar-Jakarta & then a connecting 2 hour & 20min flight from Jakarta-Medan. We had a 3 hour stopover & flew with Lion Air for £75pp.
Most of the reviews don’t have much that is favourable to say about Medan; pollution, crime, traffic & hectic atmosphere.
However, we decided to stay 2 nights so that we would have a day to explore & arrange our onward travel (especially after reading a couple of blogs advising to give it a try).
Masjid Raya Al Mashun
(The Great Mosque)
Designed by a Dutch architect; with marble from Italy; chandelier from France & stained glass from Spain. The mosque is currently undergoing renovations, but it is still open for worship and visitors. A charge is made for entrance (including a scarf/hijab for women), the guy who watches your shoes & of course a guide (but the costs are all minimal).
The palace was designed by he same Dutch architect that designed the mosque. People can hire traditional dress for their visit.
We only encountered 6-8 other Westerners during our entire visit. Indonesian people are very intrigued by the sight of Westerners & will sometimes pick up the courage to ask for a photo. Otherwise you will often be the focus of stares, giggles or serepticious photo taking.
We were asked many times for photos, just as we were in Java.
Tjong A Fie Mansion
Tjong A Fie was an influential Chinese migrant who owned much land through his plantations & later became the leader of the Chinese people in the area.
Other places of interest
We also planned to visit a Hindu Temple & Christian church, but the heat became too much & we were also hungry.
We sought refuge in the Sun Plaza shopping mall (which is opposite the Hindu Temple, so we had a quick look from outside).
The mall is a modern complex with major European brands along side Asian & many cheap places to eat.
There are public buses, but it’s recommended to travel by taxi or becak for ease. We choose to go by becak as although slightly dangerous, they were better in the hectic traffic. Despite being the capital city, the roads seem to be full of potholes, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.