Perahu Bidar Race

17 Aug 2017
Palembang, Sumatra

Ready, set, race! Join the locals in Palembang, Sumatra as they celebrate Indonesian Independence with a little healthy competition at the annual Bidar Boat Race.

  • When? 17 August 2017
  • Where? Palembang, Sumatra
  • Price: Free

If you enjoy cheering on your favourite team and getting involved in the latest sporting action then you're going to love the Bidar Boat Race. Hardwood trees are chopped down, carved and decorated to form these magnificent vessels that can reach up to 30 metres in length. What's more, they can hold up to 75 people meaning big teams, big noise and even bigger celebrations. 

The bidar boat is an important part of Indonesian life. It was originally created to transport people and goods along the Musi river across the stretch of Sumatra. They are known to be fast so pay attention if you're watching at the finish line, it could be a tight finish. 

Each boat is carefully decorated to represent its team, so expect bright colours, intricate patterns and big logos. Look out for a snake-head carving at the stern as this symbolises the Buddhist kingdom of Sriwijaya that has existed on the island for centuries. 

Using bamboo as an oar, teams race each other from Pelabuhan 35 Ilir port to Pusri with miles of crowds cheering them on. The event is also used to celebrate Palembang's birthday on the 16th of June, so if you're not around for the Independence Day celebration, you have another chance to catch this must-see event.

We all know the best way to travel is to live like a local, so find yourself a spot on the finish line and cheer on the boats as if they were Usain Bolt at the Olympics.

  • Get there: If possible, fly to Bandara Internasional Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II (PLM) - Palembang is 45 minutes away.
  • Stay: The river is in the south of the city so stay downtown for easy access.

*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!