Like most of Pekanbaru’s oil, travellers enter and exit Dumai through its busy port. Airfares between Malaysia and Sumatra are usually more competitive, but a ferry also links Dumai to Melaka. Buses also link Bukittinggi to Dumai if you’re hell-bent on transiting between Sumatra and Malaysia without flying.
Dumai has loads of accommodation, but if you time it right, it’s relatively straighforward to link to or from Bukittinggi without overnighting in Dumai.
The Dumai Express ferry from Melaka (around two to three hours) arrives in Dumai around 8am. The port area is a bit of a scrum, so keep an eye out for BMW2002 Tours & Travel, which runs shared minibuses (per person 100,000Rp) direct to Bukittinggi. There are also frequent buses from Dumai to Padang (100,000Rp, 12 hours) if you’re visiting the Mentawai Islands.
From Dumai the ferry to Melaka (per person 240,000Rp, around two to three hours) departs at 11am daily. If you’re travelling from Bukittinggi, BMW2002 has a nightly minibus (around 10 hours) linking with the ferry’s morning departure.