Pekanbaru, Sumatra


Pekanbaru is one of the largest cities in Sumatra, Indonesia and as a capital of Riau. It is well known for being modern and clean yet maintaining many of it’s unique heritage architectures.

Somewhat like a typical Southeast Asia city, it is not exactly a tourist spot but serves as transit points for many tourists from Singapore or Malaysia. You will be surprised to find that people here are really friendly and helpful as city folks.

Why go

This city serves as one of the most popular international airport in Sumatra, paving as a gateway to explore north, south and west Sumatra. Smack right in the middle of this huge island, you can make way to see Sumatran Orang Utan at Bukit Lawang, or head out to chill at the famous Lake Toba. It serves as a good alternative to Medan which overcrowded and chaotic.

How to get there

Fly into its international airport – Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport, which serves flights from Malaysia and Singapore. This airport also serves domestic flights from all over Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and so on. This airport is a pleasant stopover in comparison to other nearby airports as it is fairly new, with a new terminal just opened in 2012.

You can catch airport taxi to get into town, which is about 10km away, and charged at around 60,000RP.

Boat / Ferry
There are boats going to Pekanbaru from both domestic and also international. Internationally you may take boats from Batam, Malaysia to the Riau Islands (which would need a further 3 hour minivan to get into town).

How to get around

Catch an opelet (angkot/bajaj or minibus) to go around town (just 2000Rp). Blue opelet serves between port to Pasar Pusat on Jalan Sudirman while the green opelet serves between bus terminal to Jalan Nangka.

What to do

If you are only here for a stopover you must be wondering what is there to do in Pekanbaru. Fret not, you may just relax a little, soak in the atmosphere and then head out for a little sightseeing if you are bored though there aren’t many exciting attractions. Else you can do some shopping like what the locals like best, you can find good malls here like Mall SKA or Mall Ciputra Seraya.

Where to stay

There are choices from budget to luxury, but I would suggest staying in the mid range hotels like the rest of the small cities of Indonesia, such as Novotel * or FOX Hotel *, as they offer great value for the comfort they provide.

 -> Find the best hotel deals in Pekanbaru * 

Where to go nearby

Head to Bukit Lawang for Orang Utan Trekking where you can have a good hike through the lush natural forests and if you are lucky you may sight the Orang Utan living in their natural habitat. Read the guide to Bukit Lawang’s Orang Utan to find out more.

Make your way to Lake Toba, north of Pekanbaru, though a long journey you will find it worth it once you reached the breathtakingly beautiful place to chill out. Read the guide to Lake Toba, Sumatra for more information.

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