Pelalawan is a Regency of the Riau Province, currently one of the richest provinces in Indonesia due to its abundance of natural resources, making it the economic hub of the island of Sumatra. It covers an area of nearly 14,000 square kilometers, most of which is located on the Sumatran mainland, but also includes a group of offshore islands. Pelalawan’s larger islands are Mendul, Serapung, Lebuh and Muda, while the smaller ones include Ketam, Tugau and Labu. Pelalawan Regency is well-known as a producer of fiber plantations, natural rubber and palm oil.
Pelalawan spans a variety of geographical conditions: dense forests, expansive plantations, peat bog plains and alluvial rivers. Simply the natural beauty of the region is enough to attract tourists, but especially catches the eye of the adventurer. With vast and diverse stretches of both terrestrial and marine charm, from the Kampar River to the Straits of Malacca, Pelalawan’s great outdoors are just waiting to be discovered.
The history of Pelalawan began in 1726, when a royal descendant by the name of Pelalawan stood on the banks of the River Kampar. A Kingdom was later established under the reign of Sultan Syed Abdurrahman Fachrudin, who ruled from 1811-1822. The Pelalawan Kingdom existed until the Independence of Indonesia in 1945, when the kingdom joined the Republic. The regency is inhabited by various indigenous peoples of various ethnicities, including Malays, Minang, Batak, Acehnese, Javanese, Sundanese, Banjar and Bugis. Though differences exist among these ethnic groups, harmony thrives in this fertile land. Also living in the region is the ancient Mamak tribe, who dwell in the forests, as well as the Bajau sea tribes.
Pelalawan has a generally hilly topography, so be sure to bring comfortable shoes.If you are interested in surfing the Kampar River, don’t forget to bring enough food, beverages, medicine and clothes.
To get to Pelalawan, one must first fly to Pekanbaru, Riau. The SSK II International airport serves international flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, local flights from Dumai, Rengat and Tanjung Pinang, and domestically, from Jakarta, Padang, Medan and Batam.
From Pekanbaru, you can hire a car to take you to Pangkalan Kerinci, the Capital of Pelalawan. It is approximately 70 km away, or 1.5 hours’ drive.
Traditional food from this region is generally quite spicy. One of the popular dishes to try in Palalwan is the Seafood Curry. Seafood is easily obtained in Pelalawan because of its location near the South China Sea.
If spicy food isn’t your thing, there are other food alternatives, such as sweet rice, dodol, nasi kunyit (saffron rice) and lopat.
Dominated by forests, rivers and islands, Pelalawan is a great destination for adventure seekers to bask in the magnificence of nature. Stroll through the far-reaching stretches of oil palm plantations, to better understand the process, and appreciate all that goes into our basic necessities.
Go Surfing on the Kampar River! Most think that surfing activities are reserved for the sea, but unbeknownst to many, the Kampar River boasts great and terrible waves and remains the only surf-able river in Indonesia. This natural phenomenon is known by the local residents as Bono, but has also acquired the name, Seven Ghosts. Bono Waves occur due to pressure coming from two opposing currents , when the Kamar river down currents meet the upcoming tidal waves from the sea. Waves can attain a height of 6 meters and reach speeds of up to 40 km per hour. Bono waves do not occur all year round, so the best time to visit (if this is the nature of your visit) is between November and February. Kampar River is located in the village of Meranti, about 4 hours over road or 3 hours by speedboat from the capital city of Pangkalan Kerinci.
Tesso Nilo National Park covers over 38,000 hectares of lowland forest, some of the largest remaining rainforests on the island of Sumatra. The park spans across two regencies: Pelalawan and Indragiri Hulu. This forest houses an impressive collection of 360 species of flora, 107 species of birds, 23 species of mammals (including 3 species of primate,) 50 species of fish, 15 species of reptiles and 18 species of amphibians. Surveys conducted by the Center for Biodiversity Management over 1,800 plots of tropical rainforest around the world show no other plot to contain as many species of Vascular Plants as Tesso Nilo Park. The critically endangered Sumatran elephant and Sumatran tiger also call this forest home, but sad to say, their numbers are declining dramatically, due to poaching and illegal logging. Almost a third of the park has already been deforested.
Upstream from Kampar River lies the Tajweed Lake. Bordered with wooden lake cottages and dotted with fishing rafts, the life on the lake may seem simple, but will surely bring a smile to your face. Tajweed is named thus, as its shape seems to resemble a mark of Arabic Script. The lake brings a source of livelihood for locals around the area. Observe the local methods of fishing, or even try it yourself!
The Tombs of the Pelalawan Kings can be found in the Pelalawan village, near the Kampar River banks where the Kingdom was born. Royal Winged Palaces can also be found in this village.
The Equator Monument, as its name suggests, is located at exactly 0 degrees latitude, in Dusun Tua Village, approximately 56 km from Pangkalan Kerinci. Surrounding this monument are simple shelters to rest and sample the local product of the area: honey.
Other interesting places to visit include Langgam Village, Betung Village, and the Kerumutan Forest Reserve.