Medan, Indonesia’s third-largest city, occupies a strategic point near Sumatra’s northeast coast. It serves as a major entry point for flights from Malaysia, while the nearby port of Belawan is one of the busiest in the Strait of Malacca. For such a large city Medon lacks much of the chaos of other Sumatran cities and it holds some glorious examples of nineteenth-century colonial architecture, built by the Dutch gentry who grew rich on the back of the vast plantations that stretch up the slopes of the Bukit Barisan to the west of the city.

Most travellers spend no more than a day or so in Medan, using it as a transit point to Bukit Lawang, Danau Toba or Malaysia.

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