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Riau is a province in Sumatra. It is located on the east coast of the island and is rich in oil.

In 2004, the eastern islands of the province near Singapore were carved off into the new province of Riau Islands (Kepulauan Riau), covered separately.


Map of Riau

  • 1 Pekanbaru - the capital of the province.
  • 2 Bagansiapiapi Bagansiapiapi on Wikipedia - a little fishermen's town. Famous for Chinese festivals like "Bakar Tongkang", Chinese New Year and Cap Go Meh.
  • 3 Dumai - main port with connections to ports in Malaysia
  • 4 Selatpanjang - has many Chinese temples
  • 5 Siak Sri Indrapura - historical centre of a sultanate

Other destinations




Riau was used to be a part of Central Sumatra province, along with Jambi and West Sumatra provinces.

In the last 25 years, 2/3 of the jungle that once covered Riau has disappeared. Some of it remains cleared land, but most of it has been converted into oil palm plantations and tree farms to feed the pulp industry.

The world's two largest pulp mills are in this province, and it has the highest rate of deforestation of any Indonesian province.

Still, tigers and elephants continue to hold on here; and efforts are being made to secure some kind of future for these and other wild animals.



In general, Riau Province has a wet tropical climate that is influenced by two seasons, namely the rainy and dry seasons. The average rainfall received by Riau Province is between 2,000 – 3,000 mm / year with an average annual rainfall of 160 days. The areas that received the most rain were Rokan Hulu Regency and Pekanbaru City. Meanwhile, the area that received the least rainfall was Siak Regency.



The geography of Riau consists of mountains, lowlands, and islands. The mountain area lies in the western part, namely the Bukit Barisan Mountains, near the border of West Sumatra. The elevation decreases towards the east, making most of the central and eastern part of the province covered with lowlands.



As of 2010, the ethnic groups in Riau consist of Malays (43%), Javanese (25%), Minangnese (8%), Batak (12%), Banjarese (4%), Chinese (2%), and Bugis (2%).



Malay language is commonly used in coastal areas such as Rokan Hilir, Bengkalis, Dumai, Pelalawan, Siak, Indragiri Hulu, Indragiri Hilir and around the islands off the coast of Riau. Minangkabau language is widely used by the Minangkabau people, especially in the areas bordering West Sumatra such as Kampar, Kuantan Singingi and Rokan Hulu. In addition, Hokkien is widely used among the Chinese community, especially those living in Pekanbaru, Selatpanjang, Bengkalis, and Bagansiapiapi.

Get in


By plane


The main airport of Riau province is Pekanbaru's Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport (PKU IATA), with frequent flights from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta and Halim airports, as well as flighs from Surabaya, Bandung, Yogyakarta, and the major cities of Sumatra island. There are direct international flights from Malacca, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and Singapore Changi Airport.

Dumai's Pinang Kampai Airport (DUM IATA) has a few weekly direct flights from Batam and Medan,

By car


The Trans-Sumatran Highway runs along the length of the province. Riau serves as a junction of the highway, with North Sumatra to the north, Jambi to the south and West Sumatra to the west.

By ferry


The Port of Dumai is the largest port in the province. It serves both passengers and cargo. The port serves ferries to Batam and Tanjung Pinang in the Riau Islands, as well as international destinations such as Singapore, Johor and Malacca in Malaysia.

Get around


By boat


Pekanbaru and Selatpanjang are connected by ferries.


  • Muara Takus Temple, an ancient Buddhist temple from ancient Srivijaya Kingdom.
  • Zapin Api, a firedance on the shores of Riau





The cuisine of Riau is heavily influenced by Minangkabau and Malay cuisines, and also slightly influenced by Javanese and Chinese cuisines. The cuisine in Riau is somewhat similar to the cuisine in the Malay Peninsula across the Strait of Malacca.

Main dishes

Nasi Lemak Riau.

Nasi Lemak is a typical Riau food in the form of rice cooked with coconut milk to provide a savory flavor and fragrant aroma. Nasi Lemak is generally served with side dishes such as eggs, fried anchovy, chili sauce, cucumber slices and other side dishes. This nasi lemak is easily found in stalls and restaurants in Pekanbaru. In archipelagic region like Riau Islands province of Indonesia, usually seafood are used to accompany nasi lemak, such as ikan bilis (anchovy), ikan tamban (Sardinella longiceps), ikan selar kuning (Selaroides leptolepis), cumi-cumi (squid), or small prawns.

Gulai Ikan Patin (Catfish soup) has a very delicious and powerful taste and it can be easily be found around Pekanbaru. Gulai Ikan Patin is a typical Pekanbaru food that has a deep yellow sauce to soak the pieces of catfish. The people of Riau especially in Pekanbaru, generally also consume other ingredients other than the catfish. There are sidedishes accompanying Gulai Ikan Patin, such as boiled yams, leaf tops and more. Gulai Ikan Patin is usually cooked with the etlingera elatior to enhance the flavouring.

Asam pedas (or Asam padeh) is a Malay-Minangkabau dish that can be found in Riau and the surrounding area. It is a type sour and spicy fish stew dish. The main ingredients in asam pedas are usually seafood or freshwater fish. In the Riau province, the most common fish used in asam pedas is ikan tongkol (mackerel tuna). Asam pedas is cooked in asam (tamarind) fruit juice with chilli and spices. The cooking process involves soaking the pulp of the tamarind fruit until it is soft and then squeezing out the juice for cooking the fish.


Roti jala.

Roti jala is a typical Riau food which is influenced by Malay culture and generally present at large parties such as weddings. Roti jala is made from the basic ingredients of flour which, after being cooked, will be served with a spill of durian sauce for those who like sweet foods. Aside from being served with sauce, roti jala is also commonly eaten with curry chicken, mutton or beef. Roti jala has a triangular shape that is produced from a mold.

Roti cane is another typical Riau food. Roti cane has much in common with roti pratha in India and Singapore aside from the taste and eating method.



Stay safe


There is a frequent forest fire in Riau. Wear mask to prevent Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI). The smoke is also reducing environmental visibility, so be very careful when driving.

Go next


This region travel guide to Riau is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!