Batam Travel Information
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Introduction || History || Population || Climate || Currency || Attractions || Tourism Objects || Culture || Safe || Shopping || Transportation || Map
Introduction
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Batam is a small but busy island in Indonesia of 415 sq.km and nearly a million people, hundreds of multinational owned factories, towns, shopping centres and gateway to the Riau Islands.Located only 20km from Singapore and 25km from Johor in Malaysia, Batam is one of the fastest growing parts of the Riau Islands and the easiest to reach from Singapore. Though in Indonesian waters, in recent years Batam has become popular with day trippers and weekend visitors, who flock to the island for its golf, duty free shopping, beaches and delicious seafood restaurants.

Batam is Indonesia's equivalent to China's SEZ's (Special Economic Zones) - a place where the nation's economic planners test new economic policies and ideas. The island is an industrial hub with electronics factories, a large and growing ship repair industry and an even larger oil service sector. Quite a few expats head there for work, and pubs and golf courses have sprung up to serve them.

Most tourists, on the other hand, come from nearby Singapore and are mostly interested in illegal casinos. Unless you have a particular interest in these, you're better off going elsewhere, such as Batam's more resort-y neighbor Bintan or the peaceful capital city of the province Tanjung Pinang.

About 20km south of Singapore, Batam is one of the fastest growing parts of the Riau Islands and the easiest to reach from Singapore. Though in Indonesian waters, in recent years Batam has become popular with day trippers and weekend visitors, who flock to the island for its golf, duty free shopping, beaches and delicious seafood restaurants.

More than 600,000 tourist visit Batam each year, more than any other place in Indonesia except for Bali. Ferries ply every 30 minutes during daylight hours between the World trade centre in Singapore and either Sekupang or Batu Ampur on the north coast of Bintam.

Sekupang is just 30 minutes by high speed ferry from the World Trade centre dock.The ferry terminal at Sekupang has numerous duty free shops selling everything from European cognac to Balinese handicrafts and Sumartran wood carvings. Prices are about half of those in Singapore for the same items. There is a taxi stand in front of the ferry terminal (the cross island journey takes about 40 minutes and cost about 20,000 Rupiah)

There are more than half a dozen international standard golf courses in Batam Island. Some of the courses are converted into Golf and Beach Resort like Palm Springs, which offer golf and other resorts services. Palm Springs also own private white sandy beach. Batam Island is famous for its seafood. Seafood is easily available as there are number of restaurants. Tourist can try mountain biking, trekking or leisurely boats cruise in the untouched southern islands of Galang and Rempang.

If you just want to get away from it all for a holiday in the lush warmth of a very cheap, easily accessible tropical island then it’s all here with beautiful waterfront, marina and golf course resorts waiting to cater to your every whim with grace and style.

Or there’s the Batam entertainment scene… a full-blown, low-cost playground on the front doorstep of Singapore with a burgeoning nightlife like the Thailand or Macau of yesteryear. It’s still a new, fresh, –raw and vibrant, frontier yet at the same time is captivatingly laid back, and welcoming. And the beautiful, smiling, welcoming Indonesian women are judged by many of the Westerners who have visited, settled and often married here to be among the most gracious, charming and generous in the world.

If business and investment are your prime interests then you have found one of the fastest growing and most dynamic economic zones of South Asia – one where you will get the Red Carpet treatment from local authorities who understand your needs and concerns and want you here.

Should you simply want to set up a home here property is cheap, living costs are low and most of the services you need for a quality lifestyle are readily available. If you need more then Singapore is just an hour away across the Strait.

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History
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For centuries, the Straits of Malacca is regarded as one of the oldest and most important trade routes in the world. Batam Island is one among 3,000 islands of the Riau province straddling the Straits. The islands provided a trading haven for sailors and traders from all over the world, resulting a strong links between the sailors thus making it an even more renowned trade route.

Age of the Kingdoms, In the triumph of the Malaccan Kingdom, Batam was governed by Admiral Hang Tuah. After the Malaccan Kingdom fall, Batam was under the power of Admiral Hang Nadim. When Hang Nadim died, the Island is then governed by Sultan Johor until mid 18 th century. When the Riau Lingga Kingdom thrives and a Viceroy of Riau is appointed, Batam and other islands nearby were governed by the Riau Viceroy.

A Period of Wars,However, after the arrival of the Portuguese, a period of wars for power of the Malay began. . The situation was aggravated with the arrival of the Dutch and British in the early 17th century. A turbulent conflict followed which was partially resolved by the Treaty of London in 1824, which gave the Dutch control of all territories claimed by European countries south of Singapore. This area included Riau, and effectively severed its links with Johor and the mainland. The Dutch subjugated and dissolved the rebellious Riau Sultanate in 1911, but the province's influence remained strong.

A Bright future,Throughout the years, Batam has become a promising area for business and trading, with major investment and development by the government. Its strategic location made it as a major economic zone in Asia.

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Population
Batam is the home for 570,000 people with 170,000 workers in the formal sector and approximately 70,000 workers in non-formal areas. This provides a very dynamic and progressive composition to the population. I however, with the population growing so rapidly, there are some social concerns with health care, housing, and other public or social facilities. Many facilities have been developed to accommodate to different needs of continuities, which include places of worship, sport facilities, markets, recreation areas, and hospitals or community health clinics.

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Climate
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Located near the equator, Batam Island enjoys a tropical climate all year round. With temperature ranging from an average minimum of 25 degrees to an average maximum of 34 degrees Celsius (77 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit). The humidity is relatively high, ranging from 73% to 96%.

#topSeasons

The average annual rainfall is 2,600 mm (about 105 inches) with the wet season extending from November to April/May and the dry season from June to October. Yet the dry and wet season descriptions are still relative – you may still found some rainy days during the dry season (June – October) although not so frequently. The most concentrated rains tend to fall during December/November and around April.

The sunny days within dry season between May and September are warm and pleasent, while the rainy season is between October and April, tropical showers will alternate with clear sky and sunshine. The average temperature of the day in coastal areas varies from about 28C during May, June, July to about 30C in March and October.

#topWord of Advise

The use of bright coloured light clothing will surely benefit you as you mostly travel outdoor in the sun. Sunglasses, hats and sun-blocking lotions will also make your travel more enjoyable. It is also advisable to have an air-conditioned accommodation, as the warm temperature and high humidity may disturb your sleep during the night.

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Currency

The Indonesian currency unit is called the Rupiah. Notes are issued in the values of Rp500, Rp5,000 and Rp10,000. Coins of Rp5, Rp10, Rp25, Rp50 and Rp100.

When changing large amounts, banks usually give Rp10,000 notes, but changing these in the provinces may prove troublesome. If you are heading for the Outer Islands, take Rp1,000 and Rp5,000 notes instead. Always keep your exchange receipts so that you can exchange your rupiah for foreign currencies upon leaving the country. The U.S. dollar is the most readily accepted currency.

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Attractions
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Although only covers an area approximately 415 sq km, the island of Batam have plenty of places of interest. Batam is still undergoing some serious development process which will make it a crucial commercial zone in the Malaccan Strait trade routes. And that’s not just all, the tourism in the island also have evolved tremendously, with more and more resorts, tourists objects, and shopping arcade being built. Here are some of the places:

#topNagoya

The city of Nagoya is also known as Nagoya Entertainment District. And the name does explain the place. Nagoya is famous for its entertainment facilities, mainly night life entertainment such as bars, pubs, music lounge and KTV. During the day, shopping is an activity most visitors do in Nagoya, with a wide range of goods in many shopping malls around the city. Public facilities such as banks, money changers, supermarket, and plenty of restaurants could be found in Nagoya.

The city of Nagoya is the heart of Batam. It is also known as Nagoya Entertainment District. Though having a similar name as the town of Nagoya in Japan, there is no other resemblance between the two cities. You can find nearly everything that you need in Nagoya. Bank, money changers, ATMs, supermarkets, and other necessity. Not to mention its wide range of restaurants and pujasera, where they serve Indonesian, Chinesse, and Western food. For the health conscious, there is upmarket health facilities at Rashinta and Clark gymnasium. In addition, there is also giant swimming pool, tennis, squash and health message.

#topBatam Centre

The new Batam Centre is intended to be the new commercial centre. The place itself also resembles Batam as an emerging island. It is a modern administrative and commercial hub which in the future will replace Nagoya as Batam’s main commercial area. Built with state-of-the-art modern architecture, representing a successful development throughout the years and a bright future of Batam. Large scale buildings in the new commercial zone are in a striking contrast to those presenting the early years of Batam.

Intended to be the new commercial centre, Batam Centre is also a sign of an emerging island. It is a modern administrative and commercial hub which in the future will replace Nagoya as Batam’s main commercial area. Built with state-of-the-art modern architecture, representing a successful development throughout the years and a bright future of Batam. Large scale buildings in the new commercial zone are in a striking contrast to those presenting the early years of Batam.

A True Centre of Batam, As it is a designated new commercial centre, you may find complete facilities in Batam Centre. Similar to Nagoya, shopping would be an activity most tourist would do in Batam Centre, and even more than Nagoya itself in the near future. Visitors with youngsters may wish to visit Waterworld at Dutamas near Batam Centre. Here you will find a nautical adventure theme park with waterslide and pool designed to capture the youngling’s imaginations. Shopping centre like the Mega Mall (Hypermart) can be found in the area along with all major banks, post office, supermarket, restaurants and cafes, cinema, bookstore, residential complexes and a strikingly beautiful Mosque just by the waterfront. We could also found the magnificent Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist temple.

Administrative Centre, Batam centre is also the administrative centre of Batam, with the Central Office of Batam Island Development Authority (BIDA) is situated along with the immigration office. The newly built seaport / ferry terminal completes the area even more by providing direct access from nearby areas, mainly Singapore. A true sign of a great future for the island of Batam.

#topNongsa Coast

Nongsa is another tourism site which is packed with a lot of resort selection. The Turi Beach Resort, The Nongsa Marina, Batam View Beach Resort, Puri Jaya Resort and Tering Bay Resort. It is one of the pioneering tourism site built by the authorities back in the early days. It also hosted some very beautiful and extravagant golf courses ever built, such as the Palm Spring Golf course and the Tering Bay Golf Course and Country Club. An unquestionable destination for tourists.

Nongsa is an unquestionable destination for tourist visiting Batam. Situated in the up most north eastern point of Batam Island, the coastal location is a natural beauty. It is a favourite spot for tourist who enjoys beach life and water sports.

#topWaterfront City

The coastal area of Waterfront is recently built by BIDA for tourism purpose. It have a spectacular ocean view, with many large hotels like the Holiday Inn Hotel and the Harris Resort, and hosted the Paradise Bay Golf Course, an 18-hole international golf course. Waterfront city have its own ferry terminal, which makes the area more easily accessible.

Waterfront city is another site being developed by Batam Authority for tourism. Situated on the western side of Batam, it delivers another view. Waterfront also have its own ferry terminal with trips from the World Trade Centre of Singapore only 35 minutes away. Another favourite place for Singaporeans as well as other tourist from all over the world.

Waterfront City hosted some fine resorts and hotels including Harris Resort and The Holiday Inn, The resorts also accommodate water sports including jet skis, banana boat, parasailing and cable skiing. There is a kids club, tennis, ten pin bowling, video arcade, billiards, squash, go-karting, a giant Jacuzzi, spa and reflexology and traditional massage services. The Clubhouse has picnic and barbecue areas, karaoke lounge, saunas, squash and tennis courts, jungle and jogging treks, and a swimming pool. There are also waterfront housing, marina club and campsite established.

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Tourism Objects
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Batam was once an almost forgoten island with no facilities or whatsoever. But today, the island is packed with so many attraction to do, persuading tourist from nearby regions and all over the world to come and experience a moment of a lifetime.

#topWater Sports

Island getaways are very much connected with beaches and Batam have beaches for every needs. For those looking for some water sports activities may come to Nongsa coast and the Waterfront City. Staying at one of the resorts would be an even better idea. For those who would like a less crowded beach could go to Melur Beach in Galang Island. The beach has been developed for tourism since 2000, but still looks a bit underdeveloped. An even more secluded beach can be found in Rempang Island, the Sembulang Beach.

Water sports facilities can mainly be found on resorts throughout Batam. Most of them are accessible not only for the guests, but also to the public. That means you don’t have to be the guest of a resort to enjoy the facility offered.

There is a wide variety of available water sports activities at your disposal, including:

  • Jet skiing
  • Banana boat
  • Parasailing
  • Sailing
  • Speed boating
  • Wind surfing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Snorkelling

#topInternational Golf Course

Batam hosts some of the best golf courses ever established in Indonesia. Luscious greenway with a coastal beauty as the backdrop is the scenery offered by these golf courses, making a spectacular experience for the golfers. The courses are designed by international golf course designers, and even the legendary Greg Norman design one of the course, the Tering Bay International. These golf courses are getaway for many Singaporeans as their island could not afford to built a golf course with many acres of land to exploit.

Few people knew that Batam is actually a great diving spot. Islands, coral, underwater life and wrecks are all part of what Batam’s waters have to offer. It has been estimated that there should be more than 500 wrecks in the region but thus far only a handful have been discovered – a challenge for any underwater explorer.

Another marine adventure to tryout is interacting with dolphins. At Dolphin Lodge, visitors may interact with these wonderful brilliant animals. There’s only 5 dolpin interaction facility found all over the world, so experiencing one in Batam would be hard to miss.

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#topOnshore activities

Away from the water, Batam also offer some great things to do. For those who enjoy sports, tennis, squash and basketball courts and gymnassium are available at your disposal. For those wanting more of a leisure and relaxing activity, there is a spa and reflexology massage along with traditional massaga to soothen your nerves.

For those wanting some more adrenaline pumping action can battle it out in a paintball field, with a minimum 8 people they could run, shoot and shout as they wanted to. Or maybe competing in go-kart racing track could be the answer for those dying need for speed enthusiast. Tourist with a passion for aerial experience may also found themselves in an ultralight aircraft thousands of feets above Batam. All and all, Batam is a great island to experience.

Sport and Leisure

On the shore, there are also lots of activities to do. And the facilities mostly are also provided by the resorts. For those with huge demand for sporting, there are tennis court, squash court, basketball court, billiard tables and a gymnasium ready to use. For the ladies who would like to find a leisure Spa, the Turi Beach Resort can provide it, with an extra therapeutic and cosmetic treatment ready at your service. Reflexology and tradiotional massages are also available.

Action Adventure

If you’re finding an acticvity with more action, you could try:

Go-karting

One package will give you 2 races, with 12 minutes to spend on each race.

Paintball

Paintball arena is also available. One game will require 8 people, and is a great activity for those higly energized people, because there are lots of running, shouting, rivalry and teamwork in the game. For the even more adventurous tourist, they should try an

Ultra-light aircraft joy flight

You can take the joy flight from the nearby Batam Flying club, seeing a great view from the aircraft will be an experience that will last. For the kids there are water amusement park in Batam Centre, and most resorts have their own video game arcades.

Batam offers you a complete range of activity not only in the water, but on the ground as well. Great activities at a very reasonable price. A trully great place to spend your holidays.

#topTemples & Monuments

Although Batam don’t have any historical monuments, other modern day monuments may amaze you. Like the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya, one of the biggest Buddhist temple in South Asia, the Dewi Kuong Im monument which is a beautiful massive monument just on the edge of Batam, or maybe the strikingly beauiful Mosque found in Batam Centre.

Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya

The Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist temple at Batam Centre is one of the example of those great modern day monuments. It’s massive and beautiful figure surely amazes people who are viewing it. The building was opened in 1999 and still undergone some development. It is regarded as one of the biggest temple ever built in South Asia.

The temple was built by the Chinese Community in Batam, which the concept was said to be revealed in a series of visions received by the leaders. Now, thousands of Buddhists from all over Indonesia and within the region come to Batam to visit the temple, pray and study in it. The temple itself is open to the public and visitors are warmly welcomed. Another temple worth visiting is the Toa Pek Kong Chinese Temple in Nagoya.

Dewi Kuong Im Monument

There is another Buddhist monument taking place in Batam, the Dewi Kuong Im monument, the Buddhist goddess of prosperity. However, the monument is said to be controversial, as it overlooks the ocean where across the ocean there is Singapore, giving an expression that the monument is built to give Singapore the prosperity by te goddes, but not to Batam. The statue itself also have some problems with the local authorities, because it stands 26 metres and that means it is higher than the Garuda Nusantara Monument in Hang Nadim International Airport. But nonetheless, it is a breathtaking monument worth visiting.

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Culture
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Batam holds a similar cultural characteristic with mainland Riau and other Riau islands. Inherited culture is still clearly noticeable in the traditions and customs in the Riau Malay community. Yet, malay culture in Batam is not solely rooted from Malay culture, as forms of other culture and tradtions from other regions in Indonesia have been for centuries influencing and leaving traces in the Malay culture.

#topDances

Dances is an integral part of traditional performance arts in Riau. It is generally accompanied with traditional musical instruments, such as songs, gendang gambang and various kinds of flute, such as sampelong, puput, bansi and nafiri, besides rebab, biola, celempong, ketuk-ketuk, gambus, bebano, marwas and many other instruments. Dances such as Joget and Zapin are believed by the locals as magical dances, thus may bring health and welfare. Additionally, there are also various kinds of worshiping dances performed in certain ceremonies. These traditional perfomances are sometimes shown as an object of tourism, and mostly provided by all tour & travel agencies.

#topArts & Crafts

Riau Malay Community is also known as the werehouse of Malay literary arts, either in the form of oral or writing. These literary arts comes in such forms as stories of people (folktale), poetry and folksong lyrics. Advises and other kinds of useful messages can be found in each literature. One of the famous Malay poets originating from Riau is Raja Ali Haji, who composed Gurindam Dua Belas (twelve aphorism), Tuhfanatalnafis and so on. Another form of traditional art is the Ulos cloths, a handcrafted fabric with beautiful traditional patters, which could be found in mostly any region in Sumatra, including Riau.

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Safe

Batam is generally safe during the daytime hours, but at night if you are in the entertainment areas of Nagoya you should exercise caution. Do not walk alone at night, if you want to leave somewhere and it is late, find someone else who is leaving or about to leave, or stay until it closes and then all go together. If you really have to get back to your hotel call the hotel and have them send a car to pick you up. As the taxis are not regulated or owned by a central group (like Bluebird in Jakarta) you may not be safe hiring a taxi off the street either. Walking in groups or two or three is probably okay but do not get into discussions with the locals as you may be asking to have your wallet or purse taken from you. If this happens, dont chase, just walk back to where you were or to the hotel and report to the police later.

Traveling safe is another matter. The roads around Batam are OK, but not maintained to the highest standard. The taxi drivers in particular delight in driving as fast as they can and the really like to overtake on a curve or bend. If you feel at all uncomfortable ask the driver to slow down, tell him you are not in a hurry, usually they are OK, although we did have to yell at one in Indonesian a few times to get him to drive safely.

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Shopping
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shopping. That is maybe the activity most tourist have in mind while visiting Batam. Yes, as the Indonesian government have appointed Batam as a Special Development zone, the whole island is a duty free shopping arcade with many items and goods to choose from, ranging from clothing to electornic applications. And amazing experience for those shopaholics.

Shopping in Nagoya is also wonderful, where there are lots of selection such as the Lucky Plaza and Jodoh Square. There you can find shops and boutiques selling duty free goods, branded and even luxurious items as well as Indonesian products. Shopping is regarded as one of the main attraction for tourist visiting Batam.

As we already told you before, shopping is one of the factors visitors came to Batam. The whole island is a duty free zone, making the prices become relatively low. The shopping scene may not be as good as in Singapore or Hong Kong, because the two islands has transformed into a mega metropolitan city. Batam however, seems rather like the two islands back in the old days, where everything was a lot unsophisticated.

#topShopping Malls

Shopping malls available mostly in the larger part of Batam like Nagoya, Waterfront City and Batam Centre. And the selection is quite many. The DC Mall, Lucky Plaza, Centre Point, Batam Centre Mall, Robinson & Ramayana, and the newly built Megamall (Hypermart) is some of the places you could visit. There is also the Ralph Lauren shop which comes with extremely low prices. The items are all genuine, because it is an authorized outlet of Ralph Lauren. You can bargain in many of those shopping places above, so bargaining skill wil be very useful although language will often be a challenge.

Mega Mall

This shopping mall is a newcomer in Batam shopping arcades. The mall is located in Batam centre, the new business district of Batam. Batam Authorities even built a flyover passageway directly from the Batam Centre ferry terminal, thus making it very familiar with foreign visitors, mostly from Singapore. The Mega mall hosted shops selling branded goods, mostly clothings, and two huge department stores, the Matahari Department Store and Hypermart. Because of the two department stores, some locals may even regard Mega Mall as "Matahari" or "Hypermart". In the weekends, visitors may find a hard time finding a parking space, as it is very unadequate compared to the visitors coming to the mall. Another point of interest is the rooftop dining area with spectacular view of the ocean and Batam

Center Point

This is possibly the most popular mall with Singaporeans in Batam. Some hotels like Holiday Inn WaterFront City even provide special shuttle services to this mall for their guests! This shopping mall is considered small when compared to others such as DC Mall. But because of this, it is easier to navigate and it actually makes the place seem more inviting as well. It has an interesting mix of shops, ranging from supermarket to eateries and hair salons.

Lucky Plaza

Lucky plaza is one of the earlier shopping centre in Batam. It is located directly in the centre of Nagoya and can be used as a sign or post if you are going to wander around the area. The place is filled with handphone retailers, electronic shops, some clothing, make up and other daily necessities stores. One thing to keep in mind when shopping at Lucky Plaza is to secure your belongings as there are many pickpocketer found in the Plaza. If you’re extra cautious then there will be nothing to worry.

#topArts and Crafts

You may also want to check out the galleries and local decorating or souvenir shops. You may encounter some fabulous arts and crafts at bargain prices. Items like paintings, wood carvings, pottery, etchings and intricately fashioned jewellery from many part of Indonesia could be found in these shops. The quality is nonetheless excellent.

#topDuty Free goods

Because of the duty free zone, electronic items like cameras and cellular phones are very much cheap. But you may find it difficult to pass the Customs at the Immigration if you carried out bigger electronic appliances. Other mostly demanded items in Batam are clothing, perfumes, leather goods and confectionaries. See our Shopping section.

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Transportation
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#topHang Nadim International Airport

The airport is yet another landmark representing Batam as an emerging commercial zone. The Hang Nadim International Airport was established in May, 1995 taking up an area of 4,000 sq m. The airport may facilitate international flights since December the same year, and until now may facilitate service for wide-bodied aircraft as large as the Boeing 747.

#topBy plane

Batam's airport is the Hang Nadim International Airport (BTH). Nearly all flights are domestic where you can get direct connections to Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Pekanbaru, Jambi, Palembang and Bandung. Indonesian carriers Merpati, Mandala Airlines,Indonesia Air Asia, Riau Airlines, Kartika Airlines and a host of others provide the links.

There are also two weekly flights to Johor Bahru in Malaysia by Riau Airlines (Batam airport office Tel: +62-778-761551; Johor Bahru airport office Tel: +60-7-599 4500 Ext 1113). Flights every Friday and Sunday, RM76 one-way from Johor Bahru before taxes. Flights depart Batam at 11AM while on return flights, they depart Johor Bahru at 1315.

If you want to catch flights from Singapore's Changi Airport, you must be on a ferry to Singapore at least three hours before departure time. See "By boat" section below for details.

#topBy boat

The main ports on Batam are Batam Centre, Sekupang, Waterfront City, Nongsapura and Telaga Punggur. Harbor Bay is now the main international ferry port for those heading for Nagoya, replacing the old Batu Ampar ferry terminal. Batam Center Ferry Terminal has the most frequent ferry connections to/from Singapore and Johor Bahru. Sekupang, with ferries from Singapore is best used for those catching domestic connections to the Sumatra mainland and the Karimun Islands. Waterfront City and Nongsapura mostly serve adjacent resorts while Telaga Punggur is the main ferry terminal for boats to and from Bintan。

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Map of Batam

 

map

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