Kawah Putih Tinggi Raja – A hidden gem in North Sumatera

In a glance, the Kawah Putih Tinggi Raja resembles the natural rock pools of Pamukkale, Turkey. “Kawah Putih” means White Crater in Indonesian language, one of North Sumatera’s best kept secret. Tinggi Raja is a natural hot spring that has hardened to form white terraces made of calcium carbonate deposits.

Kawah Tinggi Bukit Raja, Medan, Indonesia

 

Kawah Tinggi Bukit Raja, Medan, Indonesia
A sight to behold – Kawah Tinggi Bukit Raja, Medan, Indonesia

These “warm snow” terraces are located in the Simalungun province of North Sumatera, about 4 hours drive from Medan town. Bear in mind this location is not a tourist hot-spot with top-notch facilities, it’s completely off-the-beaten path and the road leading to it are paved with huge uneven stones. If you don’t mind a super bumpy car ride, hiring a 4-wheel drive is the way to go. Transportation was arranged by my local friend from Medan and we leave for Tinggi Raja early in the morning on a Friday morning.

Rocky roads leading to Tinggi Raja
Rocky roads leading to Tinggi Raja.

It’s a long drive on rocky roads from the main road leading into the secluded area of Tinggi Raja. You will pass by about 4-5 villages, palm oil, cocoa and rubber plantations along the way. Just enjoy the scenery and focus on the prize. From the lack of signage, you can tell that the local authorities did not really make it easily accessible to tourist. We had to stop a few times to ask for directions until we saw this sign:

The only signage telling you that you're near
The only signage telling you that you’re near, it says – Tinggi Raja Hot Spring, 6km
And we're here
And we’re here. The place seems deserted on a Friday, which is a working day so it’s good for us to take photos without any hustle bustle distractions.

It is known that on weekends, this place is packed with local tourists and the blue tents will be busy selling food and refreshments (at a very steep price). There will also be some people waiting at the entrance of the path to Tinggi Raja to collect some ‘entrance fee’ from the visitors. Whether or not it’s legal or illegal, let’s just say you’re not issued an official receipt or entrance ticket after you pay – so go figure.

Closer to the hot springs
Another sign pointing to the path to Tinggi Raja. From here it takes about 10 minutes walk to reach the hot blue lagoon.
Walk path to the Kawah Putih Tinggi Raja
Walk path to the Kawah Putih Tinggi Raja. Don’t worry no hiking or climbing much, just follow the path, even a 7 year old can do it :)
Sticky white sand
I notice that the white sand in this area has a different texture, like sticky white sand

cagar-alam

And behold...
And amidst the trees…
Kawah Tinggi Bukit Raja
The hot terraces of Kawah Tinggi Bukit Raja
lagoon-bamboo
Unlike the Pamukkale pools in Turkey, the hot water temperature here is super hot that you cannot swim in it. It’s so hot that you have to be really careful not to step on the water as it can literally boil an egg in mere minutes.
A closeup of the terraces
A closeup of the terraces.
A panorama of the area
A panorama of the area

One of the locals we met there told us that the location of these terraces slightly differs from year to year, because the source of the underground hot water which creates these magnificent view might shift location. So this year the terraces photos you capture might be different when you come back in a few years time in terms of location and texture. How cool is that!

Kawah Putih Tinggi Raja
Nature’s art

blue-lagoon5

White calcium textures
Amazing textures ( and my trustee Crocs 🙂 )

batang-benam

blue-lagoon6

happy-me
It’s like being in an outdoor sauna. Tip-toed feet to avoid the scalding hot water.

Even though the roads getting here is tough, I think the view and the experience is worth it. Here are some useful info and tips you need to know:

  1. What to bring – snacks, food and drinks, wipes, towel and a change of clothes
  2. When to visit – if possible, come and visit on a week day where the place is almost deserted to avoid paying unnecessary ‘fees’.
  3. Start early so that you can beat the crowd and have the place for your own photographic pleasure.
  4. Fees – Be prepared to pay a small fee (Rp. 1000/person) to stand on one of the wooden bamboos to take photos, an illegal activity which should be monitored by the authorities. Also beware with some locals trying to tell that you need to pay certain fees for them to guide you around this area.

Since this is a remote place, the infrastructure here is close to none – there are no public facilities like a proper toilet or signage, something the local authorities should look into improving, along with the preservation of this area.

stairs-down
Next, we came across a local that willingly guide us down the path of stairs to reach another river at the bottom.

If you love this journey so far, stay tuned for the upcoming post.

Continue reading Part 2

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2 Comments

  • Place is so amazing!

    We have a travel in aug in medan and we plan to visit lake toba and tinggi rajah. Do you have any suggestion how can we manage our itinerary for 2 days tour for this 2 tourist spots.

    Many Thanks!

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