Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rantau Prapat

The mainland departure point for Danau Toba, Parapat has everything a transiting tourist needs: transport, lodging and supplies.

The commercial sector of the town clumps together along the Trans-Sumatran Hwy (Jl Sisingamangaraja, aka SM Raja). Branching southwest towards the pier, Jl Pulau Samosir passes most of Parapat’s hotels. After 1km, a right fork (Jl Haranggaol) leads to the pier, another kilometer southwest. The bus terminal is 2km east of town, but most buses pick up and drop off passengers from ticket agents along the highway or at the pier.

There is a string of moneychangers and a wartel along Jl Haranggaol.
BRI bank (Bank Rakyat Indonesia; Jl SM Raja) Has an ATM.
Planet Wisata (Jl Haranggaol) Internet access for 10,000Rp per hour.
Post office (Jl SM Raja)

You’ll have to crash for the night if your bus gets in after the last boat to Samosir. Here are a few options:
Hotel Singgalang (Jl SM Raja 52) A big Chinese-run place with basic rooms and a downstairs restaurant.
Charlie’s Guesthouse (Jl Tiga Raya 7) Beside the ferry dock, Charlie’s is cheap and close; it’s run by a local Toba music legend.
Mars Family Hotel (Jl Kebudayaan 1) On a quiet street near the waterfront, this place has a variety of unremarkable rooms from windowless boxes to more-expensive options with lake views.
Hotel Toba (Jl Pulau Samosir 10) If you’re not in a hurry to get out of Parapat, Hotel Toba has breezy common spaces, a sandy beach and solid rooms.

The highway strip (Jl SM Raja) is well equipped to feed the passing traveller, with every variety of Indonesian cuisine. Mr Diamond is the entertaining and enterprising proprietor of Blue Monday Coffee Shop (JI SM Raja). In addition to a cup of coffee, he’ll sell you a tour to the outlying countryside, sing a few old Western pop songs, book a bus ticket and, if you need accommodation, he’s even got rooms. Many of the ANS buses drop off foreigners here.

Getting There & Away

The bus terminal (Trans-Sumatran Hwy) is about 2km east of town on the way to Bukittinggi, but is not frequently used (so say the travel agents). Prices are highly negotiable, so shop around at the different ticket agents.
Buses to Medan (5 hours) are frequent, although services taper off in the afternoon. There are also minibuses that deliver passengers to Jl SM Raja in Medan. Other destinations include Sibolga (6 hours), Bukittinggi (15 hours) and Padang (17 hours).

If you’re heading south to Bukittinggi, you get to experience the hazing ritual of traveling the Trans-Sumatran Hwy. The highway is more like a back road and the trip akin to the spin cycle. Now you know how your socks feel.

Getting Around
Opelet shuttle constantly between the ferry dock and the bus terminal.

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