Pekanbaru is the capital of Riau Province and is the third largest city on the island of Sumatra, after Medan in the North and Palembang in South Sumatra. A large and clean city, Pekanbaru is better known as a business city for its exports of crude oil, palm oil, and pulp and paper. It is cut from west to east by the Siak river, which serves as river transport.
In the old days, the town was a main trade and distribution hub for commodities and goods that include coffee and coal produced in the highlands of the Minangkabau in West Sumatra, to be carried to the busy trading ports along the Straits of Malacca.
The palace of the Sultan of Siak also lies at the mouth of the Siak river by the Straits of Malacca in the town of Siak Sri Indrapura, some 130 km. northwest of Pekanbaru.
Lately the Riau province has come into international limelight when UK’s Steve King broke his own World record by surfing up the Kampar river on the Bono bore, covering the length of 20.65 km (12.8 miles) in 1 hour and 4 minutes, setting a new World Record for the Longest, Continuous Bore Ride.
Also by the Kampar Kanan river In a jungle clearing are the ruins of the enigmatic 9th century Muara Takus Buddhist temple complex. Muara Takus lies 122 km. from Pekanbaru.
At Indonesia’s Independence in 1945, Riau was one with its neighbouring province of the Riau Islands, situated south of Singapore and Malaysia. Together they formed part of the larger Johore-Riau kingdom. Today, Pekanbaru is capital of that part that lies on the larger island of Sumatra only, that is known as the province of Riau, while the town of Tanjung Pinang on Bintan island is capital of the Riau Islands province , which include among others, Batam, Bintan, Karimun and the Natuna islands.
Around Pekanbaru you will find miles of palm oil plantations, and a number of oil drillings in Dumai and Rumbai. The town also has a number of manicured Gof courses and boasts a large Sports Center.Because of its history, Pekanbaru is a cosmopolitan city inhabited by a number of ethnic groups, including Malays, Minangkabau and a sizeable Chinese population.
As a business city, Pekanbaru is easily accessible by air and overland.Pekanbaru is served by a number of domestic and international airlines. Garuda Indonesia flies 6 times daily from Jakarta, and has also flights from Medan. Sriwijaya Air flies to Pekanbaru from Jakarta, Medan and Batam. While Air Asia flies from Bandung and Medan, and internationally from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as does Firefly.
Wings Air offers twice weekly flights from Malacca in Malaysia, while Singapore Airlines flies Singapore-Pekanbaru 5 times weekly.
Pekanbaru’s airport is called the Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport.
Overland, Pekanbaru is connected to Medan and Padang by highways. The bus terminal is at Bandar Raya Payung Sekaki.
There are a number of attractions that you can go and see while in Pekanbaru. Do take time to see the Sang Nila Utama Museum at Jalan Sudirman, which relates the history of Riau.
Located next to the museum at Jalan Sudirman is the Balai Adat Melayu Riau, or the Riau-Malay building which houses art and cultural legacies.
The Idrus Tintin Arts Hall is a landmark of the city with its architecture fusing Malay and modern elements. Events are held in this building regularly.
For a glimpse of the life of the Chinese community in Riau, browse through the Chinese-Malay Quarters on Jalan Dr. Leimena and Jalan Karet.
Pekanbaru also has a number of recreation parks, among which the Labersa Waterpark at Labersa Parit Indah, which has a waterpark, a golf course and a 5 star hotel.
The other is the Taman Puteri Kaca Mayang Park at Jalan Sudirman located right opposite the municipal office, that offers fun for family recreation, fishing and outbound activities.
Golf lovers will be spoilt with a choice of golf courses. Besides the Labersa Golf Course, there is the Pekanbaru Golf & Country Club, the Simpang Tiga Golf Course, at Simpang Tiga, and the Rumbai Golf Course at Rumbai Chevron Camp.
For shopping, Pekanbaru has a number of malls, Hotel Swiss-belinn Pekanbaru is located in the SKA mall. Pasar Bawah is an interesting market that sells antiques, ceramics, old lamps, and a lot of interesting bric-a-brac.
As an export center for oil and other important commodities, Pekanbaru has a number of luxurious five and four star hotels, to serve top management and VIP guests, as well as hotels that are more moderately priced.