DOs & DON’Ts While in Medan

Every place has its own unique habits and customs, including Medan. We give you some rules before you visit the North Sumatra capital.

DOs
* Medan has a new airport, Kualanamu. If this is your first time visiting Medan, you can take the train from the airport to experience the sights of Medan. If you are travelling with friends, a cab is cheaper than the train (the train costs about 100,000 rupiah).
* Durian, Meranti, and Bika Ambon are amongst Medan’s famous foods. You can find what some say is the best durian on earth at Ucok Durian, on Jalan Iskandar Muda. Jalan Majapahit is famous for Bika Ambon and Jalan Kruing for Meranti.
* If you like pork you have to try the Chinese food in the Pringgan area, including the grilled pork on Jalan Darat.
* Explore old districts of the city like Merdeka Walk and Jalan Ahmad Yani, and visit the iconic restaurant Tip Top there.
* Don’t forget to visit spiritual places like Al Mashun mosque, Gunung Timur Buddhist temple, Annai Velangkanni Catholic church and Shri Mariamman Hindu temple to experience the rich culture and spiritualism in Medan.
* Say “Horas,” when you meet locals. The greeting means, “How are you?” It’s a good ice- breaker and locals will be pleased that you are making an effort with the language.
* Explore the second-hand markets around Sambu, Melati and Simalingkar.
* One of the best ways to see Medan by night is on a motorcycle pedicab.

DON’Ts
* Don’t waste your time arguing with bus drivers. They can be stubborn, so it’s better just to move on.
* Don’t be surprised if locals get excited if you tell them you spent time in Medan as a child or are half-Batak.
* If you have ever been in Jakarta, you likely have seen some really bad driving by bus drivers. Well, lots of the drivers come from Medan and the streets here can make the streets in Jakarta look tame by comparison. If you can drive in Medan, you can drive anywhere.
* If you are shopping in a traditional market like Petisah, Sambu or Melati, dress down or you are likely to find yourself paying more.
* Medan is famous for its spicy food, so take care. You can ask for your chilli on the side to try and keep the temperature down.
* Women, don’t be surprised if local men call you “Ito”. It’s a term of respect for women.