How is Medan, Indonesia for digital nomads?

How is Medan, Indonesia for DNs?

Flights seem well priced from CNX, accommodation seems cheap and it looks like a cool place!

There is a reason why Indonesian cities (outside Jakarta and Bali) aren’t nomad hotspots - Indonesian cities are traffic-clogged town-planning disasters.

Medan is the gateway city for Lake Toba, which is a cool place to hang out. I spent a month by the lake to write and get away from city distractions. Lakeside guesthouses can be found for $10 a night. The internet is not the best so it’s not a place to be if you need speedy internet.

Having said that I still recommend travelling around to these provincial cities to see Southeast Asia outside the capitals. I’ve taken several flights on AirAsia to random places whenever there is a sale on.

If you are looking at flights now I would avoid Sumatra as half of the island is on fire, creating the worst haze on record in Southeast Asia.



I am a big fan of Sumatra, but I wouldn’t recommend Medan as a spot to stay for more than a couple of days. The Muslim areas of Indonesia tend to be the friendliest to foreigners- in my opinion- but Medan is an exception to that rule. Sumatra lost a LOT of tourism after the tsunami ten years ago and hasn’t quite recovered. There is an abundance of guesthouses and tour guides, but very few tourists meaning there is a lot of attention on you.

If you can handle not great internet speeds, I would spend most of my time in chill Lake Toba and make my way up to Pulau Weh (passing through Bukit Lawang for orangutan trekking- truly incredible, check out Thomas’ treks- and Banda Aceh for the tsunami museum). Spend the rest of your time chilling and diving on Pulau Weh.

Let me know if you have any other questions about Sumatra. I loved it, but Medan wasn’t what I was looking for. There are far friendlier cities for that big, not too developed, bustling city feel if that is what you are craving!

The first time I went to Medan it was a shock, and not a positive one - although in fairness I must say, that I was not very well prepared, it was my first time in indo :smile: In any case this is more a hub for people travelling to Lake Toba and who are not getting out of there within the day…

I spent a lot of time in Indonesia until I recently decided not go anymore as it is just too sad to see what has been done to the nature there. Sumatra, most parts of Borneo and Java anyway have been destroyed by plantations, settlements and now large fires (although they always had them, just not so much). Most of the “nature experience”, the “tours to wilderness” etc. are just sad - its usually not much more then a corridor with non-primary forests between plantations and settlements.