Pematangsiantar (or Pematang Siantar) is a city in North Sumatra.
With 280,000 inhabitants, Pematangsiantar is the second biggest city in the province of North Sumatra. The centre of the town has two main roads where you can find almost everything you need. The food market is between these streets. There is one small shopping centre including a very small cinema. The population of the town are mostly of the Batak ethnic group. Also many Chinese and Javanese live here. In contrast to the rest of Indonesia the majority are Christians and not Muslims. So there is no problem to drink a beer on the street or find some pork at the meat market which is worth visiting.
The main way to get into Pematangsiantar is via Medan which has daily flights from neighboring countries Malaysia (Penang, Kuala Lumpur) and Singapore. There are also many flights from Jakarta and other major cities of Indonesia.
From Medan you can easily get shared taxis to Pematangsiantar that cost around Rp40,000-50,000 per person. The journey takes roughly 2 hours.
The other option is by train (Rp22,000), which takes slightly longer (around 4 hours), but is worth the experience. Trains depart daily from Medan on 1400 and from Siantar on 0620.
A big bus from Medan (Amplas bus terminal) cost about Rp18,000-22,000.
Easiest way to get around is by becak pronounced bay-chuk. It’s worth the experience. You can find these old bikes only in Siantar. Old BSA made in England. Special sound, special look and every becak is unique and lovely modified. Cost about Rp20,000 to go 3 km.
The cheap way is to go by minibus, which cost only Rp3000 for same distance, but without help you will not find your way. There are no bus schedules.
You can rent a motorbike at the Siantar Guesthouse. You can rent 150cc Classic Vespa for about Rp60,000 per day.