Kualanamu Airport Bus and Amplas Terminal which is Getting Old

Even a week before flying, I made a choice. Not “The fast train from Woojin“, let alone the “blue bird” that often passed in Kualanamu International Airport. My choice was on cheap transportation which is friendly to my wallet. It is none other than DAMRI Bus.

Sitting sleepily in waiting room of airport train station then observing executives people who dragging their suitcase, chasing train’s departure time. Or conversely, quick steps of dapper passengers who had just gotten off the airport train to catch up on their flight times. I became a relaxed man that morning at Kualanamu International Airport. Yes….I was on backpacking, not on business trip.

They who were busy.

15 minutes watching the “The Blue Sky train” which passing by, I exited the train station and carrying my blue backpack which I got through a famous e-commerce a year ago.

Chief Sergeant’s smile welcomed when he helped to crossing me across airport car lane and then I directed my steps towards airport bus platform.

DAMRI Bus hide at the side of red minibus.

Turning to right end of airport exit gate, DAMRI ticket sales counter is very easily seen and found. Can be clearly read “Amplas, Siantar or Binjai“, as several public transportation destinations at outer of Kualanamu. I have studied it well and clearly stated in my itinerary, Amplas is my next destination.

Redeeming a ticket for USD 1.1, I was accessing to taste government-owned transportation which is already legendary in all people heart.

Very cheap.

Brother, just look at destination direction board!. Over there”, ticket staff in uniform said, with his forefinger and his eyes headed in the same direction.

Ok, Sir” I curtly replied.

24 passenger bus in medium size which was never full.

Entering its single door, I sat right next to the door, less than a minute I was in back seat, even a moment later I was in middle seat. AC ventilator was uncovered, rear window was dull so that my camera also lost its clarity, in the middle, reclining seats didn’t function properly.

Air conditioner was super cold which made me shiver along journey.

 “Where’s your ticket?“, The conductor loudly said that surprised me.

Ah, this is Medan, apparently“, I thought that finally made me naturally behave and not be surprised.

Amplas Terminal, Sir“, I handed him the ticket. It turned out that behind the ferocious conductor’s face, there was a faint smile which automatically released on his lips. I began to fall in love with Medan.

Drive and stay away from Kualanamu.

I was very busy in moving to other seats in order to create the best shots (though failed ultimately….Haha), because this DAMRI bus carried 5 passengers only. I knew that the driver keep watching me through rearview mirror. In order to made it natural, I gave him a thumbs up and, uniquely, he also raised his thumbs high. All passengers laughed at me.

Alley situation of a village.
Wide gardens owned by residents.

DAMRI bus had already been quickly speeding on Medan-Kualanamu-Tebing Tinggi toll road.

Preparing to enter the fast lane.

In thirty minutes, DAMRI run towards west until it finally arrived at Amplas Integrated Terminal which is very famous in Sumatera. The terminal isn’t as frightening as I imagined. Nobody bothered me when I spent 20 minutes to exploring entire terminal.

Amplas Terminal which is 29 years old.

Even I took time to talk to Department of Transportation officer about how to go to Toba Lake from this terminal. Also conversing with a “Sejahtera” bus conductor to asked about bus first departure to the world’s largest volcanic lake.

Blue stall where I talk with local residents.

Very happy to hear that Amplas Terminal will be revitalized by Minister of Transportation, and will become an terminal which is integrated with malls and hotels. So cool.

Come on, didn’t stay long at terminal !. Let me show you about Medan.

See the way towards Amplas Terminal here:


Let’s explore Medan!

Not Silangit, but Kualanamu

KNO is the code for Kualanamu International Airport which is established by IATA. Like CGK for Soetta, KUL for KLIA and SIN for Changi.

In the past, when I thought of Medan (before I actually visited it) then the first place which I imagined was Toba Lake….Even though, Toba Lake is in Simalungun Regency, while Medan is 190 km at north of lake.

Perception changed again when Indonesia airport optimization era was promoted throughout the country. When I hear the word “Medan”, then I automatically imagine Kualanamu. How not, Kualanamu had set a record in as a pioneer in using of airport train to downtown in Indonesia.

1. Arrival Hall

Conveyor belt area.

Sriwijaya Air SJ 010 with its very economical ticket meritorious for landing me at Kualanamu International Airport (KNIA). As always, airport exploration is a must for me. I decided to invest my first hour in North Sumatera to explore each side of Kualanamu.

Main Arrival Hall.

The temperature of Medan had only moved to 28 Celsius degrees, so it wasn’t as hot as I imagined. Therefore I feel relaxed when stood a little long in plane parking lot while waiting for shuttle bus apron to picked me up right under the plane.

Maimun Palace Replica, Medan tourism icon.

Entering the airport which has meaning of the name i.e “Meeting Place”, situation became noisy because many passengers were running around and even willing to queued to take pictures with Mr. Jokowi who was pedaling a bicycle or just to captured theirself in KNO yellow signboard spot.

2. Departure Hall

That is check-in area.

After exploring Arrrival Hall and understanding a dozen directions to several airport facilities, I made time to go up to 2nd floor to see Departure Hall. This became a necessity because I was aware that I would back to Jakarta from Minangkabau International Airport in Padang Pariaman.

They were busy to leave Medan.

Only situation of plane’s waiting room wasn’t caught on my camera because I didn’t have a ticket to enter it. Exploration at Departure Hall must finally end here.

The departure gate after you check-in.

3. Other Facilities

Down from 2nd floor through escalator, I returned to Arrival Hall to see available other facilities .

Tourists must come here if they want to find information about North Sumatera tourism.

I talked for a long time with “The Beautiful Hijab” on duty at Tourist Information Center. Her aura made me feel comfort and smoothly issued as many questions as possible just to be able to admire her beauty longer….Hihihi.

Information Center at Arrival Hall.

Leaving Arrival Hall and hold many brochures as result of my conversation with her. Combined with an itinerary which I composed, my exploration focus for North Sumatera Province this time are in Medan, Toba Lake and Pematang Siantar. Because I would pass all this three places.

Exit gate of airport main building.

4. Airport Train Access

Yuhuii….I was excited because in an instant I would directly see “The Blue Sky” which is already famous throughout my country as the first airport train in Indonesia.

Look at the sign board. How easy it is to find it.

This South Korean-made train sells its tickets for USD 7.4 for one way trip from airport station to downtown or vice versa.

Gate to airport train station.
Ticketing counter and information desk.
Automatic Ticket Vending Machine.

But sorry, gaes….I couldn’t show the train interior, because I wasn’t ride it to downtown. Its price is too expensive for me. There is other transportation mode which are more affordable with my wallet.

That is the airport train….

5. Airport Bus Access

Yes, I chose to use DAMRI bus to go to downtown. Its ticket price which is only USD 1.1 really made it as first choice and suddenly appeared in my backpacker instinct. Not bad anyway, the price gap about USD 6.3 can be made for four time meals…. So this savings started from DAMRI airport bus….Hahaha.

Let’s buy a DAMRI ticket and then head to downtown.

I was satisfied after successfully collecting one airport which is belonged to my country and would be stored in my journey history.

See the airport’s inside: https://youtu.be/9XkLfmzCuqA

Thank you Kualanamu….Welcome Medan.

DAMRI Kualanamu: Mengejar Amplas yang Semakin Menua

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Bahkan seminggu sebelum terbang, pilihan telah kutetapkan. Bukan “Si cepat dari Woojin”, apalagi “si burung biru”yang biasa berlalu lalang di Kualanamu. Pilihanku tetap pada transportasi ala rakyat yang bersahabat dengan kantong. Tak lain lagi, itu DAMRI.

Terduduk kantuk di ruang tunggu stasiun kereta bandara lalu mengamati para eksekutif menggeret kopernya, berkejaran dengan waktu keberangkatan kereta. Atau sebaliknya, langkah cepat para penumpang necis yang baru saja keluar dari kereta untuk mengejar waktu penerbangan mereka masing-masing. Aku menjadi manusia tersantai pagi itu di Kualanamu. Ya iya lah…Aku kan lagi ngelayap, bukan sedang dalam perjalanan dinas.

Mereka yang pada sibuk

15 menit mengamati lalu lalang “Si Biru Langit”, Aku keluar stasiun dengan memanggul backpack biru cetakan Tiongkok yang kudapat lewat salah satu e-commerce ternama setahun lalu.

Senyum Sersan Kepala menyambut sembari membantu menyeberangkanku melewati jalur mobil untuk kemudian aku mengarahkan langkah menuju platform airport bus.

Tuh doi ngumpet di samping “si merah”

Berbelok ke ujung kanan pintu keluar bandara maka konter penjualan tiket DAMRI sangat mudah terlihat dan ditemukan. Terbaca dengan jelas “Amplas, Siantar atau Binjai”, sebagai beberapa tujuan transportasi umum keluar Kualanamu. Sudah kupelajari dengan baik dan tertuang jelas di itinerary, Amplas adalah tolakanku berikutnya.

Menebus selembar tiket seharga Rp. 15.000 saja, aku kini berakses untuk mencicipi transportasi milik pemerintah yang sudah terlanjur melegenda di hati masyarakat.

Murah bingit.

Abang lihat papan petunjuk daerah tujuan aja ya, bang! Disana bang”, seloroh petugas tiket berseragam sembari telunjuk dan matanya menuju ke arah yang sama.

Ok, bang”, aku menjawab singkat.

DAMRI medium berpenumpang 24 yang tak kunjung penuh.

Memasuki pintu tunggalnya aku duduk tepat disebelah pintu, tak sampai semenit aku sudah di bangku belakang, bahkan sejurus kemudian sudah di bangku tengah. AC ventilator itu sudah tak berpenutup, kaca bagian belakang itu sudah sangat kusam sehingga kameraku pun kehilangan kejernihannya, di tengah pun sama reclining seat tak berfungsi selayaknya. Aku selalu memaklumi dengan kondisi ini, ini DAMRI kannnn.

AC super dingin yang membuatku menggigil sepanjang perjalanan.

 “Mana tiket Kau?”, sapa kondektur dengan kerasnya yang membuatku terperanjat. Kalau di Kampung Rambutan itu seperti hentakan preman.

Ah, ini mah Medan ternyata”, batinku yang akhirnya membuatku bersikap wajar dan tak perlu kaget.

Amplas, Bang”, kusodorkan tiket kepadanya. Ternyata dibalik wajah garang sang kondektur ada senyum tipis terlepas otomatis di bibirnya. Aku mulai jatuh cinta dengan Medan.

Melaju menjauhi Kualanamu

Aku sangat sibuk berpindah di bangku manapun demi menciptakan jepretan terbaik (walau akhirnya gagal….Hahaha), karena DAMRI ini hanya mengangkut 5 penumpang. Aku tahu pak sopir terus mengawasiku lewat kaca spion. Demi membuatnya wajar, aku mengacungkan jempol kepadanya dan uniknya dia juga mengacungkan jempolnya tinggi-tinggi. Semua penumpang tertawa melihatku….Kacau.

Suasana gang sebuah perkampungan

Kebun yang luas milik warga

Tak berasa DAMRI pun sudah melaju di jalan tol Medan-Kualanamu-Tebing Tinggi dengan cepatnya.

Bersiap masuk jalur cepat.

Tiga puluh menit DAMRI merangsek ke barat hingga akhirnya tiba di Terminal Terpadu Amplas yang sangat tersohor di Medan itu. Terminal yang tak sesangar seperti yang kubayangkan. Tak seorangpun menggangguku ketika selama 20 menit mengekplore seisi terminal itu.

Terminal Amplas yang telah berusia 29 tahun

Bahkan aku sempatkan bercakap dengan petugas Dishub perihal cara menuju Toba dari terminal ini. Juga bercakap dengan seorang kondektur bus PO Sejahtera untuk menanyakan keberangkatan pertama armadanya menuju danau vulkanik terbesar di dunia itu.

Warung biru tempat aku bercakap dengan warga lokal.

Senang mendengar kabar bahwa Terminal Amplas akan direvitalisasi oleh Mister Menteri dan akan menjadi terminal yang terintegrasi dengan mall dan hotel. Keren yaaaa.

Yuk, jangan lama-lama di terminal. Mari kutunjukkan Medan seperti apa.

Panggil ojek online! Explore Medan!

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Bukan Silangit, Tapi Kualanamu

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

KNO adalah kode untuk Kualanamu International Airport yang ditetapkan oleh IATA. Seperti CGK untuk Soetta, KUL untuk KLIA dan SIN untuk Changi.

Dulu, kalau memikirkan Medan (sebelum aku benar-benar mengunjunginya) maka tempat pertama yang kubayangkan adalah Danau Toba….Parah, padahal Danau Toba berada di Kabupaten Simalungun, sedangkan Kota Medan berada 190 km di utara Danau.

Persepsi kembali berubah saat digalakkannya era optimalisasi bandar udara di seluruh negeri. Ketika mendengar kata “Medan” maka yang terbayang secara otomatis adalah Kualanamu. Bagaimana tidak, Kualanamu telah mencatatkan rekor sebagai pelopor penggunaan kereta bandara menuju ke pusat kota.

1. Arrival Hall

Area conveyor belt.

Sriwijaya Air SJ 010 dengan tiket kelewat irit berjasa mendaratkanku di Kualanamu International Airport (KNIA). Seperti biasa, eksplorasi bandara menjadi keharusan bagiku. Kuputuskan menginvestasikan satu jam pertama di Sumatera Utara untuk menjelajah setiap sisi Kualanamu.

Main Arrival Hall.

Suhu kota Medan baru beranjak di level 28o Celcius, jadi belum sepanas yang kubayangkan. Karenanya aku berasa santai ketika sedikit berlama-lama di parking lot pesawat sembari menunggu apron shuttle bus menjemputku tepat di kaki pesawat.

Replika Istana Maimun, ikon pariwisata Medan.

Memasuki bandara yang memiliki arti nama “Tempat Bertemu” tersebut, suasana menjadi riuh karena banyak penumpang berlarian bahkan rela mengantri untuk berfoto dengan Pak Jokowi  yang sedang mengayuh sepeda atau untuk sekedar mengabadikan diri di spot signboard kuning KNO.

2. Departure Hall

Itu dia area check-in.

Pasca menjelajah Arrrival Hall dan memahami selusin arah menuju beberapa fasilitas bandara, aku menyempatkan naik ke lantai 2 untuk melongok Departure Hall.  Ini menjadi keharusan karena sadar bahwa aku akan pulang ke Jakarta dari Minangkabau International Airport di Padang Pariaman.

Mereka yang sibuk untuk meninggalkan Medan.

Hanya kondisi ruang tunggu pesawat yang tak tertangkap kamera karena aku tak bertiket untuk memasukinya. Eksplorasi di Departure Hall akhirnya harus diakhiri di sini.

Pintu departure setelah Anda melakukan check-in.

3. Fasilitas Lain

Menuruni  lantai 2 melalui escalator, aku kembali berada di Arrival Hall untuk melihat fasilitas lain yang tersedia.

Para turis harus kesini jika hendak mencari informasi tentang pariwisata Sumatera Utara.

Aku cukup lama bercakap dengan “Si Jilbab Cantik” yang bertugas di Tourist Information Center. Paras ayunya membuatku betah bertutur dan lancar mengeluarkan pertanyaan sebanyak mungkin hanya untuk bisa mengagumi beningnya lebih lama….Huuu, dasar kutu kupret kamu, Donny!…Hahaha.

Information Center di Arrival Hall.

Meninggalkan Arrival Hall dengan menggenggam banyak brosur sebagai buah percakapanku dengan si doi. Dipadu dengan itinerary yang kususun, fokus eksplorasi Provinsi Sumatera Utara kali ini ada di Medan, Danau Toba dan Pematang Siantar. Karena aku akan melewati ketiga tempat itu.

Pintu keluar bangunan utama bandara.

4. Akses Kereta Api Bandara

Yuhuii….Aku menjadi girang karena sekejap lagi akan melihat secara langsung “Si Biru Langit” yang sudah terlanjur tersohor ke seantero negeri sebagai kereta bandara pertama di Indonesia.

Lihat sign board itu. Gampang kok menemukannya.

Kereta buatan Korea Selatan ini menjual tiketnya seharga Rp. 100.000 untuk sekali jalan dari stasiun bandara menuju pusat kota atau sebaliknya.

Gerbang menuju stasiun kereta bandara.
Ticketing counter and information desk.
Automatic Ticket Vending Machine.

Tapi beribu sayang dan maaf ya, gaes….Aku tak bisa memperlihatkan interior kereta, karena aku tak jadi menaikinya. Harganya terlalu mahal untukku. Ada moda transportasi lain yang lebih terjangkau dengan dompet.

Tuh kereta bandaranya….

5. Akses Airport Bus

Yes, aku memilih menggunakan bus DAMRI menuju pusat kota. Harganya yang hanya Rp. 15.000 sungguh menjadikannya sebagai pilihan utama dan pertama yang sekonyong-konyong muncul dalam naluri. Lumayan toh, sisa Rp. 85.000 bias buat empat kali makan….Jadi pengiritan dimulai dari DAMRI bandara….Hahaha.

Yuk beli tiket DAMRI lalu menuju pusat kota.

Puas rasanya setelah berhasil mengoleksi kembali satu bandara milik bangsa dan akan tersimpan dalam sejarah kelayapanku.

Lihat bagian dalam bandara: https://youtu.be/9XkLfmzCuqA

Thank you Kualanamu….Welcome Medan.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Bus “SEJAHTERA” from Medan to Toba Lake, North Sumatra

I would tell my journey by Bus “SEJAHTERA” from Medan City to Toba Lake. The distance was 170 km and bus fare was IDR 40,000 (USD 2,85). The special thing wasn’t on got into the bus but in curiosity along the trip to immediately met the largest volcanic lake in the world.


Yes that is the Dazhong Backpacker’s Hostel lobby….Bored.… became a first guest who woke up on early morning, but my plan failed to catched the first departure Bus “SEJAHTERA” on 6 am. One hour pacing, I made noisy sound with a hope that hostel owner would get up. Starting by pushed bell many times at reception desk or got in and out the door so the “WELCOME” sound sensor rang. Crazy activity aimed to got back my deposit money in hostel.

6:10am He woke up.…but, I didn’t immediately get GORIDE (online base transportation in Indonesia) because of a weak signal, I decided to got close to center of Little India area, precisely at Shri Mariamman Temple. Around 6:34am GORIDE picked me up. Didn’t breakfast yet I immediately went up, I would definitely arrive at Amplas Terminal 5 minutes before bus departed. It was true that GORIDE hadn’t entered yet into terminal. The bus looked out from terminal, I rushed down from GORIDE and waiting for bus to approached me.

Here, I got a photo of Amplas Terminal on a day before when I arrived from Kualanamu Airport:


10 minutes into bus, drizzle turned into heavy rain. This economy bus often stopped for raising passengers before entering into highway. Rain requires all windows to be closed. It was the challenge.… how to set my breath so didn’t inhale much smoke along the way. With closed windows and many passengers smoked, when they finished one cigarette then they would smoke other ones.…crazy.

When starving, no one food hawker came into bus. I was only occasionally chatting on Facebook Massanger with “The Beauty” Eloise who kept asking how I was going to Toba Lake, She was an Australian solo traveler who met me at dormitory in Medan City. She would go to Toba Lake in the day by copying what I did. Also, She asked where I got a guesthouse in Toba Lake for IDR 60,000 (USD 4,3)… Later I would tell to you how finally we were both riding a motorcycle on exploring Samosir island.

bus sejahtera

Noisy sound of worn wipers together with Batak songs accompanied me to enjoyed view of streets, villages, and oil palm plantations.

At 11:25 my eyes were stunned on appearance of wide waters after bus descended a ridge somewhere. Yesss … it was Toba Lake … It was cool.

Driver’s change to bus return trip to Medan was did before arriving at Tigaraja Ferry Port. I almost went too far from drop point because bus conductor didn’t tell me where the bus was, I just monitored “Your Position” on Google Maps. It looked like I stayed away from Tigaraja Port. I decided to get off from bus and walked in a drizzle to port.

Didn’t want to lost the moment of photo hunting along Tigaraja Port then I bought umbrella for IDR 50,000 (USD 3,5) in the market around the port.


Several corners of Tigaraja Port

Toba Lake … I came!