Pekanbaru Day 1: Airport, Mall Ciputra Seraya, Grab Rides, FOX Hotel Pekanbaru

sultan syarif kasim II international airport pekanbaru

Pekanbaru’s airport – Sultan Syarif Kasim International Airport – is a really compact one. After exiting the Scoot plane upon landing, we took a few steps and could then see the queue to get our passports stamped. 😅 The leftmost queue was for Indonesian passports while the other two were for foreigners. So make sure you join the right queue! And awaiting us downstairs, after clearing all the immigrations checks, was A&W! (Head down the escalator and you’ll see it behind you) *By the way, if you need help with your luggage, there’s a porter service at 10,000rp per piece of luggage. 😉

If you’re wondering why we picked Pekanbaru, which is a relatively ‘unknown’ place to us Singaporeans, well, I read some sponsored articles about Pekanbaru and mistakenly thought that it’s quite the happening spot for a holiday. But it’s not really the case. We did not encounter a single PRC Chinese person in Pekanbaru so you can probably tell how ‘popular’ it is as a travel destination. Not a bad thing, actually, considering the fears of the Wuhan virus which has been spreading across the globe.

Photo taken while waiting for our Mango Chicken Pocket which turned out to be a disappointment:

A&W pekanbaru airport

The chicken’s puny. But the curly fries are top-notch and the ‘Perkedel’ were delicious, packed with mashed potato, corn and spring onions. At 13,000rp per piece, the perkedel don’t come cheap but are well worth the pricetag. I really should have brought some back to Singapore since the flight time’s only about an hour! 😛 (We spent some 153,000rp here so I wouldn’t say dining at A&W at the airport is cheap, ya?)

We then purchased a 1.5litre bottle of AQUA water from the convenience store and it cost 11500rp. Could be much cheaper elsewhere but we were thirsty!

We also wanted to get a SIM card BUT strangely enough, I asked a few vendors and couldn’t find one selling a SIM card at the airport! However, there’s free wifi in the airport, and I had my TPG sim card which offered free data in Indonesia. *TPG’s coverage in Pekanbaru during my stay was spotty at best so I couldn’t always rely on it.

On the way to the Mal Ciputra Seraya…

The traffic police might miss you if your vehicle’s ‘camouflaged’ like this. 😀

*Malls are spelled ‘mal’ in Pekanbaru. So instead of it being the Ciputra Seraya Mall, it is Mal Ciputra Seraya.

The Grab ride from the airport to Mal Ciputra Seraya cost rp87,000. I was not expecting the vehicle to be a blue cab. We boarded the cab at about 1.30pm and reached the shopping mall at 1.52pm. To my surprise (and a bit of annoyance), the cabbie asked for an additional 5000rp for the ‘tiket’. Had to dig it out of my purse for him. 😑 Had already prepared 87,000rp exact so I wasn’t expecting to pay any more. But since 5000rp is 50 cents in Singapore, there was no point questioning him – just pay lor.

*And when we were heading back to Singapore, the Grab driver who took us to the airport also asked for 5,000rp for the tiket. (@_@) So my guess is they’ll ask for money from the guest they drop off at the airport and also the one they pick up from the airport, and pocket 5,000rp.

CFC pekanbaru

Mal Ciputra Seraya is quite something. Saw a CFC outlet (yup, not KFC, though there’s ALSO a KFC outlet) and the Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks outlet was offering Tokidoki totes with selected menu items! The design I wanted was out-of-stock though. So I didn’t want to settle for second-best.

shihlin taiwan street snacks pekanbarupolo ralph lauren pekanbaru

sour sally pekanbaru

chatime pekanbaru

boboutea pekanbarucalais pekanbaruMatahari department store, Mal Ciputra Seraya

The Matahari department store also had some CNY promo going on. We found Disney items at ‘Buy-1-Get-2-Free‘. Insane! We bought fast charging cables. And then found there were discount coupons attached to the long receipt. One of them was for 50,000rp off our next 100,000rp purchase. Needless to say, we went for another round of shopping, hoping the next receipt won’t have more coupons or else this will never end. 😅

Bought toothpaste at Guardian as it was SO cheap:

guardian toothpaste pekanbaru

fox harris lounge

The lounge area of Fox Hotel Pekanbaru or Fox Harris

fox hotel pekanbaru review

Apparently, there’s no need for travel adaptors in Pekanbaru. The hotels are usually designed in a thoughtful manner:

pekanbaru power outlets

fox harris hotel spa

The main reason you have to stay at Fox Harris is for the view from the infinity pool 😀

fox harris infinity pool

It’s also an indoor pool so you can swim when it’s raining outside, I guess. But even with good weather, the water’s also really cold. So try not to dive into the pool, ok? 😉

And the gym’s forever empty. If you’re a fitness fanatic, you’ll LOVE this hotel:

fox harris gym

View from our room – 714:

fox harris hotel room

I didn’t check my email so I didn’t know our Agoda reservation had been cancelled without our knowledge. 😅 Anyway, we got a better deal booking a room at the hotel itself at 396000rp per night. That’s about S$40 so it’s really quite affordable. We didn’t opt for the hotel breakfast though, thinking we’ll find better food elsewhere.

Since Mal Ciputra Seraya is just across the road, we went back there in the evening. And we picked a bakso place for dinner:

bakso pekanbaru

You can never go wrong with bakso in Indonesia, really:

bakso lapangan

bakso lapangan review

bakso lapangan pekanbaru

bakso lapangan food

The Bakso Penyet Kom (34,090) is really good. That sambal has oomph! The bakso’s delicious, of course, thought that hotplate kangkung with beef has too much salt. Make sure you eat it with rice or else it can be overwhelming. 😉

We’d spotted a Celine Dorayaki stall at the airport but didn’t buy anything from them. So when we saw yet another Celine Dorayaki stall at this mall, I bought a Belgian Choc dorayaki. Unfortunately, it didn’t taste very good so our first purchase was also our last.

celine dorayaki pekanbaru

And something happened at this other food stall – Verina Risoles – that I’ll probably remember for quite a long time.

verina risoles pekanbaru

We ordered this ‘risole’ without actually knowing what it is. But since there’s a queue here, we thought it must be good. According to, a risole is “a small croquette, enclosed in pastry or rolled in breadcrumbs, usually baked or deep fried.” At Verina Risoles, it’s served with small green chilis.

verina risoles pekanbaru price

My darling said that this should probably be eaten the same way we eat vadai. It didn’t cross my mind that this small green chili can pack a punch. I ate it with our Prawn Risole and at first it tasted OK, then when the spiciness kicked in, my tongue felt like it had been set on fire, my eyes were tearing and even my eardrums were hurting (I don’t even know why!) Water did not, and does not, help, of course. So I made my way to the hypermart to purchase some milk. By the time I’d paid for the chocolate milk, the ‘fire’ in my mouth had been extinguished somewhat. My goodness! Do NOT eat the green chili! EVER! However, the risoles are good. I just wish this wasn’t the only time we saw the risoles freshly prepared. At other malls / outlets, the risoles looked like they had been sitting there for a while already so we didn’t feel tempted to purchase any.


And here’s the interesting thing: Across the road from Mal Ciputra Seraya was our hotel – FOX Hotel. And this road, however, is not an easy one to cross. So on our first day in Pekanbaru, one security officer actually assisted us in crossing the road THREE times. The first time was before we checked into the hotel (we’d gone straight to the mall from the airport, remember?) and we had to cross the road to get to Fox Harris. Then a second time when we went back to the mall for dinner. And finally, the third time (it was even drizzling then) when we returned to our hotel. Because Pradana was SO helpful, so friendly and displayed such initiative, I thought I had to go beyond just thanking him. I bought him a J.Co donut from the mall. Saw his eyes light up when I handed him the sweet treat. 🙂 Sadly, that was the last time we spotted him on duty. For the next few days, we met other security officers who were less friendly and less proactive. So no more donuts.