Lake Toba, Indonesia - Stein Travel
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Lake Toba

The holiday paradise of Lake Toba sparkles like a precious stone, embedded in the northern highlands of Sumatra and surrounded by steep and fertile mountains. Filling in a giant volcanic crater, it is the largest lake in South East Asia, with depths of up to 1,680ft (525m) in places. In the middle of Lake Toba sits the jade-green island of Samosir, which is the origin of the friendly Batak people. Evidence of their culture and traditions is visible in the little Batak villages with their characteristic curved roofs, the traditional dance performances at Simanindo's Batak Cultural Centre and the distinctive woodcarvings and weavings sold around the island. There are also a few hot springs near Pangururan. Numerous holiday resorts and villages are scattered around Lake Toba's Samosir; the Tuk Tuk peninsula and village of Ambarita being the most popular places for tourists to linger. The area was fashionable for holidaymakers a few years ago, but now is fairly quiet. Despite the amount of guesthouses and restaurants on Samosir, there is little other tourist infrastructure, but the variety of activities and the cultural experience makes this Sumatra's most fascinating and relaxing holiday destination.

Information & Facts

Language

Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but many dialects are spoken. English is widely understood in Jakarta and tourist resorts.

Money

Rupiah (IDR) is the official currency and is divided into 100 sen. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and money changers in major tourist destinations; US dollars is the most accepted currency. Cash often yields a better exchange rate than travellers cheques, which are not always accepted. It is recommended that travellers cheques also be in US dollars. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and stores catering to the tourist trade. ATMs are available in main centres. Small change is often unavailable so keep small denomination notes and coins for items like bus fares, temple donations and cool drinks.

Time

Indonesia spans three time zones. GMT +7 (West, including Java and Sumatra), GMT +8 (Central, including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok), GMT +9 (East, including Irian Jaya).

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