Batam and Bintan – two small islands part of the Riau archipelago in Indonesia are both famous weekend getaways for individuals and other tourists from Singapore. Since both of them are less than 200km away, they are easily accessible from mainland Singapore by a short ferry ride.
There are various deals for trips to Batam which you can find on sites like Groupon. They typically offer a hotel stay (2D1N should be more than enough) and a ferry ride (to and fro from Singapore). Some do offer all the meals while others only offer breakfast. Our package included all the meals. The hotel was fairly decent as well. Some deals also offer city tours. Do check the fine print to know what is and what is not included in the tour packages in order to avoid any surprises.
Interestingly, when I visited Batam back in 2013, I had to pay about 20 SGD for an Indonesian visa. But since last year, entering Indonesia is visa-free for most countries including India.
I have travelled on ferries previously. While the 1 hour ferry ride was quite comfortable, the waters in the Singapore strait were generally rough and the bumpy ride made me slightly uneasy.
The key highlight of Batam is the chain of 6 bridges running between the islands of Batam, Galang and Rempang. Particularly from an Indian point of view, the views from there remind you of places like Goa, Pondicherry or Kerala.
Batam like Singapore and the surrounding areas is also famous for it’s massage parlours and spas. While there’s another side to Batam with the trend of old men finding young girls in massage parlours and having weekend wives, not all spas or massage parlours have a dark side to them. And I must say that these spas surely relax your muscles and refresh you for the times ahead.
We also visited the area around the Pacific Palace Hotel (which is in the shape of a ship) and the Batam Mega Mall which is right next to the Batam Ferry Terminal.
The biggest regret was the fact that since it was the monsoon season, we couldn’t go for any water sports.
If shopping is your thing and you want to try some more Indonesian cuisine at various restaurants, there’s also the Batam City Square Mall and the Nagoya Shopping Mall.
1) Ferries to Batam depart from the Harbourfront as well as Tanah Merah Terminals in Singapore. We departed from Harbourfront and were just in time for the departure. Kindly note that exact departure times are strictly followed and you may miss your ferry if you are late.
2) Best time to visit Batam is between May and September which is generally considered as the dry season.
3) While Batam is generally safe, be wary of individuals who promise you women at the drop of your hat particularly in places like Nagoya. Prostitution is legally considered a crime against morals in Indonesia.
4) When it comes to public transport in Batam, things aren’t really great. You will need to rely on taxis for which a certain level of bargaining is expected.
Linking to Day Two Blogchatter: Half Marathon