RE: Good places for overnight stay in Medan
The hotels in Medan area are within the vicinity of the shops but not really within walking distance. Shoppings at evenings/nights are best to do at malls. Hotel Danau Toba (a bit shabby) and Hotel Tiara (better accommodation than Hotel Danau Toba) is within the vicinity of Sun Shopping Malls (biggest shopping malls in Medan) and Kampung Keling Area (plenty of shops and at night lots of hawkers on Jl. Pagaruyung). Another hotel that still within the vicinity but a bit further is at Jln. Listrik (Hotel Quality Suites). Sadly walking is not really one of the convenient means to explore Medan. I'd suggest that you can hire a becak mesin or hired a car if you stay for the whole day. Taxi normally you have to bargain - most of them refused to use the meters. From airport, suggest that you ask the hotels for pick ups.
How are you going about travelling to Samosir? Hopefully not by taxi as they will charge you hefty price for it. There are lots of buses and small travel minivans that travelling past through Parapat (have to go to Parapat first then takes a ferry to Samosir). Ask the hotel receptions for recommended travel buses to that area.
Have fun in Medan and Samosir! Do try the local cuisines in Medan. Yummy (then again I grew up there so I am very subjective when it comes to that matter).
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