The Province of Riau, which includes a large part of East Sumatra, is homeland to the Malay people and the cradle of Indonesia’s Malay-based national language. The first book of Malay grammar, called Bustanul Katibin, was written and published here in 1857. Pekanbaru became the provincial capital in 1959, taking over from the former capital of Tanjung Pinang on the island of Bintan. About 160 kilometers upstream on the Siak River a number of buildings in the traditional style are still in this area, among them the Balai Dang Merdu, the Balai Adat and Taman Budaya Riau, or Riau Cultural Park. The provincial capital of Riau is Pekanbaru.
Grand Mosque and Cultural Park Pekanbaru
Muara Takus Temple
Similar to other structures of its kind in Sumatra, this Buddhist temple (stupa) near the village of Muara Takus in the Tigabelas Koto District 118 kilometers from Pekanbaru, was built using red bricks and sand. The temple is believed to have been constructed at around 9th century AD during the height of the mighty South Sumatra-based Sriwijaya Empire. Excavations are still being done to determine the precise age and function of the stupa.
Kerumutan Nature Reserve
Kerumutan Nature Reserve is located in mainland Riau in the Kuala Kampar District. This 120,000 hectare (30,000 acres) natural reserve can be reached in 18 hours by motorboat from Pekanbaru.
Bono is a peculiar natural phenomenon in the Rokan River (in the Kampar regency) which occurs daily along its downstream offshoots. Each day during high tide a swelling appears in the waters of the river mouth. Accompanied by a rumbling sound, the swelling grows in mass until it reaches the height of a small tree, spinning as it moves upstream and growing smaller in the process until it finally disappears.
Formerly a fishing village on the east coast, Dumai is now a major oil terminal. Despite giant crude oil storage tanks and modern installations which dot the landscape, the town of Dumai itself is actually quite pleasant and interesting.
Sultan of Siak’s Palace
The Siak Sultanate’s Park
In 1889, Sultan Syarif Hasyim Abdul Jalil Syarifuddin of Siak built this Moorish style palace 120 kilometers upstream from Pekanbaru on the Siak River. Now a museum, the palace displays the royal family’s effects and other items of historical interest.
Bakar Tongkang is a thanksgiving ceremony held by the local Chinese community, and features Barongsai Dances and other traditional performance.
Pacu Jalur at Indragiri Hulu, Riau. The jalur (canoe) races coincide with the Indonesian Independence Day celebrations. Each jalur is made from one single large tree, approx. 30 meters long and manned by 25-30 rowers. In the past, the race was only held after the harvest and considered a sacred event.
Perahu Naga Festival
Perahu Naga Festival at Tanjung Pinang. Both local and overseas contenders participate in the annual Dragon Boat Race. Other water sports competitions are also held, as well as cultural performances.